Choosing Generator: A Guide to Selecting the Best Type

by Anna

When it comes to ensuring a continuous power supply, especially during unexpected outages or in remote areas where grid power is not available, a generator is an invaluable investment. However, choosing the right generator can be a daunting task, given the myriad of options available in the market. To make an informed decision, it’s essential to understand the various types of generators and their applications. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore different types of generators and help you determine which one is the best fit for your specific needs.

1. Portable Generators: Flexibility and Convenience

Best for: Emergency power in homes, outdoor events, and recreational activities


Portable generators are a popular choice for homeowners seeking a reliable backup power source during outages. These generators are versatile and come in various sizes, making them suitable for a wide range of applications. They are typically fueled by gasoline or propane and offer a convenient source of power when and where you need it.



  • Portability: Easy to move and transport.
  • Affordability: Generally less expensive than standby generators.
  • Variety of sizes: Available in a range of power capacities to meet specific needs.
  • Quick startup: Can provide power within seconds of being turned on.


  • Limited power output: May not be suitable for powering an entire home.
  • Fuel storage: Requires a supply of gasoline or propane.
  • Manual operation: Typically need to be started manually during outages.
  • Noise: Portable generators can be noisy.

Recommended Models: Honda EU2200i, Champion 76533, DuroMax XP4400E


2. Standby Generators: Seamless Backup Power

Best for: Homes, businesses, and critical facilities


Standby generators, also known as whole-house generators, are designed to provide uninterrupted power during outages.

These generators are permanently installed and automatically start when they detect a loss of grid power. They are

connected directly to your home’s electrical system, ensuring a seamless transition to backup power.


  • Automatic operation: No need for manual startup; they kick in when needed.
  • High power output: Can provide sufficient power for an entire home or business.
  • Reliability: Designed for long-term use and extended outages.
  • Fuel options: Available in natural gas, propane, and diesel models.


  • Installation: Requires professional installation and permits.
  • Cost: Generally more expensive upfront than portable generators.
  • Maintenance: Needs regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance.
  • Fuel source: Availability of natural gas or propane may vary by location.

Recommended Models: Generac Guardian Series, Kohler 20RESCL, Briggs & Stratton 40396

3. Inverter Generators: Clean and Quiet Power

Best for: Sensitive electronics, camping, and outdoor activities

Inverter generators are a subset of portable generators known for their clean and stable power output. They use advanced technology to produce electricity, making them ideal for powering sensitive electronics, such as laptops and smartphones. Inverter generators are also prized for their quiet operation and fuel efficiency.


  • Clean power: Suitable for sensitive electronics with minimal risk of damage.
  • Fuel-efficient: Automatically adjust output to match the load, conserving fuel.
  • Quiet operation: Operate at lower noise levels compared to conventional generators.
  • Portability: Compact and lightweight, making them easy to transport.


  • Limited power output: Typically offer lower wattage compared to conventional generators.
  • Higher cost: Inverter generators can be more expensive than traditional portable generators.
  • Fuel type: Most run on gasoline, which may require additional fuel storage.

Recommended Models: Honda EU2200i Companion, Yamaha EF2000iSv2, Champion 100263

4. Home Standby Generators: Premium Backup Power

Best for: Homes, businesses, and critical applications requiring continuous power

Home standby generators are the pinnacle of backup power solutions for homeowners and businesses. These units are permanently installed and connected to your electrical system, similar to standby generators. What sets them apart is their ability to power an entire household for an extended duration, often weeks, without interruption.


  • Uninterrupted power: Can maintain power for an extended period.
  • Automatic transfer switch: Seamlessly switches from grid to generator power.
  • Load management: Prioritizes essential circuits during outages.
  • Remote monitoring: Some models offer remote monitoring and control.


  • Professional installation: Requires professional installation and regular maintenance.
  • Cost: Considerably more expensive than other generator types.
  • Fuel source: Availability of natural gas or propane may vary by location.
  • Permits and regulations: May need permits and adherence to local regulations.

Recommended Models: Generac 7043 Guardian Series, Kohler 48RCL, Briggs & Stratton 76107

5. Dual-Fuel Generators: Versatility in Fuel Sources

Best for: Flexibility in choosing between gasoline and propane

Dual-fuel generators offer the flexibility to switch between two fuel sources, typically gasoline and propane. This versatility is especially valuable in emergencies, as it allows you to choose the most readily available fuel. These generators are available in both portable and standby configurations.


  • Fuel flexibility: Can operate on either gasoline or propane.
  • Extended runtime: Switching between fuels can extend the generator’s operational time.
  • Backup option: Provides an alternative fuel source if one is unavailable.


  • Fuel storage: Requires storage of both gasoline and propane.
  • Slightly higher cost: Dual-fuel models may be more expensive than single-fuel counterparts.
  • Maintenance: Requires regular maintenance to ensure both fuel systems are functional.

Recommended Models: Champion 7500-Watt Dual Fuel Generator, Westinghouse WGen9500DF, Generac Guardian Series 22kW

6. Solar Generators: Clean and Renewable Power

Best for: Off-grid living, eco-conscious users, and remote locations

Solar generators harness energy from the sun to generate electricity. They consist of solar panels, a battery bank, and an inverter. Solar generators are an excellent choice for eco-conscious users and those living in remote areas with abundant sunlight. They provide a sustainable and renewable power source.


Renewable energy: Harnesses energy from the sun, making it an environmentally friendly choice.

Low operating costs: Minimal fuel and maintenance expenses.

Silent operation: Operates silently and produces no emissions.

Off-grid capability: Ideal for remote locations without access to the grid.


  • Weather-dependent: Solar power generation relies on sunlight, so cloudy days may affect output.
  • Initial cost: Higher upfront cost for solar panel installation.
  • Battery capacity: Requires a sufficient battery bank for storing energy during cloudy days.
  • Recommended Models: Goal Zero Yeti 1500X, Jackery Explorer 1000, Renogy Phoenix 300

Conclusion: Choosing Your Ideal Generator

Selecting the right generator depends on your specific needs, budget, and preferences. Portable generators offer flexibility and convenience, while standby generators deliver seamless power backup for your entire home or business. Inverter generators provide clean and quiet power, making them suitable for sensitive electronics. Home standby generators offer premium backup power with extended runtime, while dual-fuel generators provide versatility in fuel sources.

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