What homeowner isn't frustrated when a power outage occurs? Losing your lights and the ability to operate your appliances is extremely annoying. One good solution to this problem is to purchase a generator to deal with power emergencies. This article compares the two main types of generators available to homeowners: portable and standby. 

Main Differences 

A portable generator, as the name implies, is not fixed to any single spot and can be placed anywhere on your property. A standby generator is installed permanently in a selected location and is not movable. Another key distinction is that a standby generator will generally offer you much more power than a portable model. 

You will need to operate the portable generator manually, while the standby generator comes on automatically when an outage occurs. In some cases this distinction could be important. For instance, if the power goes out while you're on vacation, you will not be able to start a portable generator. This could cause food to spoil, among other problems. With a standby generator, your power is restored immediately regardless of whether you are at home.


One advantage of portable generators is that they are significantly less expensive than standby units. A small portable model can cost less than $1000, while a standby generator could cost several thousand dollars, depending on the size of your house and how much backup power you require. You can recoup some of the cost, however, when you sell your home, as these units add to the value of your property.  


Standby generators typically use natural gas or propane as a fuel source, while portable models usually run on gasoline. Portable generators need to be refilled with gasoline regularly, which can be inconvenient if the outage occurs in winter or during an extended period of bad weather. 

Also, there is a safety issue regarding portable units and gasoline. Operating portable generators can be hazardous in some instances because they release carbon monoxide, according to the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.  Never run one of these units inside of your home or in an enclosed area. Always operate a portable generator in an open space outside of your home.

Both standby generators and portable generators can be quite useful during a power outage. Which one is best for you depends on various factors such as your budget and the size of your house. For more information on this topic, contact a generator professional.