If you’re considering upgrading from a portable generator to a standby unit, you want to make sure the investment is worthwhile. After all, why pay so much more for a full home generator when you could continue muddling through with your little portable unit on the rare occasion you’re faced with an outage?
Trust us, there are some big reasons to ditch the portable generator. Here’s why Floridians should install a standby, back-up generator instead:
Whole-home generators can start automatically.
Who wants to worry about dragging out a portable generator and firing it up every time it’s lights out? A backup generator, by contrast, reconnects you to power instantly.
Backup generators are often called standby units because, well, they’re waiting on standby for a break in electricity— ready to fire up and fuel your home. Once an automatic home generator senses a disruption in electrical current, a transfer switch activates and the electricity kicks back on.
This convenience is unmatched, meaning you won’t miss a beat when the power lines are down. This is especially ideal for snowbirds, who may be out of state when an outage occurs and can rest assured knowing their electronic security system remains fully operational. It’s also convenient for those traveling or on-the-go, knowing that if the power goes out while they’re not home, their refrigerator and garage door will still be running without them rushing back to start the portable.
Back-up generators are more convenient.
Although portable generators can power normal appliances like your fridge, running power to those appliances is another matter entirely. You’ll need to run extension cords from the generator to a power strip, then pull that heavy refrigerator away from the wall, remove the cord from the outlet, and then plug it back into your power strip. Phew! We’re tired just thinking about it.
When you choose a standby generator, you’ll never have to worry about the fire hazard of an extension cord or moving those heavy appliances. Your standby generator is hardwired into your home electrical system. When the power goes out, your generator automatically begins delivering power to your most important lights, appliances, and air conditioning unit.
Standby generators are safer than portable generators.
Portable generators cannot run inside because they emit carbon monoxide, which is poisonous and deadly in enclosed spaces. This is why you can never, ever operate a portable generator inside your home, a closed garage, or a shed.
While permanently-installed standby generators also expel carbon monoxide, these units shield your generator in weather-proof casing, protecting them from Mother Nature. Portable generators are not safe to leave out in the rain, and often need to be operated under a tent or open garage the entire time they are powering your home. If you’re in the middle of a storm, though, good luck with that! A backup generator will kick on no problem.
Whole-home generators provide long-term power.
In addition to reducing your risk of fire hazards and fume inhalation, standbys are built for long-term power and typically rated as safer. These permanently-installed units are designed to run for days on end, whereas portable units are really only meant to function as short-term, few hour power sources. If you want a unit that will power up all your electrical appliances during the entirety of a week-long outage… a standby is your best choice.
Learn more about the factors that influence a generator’s runtime here.
Back-up generators offer higher wattage and can power more things in your home.
Who wants to deal with partial home power with a portable generator when you could keep your whole house operating with a standby?
Simply put, standby generators pack a stronger punch than portables. These permanently-installed units typically provide anywhere from 10,000-20,000 watts of electricity. Comparatively, some portable generators can only supply 3,000 watts, and even the best can only supply 8,000 watts.
With this in mind, a portable generator typically only has enough wattage to power a few of your household appliances— usually only the essentials. A standby generator can often offer full-household electricity, ensuring that your refrigerator, air conditioning, washer and dryer, and all other major appliances stay up and running until the outage is resolved. With the extra wattage of a standby generator, you won’t have to huddle around a fan, desperately trying to blow away the humidity or sacrifice your daily needs for the next storm.
Curious as to what wattage standby generator would fit your electrical need? Determine your power requirements.
Whole-home generators usually require less maintenance.
At most, Florida homeowners will use a generator once or twice every year. Some believe this is a good reason to choose a cheaper portable generator, but you may be making a costly mistake.
While both portable and standby generators require routine maintenance, portables need a constant supply of fresh gasoline and an oil change every 50 hours of running-time. By contrast, propane-fueled standby generators typically have larger tanks, which require fewer trips to fill them up and less frequent oil changes. Even better— if you have a natural gas line under your home, a natural gas generator will constantly have a steady fuel supply and save you time refilling.
Weigh Your Standby Options
Ready to start shopping for a whole house standby? See how much one will really cost you.
For a deeper look, download our free Battle of the Home Standby Generator guide, which compares the major generator brands Generac, Cummins, and Kohler— saving you time and research.