What’s The Difference Between Home And Whole House Generators?

Nobody wants to be without power for too long. In most homes across the country, a power outage doesn’t have to last more than an hour or two before firing back up. However, in many homes located in storm-prone or wintery areas, power outages aren’t simply a nuisance. They can end up lasting for weeks, turning entire communities upside down in their wake. Luckily, with the right interlock kits and installation, you can use a portable or standby generator to safely restore power to your home for as long as the outage lasts. But before you outfit your home with the latest generator model, it’s important to know the difference between a portable or ‘house’ generator and a whole house or ‘standby’ generator. Having a sense of what your power requirements are will make the buying process go much more smoothly and can save you a ton of money in the long run. Before you make your purchase, here’s what you should know.

Portable Generators May Run on Different Energy

Both portable and standby generators exist to supply your home with instant power after an outage. However, because standby units live indoors and are connected to the home like an A/C unit, they provide seamless power and don’t need any kind of switch to operate. They’re automatic, soundless units that take the stress and guesswork out of power usage. They also tend to use propane or natural gas rather than oil. Portable generators live outside of the home and require an interlock kit to safely provide power to the home. They can run on gas, oil, or propane, and will be able to power fewer appliances overall. If you have a portable generator that uses gas or oil, you’ll need to do more maintenance work to make sure your machine is ready when the storm hits. You’ll also need to change the oil, just like a car, and make sure your machine isn’t closed in if it’s powered by gas.

Standby Generators Can Power Larger Appliances

Many larger homes with many residents prefer standby generators since they’re able to power larger units such as refrigerators and washer/dryer units. Homes that depend on a well for water or use any kind of sump pump for heating and cooling also tend to benefit from standby models. However, if you’re just looking to get through a few hours or even a day without the food in your fridge spoiling or the lights going out, a portable generator could work just as well. Both standby and portable generators come with a watt value that will let you know exactly how much power you’ll be able to get out of a specific machine. For instance, a small portable generator will most likely be able to handle 2,000 to 5,000 watts, which is enough to power a refrigerator, a microwave, and a few small household lamps.

Always Compare Safety Features

As with any large machine, safety is key. While portable generators are totally safe to use as long as you have an interlock kit setup, they’re not considered as safe as standby generators for a few reasons. Since portable machines technically don’t kick into gear automatically, they do cause a security gap for homes that rely on electric home alert systems or garage door opening systems. Gas-powered portable generators also can’t live in a confined space like a garage due to carbon monoxide poisoning concerns. However, as long as a portable generator is left to operate in a semi-enclosed space with the right interlock kit, your home’s safety won’t be compromised at all.

Consider Cost and Needs

Cost is always a major concern when it comes to purchasing a generator. While portable generators tend to cost much less than standby models, they might not be the best choice for larger homes that need a few days or week’s worth of power. Standby generators require installation and can end up costing over $8,000, especially if they have a higher wattage value. Portable models don’t require installation, but the use of an interlock kit will bump up the entire cost by a few hundred dollars. All told, a standard small portable model should cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 and can help keep the house running at a basic level for a day or two. Larger models beginning at around 10,000 watts will be able to instantly switch to generator power, keep your home security system running with no gaps in service, and will allow a home to use more appliances and energy over a longer period of time.



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