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A power disruption in your home is inconvenient at best and dangerous at worst. Electrical grid overloads and weather can cause you to lose power for hours or even days. 

With a backup generator, you can have confidence that you are prepared for rolling blackouts or power outages. Whole-house generators ensure that your home still receives power even when the usual power sources aren’t working. They consist of sturdy materials designed to last for years. They also come with warranties in case anything goes wrong.

How to Choose Your Whole-House Generator

 Use these four factors as guidelines in the generator selection process. 

Electrical Needs

Think about the essential pieces of equipment that you would need to power 24/7 during an outage. Consider the following:

  • Medical devices
  • Refrigerators
  • Internet/computers 
  • Heaters
  • Work equipment

In some cases, you may be able to power what you need most with a portable generator. However, if you have several power-consuming machines to run, then a whole-house generator is a better option. 

Fuel Requirements

Somebody pouring gasoline from a green canister into a generator

There are four main kinds of fuel you can use in a whole-house generator:

  • Diesel 
  • Natural Gas
  • Propane
  • Gasoline

Natural gas is the best option if you can get a proper hookup. That way, you don’t have to worry about storing fuel or running out. 

Diesel, gasoline, and propane all require some kind of tank or storage, and you can only store so much before you run out. 

Generator Capacity

When choosing your generator, it’s ideal to select one with an output that is approximately 20 to 25 percent higher than the peak load needed. 

A standard portable home emergency generator has just 8 kW of power. That is enough to power some essential appliances and a light or two. 

Most whole-home generators deliver anywhere from 22 to 48 kW of power. A 48 kW generator should deliver a similar amount of power that you’d get under normal circumstances.   


A residential standby generator next to a house

Whole-house generators are convenient as far as power goes, but they’re large and take up a lot of space. Try to stick to these placement guidelines:

  • At least five feet from any doors, windows, or vents
  • At least five feet from the property line
  • Near the gas and electric meters

Why a Portable Generator May Not Do the Job

Portable generators are nice for camping trips and tailgates. Unfortunately, they might not do the job when it comes to powering your house. 

Limited Capacity

The average emergency portable generator delivers 8,000 watts of power. You should have a generator that can deliver at least 10,000 watts for a whole-house approach. That would likely power the bare essentials only. 

Most whole-house generators start at 22,000 watts and increase from there. A portable generator won’t produce enough power.

Safety Risks

An orange and black gasoline portable generator

Portable generators can pose some safety concerns. They require cords and extensions that pose a tripping hazard. Additionally, portable generators can expose you and your family to carbon monoxide poisoning. 

A portable generator may also get in the way of any professionals who need to get into your home during an outage. 

Operation Duration

Various factors impact how long a portable generator will run. On average, you can expect to get around 10 hours of consecutive use out of a gasoline generator. Those using propane or diesel can run for as long as 200 hours. 

What is the Ideal Emergency Generator?

The ideal generator will include the following features:

  • Whole-house hookup
  • Connects to natural gas line
  • Between 22 and 48 kW of power
  • Professional installation 

Of course, your budget is an important factor to consider and may impact which features you can include. 

Installing a Whole-House Generator? Hire the Pros!

A white generator along the side of a house

The safest way to install a whole-house generator is by leaving it to the professionals. 

Professional electricians can help you with all the critical things that need to be taken care of when installing a generator. Building permits, HOA restrictions, electrical requirements, and placement selection are all elements we address. Contact U.S Electric today to get started!