You are in Phoenix. We also have a Tucson site.

You are in Phoenix. We also have a Tucson site.

You are in Phoenix. We also have a Tucson site.

Your Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Generator for Your Home

When a blackout strikes, is your home prepared? Finding the right generator can be daunting. This guide demystifies the “generator in home” concept, comparing standby and portable options, and walking you through the vital features that match your emergency power requirements. We’ll help you invest wisely in a generator that fits your specific needs and budget, without the technical jargon.

Key Takeaways

  • Standby generators are for permanent setup and automatic operation, while portable generators are flexible, temporary solutions with options like inverter generators that are lighter and quieter.

  • Important generator features include fuel gauge visibility, automatic low oil shutoff, electric or remote start, safety mechanisms like automatic CO shutoff, and multiple power outlets.

  • Choosing the right generator involves assessing your power needs, matching the generator to its intended use, and factoring in installation and maintenance costs — with whole house generators lasting over 20 years with proper care.

Understanding Home Generators: The Basics


As our reliance on electricity expands, the importance of home generators is more evident than ever, especially in Arizona where the monsoon season can lead to sudden and unexpected power outages. Having a backup power system is not just a convenience, but a necessity to keep your home safe and comfortable during these intense storms. They are a modern-day necessity, powering essential home systems and preserving your family’s comfort during power emergencies. In Arizona, where the monsoon season can be particularly harsh, having a generator means ensuring your air conditioning stays on during the scorching summer heat and your lights remain bright when the skies turn dark.

Standby generators and portable generators constitute the two primary types of home generators available for selection, each with their own set of advantages for Arizona homeowners.

Standby generators, installed permanently, are larger, permanent solutions while portable generators provide a temporary power source.

Each type of generator runs on a variety of fuel sources including: 

  • gasoline

  • diesel

  • natural gas

  • solar power

Standby Generators: Your Permanent Power Solution

Acting as a permanent power solution, standby generators offer the following benefits:

  • They automatically engage during a power outage.

  • They run on natural gas or propane.

  • They can power your entire home for days or even weeks without refueling.

  • They have engines ranging from two to eight cylinders.

  • They’re designed to keep everything from your refrigerator to your AC running smoothly.

Equipped with a microprocessor-based controller, these generators manage starting procedures, routine tests, and diagnostics. This feature offers remote monitoring capabilities, allowing homeowners to keep tabs on their power supply from anywhere. So, whether you’re at home or away, a standby generator ensures your home never skips a beat.

Portable Generators: Flexibility in a Pinch

Contrarily, portable generators provide a swift and flexible solution during unexpected power outages. These generators run on gasoline, a readily available fuel source, making them a convenient choice for many. Portable generators, particularly inverter generators, are lighter and quieter than their traditional counterparts, making them less intrusive in residential settings.

Inverter generators also provide power that is suitable for household appliances. Whether it’s your refrigerator during a power outage, or your camping gear on a weekend getaway, portable generators ensure you have the power you need, when you need it.

Generator Features That Matter

If you’re considering purchasing a generator, several key features warrant your attention. For instance, a fuel gauge visibility feature is important as it helps you monitor fuel levels and plan refills accordingly. Similarly, a low oil shutoff mechanism, a feature that automatically turns off the generator when oil levels are low, protects your machine from damage.

The electric start, another critical feature, enables generator initiation at a button’s push, eliminating the need for strenuous pull cords. In fact, some modern generators offer remote starting via a smartphone app. This feature allows you to start your generator from the comfort of your home, making it a desirable feature for many.

Safety First: Automatic CO Shutoff and More

Safety holds paramount importance when dealing with generators. One crucial safety feature to look for is an automatic carbon monoxide (CO) shutoff system. This feature shuts off the generator when it detects dangerous CO levels, preventing carbon monoxide poisoning.

Another important safety practice is running your portable generator at least 20 feet from your home. This practice significantly reduces the risk of CO poisoning by ensuring that harmful exhaust is not sucked into your home. Remember, safety should always be your top priority when using generators.

Keeping Connected: Multiple Outlets for Your Needs

Offering multiple outlets, modern generators grant the flexibility to power several appliances at once. Whether you need to power your refrigerator, keep your home office running, or charge your phone during a power outage, a generator outdoors with multiple outlets ensures you stay connected when it matters most.

How to Choose the Right Generator for Your Home

Several factors, including your budget, power needs, and intended use, guide the selection of the right generator for your home. Whole house generators typically cost more than portable models, with prices ranging from $10,000 to $20,000 for installation. On the other hand, solar plus storage systems capable of running a home and charging batteries during a blackout range from $15,000 to $60,000.

However, you don’t necessarily need a generator that can power your entire home. You could opt for more power to only essential appliances and a few extra electronics to save on costs. This approach reduces the required generator capacity and might be a more economical choice.

Your specific needs and circumstances will ultimately determine the right generator for you. It’s important to consider these factors when making a choice.

Assessing Your Power Needs

Accurate assessment of your power needs is integral to choosing the right generator. Start by considering the power requirements of essential appliances such as:

  • the central A/C

  • fridge

  • freezer 

  • electric heaters

  • essential medical devices such as home dialysis machines, oxygen concentrators, and CPAP machines

Add up the wattage requirements of these appliances to get an estimate of your power needs.

Don’t forget to account for surge wattage, which is the initial boost of power appliances need to start. This wattage is usually higher than the running wattage, so make sure your generator can handle this extra demand. Once you’ve calculated the total starting wattages for all desired appliances, add an extra 15-25% to the sum to prevent overloading the generator and to cater for future electronics.

Matching Generator to Use Case

Once you’ve assessed your power needs, match your generator to its intended use. If you want to maintain normalcy during power outages by powering your entire home, you might need a generator with a capability of 20kW or above, which could cost more than $5,000.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to power only essential devices and a few additional electronics, a smaller generator could provide the necessary comfort and convenience. Portable generators are more affordable, with prices ranging from $400 to $1,500, and they’re versatile despite requiring manual setup.

Solar generators are ideal for remote locations or in areas with ample sunshine, as they provide an unlimited source of energy without the need for conventional fuels.

Installation Insights: The Role of a Licensed Electrician

After selecting your generator, the next step is installation, ideally performed by a licensed electrician. This ensures that the installation meets quality standards and adheres to the state’s electrical division’s standards. Although hiring a licensed electrician might cost more, it ensures financial protection for homeowners against potential risks or damage.

Licensed electricians facilitate the permitting and inspection processes, which can be challenging for homeowners to manage on their own.

Maintaining Your Investment

A generator is an investment that, like any other, needs regular maintenance for optimal performance and longevity. Regular maintenance includes weekly inspections, running the generator, checking fluid levels, and looking for leaks. Monthly maintenance involves inspecting battery cables, cleaning corrosion, checking engine coolant and oil levels, performing a load test, and replacing spark plugs and air filters every 200 hours of use.

Additionally, annual maintenance should include:

  • A thorough examination of the electrical system

  • Oil and filter changes

  • Cooling system flush

  • Wiring checks

  • Transfer switch tests

Proper maintenance can extend the lifespan of whole house generators to over 20 years, especially if used only a few days each year. So, remember, a little maintenance goes a long way in ensuring your generator is always ready to keep your lights on when you need it most.

Solar Generators: Harnessing the Sun's Power

With the global shift towards renewable energy sources, the popularity of solar generators is burgeoning. These generators are portable batteries that can be charged via solar panels or by plugging into the wall, offering a clean and quiet alternative to traditional engine-powered units. Home-use solar generators are available in a variety of sizes and power capacities, catering to different energy needs.

Solar generators, like the Jackery Solar Generator series, offer significant power output, enough to charge 99% of home appliances. They also come with safety features such as a Battery Management System for protection. However, the effectiveness of solar generators can vary based on geographic location and solar panel capacity. But with the right configuration of solar panels, some models can be fully charged in as little as 2.8 hours.

The Perks of Partnering with Parker & Sons for Your Generator Needs

Choosing the perfect generator for your home is a significant step and having a specialist like Parker & Sons to guide you through the process and beyond is invaluable. Specializing in in-home generators, Parker & Sons understands the intricacies of matching the right generator to your unique needs.

Our team is equipped to answer any questions homeowners may have about generators, installation nuances, and long-term maintenance. With Parker & Sons, you'll find more than just a service provider; you'll discover a dedicated company committed to ensuring your home is equipped with a reliable power source, tailored to your specific requirements. Schedule a quote today

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a generator a good investment for my home?

Yes, a generator can be a good investment for your home, especially if you live in an area prone to power outages or rely on essential medical equipment. It can provide convenience and peace of mind during emergencies or prolonged blackouts.

How much is a generator for a 2000 sq ft house?

The cost of a generator for a 2000 sq ft house will vary depending on the size. Keep in mind the size of the generator needed for your home to determine the cost.

How big of a generator is needed to run a house? 

You would need a generator that can provide between 5,000 and 8,000 watts to power a typical house, including essential appliances like the air conditioner, sump pump, refrigerator, laptop, TV, and light bulbs.

How does a generator work?

A generator works by using a gas combustion engine to convert fuel (natural gas or liquid propane) into electricity during electrical emergencies, providing power to the house.

What's the difference between a standby generator and a portable generator?

A standby generator is a permanent automatic power solution for your entire home, while a portable generator provides temporary and flexible power. The main difference is in their permanence and flexibility.

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