Portable vs Standby: Which Is A Better Choice?

Posted by Kenneth Poon on

The American power grid is becoming less and less reliable every year. There are power outages happening more often and they last longer than before.

With a lot of these power interruption happening, there are a lot of times when you will just sit down in the middle of darkness. You might also sweat a lot because there is no air conditioner. You might also eat canned meals while your $500 worth of food is spoiling in the freezer. Plus, your kids might start going crazy because there is no TV, no computer, no WiFi, and all.

Other than the occasional power interruption, they can also be routines. You might have no electricity for several hours or worse, for days! That is the reason why you should get a generator not only for yourself but for the whole family! The smaller, easily to carry, portable ones can be your key to power up your refrigerator and your microwave. The large ones can power up all the appliance in your house. 




The Portable Generators

A portable generator is a fast but temporary backup electricity solution for your homes. From the name itself, a portable generator is not permanently installed within the vicinity of your homes.

This type of generator is powered using gasoline. Because it is using gasoline, it is lower in operating costs and unit price. You can purchase a decent portable generator in your local supplier for just $400. It does not require any installation time as well. Because you can bring it anywhere, the portable gas generator is the best solution that our family can get when there is a power outage. You may get your appliances up and running quickly. However, the downside is that the portable generator can only serve as a backup resource for a few hours for a few items.

These portable generators need to be operated properly in order to prevent injuries from happening. Since they are emitting carbon monoxide when used, it must be run outside wherein they are away from the windows and doors.


The Standby Generators

Compared with the portable generators, standby generators are automatic and provides permanent backup power solution. Whenever there is a power outage in your home, the standby generator will turn on automatically to power up the appliances and other fixtures in your home. Your air conditioning, heater, and lights can go on for an extended period of time. With the automatic switch transfer switch, your home will change from utility to backup power effortlessly. So once there is power interruption, your home will be without power for just a few seconds. It will continue to be up and running and will service as a backup power immediately.

Unlike the portable generator, the standby generators are being powered by either liquid propane or by natural gas. You also need them to be properly installed by a professional outside your home. 

Since standby generators are safer and quieter than their portable counterpart, plus they work automatically without you needing to lift a finger, it is considered as a favorite for bigger homes. However, such convenience sure comes with a price. Along with the expensive units, you would also need to pay for professional consultation on which is the perfect size to use. The unit is also to be installed by a professional one too.

However, the prices stand for the product itself. Standby generators last for a long time, with an average of 15 years. Although you would need to make sure to have it properly maintained and you are following the maintenance schedule, the licensed service professionals can help you in ensuring the generator's reliability. For a lot of families, especially those who are using medical equipment in their houses, having a standby generator is priceless.

Now that you know about the differences between the two, let us now discuss the different usages of these two generators.

Any person, who is wishing that they have electricity when power is not available,  can truly appreciate the value of owning a generator which is always available for use. Whether you are using the generator as a backup power supply during an emergency power outage or you are using it regularly for recreation and convenience, there are a lot of things you can surely use them for.


Backup for Household Electrical Power

A lot of people are buying generators because they want to be prepared in cases of power interruption. Having a backup power source will help you keep the food inside your fridge fresh even if you do not have electricity for a long time. If you or one of your family members have health concerns, having another source of power during power failures is already a big help. Electrically powered medical equipment such as an oxygen-producing machine can run even if you are using a portable generator. 


Powering Up Your Small Business

Any small business can be greatly affected by a power failure, even if it is just a few hours. 

If you own a small business that provides client services like internet-based services, you can benefit a lot from owning a generator. Instead of stopping your operation and not getting sales from the customers, you can still continue your services even during power interruption. 

Just a tip, if you are using a portable generator to power up your computer, have a backup battery unit with you. Have this installed between the generator and the computer. Using backup batteries can help protect your computer against voltage drops and voltage spikes which can happen when using a generator.


Safety During Severe Climates

If there are severe climates happening in your area most of the time, it is advisable to purchase a generator. If you live in an extremely cold place, having power failure for several hours can be deadly. Without a generator to power up your heater or furnace can be an issue. If you are living in a coastal area, which is a hurricane lane, having a generator can help you a lot when there is a blackout.


Electrical Supply For Contractors

Contractors who work on building sites needs electricity in order to operate their tools. If there is a power interruption, how can they continue working?

Painters use electricity powered spray gun; roofers use air compressed nail guns. Contractors who work indoors are using lights to illuminate their work areas.

If the construction site does not have power or their power source is limited, they use portable generators. Without any power source, working onsite can compromise the safety of the workers. Plus, it will just double the time being spent to finish everything since they have to check it again once the electricity is up and working.


Recreational Activity

If you wanna go camping, you do not to have any primitive experiences at all. All you just need is you, your family or friends as companions, and the camping tools needed to start the trip.

One of the first things you will do during your first day is to drink coffee. However, how can you make some coffee to start your day if you do not have a coffee maker or an electric stove? Get RV generators, inverter generators or a portable camping generator!

The best camping generator is a silent camping generator. You would not like to wake up in the middle of the night because of your noisy power source! Or worse, you would not like to wake up because of your angry neighbors.

If you have a power source, you will surely enjoy your camping more. You can have electric fans, air conditioners, refrigerator, and microwave to name of the few appliances you can work with to make your trip a comfortable and enjoyable one.




Alternative Fuel Capability

A lot of portable generators run on gasoline. There are also which can run on propane or natural gas if you will use a conversion kit. 


Inverter Technology

If you will purchase and use an inverter, it will let you turn DC power into AC. This will allow you to use your everyday appliances with no issues at all. 


Helps to Reduce Noise Level

Generators are not the quiet workers. There are some additional features for a standby generator to help reduce the news created by the unit.


Transfer Switch

If you would like to use the generator to power your entire home during power interruption, you would need to use the right sized generator and also a transfer switch. The transfer switch will close off the utility power line of your home's electrical systems and will also open a direct line to your generator. Once power is restored, it will reverse the process again. If you will be purchasing a standby model, it will either work by manual or it can also work using an automatic transfer switch. Another advantage of using an automatic transfer switch is that it can detect when utility power has been lost. It also switches back to generator power.



Portable generators can be transferred from one location to another. With the smallest portable generator to weigh just 50 pounds, it can be easily transported and carried anywhere you will go.

However, if you wish to carry a bigger portable generator, it might give you a hard time. That is why putting on wheels on to it will make it easier especially if you will be moving it out from the garage to your shed.



A generator enclosure will help you in protecting your investment against the weather and other possible issues of damages. These enclosures come in either aluminum or solid steel. These enclosures can also store portable generators which can be plugged in and are ready to go. 

Enclosures are used most especially for standby generators. They are protecting these generators against animals, collision with lawn care tools, children, and will also protect it against the damages of the sun, moisture, and wind.


Mounting Pad

When you prepare your standby generator, the possibility of it sinking into the soil, dirt, and mud is very high. It might also damage the rubber parts of your unit. That is why using a mountain pad, which is a concrete pad, and place it underneath your generator and the enclosure is important. It will give you an extra amount of protection for your unit.


Display Option

Another safety add-on feature for your unit is the LCD or LED display. Having a screen display will make it easier for you to read the details of your unit. It makes night time operation quicker, easier, and safer too. It can help show the fuel level, if you need to do an oil change already or if there is a warning regarding your unit. You can easily evaluate the function of your equipment and if there are steps that you would need to take in order to continuously be safe and productive.


Remote Monitoring

If you are away from your home, in a business trip or working in your office, the remote monitoring will allow you to monitor and track the performance of your generator. All you just need to do is to log into a webbased application using your tablet, smart phone or computer. The remote monitoring system will send you alerts depending on the status of your generator; if the generator stops and starts, if it runs out of fuel, if it needs maintenance or if you need it for repair already. There are remote systems that can send and store data regarding the hours the generator run in a day. It can also give out details about the amount of fuel used which can help you in reviewing and evaluating your unit.

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