Comparison Between Portable Generator Vs Standby Generator

Portable generators and standby generators are the most popular types of emergency power solutions for most homeowners. Their popularity is reliable when you need power on the go or when the major power line fails at home. A portable generator is suitable for emergency or occasional use, while a standby generator is used every day. The latter is an automatic permanent power backup solution. In the article, we will look at Portable Generator Vs Standby Generator similarities and differences.

The two types of power generators have their characteristics. Here, we’ll compare several features to help you pick the right one for your home.

Portable Generator Vs Standby Generator

 Portable Generators

Portable Generator Vs. Standby GeneratorDesigned to be mobile and are much smaller than standby generators. Portable ones are easy to set up and store in almost any corner of your home. This generator type is specially designed for storing small amounts of gasoline needed to run your power appliances during an outage or when you’re away from home. For instance, it allows powering a refrigerator, rechargeable batteries, lights, and other smaller electronic devices.

Portable Generator Vs. Standby GeneratorStandby generators are larger and heavier than portable models. Their fuel tanks are much bigger compared to the latter’s tanks. They can even hold up 10 times more gasoline than a portable generator, as well as generating electricity for large appliances. The design of this generator type also ensures that it’s always ready to start when the main power fails, and you are still in need of power. This makes them suitable for daily use instead of portable types.


Portable Generator Vs. Standby GeneratorBoth types of generators come with different fuel options. Portable models are powered with gasoline, while standby generation units use diesel fuel. Portable generators have enough power to suffice for small homes. Still, if you’re looking for a permanent solution during emergencies and power outages, a standby generator is the best choice. The latter can handle your home appliances like an air conditioner if it isn’t too powerful.


A portable generator produces around 2,000 to 10,000 watts of power. It’s enough for small appliances and lighting in your home or supporting a camping trip. A standby generator is more accommodating with its power capacity. Not only does it have the ability to produce 10 times more energy than a portable choice, but it is also suitable for running several large appliances.

Depending on your power needs, you can opt for a portable generator if your home has smaller appliances or you’re often away from home. You could also consider a standby generator in case of large-scale events like hurricanes and earthquakes.


Portable Generator Vs. Standby GeneratorPortable generators produce noise that can be annoying. However, the sound level produced by standby generators is even louder than the one from portable ones. This is because they have to work for longer hours. When choosing a power generator, consider the noise level, especially when living in an estate. You should consider a quiet operating generator.

In addition, the noise level of standby generators is usually higher when running at full load. Although portable generators may irritate, many consumers find them convenient because they have fewer inconveniences than standby models. Standby generators still make buzzing sounds even when not running at full load. Portable generators’ noise level may depend on the existing load: they are louder when at full load and less noisy when on a low load.


The size of a standby generator is more than that of a portable one. This is because it has to contain large fuel tanks and big engines to generate power for the entire home. A homeowner can’t move around with this monster in tow. Home backup generators come in different sizes based on their wattage. Therefore, determine your need to narrow your options. If you don’t have loads of appliances in your home, then a standard-size generator may be sufficient for you. The same applies if you’re looking for a portable generator that won’t take up much space and can conveniently be used anywhere.

Fuel Capacity:

Portable generators are designed and built for short-term use at an average rate of 1 gallon per hour. This means that their fuel capacity is not too large, and you have to add gasoline now and then. In contrast, standby generators are built with a larger fuel tank to support longer operation times without refueling. You don’t have to check on your generator regularly if it has enough gas supply. While with portable generators, you have to monitor the remaining fuel level now and then.

The fuel capacity of a generator determines the number of running hours it will offer. The larger the fuel capacity is, the longer your appliances will remain powered up.


Portable generators are easily moved from one place to another because of their mobility features. Some weigh less than 100 pounds, and the heavy ones come with flexible handles and wheels for easy movement. Standby generators are not portable. This is because they’re bulky and have no wheels for users to roll around when transporting them from one location to another. If you plan to move your generator often, you need to choose one easy to transport. A portable generator is much simpler to move and set up. This makes them more desirable for remote areas, where transportation options are limited.

What they can power:

Manufacturers design portable generators to run small appliances such as water pumps, sump pumps, cooking equipment, and other light loads. They can also provide energy to run some larger appliances for a shorter time, one appliance at a time. You cannot power your entire house with a portable generator. It is ideal for powering selected devices. In contrast, standby generators have capacities that can support running high-wattage appliances at home, including well-pumps, heaters, and refrigerators. Also, unlike portable generators, standby generators can power an entire house with ease.

The best use for portable generators is when there’s a need to provide emergency power.


Portable generators are cheaper than standby generators. This is because standby generators produce more power for running many appliances simultaneously, and they are more durable. Furthermore, standby generators have a resale value should you need to resale them in the future. If you are operating on a low budget and need a reliable generator, go for a portable model.


Both portable and standby generators need regular maintenance checks. Besides changing their oil every three months, you need to check for other issues like spark plug replacement, fuel tank inspection, and general cleaning. The frequency of your checks will depend on how often you use the generator and its age. To avoid maintenance issues when using a standby generator, hire a professional to maintain it for you.

Check Out This Video For More Comparison Of  Portable Generator Vs Standby Generator

Best Portable Generator for Home Use Overview

Portable Generator Vs. Standby GeneratorThere are many portable generators brands that one can buy for their home power backup plan. Here are some of the top-rated portable generators for home use.

Westinghouse WGEN7500 Portable Generator:

This model offers a starting power of 9500 watts and a running wattage of 7500 watts. It has a 6.6-gallon gas tank that runs for about 16 hours at a quarter load. It weighs about 192 pounds and comes with a flexible handle and wheels for effortless movement.

Generac 7680 GP6500 Portable Generator:

It has a starting power of 8125 watts and a running wattage of 6500 watts. It comes with a 6.9-gallon fuel tank that allows it to run for about 10.5 hours when running at half load. It comes with wheels and folding handles that make it easy to move its 172 pounds’ weight. This generator has a special kind of technology that can detect when carbon monoxide levels are becoming dangerous. If this happens, it will shut off automatically.

Briggs & Stratton 5500 Portable Generator:

This is a portable generator with a starting power of 6250 watts and a running wattage of 5500 watts. It has a 7.5-gallon fuel tank that provides 12 hours of operation at half load. This model has CO Guard Technology that automatically shuts down when it detects the ambient carbon monoxide level is becoming dangerous. It weighs about 190 pounds and comes with flexible handles and wheels for effortless movement once it’s on the ground.

Champion 100231 5500 Dual Fuel Portable Generator:

This dual fuel generator can run on propane or gasoline. It offers 6900 surge watts when running on gasoline and 5500 rated watts. Running it on propane delivers 6250 starting wattage and 5000 running watts. The gasoline fuel tank has a capacity of 6.0 -gallons, and it can power the unit for 9 hours when operating at half load. A 20-pound propane tank will offer 6.5 operating hours while running at half load. This model has a surge protector that will protect your appliances from the risks of voltage spikes. It has an approximate weight of 162 pounds. The presence of a flexible handle and wheels makes it easy to move it once it’s on the ground.

Benefits of portable Generators

Portable generators have a lot of benefits. They include;

Emergency power:

The best reason to invest in a portable generator is that it will give you emergency power wherever you need it.

Easy mobility: 

It is easy to carry it from one place to another when there’s a need for emergency power. It has wheels and folding handles that make it easy to move around. The best thing about the wheels is that they stabilize the generator on uneven surfaces for safer use.

Flexible use:

Portable generators have diverse uses. You can use it in your office, at home, during outdoor activities, and when camping. It’s not just limited to back up power supply for homes during blackouts.

Disadvantages of a Portable Generator

Fuel consumption: 

They rely on gasoline and require fuel to be replenished from time to time. This makes it expensive when using the generator constantly.

Low efficiency:

The only way to get maximum output from a portable generator is by using two or three appliances simultaneously. Most of them have limited power capacity, making them ideal for running few devices only at any given time.

What is the Best Standby Generator?

Portable Generator Vs. Standby GeneratorThere are tons of brands that manufacturers standby generators. However, the best brand known to make a number one rated standby generator is Generac.

Generac generators are designed for continuous, non-stop power and have a sound structure that provides resistance to adverse weather.

Generac Generator is super quiet and produces power for 10 or more years. You can compare Generac generators with other brands like Kohler, Merlin Gerin, Siemens, Champion, XGrip, and Yamaha.

Advantages of Standby Generators

Stress-free power supply:

Centralized power generation offers you peace of mind that may not come with a portable generator. It ensures continuous power throughout your home or office when there is an outage in the local utility grid.

High Output:

Most standby generators have a higher power output than standard portable generators. They are also more efficient than the best-rated portable generator in the market. A standby generator can offer you up to 15000 watts of power, making it an ideal choice for your emergency needs.

Cons Of Standby Generators

Just like portable generators, there are disadvantages to using standby generators, including;


They cost a lot more than other generator types. Cheaper standby generators start at around $2000, while those with bigger capacity can go up to $5000 or higher, depending on the model you choose.

Complex installation:

If you don’t know how to wire, you might need the help of a professional when installing a standby generator. This will increase your total cost as you have to hire someone who can do it for you.

Final word

Both portable and standby generators are essential pieces of equipment, but it all boils down to your preference. Portable models offer you better mobility, while standby models offer more power capacity. Both have their pros and cons. If you’re in the market for either of them, the comparison above will help you make a rational choice.

About Steve Stuart

Steve Stuart is an electrical engineer who developed interest on generators during his school years. After school, he became a generator enthusiast. This is after encountering power supply problems at the area of residence where he lived. Power would be on and off and so food would go bad and the room heater would go off especially during winter. After trying the different generator brands for several years, Steve now provides information on the available brands and products in the market today. Based on his experience, he gives the do’s and the don’ts when it comes to generator use.

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