generator, portable generator, standby generator, whole house generator

Do You Need A Portable Or Home Standby Generator

Buying the right generator is personal. It has to do with your power needs, your budget, how you view convenience and where you live. This process doesn’t have to be difficult, and generator experts are available to help you with this buying decision. Nonetheless, there are several personal questions you need to answer before choosing between a portable or residential standby generator.

Stormy Weather Ahead

generator, portable generator, standby generator, whole house generatorA nasty winter storm blows in, you are stuck at home, and now the power is out. It’s time to prioritize your power needs. If you are interested in backing up the basics and have a smaller budget, a portable generator may be your best choice. If you want to power your entire home and are comfortable with a higher price point, an automated residential standby generator makes sense. But that’s the big picture. Personal variables will always affect your choice.

Watts Necessary?

Most generators are categorized by the wattage they deliver, so it’s critical to estimate your energy consumption during an outage. Acme Tools has access to wattage calculators, worksheets, and specialists who can help you.  If you would like to take this task head on for yourself, Generac offers a Home Standby Calculator or  Portable Calculator.

Think about what you want your life to be like during the next power failure. To provide backup power for a warm house with the lights on, dinner in the oven, a desktop computer for work and your kids watching television, you will want to consider the following:

  • Furnace blower fan – 700 watts
  • Living room lighting (incandescent) – 300 w
  • Refrigerator and freezer – 800 w
  • Electric water heater – 4000 w
  • Desktop computer and monitor – 250 w
  • Large color plasma TV – 300 w
  • Electric range (one burner) – 2000 w
  • Microwave oven – 1200 w

What’s Your Budget?

generator, portable generator, standby generator, whole house generatorWith a portable generator, you may have to trim your energy load depending upon the generator size, but you can also count on spending a lot less. Generally speaking, portable generators range from $500.00 to $3,000.00 depending upon their power output. So that you don’t have to run extension cords everywhere, and so you can back up hardwired appliances, like your furnace, don’t forget to account for the cost of having a licensed professional install a transfer switch. With a transfer switch, you can deliver power from the portable gen-set through your home’s electrical system via a single power cord.

generator, portable generator, standby generator, whole house generatorWith an automatic home standby generator, you won’t have to manually start the gen-set, plug it into a transfer switch or worry about refueling. These units sense when the power is out and start up automatically within seconds. However, that convenience comes at a higher price point. Many popular models cost between $3,000 and $5,000. They also have to be installed by a qualified professional who can ensure that they meet all national and local building and electrical codes.

What’s Your Nature?

How do you feel about going outside when ice coats the trees, limbs snap and power lines fall? You have to be willing and safely able to trek into a wintry mess to turn on your portable generator and keep it fueled. Due to potentially deadly carbon monoxide exhaust emissions, you must also ensure your portable generator is not running in or near any enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces, windows, doors or vents.

By comparison, a home standby generator can be installed right outside your home — just like a central air conditioner — and wired into your electrical system via an automatic transfer switch. Because it turns on and off automatically, you can stay snug in your home.

Where Do You Live?

generac-home-droughtIf you live in a rural area, you inevitably have power challenges. According to the federal government, about 40 million Americans live in rural counties where power outages occur more frequently and last longer. Most rural power lines are older and above ground, which makes them vulnerable to bad weather conditions. It also takes longer — perhaps days — to get repair crews to remote locations. In rural America, a generator is usually a given, and you might even consider a home standby unit a necessity instead of a luxury.

When Should I Buy A Generator?

The old saying, “There is no time like the present,” aptly fits when it comes to buying a generator. No one enjoys being left in the cold and dark when extreme weather strikes. This is especially true of automatic home standby generators, as they require installation, which you will have to schedule with a licensed installer.

A generator may be a personal decision, but whichever generator you choose, think about buying it sooner rather than later. The next winter storm could be around the corner, and you will be relieved to ride it out in the safety and comfort of a home with backup power.

This Blog Post was created in cooperation with Generac Power Systems.  Acme Tools is a proud distributor of Generac products.


  • John Evans

    November 30, 2016 at 5:24 am

    We are wanting to buy a standby generator. We used 7554 KW, in 2015. can you tell us approx. the correct size, and cost? Please? ph ***-***-****

    • Acme Tools

      November 30, 2016 at 2:44 pm

      Hi John, The KW’s used in a year is helpful but best way to size a generator is to base it off of the wattage needed at one time. Please contact our Customer Support department at 1-877-345-2263 Opt #2 and they will be able to assist you with the proper sizing. If you prefer not to call in please let us know and we will have someone reach out to you. For security reasons we removed your phone number from your comment.

      Thank you,
      Acme Tools

  • Max Jones

    May 31, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    I really like how you talked about now always being a good time to look into buying generators. My wife and I are really big on emergency preparedness, and I think that having generators that we could turn to would be really helpful. I’m going to have to share this article with her, and see if she agrees that “there’s no time like the present” to get our generator!

  • Standby generators

    November 2, 2017 at 6:06 am

    Stand-by generators can provide many benefits for homeowners, especially in a place with common outages. There’s nothing like peace of mind when it comes to having a solution for you and your family during an outage.

  • Matt

    November 4, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    I really like my GP2200i. 2200 watts isn’t a ton of power but it’s really all I need for my camping and tailgating use. For home backup, I would probably want more. Good point about not waiting until you really need it. A generator is definitely something that’s good to have before you need it.

    You didn’t mention noise level at all. Some of these generators can be super noisy. Do you know how loud the average automatic home standby generator is compared to portables?

    • Acme Tools

      November 6, 2017 at 9:35 am

      Hi Matt, Thank you for your comment. The Generac GP2200i is a great generator for camping and tailgating like you mentioned. The GP2200i is one of the quietest generators on the market so when we compare a typical home standby to a typical portable generator they are close to even or the home standby may be a little quieter. The reason for this is that although the home standby may have a larger engine, they often incorporate sound deadening material into their housings thus making them quieter at a distance. We compared 2 common Generac generators and found that the 11KW home standby was 65db and the 10,000Watt portable generator was in the upper 80’s db. The 2200 Watt GP2200i comes in closer to 60db.

      Thank you,
      Acme Tools

  • Ashley Maxwell

    December 6, 2017 at 10:28 pm

    Thanks for your comment about how you should buy a generator that you can afford and that works in case of an emergency. I like how you said that they are very useful when you live somewhere with a lot of storms. My husband and I live in New York and it gets very cold and snowy so we are looking into getting a generator just in case we end up needing it.

  • Kathleen Bailey

    May 7, 2021 at 10:56 pm

    Both of them are helpful and convenient. For better understanding, a portable generator is primarily useful for campsites and picnics. While a professionally installed home standby generator can meet all the electrical power you require without interruption. So, it really depends on your situation. But our clients most prefer home standby generator because of the many benefits it has.

  • Jeannette Walsh

    May 26, 2021 at 1:41 am

    Thanks for the important tips for us! This is so perfect for our house. We have occasional power outages during bad storms, and we get a lot of sun on our property.

  • Desiree Gutierrez

    May 26, 2021 at 3:04 am

    Thank you for sharing a great article post! I just bought the 200w system for my airstream & I’m looking forward to using it. I also had the lifeline glass mat batteries installed.

  • SOS Survival Products

    April 18, 2022 at 4:42 pm

    This has been very helpful. I like how you provided a price range. You mentioned that generators range from $500.00 to $3,000.00. What do you think is the ideal budget if you want a good quality power generator?


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