The Best Whole House Generators of 2023 – Complete Buyer’s Guide

The Best Whole House Generators of 2023 - Complete Buyer's Guide

If you’re looking to invest in a reliable whole house generator this year, you’ve come to the right place. A home standby generator ensures your home stays powered in the event of an outage – keeping your family comfortable and secure. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to find and install the perfect whole house generator for your home in 2023.

A whole house generator automatically kicks in when the power goes out, powering your home’s essential circuits. This keeps appliances running, vital systems like heating and air conditioning going, and gives you some normalcy when the power grid fails you. Investing in a whole home standby generator means backup power at home and freedom from outage anxiety.

In this guide we’ll cover:

  • What is a whole house generator and how does it work?
  • Key factors to consider when choosing your generator
  • The best whole house generators on the market
  • How much do home backup generators cost?
  • Sizing your generator properly
  • Installation, maintenance, and operation
  • Additional generator accessories
  • Whole house generator safety

Let’s dive in and explore the world of home generators!

Whole house generators in mulch by brick house.

What is a Whole House Generator and How Does it Work?

A whole house generator is an automatic standby generator that is permanently installed on your property and connected directly to your home’s electrical system. When an outage occurs, it automatically detects the power loss and switches on within seconds to restore electricity to your home.

This differs from portable generators which must be manually turned on and plugged in each time the power goes out. Whole house units are fueled by natural gas or liquid propane and have a large enough power output to handle a home’s essential electrical loads.

Here is a quick overview of how home standby generators work in the event of a power outage:

  • The generator detects that utility power has been interrupted and automatically switches on. This takes 10-20 seconds.

  • An automatic transfer switch senses the loss of power and seamlessly transfers your home’s electrical load over to the generator.

  • The generator begins supplying electricity to your home’s most important circuits like lights, appliances, heating/cooling systems etc.

  • When utility power is restored, the transfer switch turns off the generator and transfers your home back onto the main grid.

The end result is uninterrupted home power during an outage – keeping your family safe, secure and comfortable until utility power is restored.

The best whole house generators quickly restore power in less than a minute so you experience no disruption. They provide enough kilowatts of power to operate your home’s essentials so family life goes on uninterrupted.

Investing in a quality home standby generator means freedom from power anxiety and the ability to weather storms in comfort no matter what happens to the unreliable power grid.

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Whole House Generator

There are several key factors to weigh when selecting the right standby generator for your home:

Fuel Type – Natural Gas vs Propane

Most whole house generators run on either natural gas or liquid propane. Natural gas is the most popular choice because it’s convenient and widely available. It’s supplied directly to your home via existing gas lines. This avoids the need to manually refill fuel tanks.

Natural gas is also more energy efficient and cleaner burning than propane. However, propane fuel gives you independence from the gas lines. This makes it a wise choice if natural gas infrastructure is prone to disruption in your area. Propane generators can operate using stored fuel if the gas lines fail.

Consider your specific needs, fuel availability and generator model capabilities when deciding on gas vs propane. Some units offer dual-fuel flexibility to use either.

Power Output

Choose a generator sized properly to handle your home’s electrical load – fueling all essential circuits. This is measured in kilowatts (kW) of power.

Too small of a unit will leave you powering only some circuits, while overbuying costs more upfront and wastes fuel. Carefully use a generator sizing calculator to find your ideal power output range. Get this right for whole home coverage.

Noise Level

Look for a quiet generator rated under 75 dB that won’t disturb you during operation. Soundproof enclosures further reduce noise. Compare decibel ratings and get the quietest generator possible for your budget.


Opt for an extensive warranty of at least 5 years. Top brands offer 10 year or lifetime warranties for the alternator and major parts. This protects your investment in case anything goes wrong.

Brand Reputation & Reviews

Choose a reliable whole house generator brand with an excellent reputation and reviews. Stick with trusted manufacturers like Generac, Cummins/Onan, Kohler, Honeywell, Champion, etc. Read feedback and complaints before you buy.

Additional Features

Consider extra capabilities like cellular monitoring, Wi-Fi connectivity, load shedding, multiple fuel support, and cold weather packages. These provide convenience and flexibility.


Whole house generators range from $3,000 up to $15,000 installed. Determine how much you can spend for the right power output and features you need. Consider financing if needed.

Now let’s explore the top recommended options and brands for your home:

The Best Whole House Generators of 2023

Generac 22kW Guardian Series

  • Ultra quiet at just 61 decibels
  • Trusted 22kW power output for larger homes
  • Runs on natural gas or liquid propane
  • Attractive weatherproof enclosure
  • Industry leading warranty of 8 years or 10,000 hours

The Generac Guardian has the perfect mix of power and noise reduction – providing complete home backup power without disrupting your life. It’s one of the top choices from the leading home generator brand.

Cummins/Onan P22G

  • Proven 22kW output for whole home power
  • Quiet at just 66 decibels
  • Optional weatherproof enclosure
  • Runs on natural gas or liquid propane
  • Covered by an excellent 10 year limited warranty

Cummins is synonymous with durability and their P22G model is one of the best natural gas whole house generators available for larger homes and properties.

Kohler 20kW RESA

  • Robust commercial grade design
  • 20kW power with flexible load management
  • Ultra-low noise level of just 61 decibels
  • Optional smart monitoring with Wi-Fi
  • Covered by Kohler’s excellent 5 year comprehensive warranty

This top-tier Kohler unit offers the advantage of load management to minimize fuel consumption. It’s expertly engineered for reliable whole home power.

Generac 17kW PRO Series

  • Cost-effective 17kW generator for most homes
  • Quiet 69dB operation won’t disturb you
  • Fueled by natural gas or propane
  • Turn-key generator system for quick install
  • Covered by Generac’s 5 year limited warranty

This mid-range Generac generator has the proven quality and power output for a complete home backup generator system at a reasonable price point. It’s a great value option.

Champion 18kW Standby Generator

  • Budget friendly cost under $5000 installed
  • 18,000 watts to power entire home
  • Weather-resistant aluminum enclosure
  • Electric start with battery included
  • Runs on natural gas or propane
  • 3 year limited warranty

If you want an affordable whole house generator solution from a trusted brand, this system from Champion Power Equipment is a great choice.

Generac 22kW PowerPact

  • Robust 22kW output for larger homes
  • Compact and lightweight only 359 pounds
  • Weatherproof galvannealed steel enclosure
  • Flexible for natural gas or liquid propane
  • Evolution Controller for total generator management
  • Covered by a 5 year limited warranty

This powerful but portable PowerPact model offers flexibility for easy setup and protection from the elements. It’s ideal for harsh locations and extreme weather.

Cummins/Onan QG 25,000

  • Massive 25kW output for extra-large homes
  • Automatic load management -weatherproof aluminum enclosure
  • Flexible gas, diesel or propane operation
  • Mobile Link cellular monitoring included
  • Covered by a 2 year limited warranty

The Cummins QG 25,000 is made for the biggest residential projects demanding whole house power. It’s the ultimate backup for estates, ranches and mega-mansions.

Generac 22kW PowerPact

  • Robust 22kW output for larger homes
  • Compact and lightweight only 359 pounds
  • Weatherproof galvannealed steel enclosure
  • Flexible for natural gas or liquid propane
  • Evolution Controller for total generator management
  • Covered by a 5 year limited warranty

This powerful but portable PowerPact model offers flexibility for easy setup and protection from the elements. It’s ideal for harsh locations and extreme weather.

Whole house generators, white outside a brown fence.

How Much Does a Whole House Generator Cost?

The cost to purchase and install a home standby generator system ranges from $5,000 to $15,000 depending on the power output, fuel type and complexity of installation. Let’s break down the costs:

  • Equipment – The generator unit itself ranges from $3,000 to $12,000 for sizes between 15kW to 30kW. Smaller portable generators are $1,000 to $3,000.

  • Fuel System – Natural gas line installation averages $500 to $1,500. Propane fuel storage tanks, regulators and lines add $1,000 to $2,000.

  • Transfer Switch – The automatic transfer switch averages $1,000 to $2,000 depending on amperage rating.

  • Installation – Expect to pay an average of $2,000 to $5,000 for professional generator installation labor and materials.

  • Ongoing Costs – Maintenance is approximately $250 for an annual system tune-up. Fuel consumption varies, but expect to spend $200 to $500 annually on natural gas or propane.

Financing options like home equity loans can make whole house generators more affordable. The monthly loan payment may be less than high electricity bills without power!

Properly Sizing Your Whole House Generator

Choosing the correct generator size for your home is crucial. An undersized unit won’t adequately power your household loads, while oversizing is expensive and inefficient.

Follow this process to determine the optimal power output:

  • Take Inventory – Review utility bills and list all essential electrical loads you want powered. Include lights, appliances, HVAC system, well pump, security system, etc.

  • Calculate Total Watts – Add up the starting and running wattages of these loads. Size for your expected maximum load.

  • Factor In Startup Surge – Most generators need an extra 30% to 40% capacity to handle starting surge when loads initially kick on.

  • Choose Your Generator – Select a standby generator that meets your total kilowatts needed, multiplied by 1.3 to 1.4 for the startup surge. Also ensure its voltage, amps, and phases match your electrical service.

  • Consider Future Expansion – It’s smart to oversize your generator slightly to allow for added circuits or increased power demands down the road.

Consult a qualified electrician or sizing specialist if needed. Precise generator sizing prevents wasted capacity while still powering your entire home.

How to Install a Whole House Generator

While it’s technically possible for some homeowners to DIY their generator installation, we strongly recommend having professional electricians and plumbers handle it unless you have expertise in those trades yourself.

Here are the main steps involved:

  • Obtaining proper permits and approval of all installation plans

  • Selecting a suitable outdoor location away from windows, doors and fresh air intakes

  • Mounting the unit on a concrete generator pad with vibration isolation

  • Running the correct gauge electrical wires to the home’s main panel and transfer switch

  • Installing the automatic transfer switch properly integrated with household circuits

  • Adding the appropriate fuel line for the generator’s natural gas or propane supply

  • Performing a complete electrical inspection and system function test

Always comply with your local building codes, which commonly require permits and inspections for emergency generator installations to ensure they meet all safety standards. The electrical connections and transfer switch setup are complex and best left to qualified electricians and plumbers unless you have training.

Maintaining Your Whole House Generator

Follow these tips to keep your home backup generator in working order for decades:

  • Run monthly tests for at least 10-15 minutes under 25-50% of rated load

  • Perform annual professional maintenance tune-ups

  • Routinely inspect fuel lines, battery, wiring and all components

  • Replace air, oil and fuel filters per the manufacturer’s specifications

  • Only use factory approved replacement parts to avoid damaging unit

  • Keep the generator sheltered in a weatherproof enclosure

  • Use fuel additives and stabilizers for natural gas or propane as needed

  • Install steel mesh guards to protect against rodents, birds and insect nests

  • Check hoses, fittings and gaskets for cracks or leaks

  • Test and reset the transfer switch annually

  • log hours run to follow maintenance schedule

Proper care and maintenance will extend the life of your generator and ensure it operates reliably when you need it most. Never hesitate to contact the manufacturer or dealer for assistance.

Additional Whole House Generator Accessories

Here are some popular accessories to enhance your home backup generator system:

  • Remote Monitoring – Cellular or Wi-Fi connectivity lets you check generator status and get alerts from anywhere.

  • Load Shedding – Reduces non-essential loads to maximize limited generator power.

  • Sound Attenuating Enclosures – Further reduce noise levels for whisper-quiet operation.

  • Cold Weather Kits – Enables reliable operation in freezing temperatures.

  • Extended Warranties – Provides extra years of protection and service coverage.

  • Maintenance Kits – Bundles recommended maintenance parts for DIY tune-ups.

  • Concrete Pads – Provides a ready-to-go foundation for generator installation.

  • Batteries – Backup batteries ensure the generator starts reliably.

  • Fuel Tanks – Turnkey propane tanks eliminate the need to refill constantly.

Consider which accessories would be most valuable for your needs and property when planning your ideal whole house generator system.

Whole House Generator Safety Tips

While today’s home standby generators are very safe when properly installed and maintained, here are some important safety precautions:

  • Never operate a generator inside homes, garages or other enclosed areas due to deadly carbon monoxide emissions.

  • Install CO detectors around your home as an extra precaution.

  • Keep children away from the generator at all times – install fencing if needed.

  • Avoid contacting hot exhaust components like the muffler.

  • Refuel only when the unit is turned off and has cooled down.

  • Ensure the transfer switch prevents any chance of backfeeding the utility lines.

  • Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to prevent potential shocks.

  • Keep all flammable liquids away from the generator fuel and exhaust.

Abiding by the manufacturer’s safety recommendations allows for worry-free operation. Never hesitate to consult an expert if you have any safety related questions.

Finding the Right Whole House Generator for You

Choosing a home backup generator tailored to your needs and budget is an important decision. We hope this comprehensive guide gave you all the key factors to consider when selecting, sizing, installing and operating your perfect whole house generator solution.

The most important purchasing criteria come down to:

  • Sufficient power output to match your home’s electrical loads
  • Choosing your preferred fuel between natural gas and propane
  • Seeking a quiet, high-quality unit from a leading brand
  • Factor in a lengthy warranty and professional installation

Investing in a standby generator from trusted manufacturers like Generac, Cummins/Onan, or Kohler provides the most reliable backup power to ride out power outages in peace. Protect your home and family from the next storm with whole house power security. Never let a blackout disrupt your comfort again!

To Summarize:

  • A home standby generator restores power when the utility grid fails
  • Calculate your needed generator size based on household loads
  • Compare fuel type, noise level, warranty, and brand reputation
  • Professional installation is strongly advised to meet building codes
  • Proper sizing prevents disappointment from underpowering
  • Regular maintenance keeps your system in working order
  • Follow all safety precautions and manufacturer recommendations

We hope this complete guide gives you confidence to choose the perfect whole house generator to keep your home powered through any power outage. Stay warm, safe and comfortable no matter what weather heads your way!

Kohler whole house generator outside a house on gravel.


Q: What is a whole house generator?

A: A whole house generator is a backup power solution that is designed to provide electricity to an entire home during an outage. It is installed permanently and is connected to the home’s electrical system to automatically kick in when the main power supply fails.

Q: How does a whole house generator work?

A: When there is a power outage, the whole house generator automatically detects the loss of power and switches on. It runs on either propane or natural gas and generates electricity to power the home’s electrical system, ensuring that essential appliances and systems continue to function smoothly.

Q: What size whole house generator do I need for my home?

A: The size of the whole house generator you need depends on the power requirements of your home. Consider the wattage of essential appliances and systems you want to power during an outage to determine the appropriate size of the generator.

Q: What is a transfer switch for a whole house generator?

A: A transfer switch is a device that connects the whole house generator to the main electrical panel of the home. It allows the generator to safely and seamlessly switch the power supply from the utility grid to the generator during an outage and vice versa when power is restored.

Q: What are the benefits of having a whole house generator?

A: A whole house generator provides peace of mind by ensuring that your home has continuous power during outages. It protects your home’s systems and appliances, ensures comfort and safety for you and your family, and can prevent costly damage caused by power interruptions.

Q: How to choose the best whole house generator for my home?

A: When choosing the best whole house generator for your home, consider factors such as the size and power requirements of your home, fuel type preference, brand reputation, warranty, and professional installation services. Assessing these factors will help you make an informed decision.

Q: Should I opt for a home standby generator or a portable generator?

A: While portable generators are suitable for providing temporary power to specific appliances, a home standby generator is a permanent, automatic solution that powers the entire home. For long-term and comprehensive backup power, a home standby generator is the better choice.

Q: Can a whole house generator be powered by solar energy?

A: Yes, there are whole house generators available that can be powered by solar energy. These solar-powered generators harness energy from the sun to generate electricity, offering a sustainable and environmentally friendly backup power solution for your home.

Q: What maintenance is required for a whole house generator?

A: Regular maintenance, including checking the fuel supply, testing the system, and ensuring that the transfer switch is functioning correctly, is essential for the reliable operation of a whole house generator. It’s advisable to schedule professional maintenance to keep the generator in optimal condition.

Q: What is the cost of installing a whole house generator?

A: The cost of installing a whole house generator varies depending on factors such as the size of the generator, fuel type, installation complexity, and any additional features. It’s recommended to obtain quotes from reputable generator dealers and installation professionals to determine the total cost.



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