How to Pick the Right Generator for You: Portable Generator Vs. Standby Generator Buying Guide

So, you know you want a generator, but the options seem overwhelming. Luckily, deciding which one you need is pretty easy. So let’s walk through the scenarios that would warrant a portable generator and those where a standby unit would be a better option.

Portable power – so many uses, so many places

The greatest thing about portable generators* is their versatility. They’re relatively small and transportable, and can power everything from your microwave to a motorhome. But if you’re only going to use your generator** to provide backup power your home, portability may not be a necessity.

With that said, here’s when I would select a portable generator, such as these Briggs & Stratton models, as my go-to power unit:

  • You live in a region where natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes and ice storms, are not common occurrences.
  • When the power goes out where you live, it is generally restored in less than 24 hours.
  • In an emergency, you only need to power a handful of home appliances simultaneously, such as your refrigerator and microwave, and lights.
  • You camp regularly and need power for your RV or campsite comforts.
  • You like to bring power your tailgate parties or other hobbies away from home.

Again, the versatility of portable generators is what makes them so appealing. Also, if you’re on a budget, they’re less expensive than their standby counterparts.

Standby power – ultimate peace of mind.

One of the largest benefits of standby generators is that they are wired directly into your home’s electrical system, so if the power goes out, the generator automatically takes over and provides your home with the power it needs to maintain a comfortable environment. Standby generators can provide a whole house power in order to accommodate essential home elements such as a furnace or A/C, at the same time as your stove and washer and dryer.

There are many different options available when it comes to back up power. Here’s when to select a standby generator as your primary backup power source:

  • You live in an area hit frequently by severe weather, such as hurricanes and tornadoes.
  • You live in a largely rural area, where emergency services are limited.
  • You have a large home that will require a significant amount of power to function normally during an outage.
  • You want peace of mind and to protect your home from costly outages.
  • You have second home with critical appliances such as a sump pump or furnace that require automatic power.

Of course, if you want the ultimate protection at home while also being able to take your power on the road, you may want to consider having both a portable and a standby generator.

Regardless of your selection, make sure you use your generator correctly to keep you and your family safe. For more information and safety tips, read our Portable Generator Safety blog, visit or Briggs & Stratton’s other tips, FAQs and videos to help you get the most out of your generator and stay safe in the process.

*If connecting a portable generator into your home electrical system, have a licensed electrician install an Emergency Manual Power Transfer System.

**Portable Generators Manufacturers Association (PGMA) urges users to Take It Outside™ and that all portable generators should be used safely and in accordance with the owner’s manual provided by the manufacturer. See for more details.

NOTICE: Customer service questions are not monitored via the blog. If you need assistance with your Briggs & Stratton engine or power equipment, please contact our Answer Center or post your question to our User Community.