Power outage sessions followed by natural disasters can be challenging if you don’t have reliable power backup solutions. Generators are among the most reliable power backup solutions that you can use to power your home in case of extensive blackouts. Generators are available in a wide range of power ratings and sizes.
Depending upon your budget, power requirement, and type of fuel you can easily manage you need to look for a specific type of generator for home backup. To help you choose the best product for your home, I’ve reviewed the 10 best generators for home backup. A buying guide, in the end, will help you make a well-informed decision.
1. DuroMax XP4850EH Generator
Top on the list of best generators for home backs up is DuroMax XP4850EH. I purchased this generator back in 2019 following the extensive power outages due to fire control in California. I have a family of six and the generator packs the power that we need. It is powerful enough to run an air conditioner and 6 to 7 lights in a normal household. It uses a 210 cc OHV engine that delivers plenty of power to run the heavy-duty appliances.
With incredible fuel efficiency and hybrid fuel technology, it works like a charm in extensive power outage sessions. With 4850 surge watts and 3850 running watts, it ensures a stable power supply even under maximum pressure. Another thing that I loved about this unit is its low noise operation. Its noise level is only 69 dB which is pretty low for such an impressive wattage level. The dual fuel technology makes it fully compatible with gasoline and propane. If you run out of propane, gasoline is right there so serve you.
The generator has been part of my power step for more than three years and it is working without any significant maintenance. All that it needs is to regularly check the low oil level and replace the oil regularly. To avoid irreparable damage it uses sensor technology that automatically shuts off the generator when a low oil level is detected. Setup of the generator is a little challenging especially if you don’t know much about power connections. Also, the instructions provided in the manual are not pretty clear.
DuroMax HP4850EH is one of the most reliable power backup solutions I ever had. Its ultra-powerful 210 cc engine combined with EPA and CARB certification helps it stand among the best generators for home backup.
2. Honda 664240 EU2200i 2200 Watt Portable Inverter Generator
My second choice for the list is Honda 664240 portable inverter generator. This generator is not as powerful as DuroMax XP4850EH but I loved its class-leading run time and functionality in various environments. The generator is designed for the needs of medium-duty applications and it is powerful enough to run heavy-duty appliances like an air conditioner. It is powered by Honda GRX120 121 cc commercial series engine.
Its running power wattage is 2200 watts and is powerful enough to run multiple appliances and other electrical utilities in a normal household. The generator is almost twice as expensive as DuroMax XP4850EH which is a little surprising considering the power rating. What sets it apart from its inexpensive counterparts is its running time and fuel efficiency. With 1 gallon of fuel, it offers a runtime of 8 to 9 hours making it a great option for extensive power outage sessions.
COMINDER technology is another standout part of this generator. It keeps an eye on the carbon monoxide levels produced during power generation. In addition to that, this generator has an increased ventilation area that maintains the internal and external temperature of the unit for optimal performance even under the maximum load. Plus its stamped metal recoil insert cable protects its body from external damage.
Oil replacement is pretty easy since it comes with an oversized oil drain gutter, a big oil compound opening, and a longer sprout. Also, the generators shut off automatically when a low oil level is detected. I’ve been using the generator for various applications like home power backup, tailgating, and camping and there is nothing much to take about its downsides. The only issue with this generator I’ve ever faced is the poor recoil assembly. The starter cord chafing broke after a few uses and I got it replaced.
Honda 664240 is one of the most reliable, functional, and powerful portable generators that you can buy in 2022. This generator with 2200 running watts and class-leading run time (9 hours per gallon) is one of the best generators for home backup.
3. Champion Power Equipment 100692 Portable Inverter Generator
Champion Power Equipment 100692 is one of the most affordable portable inverter generators that you can buy today. The generator comes equipped with a 2-stroke OHV engine offering 2000 starting watts and 1700 running watts. It is a reliable power backup solution for regular household use but you can’t run the heavy-duty supplies like oversized freezers and air conditioners on this generator.
The good news is that it features clip-on compatibility for another Champion Power 100762 generator. You can pair it up with another generator to simply double its power output. It comes with a fuel tank capacity of 2 gallons and offers a run time of 8-9 hours under 75% of the load.
From low noise level to steel enclosure and highly portable design it has everything that you can expect from a home backup generator. The generator lacks an electric start and doesn’t offer a smooth start in the winter. Also, it uses a low-quality spark plug that gets fouled up easily if you run it continuously for more than 5 hours.
If you are looking for an ultralight portable generator for your small home, this generator by Champion power is the definite way to go. With low noise operation and incredible fuel efficiency, it stands among the best generators for home backup.
4. WEN 56200i 2000-Watt Gas Powered Portable Inverter Generator
The Wen 2000-Watt gas-powered generator combines incredible power output and portability making it perfect for small to medium-sized households. With a surge watt rating of 2000 watts, it is powerful enough to run heavy-duty appliances in the home. Along with that, it can handle multiple utilities like fans, charging ports, lights, and many more.
The generator uses a 79.9 cc 4-stroke OHV engine that ensures stable and clean output even under the maximum load. With a 1-gallon fuel tank, the generator offers a run time of around 10 hours under normal load. This is quite impressive making it a great option for extensive power outages. The OHV engine is fully protected against overload and ensures stable power output. This feature makes it suitable for sensitive appliances like TV, laptops, and mobile phones.
The generator weighs only 48 lbs and is equally suitable for indoor and outdoor applications. Its operating noise level is 53 dB which is pretty much acceptable for such an impressive power rating. Unfortunately, the generator doesn’t offer a flawless start. You need to crank it multiple times, especially in low-temperature conditions. Also, it comes with wheels making it highly maneuverable.
Wen 56300i is a competitively priced generator designed to manage the power requirement of small households. Its 4-stroke engine uses built-in overload protection making it suitable for sensitive applications like TV, ovens, laptops, and phones.
5. Westinghouse WGen3600 Portable Generator
Westinghouse WGEN3600 is a reliable open-frame generator that offers an incredible price-to-performance ratio. The generator comes with a 4-gallon fuel tank and offers a runtime of 14 hours under 75% load. Its peak watt rating is 4300 watts and is powerful enough to operate the air conditioner, freezers, and refrigerators.
Its running watt rating is 3700 watts which is more than what you need to power the supplies of a regular household. It comes with a 4-stroke OHV engine that produces safe and clean power. It ensures a stable power supply even under the maximum load.
For seamless operation, right out of the box it includes all the essentials like an oil funnel, user manual, and spark plug. Oil fillings and fuel refilling are pretty challenging and it doesn’t offer a quick start after every refill. The unit works at a noise level of 73 dB which is slightly louder than other options in this class.
Westinghouse WGen3600 is an affordable generator that comes packed with a lot of power and safety features. The generator uses a high-capacity fuel tank and offers class-leading run time making it one of the best generators for home backup.
6. Generac 7127 iQ3500-3500 Watt Portable Inverter Generator
The next option on this list is the portable inverter generator by Generac. The generator is slightly more expensive than other options in this power range but justifies its price tag with advanced overloading and overheating protection. The generator has 3500 surge watts and 3000 running watts making it a great power backup solution for regular households.
It can run the air conditioner but not with other demanding supplies like a well pump or freezer etc. It comes packed in a steel enclosure and weighs less than 50 lbs for ease of transport and handling. Also, it is 5% quieter than other inverter generators in this class. It operates at a noise level of 39 dB.
A digital LCD gives you all the crucial information about the load, oil level, remaining fuel, and remaining runtime. The electric start feature offers seamless operation in all weather conditions. Unfortunately, this generator is not a plug-and-play model. Even though I followed all the instructions I was unable to get the voltage. After trying multiple times, I ended up calling a local technician to get everything fixed.
Generac iQ3500 offers a run time of around 8-9 hours with 1 fuel tank under 75% load. Its ability to run heavy-duty appliances, low noise operation and electric start technology help it stand among the best generators for home backup.
7. Westinghouse WGen7500 Home Backup Portable Generator
If you want to run multiple heavy-duty appliances simultaneously consider Westinghouse WGen 7500 home backup power generator. A generator is a great option for residential buildings having power requirements more than regular household requirements. The generator offers a surge wattage of 9500 watts making it powerful enough to handle heavier loads like refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioners.
The generator comes with a spacious fuel tank with a total capacity of 6.6 gallons. Under 50% load, I was able to get a run time of 14 hours. Under 75% load, I got a run time of between 9-10 hours which was pretty impressive. Another exciting part of the generator is its remote start. Unlike traditional generators, its remote start works like a charm even in low-temperature conditions.
It was delivered with multiple essentials like a battery, charger, oil funnel, remote start key, oil, and a toolkit for a seamless experience right out of the box. Its 4-stroke OHV engine features advanced overheating and overloading protection giving you a safe and stable power output in extensive blackout sessions.
A generator is a big machine so the setup is a little complex. I had a few questions but unfortunately, the tech support by Westinghouse is poor. It weighs 197 lbs and lacks portability. For ease of maneuverability, it comes with caster wheels but the quality of the wheels didn’t come up to my expectations.
The generator is powerful enough to run demanding appliances like well pumps, sump pumps, and air conditioners simultaneously. It comes with a huge fuel tank and offers class-leading run time under maximum load. With remote start technology, stable power output, and incredible fuel efficiency it stands among the best generators for home backup.
8. Champion Power Equipment 100519 6250-Watt Inverter Generator
Champion power equipment stands among the best device for home backup for many good reasons. It is one of the very few generators in the price range offering a 240V supply and 5000+ wattage rating. The generator offers a smooth start with a single or two pulls and can power the most demanding utilities like a good pump or a big freezer.
It also plays really well with the air conditioner along with some basic things like light and charging outlets. In case you don’t need its full potential it comes with an eco mode. It saves you fuel and delivers stable power output for less demanding applications. The generator operates at a noise level of 69 dB which is lower than other open-frame generators in this price range.
It is CARB and EPA compliant unit and delivers safe and clean power output. The generator comes with a flexible oil funnel making the oil replacement a real breeze. It lacks an electric start which is not a big issue in summers but can be a little annoying in the winter. Also, some users reported fuel tank leakage issues.
Champion Power Equipment 100519 is one of the most dependable power backup solutions that you can buy for your home. With incredible fuel tank capacity, ability to power heavy-duty appliances simultaneously, and low noise levels help it stand among the best device for home backup.
9. Westinghouse WGen9500DF Dual Fuel Home Backup Portable Generator
Westinghouse WGEN9500D Dual fuel generator is one of the most dependable power backup solutions. This generator is designed with the needs of big households in mind. It can power multiple heavy-duty appliances simultaneously and it is one of the best portable generators that you can buy for under $1000.
The generator offers a peak watt rating of 9500 watts and a running watt rating of 8500 watts. It uses an ultra-powerful 4-stroke engine to ensure stable power output even under maximum pressure. With a 6.6-gallon fuel tank, it offers a runtime of 14 hours under 50% load and 10-12 hours under 75% load.
The digital hour meter and low oil shutoff ensure the safety and stable operation during the extensive blackout periods. The generator comes with caster wheels for ease of maneuverability but they are not very well built. Also, the electric start feature is not reliable and the battery doesn’t hold the charge.
Westinghouse WGen 9500DF features dual fuel technology and you can use both gasoline and propane to operate this generator. It has incredible fuel efficiency and impressive run time under maximum load making it a perfect option for areas that experience serious power outage issues.
10. PowerSmart Generator, 1200 Watts Portable Generator
The final option on the list is added for those who are looking for a low-budget solution for a small household. PowerSmart generator is designed for individual use and comes equipped with a 71 cc 2 stroke engine. It offers a surge wattage of 1200 watts and a running wattage of 1000 watts. It cannot run heavy-duty appliances but ensure a stable power supply for a fan, multiple lights, and a charging outlet.
Although it has a limited power output, it doesn’t compromise the stability of the power. It’s a safe option for sensitive appliances like phones, Televisions, and tablets. It uses mixed fuel oil eliminating the need for frequent oil changes and reliefs. Its operating noise is less than 40 dB making it a perfect option for residential applications.
It uses multiple 120V AC and 12 V DC outlets giving you a trouble-free experience right out of the box. The unit offers reliable performance, ease of assembly, and quick startup making it one of the best generators for home backup. The major downsides of this generator are its limited power output and low fuel tank capacity.
If your power requirements are less than 1000 watts, this portable generator by PowerSmart is the best option you can have. With a quick start technology and low maintenance requirements, it is equally suitable for home and outdoor use.
What’s The Advantage Of An Aluminum Enclosure In A Generator For Home Backup?
Generators enclosure for home backup generators has multiple functions including weather protection, sound dampening, and fire protection. Multiple types of generator enclosures are available in the market, designed for different purposes. Aluminum enclosures are not as common as steel enclosures but they have a wide application in home backup generators for many good reasons.
The biggest advantage of the aluminum enclosure in a generator for home backup is its ability to resist rust and corrosion naturally. Aluminum fights really well against all the extreme weather conditions like high temperature, freezing temperatures, high humidity, salt, and many more. Here are three main perks of getting aluminum enclosures for generators.
Low Maintenance Requirements
One of the biggest advantages of aluminum enclosure for home backup generators is its low maintenance requirements. Aluminum enclosures ensure optimal performance for decades without any significant maintenance. Unlike steel enclosures, aluminum enclosures do not need an additional protective coating for maximum protection. It eliminates the need to refresh the protective coat and ensures optimal protection with little maintenance.
Impressive Slat Resistance
Aluminum enclosures are specifically recommended for the areas where saline ambient air is common. It doesn’t exhibit rusting when exposed to salt as steel does. It forms a chalky layer on the top when it reacts with salt. This layer acts as a rust-proof sheet that stops the weathering. This layer is also waterproof and cannot be removed until washed with soapy water.
Rugged Build Quality
Aluminum enclosures have incredible impact performance. These are rugged enough to resist the wear and tear caused by different impact forces. It protects the generator from wildlife intrusion and also saves it from theft.
How Do I Correctly Choose A Generator’s Size For My Home?
To enjoy a stable power supply using the power backs up session you need a generator that is perfectly in line with your power needs. To help you choose the right Generator size for your home I’ve shared a simple generator size calculation formula with you. This form usually applies to calculate the size of a generator for residential applications: Form a list of appliances that you want to power at once with a generator. Then look for the wattage rating of each piece of equipment. Each appliance has two wattage ratings.:
Starting watts or surge watts: Watts required to turn the appliance on.
Running watts: Running watts are the watts required to operate the appliance with its full potential.
Both of these watts ratings are mentioned somewhere on the appliances (usually at the back or bottom). Also, you can find the wattage ratings in the product manual. In case the manual is not available you can search the information on the internet by entering the appliance name and model number. Power rating is sometimes mentioned in amperes instead of watts. Here are two simple formulas to convert the power rating to the watts.
Watts = Amperes x Volts (for resistive loads)
Watts = Amperes x load factor x Volts (for reactive loads)
Once you have starting watts and running watts ratings of all appliances add all the values to estimate the total power requirement of your home. While choosing the generator it is advised to choose a size offering 200-300 watts more than what you need. These extra watts will help you put extra load on your power backup system occasionally. Also, it will help you maintain an optimal generator performance in the long run.
What Type Of Oil Should I Use To Maintain A Generator For Home Backup?
Generally, two types of engine oils are available: Conventional and Synthetic. Conventional oils are crude oils that are refined to make them useful for different applications. Synthetic oils on the other hand are manufactured and contain specific additives to make them suitable for different applications.
Synthetic oils are always better than conventional oil for generator engines. Synthetic oils have better resistance to breakdown, superior heat tolerance, and more cleaning power. Better breakdown resistance and ability to keep the engine clean with fewer oil changes means optimal performance in the long run.
However, some generator manufacturers do not recommend synthetic oils for their engines as they say they have low benefits in the long run for more price. It is advised to consider the manufacturer’s recommendation, especially in case of break-in engine oil. If an engine is already using conventional engine oil, it’s not a good idea to switch to synthetic oil.
Also old and worn-out engines have larger gaps between the piston rings and cylinder walls leading to oil leakage. In addition to that, you should consider other factors like viscosity, temperature tolerance, breaks down resistance, and longevity. The oil performance in varying temperatures largely depends upon the viscosity.
Synthetic oils are labeled for viscosity in this format: SAE 10W30 or SAE 5W30. SAE 10W30 indicates the oil’s viscosity is 10 when the engine is cold and 30 when the engine is hot. SAE 10W30 is an all-around oil formulated that works fine between -10 to 40 degrees Celsius. SAE 5W30 works better at a low temperature and loses its efficiency above 20 degrees Celsius. Also, it is advised to look for reliable brands to get the best value for the money.
What Happens If The Generator Gets Overloaded?
The generator gets overloaded if it is not correctly sized for the requirements of a home or office. Generator overloading can cause serious damage to the engines and appliances that are connected to the generator power supply. Here is exactly what happens when the generators get overloaded:
Rise In Temperature
When the engine of the generator is overloaded the first thing that happens is an increase in internal temperature. The engine internals will get hotter and hotter if it is subjected to the extra load. In modern generators fewer risks are associated with overheating as they are protected against circuit damage, overheating, and overloading.
A Drop In Power Output
A generator is overloaded when too many appliances are plugged into it and the wattage requirement exceeds its running wattage rating. So the other thing that you will notice is the drop in power output. It restricts the appliances from running at their full potential. Heavy duty appliances like freezers or air conditioners may not work in case of low power output. Also, it can damage or burn the electronic circuit of the appliances.
Soot In The Exhaust
The appearance of the exhaust is changed when it is overloaded. Soot becomes apparent in the exhaust of the generator. Excessive soot can be due to many other reasons like clogging or improper filtration.
Putting an extra load on the generator more than its capacity can lead to serious consequences and irreparable damage.
Fire Or Explosion
If the overloading issue is not addressed on time it can lead to an explosion or serious fire incidents. Internal temperature is increased which can cause an explosion in the fuel tank or oil tank. Also if there is any spark, gas tank or petrol tanks it can catch fire leading to heavy damage.
Damage To The Machinery
The generator can cause serious damage to the appliances connected to it. Also, it can cause disturbance in the transmission wires. If the surge wattage of the input power is lower than the surge watt of an appliance it may not turn on. If it turns on and you force it to operate at low power it can cause irreparable damage to the sensitive parts like electric circuits, compressors, etc.
Shortens The Generator’s Lifespan
Overloading the generator reduces its life span. It increases the maintenance requirement of the generator and badly impacts its performance. Engines wear out more quickly.
Extensive power outage sessions following hurricanes and other natural disasters are pretty common in the USA. To keep up with your normal life activities you need a power backup solution for your home. Depending upon your budget and power requirements you need to consider various factors while buying a generator for home backup. Here is a detailed guide discussing all the features and essentials that you need to consider while making a purchase.
Type Of A Generator
Generally, there are two types of generators: standby generators and portable generators. Standby generators are designed with the needs of commercial grade settings and large residential buildings. The generators are installed outside the building and are connected to a continuous fuel supply like a gas pipeline or a big fuel tank.
The generators start automatically in case of a power outage. Standby generators are pretty much expensive and usually cost you somewhere between $3000 to $5000. These generators offer power output greater than 10,000 watts and can run multiple appliances at a time. Since these generators are expensive they have a limited application in residential setups.
Portable generators are available in a wide range of power sizes. These generators cost you as low as $500 and as high as $2000. These generators offer power ratings between 2000 watts to 10,000 watts. They have limited fuel tank capacity and depending upon the load offer a run time between 6 to 15 hours with a single fuel tank.
Portable generators are either powered by gasoline or propane. These generators cannot run more than 2 appliances simultaneously and you cannot overload these generators. If you are looking for power backup for a normal household, I recommend you buy a portable generator with a 5000+-watts power rating.
You need to choose the generator size that is in line with the power requirements of your home. You need to calculate the power requirement of your home. The simple way to estimate the total power requirement of your home is to add up the watts off all the appliances that you want to run simultaneously on the generator.
- Make a list of all the appliances you want to power with the generator. Look for the starting watts and running watt ratings.
- You can find this information on the product manual, at the back of the appliances, or on online product information.
- Add up all running watts and surge watts of all the appliances.
- For instance surge watts requirement for your home is 2000 watts then it is advised to buy a generator offering a surge watt rating of at least 2500 watts.
- Choosing a generator having more power than what is required will ensure stable and safe power output even under maximum load.
Type Of Fuel
The fuel source is one of the most crucial factors that you need to consider while buying generators for home backup. Generators use three file types: Propane, natural gas, and gasoline. Gasoline is one of the most common choices for home backup generators. You can store the gasoline to fulfill the power requirement in the extensive power outage sessions.
Gasoline is also less expensive than propane. However, gasoline can produce toxic exhaust and Carbon monoxide fumes. You need to take precautions and professional installation to avoid such hazards. Natural gas is usually preferred for stand-by generators as they are directly connected with gas pipelines.
Propane is also widely used for standby generators. Also, it is used as a gasoline alternative in portable inverter generators. For home backup, gasoline-powered generators are preferred for ease of handling and easy fuel storage. Also, you can look for generators with dual fuel technologies. These generators can run on both gasoline and propane giving you a trouble-free experience during extensive blackout periods.
Starting up the process of the generator is important as not all generators offer a seamless start. Most portable generators come with rope-pulling start mechanisms. You may need to crank multiple times to start the generator. However advanced generators use an electric start technology. A built-in spark plug and switch allow you to get an effortless start in all temperature conditions. The automatic startup feature usually comes with a standby generator.
Safety features ensure a stable and clean power output to prevent potential damage. You need to look for various features like automatic shut-off, built-in overheating protection, overloading protection, low oil indicator, fuel gauges, etc. Advanced generators use sensors that automatically detect the low oil level or low fuel levels and shut off the generator to avoid irreparable damage. Also, some generators have built-in overloading protection.
When you put an extra load on the generator it automatically cuts off the power supply instead of delivering unstable power output. Overheating can lead to fire or explosion in the fuel tank oil tank. Therefore you need built-in overheating protection to reduce the risk of fire. A fuel gauge or oil level indicator helps you keep an eye on the fuel and oil level so that you can refill it on time.
CARB and EPA Compliance
In many states of the USA, it is illegal to operate a generator that is not an EPA complaint. You need to look for a generator that produces clean and safe power with low emissions. If you live in California you should look for generators that are also compliant with the CARB. The California Air Resources Board set the current air emission standards and the generator must comply with these standards.
I’ve put loads of effort into composing this review and buying a guide on the best generators for home backup. I’m hopeful that after reading this post you will be able to choose a generator that is exactly in line with your needs and budget. Here are my top three picks for the list:
- DuroMax XP4850EH Generator for the big fuel tank, manageable noise level, ultra-powerful engine, and dual fuel technology.
- Westinghouse WGen3600 Portable Generator for class-leading run time, incredible price-performance ratio, low noise level, and clean energy generation.
- Generac 7127 iQ3500-3500 Watt Portable Inverter Generator for built-in overload protection, stable power output, quiet operation, and impressive fuel efficiency.
If you are unable to estimate the power requirements of your home, it is advised to seek professional help to get a valid estimate and avoid overloading.