Standby Power Generators vs. Portable Generators: How Do They Differ?

A common misconception shared by many people is that standby generators and portable generators are essentially the same thing. In actuality, this couldn’t be further from the truth!

But what exactly sets the two generator types apart?


Comparing Fuel Capacity:

Standby generators hold enough fuel capacity to see you through a longer power outage or emergency without requiring a re-fill. Portable generators, on the other hand, have smaller fuel capacities, and require filling every few hours. Generator owners can have a lot more peace of mind with a standby generator, and won’t have to worry about being hands-on.

Comparing User-Friendliness:

A standby generator powers on automatically when the power goes out, and can be connected to an existing electrical system with a seamless switchover - and appliances need not be plugged into anything special. Contrarily, a portable generator must be set up in the middle of an emergency or frustrating power outage, and needs to be used with the right extension cables to connect the appliances to the generator. Needless to say, this is not the greatest use of time - especially when trying to figure out the logistics for an emergency.

Comparing Safety Measures:

If you happen to be in a rush and position a portable generator too close to your home, this could bring it too close to something flammable, and you could also be putting yourself at risk for CO2 poisoning. Maintaining proper ventilation is a must in order to prevent a potential tragedy. With a standby generator, you’ll only need to keep the immediate surroundings clear of flammable objects, as it’s already positioned in such a way that you won’t have to worry about fumes entering your home.

Comparing Durability:

Standby generators are built for longevity, with wear and tear kept to a minimum due to the way in which the components are enclosed within the unit. Portable generators simply do not compare.

Comparing Operating Conditions:

Standby generators are designed to operate under basically any weather condition possible. Because they’re enclosed in an outdoor enclosure and set on a cement pad in the yard, standby generators have the ability to function in extreme weather conditions such as hail and ice storms. On the other hand, portable generators are unable to operate in wet conditions, and other weather patterns may cause issues as well.

Comparing Noise Levels:

Local ordinances don't change regardless of whether you have electricity or not. Standby generators are relatively quiet, especially when compared with portable generators which are much louder - and may cause complaints if you need to keep it running for long.

You may not even think it’s all that loud at first, especially if you test it when the power is still up - however it’s important to consider how quiet it can become in a neighborhood when the TV isn’t on, or when it’s time to rest. A moderately-noisy generator could end up being quite a nuisance in this changed environment.

Standby vs. Portable Generators: …Is There a Winner? Simply put: standby generators come out on top when compared to portable generators for many various reasons as listed above - and it’s the wisest choice when it comes to keeping your family safe and sound during emergencies.


Posted by Shane Rektor | Sep 25, 2020 | Categories: Power Generation