How to Pick the Best Home Standby Generator

May 14, 2020

home standby generator

When hurricane season hits, a home standby generator is needed to keep the lights on. Instead of fumbling around in the dark to light candles or throwing out food that has spoiled, you and your family could remain comfortable thanks to a home standby generator. While many homeowners feel that they will be prepared with an emergency portable generator, this can still be frustrating. After all, you might be able to successfully power a few lights and your refrigerator with an emergency portable generator but you’ll still have to deal with the setup process!

At Right Electrical Services, we highly recommend purchasing a home standby generator for your home before hurricane season hits. With hurricane season just around the corner (officially beginning on June 1st),  there’s no better time to start thinking about picking up a home standby generator for you and your family. Today, we will be discussing how to pick the best home standby generator step-by-step to make the process easy for you! As certified Generac dealers, we have the expertise needed to make the best recommendations. With that, let’s get started.

Qualities of the Best Home Standby Generator

So what do we mean when we say the “best” home standby generator. Well, the best generator is a generator that you can count on. There are many benefits associated with choosing a home standby generator that can keep you powered on in the worst-case scenario.  Here are just a few reasons that a home standby generator is a great investment:

Safety: When you use a home standby generator rather than an emergency portable generator, you are left without the hassle of messing with power cords and gasoline. This comes with a reduced risk of electrical shock, risk of fire, and CO poisoning.

Value: The best home standby generator is an investment that practically pays for itself each and every time that the power goes out. The presence of a home standby generator even increases the value of your home!

Convenience:  The best home standby generator ensures an added amount of convenience because you can count on it to keep you powered on- even if you’re away.  A home standby generator automatically restores critical systems such as water, the fridge/freezer, or even the entire house. This is a measure of convenience that you won’t find in an emergency portable home generator.

How to Choose the Best Home Standby Generator

Now that you understand the benefits associated with purchasing a home standby generator, it’s time to talk about the steps you can follow to choose the best one. Using these 3 steps, you can make a choice of generator that brings all of the benefits outlined above.

Step 1: Choose Your Fuel Source

The first step in choosing the best home standby generator involves choosing your fuel source. This depends largely on the kilowatts of the generator itself. Home standby generators up to 22 kW, for example, are usually sourced by liquid propane or natural gas. If you are looking for a generator that is fueled by diesel, however, you’ll need to purchase a whole-house type that could be a bit more expensive.

Step 2: Determine Your Home’s Power Needs

The next step in finding the best generator for you involves identifying exactly how much power you will need in the event of a power outage. To determine this, you will need to decide whether you want enough power to back up only crucial systems such as the fridge and air conditioning or the entire house itself.  Based on this determination, you will then need to think about two factors: power ratings and sizing.

Power Ratings

As mentioned, home standby generators are rated by kilowatt (kW). This measures the entire generator’s electrical power output.  The best way to determine the number of kilowatts your home will need is to determine whether or not you want to power your HVAC equipment or central air conditioner in the event of a blackout. This is the best way to determine the number of kilowatts you will need as these appliances tend to be the most power-hungry.  Once you have determined the number of kilowatts needed to power these appliances, you can move on to thinking about sizing.


In the event that you plan to run your central air conditioner, it is important that you have a home standby generator that can handle the amount of energy required. You can tell what size generator you will need fairly easily, however. Simply look at your air conditioner unit’s data plate. This will tell you its size in either Tons or BTUs.

As an important note, there are 12,000 BTUs for each ton of capacity and 3.517 kilowatts of energy. 

Let’s say, for example, that you have a 3-ton (36,000 BTUs) air conditioner. This means that you will be required to get a generator that can supply up to 11kW or more of energy.

If you need help determining the proper number of kilowatts your generator will need to supply, feel free to use Generac’s Home Backup Generator Sizing Calculator.

Step 3: Choose a Transfer Switch

Much like a light bulb needs a switch to be activated, so does your generator. This switch, known as a transfer switch, must be chosen carefully. This is because getting the right transfer switch is just as important as choosing the right  generator. After all, they work together to restore lost power in the event of an outage.

An automatic transfer switch allows your generator to immediately begin working in the event of a power outage. An automatic transfer switch does this by continuously monitoring utility power. If an outage is detected, the transfer switch automatically starts the generator’s engine, disconnecting the power from the line and energizing your home’s panel through the generator’s power supply.

In order to know which transfer switch will work best for you, you will need to identify the amperage of your electrical service panel. This can be checked by locating your home’s main breaker within the electrical panel.

In most cases, the average-sized home has somewhere around a 200-amp main breaker, meaning that the maximum capacity of electricity in your home can consume around 200 amps of energy. Small or older homes, however, may have only 100 to 150 amps of energy.

You must get the same amp switch as your home’s main panel for the switch to function properly.  Once you have made this determination, you can choose the best transfer switch to go with your home’s generator.

Always Have the Power You Need

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Now that you know exactly how to choose the best home standby generator for your home, it’s time to contact your local Generac dealers to purchase your home standby generator. As certified Generac dealers, Right Electrical Services is on standby to provide you with exactly what you need.

We also offer generator installation services and our electrical technicians will make sure that you are set up and ready for any unexpected power outage. Contact us today to learn more about our generator installation services!




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