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Portable Standby Generators vs. Fixed Standby Generators

What are the key differences between portable and permanent standby generators?

Standby generators are used to ease or eliminate the inconvenience of prolonged power outages. There are two main options to choose from: portable generators and fixed generators. Use the information below to determine what the best option for your home may be.

Portable Generators


- No complex installation
- More affordable to purchase
- Wide range of sizes
- Ideal for camping and RVs


- Not ideal for extended power outages
- Does not turn on automatically
- Requires refueling
- Fuel can be hard to find in a disaster
- More of a safety risk
- Cannot power the entire home
- Requires extension cords
- Physically demanding to transport and start engine
- Unlikely to power central AC for furnace
- Noisy

The Bottom Line:

Portable generators are versatile and relatively easy to transport. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. When there is a power outage, you will be responsible for transporting the generator to the necessary location and connecting to the electrical load. If the power goes out and there is no one to connect the generator, you will not reap the benefits of having this backup power system. However, portable generators are much more affordable to purchase and install. Refueling, however, can be challenging during extended periods without power as the demand for gasoline tends to surge.

Fixed Generator


- Permanently installed, no need to transport it
- Automatically transfers electrical load (senses outage)
- Will work if you are not home
- Nearly unlimited run time
- Easy to use
- No extension cords
- Safer operation
- Adds value to your home
- Can run furnace and central AC
- Quieter
- No refueling


- Much more expensive to purchase and install
- Installation can be time-consuming
- Must have natural gas or liquid propane service
- Not portable

The Bottom Line:

Once the fixed generator is installed, you will rarely have to think about it again. There is no unit to transfer or switch to flip. Additionally, the generator will run weekly tests to make sure that the unit is prepared for a real emergency. When there is a power outage, the generator will take over the electrical load within a few seconds. When the regular electrical service begins working once again, the generator will transfer the load back and return to its standby mode. Fixed generators are typically connected directly to the natural gas or liquid propane service line so refueling is not a concern. Additionally, installing a permanent backup power source will likely add value to your home. However, the initial investment can be steep.


+ Cost of Standby Generator Installation

+ Air-cooled Generators vs. Liquid-cooled Generators

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About the Author

ProMatcher Staff, ProMatcher
Orlando, FL 32803

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