Cummins Standby Generator Review: Which Wattage is Best: 13, 17, 20kW?

You’ve finally decided that a standby generator is the way to go.

Maybe the Cummins’ brand caught your attention, but you still have a few questions.

What wattage do you need? Which fuel type is best? How much do the various sizes cost?

While you can click any of the links above to dive deeper, in this post we’re focusing on three popular sizes of Cummins residential backup generators to help you find the standby that’s right for your home.

Cummins QuietConnect 13 kW 

Cummin’s QuietConnect 13 kW is one of the smaller sizes of home standby generators available, though its power should not be underestimated. 

In our other post, What Size Generator Do You Need? Whole House Generator Sizing Made Easy, we outlined a scenario where one fictitious family ran two light fixtures, an electric water heater, central A/C, a fridge and even their phone and tablet charger with all under 13 kilowatts of power.

Cummins 13 kW standby unit is available in both liquid propane and natural gas models for households running either fuel type. Both kinds offer extremely efficient operations.

The unit’s small size takes up less bulk; it can be installed as close as 18 inches away from your home. It also comes with a generous 5-year limited warranty (or 10-year extended warranty) and intelligent load management, which allows you to turn on and off specific items based on your needs— so that a smaller generator can still do the job of a much larger unit.

Plus, compared to some other brands like Generac’s Guardian 11 kW and Kohler’s RESV 12 kW, you’re getting more wattage for a similar price point. This unit generally costs around $3,000, depending on your installation or upgrade options. Check out this generator’s specs here.

Cummins QuietConnect 17 kW 

Cummin’s QuietConnect 17 kW is rated as more of a medium-sized partial-house standby. It packs a bigger punch than the smaller model we just covered, granting you some additional luxuries like living room outlets, indoor lighting and your alarm system.

Like the previous model, the 17 kW can be fueled by both liquid propane or natural gas and comes with a 5-year limited warranty too. 

One thing we didn’t mention above is that both of these units were designed with patented QuietConnect technology, for less noisy operation than other competitors. In comparison, Generac’s Guardian 16 kW and Kohler’s RCA 14 kW both run at 67 dBA, while all the Cummin’s models we discuss in this post only produce 65 dBA of sound— making it one of the quietest standbys in its class.

Cummins’ generators also use a patented “Crank-Only” mode, where the engine cranks without starting while the controller performs diagnostics. This feature can help to save fuel and reduces wear and tear on the exercise cycle. 

The extra wattage against the 13 kW only increases the cost of the generator by roughly $500, so for those in need for a nice padding of extra juice but aren’t willing to front a bigger chunk of change, the 17 kW might be the way to go. Check out this generator’s specs here.

Cummins QuietConnect 20 kW 

Cummin’s QuietConnect 20kW is perfect for those who don’t want to go without all their usual luxuries during an outage. This size generator can oftentimes power your entire electrical panel, but not always. (Read more about finding the right generator wattage in our Backup Generator Guide).

Other competing brands also offer 20 kW units, but some don’t offer the same quality or features as this trusted brand. Like the other Cummins’ generators detailed above, this unit has a strong and weather-resistant aluminum casing. It’s frame was specially designed to dampen noise, and a big reason why the QuietConnect models receive such a low noise rating. 

All Cummins’ generators also come with remote monitoring to check your operation status on-the-go via the Cloud Connect smartphone app. 

Price wise, you’re going to pay roughly $4,500 for this 200-amp standby, about $1,500 more than the smaller 13 kW unit. The difference in cost isn’t so bad when you’re in need of extra wattage though. 

Honda compiled a list of common household electronics to help you determine your generator wattage. Or, type in your appliance type on to discover each device’s wattage rating manually.  Check out this generator’s specs here.

More Standby Generator Reviews

Now that you’ve learned a little more about Cummins’ brand of residential home generators, don’t stop there.

We created a guide comparing our three favorite suppliers: Cummins, Kohler and Generac. Check out our Battle of the Home Standby Generator page to see how each model compares.

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