Portable vs Standby Generator – Who’s In-Charge?

Living in light can sometimes be boring. No one can deny that we enjoy those short power outages when we’re allowed to compliment the darkness for everything it has. But with outages for more than a couple of hours fill our life with all the more restlessness. 

The thoughts of romanticism and rural life wear off, replaced by “real life” concerns, such as dying cell phone, assignment deadline, spoiled food, etc. It is where generators come in handy. They provide you with power backup when there’s no power at all. 

However, purchasing a generator is not as smooth as it seems. As you head to the market, you’ll find that manufacturers produce two main types of generators- portable and standby. The choice can easily confuse you and make you face the question- which one should I choose? This question, trust us when we say, is one of the “charged” debates between consumers. 

So, to keep you on track, this Portable vs Standby generator comparison will help you see the difference and choose one accordingly. But before we start, let’s get to a simple introduction of these two types of generators to understand the comparison better. 

Portable Generators – The Pocket-Saving Option

Both Portable generators and Standby generators perform the same basic tasks. But there are differences when we dive deeper. So, what is a Portable Generator? Portable generators are small, compact, and handy generators that can power your home’s essential appliances. 

yamaha generator

These generators are basically a cheaper option. Portable Generators run on both gasoline and propane fuels. The backup provided depends on the output of the generator and the load it’s powering. 

But portable generators require some attention, especially some manual labor. For one thing, to operate the generator, you have to be at home and monitor it carefully. The problem is, sometimes it becomes impossible to start the machine on time. 

For instance, suppose you are out on vacation before a power outage, and you return back home after days only to find your basement filled with water and the refrigerator full of spoiled perishables.

Also, portable generators have a smaller tank size which you need to fill frequently to keep it running. But for fact, a portable generator is an ideal choice for those who have less power necessity or fewer appliances to operate during power outages. 

Key Features
  • Lightweight, compact and portable
  • Cheaper than standby generators
  • Can support one or multiple appliances
  • Widely available from different brands
  • Professional support is not mandatory

Standby Generators – The Power Beasts 

Unlike portable generators that can “just do the job,” standby generators are much more powerful and efficient in their performance. These generators can maintain the same accustomed power supply to your home during power outages. 

Standby generators are typically the whole house generators that can power your house for days. So while the rest of the locality is still in darkness, your house would continue buzzing along as if nothing had happened. 

Standby generators are the gold standard in power backup. But the disadvantage of these machines is their price. Standby generators are much costlier than portable generators. Therefore, many people can’t afford a standby generator for its price. 

Installation of a standby generator is also costly. You’ve to hire a certified professional for all the wirings. Plus, you would need an expert consultation which is crucial in determining the appropriate-size generator. 

Overall, a standby generator would cost you a minimum of $10,000 including all these charges. Ahead in this comparison of Portable Vs Standby generators, we will talk about these differences in detail. 

Key Features
  • Huge power backup
  • Suitable as whole house generator
  • Automatic operation
  • Safer power supply

Features of Differentiations:

1. Size

The first difference anyone could catch at a single glance is the size of these two types. Portable generators and standby generators differ a lot in size. 

The very name of portable generators gives us an idea of their size. Portable generators are small, compact, and lightweight. You can change its position, or take it for camping. Portable generators are suitable options as the best RV generators. 

On the other hand, standby generators are large and heavy. Standby means that they can’t be moved. You have to find a suitable spot outside your home to set this up. 

While portable generators are handy, standby generators are not. If the size is an issue for you, portable inverter generators would be the best choice to go for. 

Related:- How to Change the Oil in the Generator

2. Power Supply

The next biggest point of difference between portable vs. standby generators is their power supply. Although both the devices generate electricity, the amount of production varies a lot. 

Due to their small size and smaller tank capacity, Portable generators produce less power than standby generators. On the contrary, standby generators can produce huge power backup to support you as a whole house generator. 

Portable generators are available in many sizes and power output options. You can find one according to your need and set it up for use. However big, they can hardly support your whole house. 

On the contrary, Standby generators can power all your appliances, making you feel nothing has happened. Therefore, standby generators are suitable for households or places requiring a huge amount of power every day. 

3. Noise

Which one of these produces less noise? Portable or standby generators? It is a frequently asked question by consumers who prefer a low noise atmosphere (well, we all do). Power outages are common, and no one can seriously guarantee the duration. 

Noise, if it goes on for too long, can make the situation more frustrating. And while generators are most likely known for their disturbing noise, consumers focus more on finding a quiet option. 

Following that, portable generators are designed to produce less noisy operations. However, this is not always the same with all models out there. Therefore, it is better to check the product description or take other people’s reviews before buying a portable generator.

On the contrary, standby generators offer extremely quiet performance. They are designed to produce the least noise possible. Installing these generators ensure that you get a smooth and tranquil response all throughout the day. 

4. Run Time

The primary task of a generator is to provide power backup when there is a power outage. But, no one knows when you can expect it to come back. During hurricane season, the power may not be back before 1-2 days. Having a generator with a good run time would be beneficial under such circumstances. 

Portable generators do offer a good run time which is suitable for short-term power outages. These generators have an average run time of 8-12 hours on full tank capacity. Once the fuel in the machine finishes, you have to refuel it again. 

On the contrary, standby generators offer excellent run time. These generators have a larger tank that can provide continuous power backup for 2-3 days. Thanks to such a huge tank, you don’t have to refuel the tank frequently but enjoy an uninterrupted living. 

Guide:- Generator Safety Tips

5. Price

Price plays a crucial role in any purchase, and generators are no exception. The question is which one is cheaper? In this comparison of Portable Vs Standby generators, anyone can answer this question correctly. 

Portable generators are a lot cheaper than their standby counterpart. You can find these generators available even under $1000. It is one of the biggest reasons that most people prefer portable generators over standby models. Plus, portable generators do not require much installation help, making them even more pocket-friendly.

Standby generators, on the other hand, costs a lot more. Price is the reason that people avoid buying these generators. Also, you would require timely maintenance and expert guidance to install the machine. It is where you’ll have to spend all the more money. 

Best Portable Generators

1. Honda EU2200i

Honda EU2200i

Honda is one of the most famous manufacturers of portable inverter generators. A Honda generator can provide you with outstanding and reliable performance with assured comfort. Honda EU2200i is Honda’s one of the best and a quiet inverter generator. It is backed by a 121cc Honda that can provide power up to 2200 running watts.

The generator offers an amazingly quiet performance of 53 to 59 dBA sound levels which are less than a normal conversation. The generator has a portable and compact design that weighs around 46 pounds. Thanks to such a lightweight design, it can be your best camping generator choice. You can read more about Honda EU2200i here. 

  • Lightweight and compact design
  • Fuel efficient
  • Quiet performance
  • Easy to operate
  • Not CARB compliant

2. Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable Generator

Westinghouse WGen7500

Westinghouse is another reputed manufacturer of portable generators. Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable Generator is one of the most efficient models from the brand. The generator is a perfect amalgamation of power and portability.

The powerful engine of the inverter generator produces an output of 7500 Running Watts and 9500 Peak Watts. It features a remote and electric push-button start that brings comfort to your experience. So, you don’t have to leave your couch to start it using the manual pull cord.

Westinghouse WGen7500 Portable Generator has a 6.6-gallon tank that can provide a power supply for up to 11 Hours of Run. In case you prefer the duel-fuel feature, you can check Westinghouse WGen7500DF Dual Fuel Portable Generator.

Westinghouse WGen7500 is a CARB and EPA compliant model that comes with a 3-year warranty.

  • Powerful performance
  • Huge tank capacity
  • 11 hours of power backup
  • Durable built
  • CARB and EPA compliant
  • Nothing significant

3. Generac GP8000E

Generac GP8000E

Generac GP8000E is one of the most powerful Generac generators with a robust and large 420cc engine. It is capable of producing 10000 starting watts and 8000 running watts.

Using this generator, you can power multiple appliances simultaneously. It has a large 7.9-gallon fuel tank. The generator can run up to 11 hours at 50% load, making it extremely an extremely energy-efficient portable generator.

It has a strong 1-1/4″ Steel tube cradle for added durability and strength. With such robust performance, the generator can power a whole RV, making it the best RV generator on our list.

  • Powerful and quiet performance
  • Durable build
  • Powers multiple large and small appliances simultaneously
  • Nothing significant

Best Standby Generators

1. Generac 7043 Home Standby Generator

Generac 7043

Generac produces both portable and standby generators for their consumers worldwide. The Generac 7043 tops many other standby generators on our list because of its robust and reliable performance. 

The generator generates an impressive 22,000 watts when running on liquid propane and 19500 watts when attached to natural gas supply.  It comes with a five-year limited warranty and features Wi-Fi capabilities. 

Using their Mobile Link Remote Monitory System, you can keep an eye on the functioning of your generator at all times from a distance. Generac also offers 24/7 customer support so that you can contact them whenever you face any issue. 

  • Duel-fuel feature
  • Low THD production of less than 5%
  • Mobile Link Remote Monitoring for better monitoring
  • 24/7 customer support
  • 5 years of warranty
  • No battery included

2. Briggs & Stratton 20kW Standby Generator

Briggs & Stratton 40336

Larger homes require more energy to support all the loads. Having a powerful 20kW standby generator from a reputed brand like Bridge & Stratton has many benefits. Therefore, our next best standby generator choice is Briggs & Stratton 40336. 

The standby generator is exceptionally safe to use that the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) approves its installation as close as 18 inches from your home. The generator can produce continuous power of 20,000 watts without making much noise. 

Briggs & Stratton 40336 also features a 100-amp automatic transfer switch. It allows your power to turn back on within seconds of a power outage as the generator automatically takes over. For enhanced physical protection, it has a durable galvanized steel enclosure, which excludes any requirement for further coverage or protection.

  • Durable design
  • Powerful 20kW power output
  • Safe for use
  • Remote monitoring
  • Automatic start
  • Heavier than most other 20kW models

3. Champion Power Equipment 100294 Home Standby Generator

Champion Power Equipment 100294

Our next best standby generator is Champion Power Equipment 100294 Home Standby Generator. It features a powerful Milwaukee series 754cc 2-cylinder engine. It continuously delivers 14 kilowatts on propane and 12.5 kilowatts of energy when powered by natural gas.

You can directly connect the generator to your fuel system. Hence, you won’t have to refuel the machine time and again. The generator turns on automatically when there’s a power cut. It has an all-weather design with a composite mounting pad. It protects the unit from various weather elements. 

The enclosure is rust-resistant with an innovative gull-wing design. It provides a full view of the onboard control system and easy access to the engine. The best part is, despite such powerful performance,  Champion Power Equipment 100294 produces only 63 decibels – quieter than any arguments going around. 

  • Stable power, suitable for sensitive electronic devices
  • Weather-proof and rust-proof enclosure
  • 754cc powerful engine
  • Duel-fuel technology
  • Quiet performance
  • Quite expensive

Our Ratings

For Portable Generators

Portable generators are handy and compact machines that provide enough power for your essential home appliances. With the best portable generator, you can power multiple large appliances too. 

But these generators can only provide backup for a certain amount of time. Also, they need constant monitoring and manual intervention for proper functioning. 

After considering all the essential points in the Portable vs Standby generators comparison, our team has decided to rate it 4.7/5.

For Standby Generators

Standby generators are a more reliable and efficient source of power backup during power outages. These devices can power your whole house for 2-3 days simultaneously. Also, you don’t have to put manual labor behind anything. They have an automatic start/stop feature, along with easy refueling. 

But, standby generators are costly – a reason that many people avoid purchasing one. They are also heavier than portable generators, with a bigger place requirement for installation. Plus, to install a standby generator, you will require a certified professional’s assistance. 

After considering all the essential points in the Portable vs Standby generators comparison, our team has decided to rate it 4.9/5.


  1. Can a portable generator work as a standby model?

Ans. A portable generator cannot provide you much power as a standby generator. But, when connected to your home’s circuit-breaker panel with a transfer switch, they can provide power backup almost as a home standby generator.

  1. Are portable generators worth it?

Ans. Buying a generator can spare a lot of your financial losses. Most importantly, it provides you with power backup when there’s a power cut in your locality. Thus, you can keep your most essential appliances running. 

Thus, having a portable generator benefits you by providing enough power to keep these devices on the run. Also, thanks to their portability, you can use them as camping generators or RV generators. Hence, buying a portable generator is entirely worthy of every penny you spend. 

  1. Will a 20kW generator run a house?

Ans. A 20kW generator should be able to power most of your home’s receptacles, lights, and up to a 5-ton central air conditioner. If you have anything more to power, you can safely go for 24kW generators for better performance. 


We now have come to an end, and it’s time to hear the result. We are pretty sure that most of you have drawn a conclusion of your own by now. Still, it is our job to pick one for you. 

Both Portable and Standby generators provide efficient performance in their field. From the above comparison of Portable vs. Standby generators, we can see the many significant differences between them.

While portable generators are suitable for limited power consumption, standby generators are for substantial power requirements. They are basically designed for powering a whole house. But, standby generators are costlier than portable ones. 

Therefore, it is a tough competition where, although Standby generators have a slightly better performance, portable generators excel for their easy availability. Yet, if you can afford a standby generator, we would recommend you go for that instead. That said, do check our picks for the best portable generators and best standby generators to get the one you prefer.

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