Portable vs. Standby Generators

If you frequently find yourself without power at home, you might want to consider investing in a generator. A generator can provide backup power during an outage so you can enjoy lighting, refrigeration, and heating or cooling for as long as it takes the power company to get service back online. Generators come in two main categories: portable and standby. Read on to learn the differences between them and the advantages of each type.

Portable Generators: Affordable but Small

Portable generators are, well… portable. When your power goes out, you will need to take your portable generator out of storage, connect it to your electrical panel, make sure it is full of fuel, and turn it on manually. Most portable generators run on gasoline and use quite a lot of it to do their job – they may burn through 12–20 gallons per day. They can’t produce as much power as whole-home generators, making it difficult to run multiple large appliances while the main power is out. Portable generators for home use generally go up to 7,500 watts, although some high-end models offer up to 17,500.

Benefits of Portable Generators

The main benefit to this type of generator is affordability; you can typically find one for as low as $400, and you don’t need to pay a professional to install them.

Disadvantages of Portable Generators

As with most things, you get what you pay for. Portable generators will work to power some appliances, but they come with many disadvantages:

  • Not very powerful – You will only be able to run a few appliances with most portable generators.
  • Labor intensive – They need to be pulled out, set up, connected to your home, refueled, and turned on.
  • Not long lasting – Portable generators typically last between 1,000 and 2,000 hours of service. Standby generators last anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 hours.
  • Difficult to refuel – Portable generators can burn through fuel quickly, meaning you will need to go outside, turn them off, let them cool down, and put in more fuel.

Standby Generators

Also called whole-home generators, these reliable backups are permanently installed outside your home by a professional contractor. When the main power goes off, they will automatically kick on within seconds. They are designed to power your entire house for an extended period of time. Because they use propane or natural gas, they can run for days without refueling.

Benefits of Standby Generators

Standby generators come with many benefits that offset their higher cost:

  • Automatically switch on during a power outage
  • More powerful than a portable generator
  • Maintain comfort during heat waves and winter storms
  • Simple to maintain and refuel
  • Can power refrigerator, cooking equipment, medical devices, and more
  • Larger models can power central HVAC

Disadvantages of Standby Generators

The only real downside to whole-home generators is the price tag; they can easily be 5-10 times as expensive as portable generators and will need to be installed by a professional. However, since they last significantly longer than portable generators, you will get many more hours out of your initial investment.

Prepare for the Next Power Outage in Houston, TX

When properly sized and installed, generators can provide reliable power through long outages. The best way to ensure that you’re set up with the correct generator for your needs is to consult a reliable electrician for generator installation. At Aaron’s Electrical, we carry and install standby generators in Houston homes. We also offer transfer switches and interlock kits for portable generators to make them safer, easier, and more convenient. Our friendly team can help you choose the right generator for your needs, then expertly install it so that you’re completely ready for the next big storm.

Contact us online or call us at 832-791-2935 to request a free estimate for generator installation in Houston, TX.