< Back to home

Whole house or portable generators – What’s the difference?

No doubt this has happened to you at one time or another: Left sitting around, at home, in the dark,  by candlelight (if you remember to have a stock of them that is!) and not being able to do much of anything because the power went out. After Superstorm Sandy hit last October, like hundreds of thousands of other folks in the Northeast, I wondered just how many more days I could last eating soup and beans (not together of course) heated on the gas range for the sixth day in a row after being left without power. Don’t get me wrong, I realize I was incredibly lucky in comparison to so many others who lost their homes and belongings.  But, after Hurricane Irene and then Superstorm Sandy and my daughter whining about why she had to eat the Dora soup again, I realized it was time.  We needed to look into a power backup generator for the future.  And then of course, the usual question “Where do I even begin to look?” and “What’s the best generator option for my home and needs?”

After doing some research, I realized that there were two types of generators:

1) Whole house generators

2) Portable generators

Apart from the name letting me know that one was more mobile than the other, I had no idea what the difference was. Now that  hurricane season is upon us again and a particularly active one is forecast, I did not want to be stuck without power again.

After doing some homework, I want to share what I discovered, so that we can all make the most informed decision. Whole house generators, also known as stationary models, are permanently installed outside your home and start as soon as the power goes out.  They usually wind up running on propane and some do need to be tap into a natural gas line.  Costs for a whole house generator can run up to thousands of dollars, depending on what you need to power up and how large your home is.  A portable generator can cost considerably less than a whole house generator.  They are not permanent and usually are easily stored  in a garage or shed.  Most people use a portable generator to power a TV, a few lights and a refrigerator to avoid losing thousands of dollars in spoiled food.

So, which one do you need?  Are you a family with two small children and a large house?  The whole house generator may be the way to go.  Are you an older family with kids who have left the nest and it’s just the two of you?  In that case a portable generator may be your best option.   But, as cliché as it sounds, only you can decide which is truly best for you, based on your family, budget and most importantly, what you want to power up.  Decide first what you would need and confirm the wattage that you require.  We have recently partnered with Briggs and Stratton and are working with them to fulfill the generator needs of our customers.  Check out this link from their site which will you determine the appropriate size generator that you need for your home and family.


Once you know the size generator it’s recommending, it will help you to decide whether a whole house or portable generator is better for your needs.

So, like any other big purchase, make sure you do your research and check out all different types and brands of generators.  And, whatever you do, stay safe in those storms,  lose the stress about remembering to have a stock pile of candles and don’t stock up on those  extra cans of Dora soup! Believe me, you’ll thank me later.