DuroMax XP12000EH Generator
Portable Generators

The Ultimate Home Generators Buying Guide: The TOP 5 Best Options

Electricity is an essential resource for running modern homes. If you are on the grid, power outages can spell disaster to your household. For starters, you will be unable to run critical appliances such as heaters and air conditioners, refrigerators, lighting systems, phones, and television. You can also suffer major losses in case the food in your freezer and refrigerator goes bad. For these reasons, you need a reliable fallback plan during power outages. 

The ideal solution to frequent power outages is investing in a standby generator. Unfortunately, it comes at a premium cost. Where cost is an issue, portable home generators come in handy. Now shopping for the best generator for home is not a walk in the park. The market is flooded with hundreds of products and getting the right generator that suits your needs is not easy. 

Luckily, we have scoured the internet for the best home generator brands in the market in terms of power output, ease of use, and noise levels. Also, we have selected the TOP 5 whole-home generator models that we feel would work great for you! It’s our hope that as you read through this guide, you will find one that works for you.

Home Generator Buying Guide

When shopping for generators for home use, it is wise to go for products that can meet your domestic power needs. To achieve this, you will need to understand how portable a portable generator for the house works, and its limitations. Let’s examine some of some concerns most consumers have when buying portable generators for home use.

Can you run a house on a generator full-time?

Before addressing this concern, it is important to understand some basic facts about portable generators. For starters, generators use engines to burn fossil to produce a rotational motion that turns electrical alternators to generate electricity. These engines are susceptible to wear and tear and can only run for an average of 2,000 hours, after which you will need to replace them.

Now, if you intend to run your house on a generator full-time, it means that you only have about 84 days of runtime. You will need to buy a new generator every three weeks. You will also need to buy about 20 gallons of gasoline every day. If you do the maths, it is way expensive to run your home generator full-time. However, if you are using it as a backup, it will serve you a long time. For example, if you use the generator for an average of 100 hours per year, it can serve you for 20 years.

How big of a generator do I need to run a house?

While a generator with a 5,000W to 7,000W power rating can run the critical appliances in most homes, such as refrigerator, television, and sump pump you will require a machine with a higher output. A portable generator with a 12,000 watts power rating and above will run most homes with ease. However, if you have a big house with many appliances, you may need a bigger generator. Here, you will need to compute the total wattage of your appliances to estimate the wattage of your ideal generator.  

How to Choose the Right Home Generator for You

When choosing the best whole house generator, there are several factors you need to consider, as explained below:

Surge Wattage 

Surge wattage is the highest power a generator can provide, albeit temporarily. Surge wattage comes in handy when starting appliances. Usually, the starting wattage of appliances with electric motors three times their running wattage. Therefore, when determining the suitability of a generator in powering your home, make sure that its peak wattage is higher than the required power needed to start your appliance with the highest power rating.

Running Wattage

Running wattage is also referred to as rated wattage. Rated wattage is the power that a generator can generate consistently. For electrical appliances, the rated wattage is the amount of power needed to run them. Therefore, you need to compute the total wattage of your electrical devices before you decide on the running wattage of your home generator. The total wattage of your devices should never exceed that of your generator. If this happens, you will overload the generator and possibly damage it.

Power Outlets

Find out the power outlets available on a generator control panel. The voltage and current ratings of the power sockets must match those of your house’s mains electricity. The best power generators for home use come with transfer switch-ready outlets. This way, it will be easy to connect your house to the generator. If you are not sure of which ports to use for your house, consult a qualified electrician in your area.

Fuel Type

As stated earlier, most portable generators for home use run on fossil fuel. These include diesel, gasoline, and propane. Some models feature dual-fuel technology and can run on either gas or LPG. These models give you the flexibility of using the fuel that is available in your area. This flexibility can be a lifesaver, especially during emergencies. Moreover, a generator that runs on both LPG and gas requires less maintenance than models that run on gasoline only.

Price

The price of a home generator determines whether you can afford it. However, when shopping for one, the price should not be the only thing to consider. If you go for a cheap that does not meet your needs, you will not have solved your problem. The best approach would be shopping for a quality product within your budget that best suits your needs. With a budget between $,1000 and $1,800 you can get a portable generator that can run your home.

Noise Level

A generator that can run your whole home comes with a heavy-duty engine. While most models feature noise-reducing mufflers, their noise level rating cannot compare with that of inverter generators. The best models in this category produce between 70dB(A) to 76 dB(A). Therefore, a generator with a noise level rating of 74dB(A) is within the safe range for household use.

Starting Mechanism

The best generators for home use feature dual starting mechanisms. These include electric and recoil start. The electric start mechanism uses a starter which is powered by a battery. All you need to do is push a button and the engine will start. Sometimes a battery can be low on charge. When this happens, you cannot start the generator with the electric starter. Here manual recoil starter will come in handy.

Warranty

The warranty of a product shows how much faith a manufacturer has in the quality of their products. For home generators, the top brands in the market offer clients up to 3 years of limited warranty on their products. Within this period you return a generator to the manufacture if it is defective and get it fixed or replaced without incurring additional costs.

Safety Tips for Running Home Generators

There many things that can go wrong when running operating a home generator. For instance, failure to operate a generator properly can lead to electrocution. Such accidents occur because of poor installation, using frayed cables, or operating the generator in a wet environment. 

  • To avoid electrocution, have a certified electrician install a transfer switch that allows you to connect the generator to your house mains. Do not plug your generator directly to the mains as this can lead to a back feed to the grid and expose technicians working on the grid lines to high voltages. 
  • Also, avoid using frayed cables as they can leak electricity and cause accidents to both people and household pets. Always operate your generator on dry ground and in case of precipitation, put it under a shade.  
  • Another problem associated with home generators is the emission of carbon monoxide gas as part of the exhaust fumes. Excessive exposure to this gas can cause asphyxiation and eventual death if you do not get help quickly. To avoid this situation, do not run the generator inside the house or garage. Always keep it outside, away from doors or windows. 
  • Avoid touching hot surfaces of the generator as this can cause burns. Keep the generator away from flammable substances such as gasoline and LPG. If you spill gasoline while refilling the generator, wipe the spillage and wait for it to dry before starting the engine. Fumes from gasoline can ignite with the slightest spark and cause an explosion.
  • Do not insert objects in the open vents of the generator as this move can cause personal injury or damage the machine especially if it is running. Avoiding doing maintenance or repairing the generator if you are not a qualified technician. Most manufacturers provide a list of approved technicians who can service and repair their products. 

How to Use Home Generators?

  1. When you receive the shipment of your home generator, confirm whether it is the model that you had ordered and whether all accessories are in the package. Read through the owner’s manual and familiarize yourself with the product features. Most manuals will have instructions on how to start and run the generator. 
  2. Before you connect the generator to your house, make sure that you have installed a transfer switch. Also, get quality power cables that can connect your house to the generator. When you are ready to use it, take it out outside, at least 20 feet away from your house. Keep the exhaust facing away from your windows or doors. 
  3. Fill the fuel tank with gasoline or connect the LPG hose pipe to the propane intake valve, or both depending on the model of your generator. If you have a dual-fuel model, select the preferred fuel type. Add oil to the recommended level. 
  4. Now, move the choke lover to the off position and hit press the start button to power the generator. When the engine starts, turn the choke lever to the ON position. When the generator stabilizes, plug your cable into the transfer switch-ready outlet. Now you can turn on your appliance and use them as you please. In case you run low on fuel. Turn off the generator and let it cool before refueling.

The TOP 5 Best Home Generators Review

1. Rainier R12000DF Dual Fuel Portable Generator

The Rainer brand is reputed for quality, reliable, and affordable power tools and generators such as the R12000DFDual Fuel Portable Generator. It comes with a one-touch electric start mechanism for added convenience. In case this mechanism fails for one reason or another, you can use its recoil restart as a backup. 

One of the best features of this portable generator is its impressive power output. 

When running on gasoline, the R12000DF gives you 12,000 surge watts and 9,500 running watts. This wattage is enough to power your household appliances such as a refrigerator, cooker, television, and sump pump. The R12000DF has an impressive 12 hours runtime on 50% load, thanks to its heavy-duty OHV 4-stroke engine and large capacity fuel tank. With this workhorse, you can be sure to keep your home for hours during power outages. 

While this generator weighs 200 pounds, it’s highly portable thanks to its wheel kit and a foldable handle. If you are an outdoor enthusiast, then the R12000DF is your ideal pick. It comes with an RV-ready 120/240V 50A (14-50R) AC outlet for quick setup. It also features transfer switch-ready outlets for quick connection to your home. 

When it comes to safety, this generator features a low-oil auto-shutoff mechanism and an overload circuit breaker.

SUMMARY

Runtime (at 50% load)12 Hours
Fuel TypeGasoline/Propane
WattageGasoline - 12000 Surge Watts, Propane - 10800 Surge Watts
Dimensions27.2 x 26.1 x 26 Inch
Weight200 lbs
Ignition System TypeElectronic/Recoil start
Voltage120V/240V
Engine Type457cc OHV 4 stroke engine
Output WattageGasoline - 9500 Watts, Propane - 8550 Watts
Tank Volume6.6 gal. (24.98 liters)
Noise Level74dB(A)
Warranty3 years

Rainier R12000DF Dual Fuel

Pros

  • Supports dual fuel
  • Easy to start
  • Multiple outlets
  • RV ready
  • Impressive runtime
  • Highly portable

Cons

  • High THD
  • No remote start
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2. Generac 7676 GP8000E Portable Generator

For more than six decades Generac has provided North American consumers with affordable and reliable home backup generators such as the Generac GP8000E Portable Generator. The GP8000E features advanced PowerRush technology which allows it to deliver 30% more starting power. This way you can support more appliances than when using other generators with comparable power output. 

The Generac GP8000E generator has a surge output of 10,000 watts and a running wattage of 8,000 watts. It also comes with a large capacity fuel tank of 7.5 gallons. These features allow you to power your home for 11 hours at 50% load. With a weight of 198 pounds, this generator is lighter than other models in its class. It comes with a foldable handle and never flat heavy-duty wheel kit for hassle-free transportation. The foldable handle saves you storage space.

When it comes to safety, the Generac GP8000E comes with COSense Technology which protects you against carbon monoxide poisoning. In case of a high concentration of carbon monoxide gas, the generator will alert you and shut down. Its engine comes with a splash lubrication mechanism which increases its life. This way, you can get value for your money.

If you are an outdoor enthusiast, this generator is what you need to get sufficient portable power anywhere anytime. It comes with RV-ready ports for quick setup. You can also use it to power your power tools in a remote work site. Compared to other generators in its class, the Generac GP8000E is quieter with a 70 dB(A) noise level.

SUMMARY

Runtime (at 50% load)11 Hours
Fuel TypeGasoline
Wattage10 000 Surge Watts
Dimensions27.2 x 27 x 26.5 Inch
Weight198 lbs
Ignition System TypeElectronic/Recoil start
Voltage120V/240V AC
Engine Type420cc OHV engine
Output Wattage8 000 Running Watts
Tank Volume7.5 gal (28.39 liters)
Noise Level70 dB(A)
Warranty3 years

Generac 7676 GP8000E

Pros

  • Digital data center
  • Multiple outlets
  • Electric start
  • Impressive runtime
  • 30% more starting power

Cons

  • No remote start
  • No clean power output
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3. DuroMax XP12000EH Generator

Power outages can be disruptive and costly. Unfortunately, they are prevalent during storms, when you need electricity. Luckily, with the DuroMax XP12000EH Portable Generator, you don’t have to endure prolonged power outages without electricity. It comes with enough power output of 12,000 surge watts and 9,500 running watts enough to run your home. This generator can run your air conditioner, sump pump, television, kitchen appliances, and DIY power tools at once. 

In case you want to use high wattage appliances or RVs, the DuroMax XP12000EH’s MX2 power boost technology doubles the output voltage to 240V and allows you to run your appliances without a hitch. It runs on both gasoline and propane, giving you the flexibility of using fuel of your choice, depending on availability. This technology comes with a low maintenance requirement, thereby saving you time and money.

The DuroMax XP12000EH features all-metal construction, which makes it highly durable. When it comes to portability, this generator comes with heavy-duty wheels which are puncture-free and a fordable hand that allows you to move it with ease. You don’t have to worry about the noise level of this generator as it operates within the normal range of 72 -74 dB(A). 

Other cool features of the DuroMax XP12000EH include multiple power outlets for both household and outdoor use, low oil auto-shutoff, and surge protector. It also adjusts its RPM according to the applied load. This feature saves your fuel consumption and lowers the noise level. 

SUMMARY

Runtime (at 50% load)Gasoline - 8.83 Hrs, Propane - 7.2 Hrs
Fuel TypeGasoline/Propane
WattageGasoline - 12 000 Surge Watts, Propane - 11 400 Surge Watts
Dimensions29 x 30 x 26 Inch
Weight224 lbs
Ignition System TypeElectronic/Recoil start
Voltage120V/240V AC/12V DC
Engine Type457cc OHV engine
Output WattageGasoline - 9 500 Running Watts, Propane - 9 025 Running Watts
Tank Volume8.3 gal (31.42 liters)
Noise Level74 dB(A)
Warranty3 years

DuroMax XP12000EH Generator

Pros

  • Supports dual fuel
  • Heavy-duty power output
  • Easy to setup
  • Electric start
  • Highly portable

Cons

  • High THD (<12%)
  • Low fuel-efficient
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4. Pulsar 12,000W Dual Fuel Portable Generator (PG12000B)

Pulsar Products specializes in providing ingenious power products for both worksite and home use. These include power tools, air compressors, pressure washers, lawnmowers, and generators. The Pulsar PG12000B Dual Fuel Portable Generator was designed to help your weather any power outage during disasters. 

It comes with a heavy-duty engine that delivers 12,000W surge/9,500W running wattage on gasoline and 10,800W surge/8,550W running power on propane. This power output is enough to run your home, heavy-duty power equipment at your worksite, and RV appliances for your outdoor needs.

Unlike most models in its class, this generator comes with an innovative Switch & Go technology that allows you to switch between the fuel types while the generator is running. With this feature, you can extend your runtime. It is also fuel-efficient. At 50% load, this generator can run for 12 hours on gasoline thanks to its large 8-gallon fuel tank, while a 20-pound propane tank gives you 5 hours of runtime. 

This generator comes with six power outlets which include 120V 5-20R, 120V/240V 14-50R, and L14-30R receptacle sockets. The transfer switch-ready design makes it easy to connect to your house breaker box. It also comes with a 12V DC outlet for added convenience when charging your battery power packs. 

The Pulsar PG12000B features a puncture-free wheel kit and drop-down handle design for hassle-free portability and storage. For starting this generator, all you need is to push its electric start button and in case it fails, you still have the recoil start mechanism as a backup. For noise level, the generator is rated at 74dB(A), which is within the normal range for household use.

Pulsar Dual Fuel (PG12000B)

SUMMARY

Runtime (at 50% load)Gasoline - 12 Hrs, Propane - 5 Hrs
Fuel TypeGasoline/Propane
WattageGasoline - 12 000 Surge Watts, Propane - 10 800 Surge Watts
Dimensions28.5 x 21.8 x 22.2 Inch
Weight209 lbs
Ignition System TypeElectronic/Recoil start
Voltage120V, 240V AC/ 12V DC
Engine Type457cc OHV engine
Output WattageGasoline - 9 500 Running Watts, Propane - 8 550 Running Watts
Tank Volume8 gal (30.28 liters)
Noise Level74 dB(A)
Warranty2 years

Pulsar Dual Fuel (PG12000B)

Pros

  • Electric start
  • Robust and durable design
  • Impressive runtime
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • No remoter start
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5. Firman H08051 Dual Fuel Portable Generator

The FIRMAN brand is wholly owned by the Sinomach company. It specializes in building highly efficient and durable generators to provide you with portable power anywhere, anytime. For instance, the Firman H08051 Hybrid Dual Fuel portable generator comes in a durable design that is sure to give you value for money. It runs on both gasoline and propane, giving you the flexibility of using whichever of the fuels is available. 

With an output of 10,000 peak watts / 8000 rate watts on gas, and 9,050 starting watts / 7,250 running watts on propane, this portable generator is sure to meet your household power needs. It features five AC power outlets including L5-30R and L14-30R twist lock that are transfer switch ready for quick connection to your house breaker box during emergencies. 

The Firman H08051 comes with a noise level rating of 74dB(A) and therefore suitable for domestic use. It is ergonomically designed for hassle-free transportation. Moreover, the foldable handles ensure that the generator doesn’t take additional storage space. 

This generator features both electric and recoil start mechanisms so that you have a backup plan to get it running in case the battery is low on charge. The Firman H08051 comes with a low-oil auto-shutoff feature and an overload circuit breaker to protect it from getting damaged.

SUMMARY

Runtime (at 50% load)Gasoline - 12 Hrs, Propane - 5 Hrs
Fuel TypeGasoline/Propane
WattageGasoline - 10 000 Surge Watts, Propane - 9 050 Surge Watts
Dimensions30.2 x 27.5 x 26.3 Inch
Weight212 lbs
Ignition System TypeElectronic/Recoil start
Voltage120V/240V AC
Engine Type439 cc OHV 4-stroke engine
Output WattageGasoline - 8 000 Running Watts, Propane - 7 250 Running Watts
Tank Volume8 gal (30.28 liters)
Noise Level74 dB(A)
Warranty3 years

Firman H08051

Pros

  • Electric start
  • Multiple outlets
  • Perfect for home use
  • Impressive runtime
  • Fuel efficient

Cons

  • High THD (<25%)
  • No remote start
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FAQs

What is the lifespan of a whole house generator?

The average lifespan of a whole house generator is 2,000 runtime hours. Therefore, if you operate the generator for an average of 100 hours per year, you use it for about 20 years. If you use it more often, then it will last for a lesser time.

Will a 22 kW generator run my house?

Yes. Most generators with a 10 kW output can run the critical appliances in a home. With a 22kW generator, you can run the average home without a hitch.

Do you need a permit to install a house generator?

Certainly! Generator installations in properties must be conducted by licensed electricians. Moreover, a certified inspector must approve the installation before you can plug the generator into your house transfer switch.

How far does a generator need to be from the house?

A generator should be kept at least 20 feet from the house, in an open, dry, and dust-free ground. These conditions allow for the safe operation of the generator. 

Does a home generator add value to my property?

Yes. An approved home generator installation can raise the value of your house by about 5%.