Keeping the Lights On: Choosing the Best Generac Backup Generator for Your Home

Few things are more frustrating than losing power just as you sit down to relax after a long day. The AC shuts off, appliances stop running, and lights go dark. But with an emergency backup generator, you can keep essential items running during an outage and avoid headaches.

Generac generators are the preferred brand of backup power for homes. They’ve been making affordable, reliable generators for over 60 years. When your lights go out, Generac has the solution to keep things turned on.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the best Generac generators across various power outputs, fuel types, and smart features. You’ll understand the different options so you can choose the perfect Generac unit for your home’s needs and budget.

Let’s start by looking at the generator series Generac offers and the key features that set each model apart.

Overview of Generac’s Generator Lineup for Homes

Generac designs several series of standby generators for residential use during outages:

  • Guardian Series – The most affordable Generac models that provide basic, backup power during emergencies.
  • Evolution Series – Generac’s most popular line for homes. Features user-friendly digital controls.
  • Elite Series – Top tier Generac units with maximum power output and WiFi connectivity.

The main factors that differentiate Generac’s models across these series include:

  • Fuel type – Natural gas, propane or diesel
  • Power output – Measured in kilowatts (kW)
  • Noise level – Expressed in decibels (dB)
  • WiFi capabilities – For remote monitoring and access

Next, let’s look at each of these factors in depth so you can choose the right Generac generator based on your home’s needs.

Digging Into the Key Generator Features

Fuel Types

The fuel a Generac generator uses is a top consideration. This impacts where the unit can be located and installed outside your home. Common fuel options include:

  • Natural Gas – Connects to your existing home natural gas supply just like your furnace and stove. This is the most popular fuel choice due to lower cost and convenience.
  • Liquid Propane – Runs on an external liquid propane (LP) tank that stores fuel. Tanks must be refilled periodically. LP can be installed in more locations.
  • Diesel – Used in higher end Generac models. Requires an external diesel fuel tank for storage and may have more venting requirements.

Power Output

A generator’s power output determines how much electricity it can supply to run appliances and equipment during an outage. This is measured in kilowatts (kW):

  • Typical home standby outputs: 7kW, 11kW, 16kW, 20kW, 22kW, 27kW, 36kW, 48kW and more
  • The higher the kW rating, the more devices the generator can run. More power also equals a higher price tag.
  • For most homes, a 7-11kW unit will power essentials like the refrigerator, furnace, lights, kitchen appliances, and sometimes central air.
  • Larger homes over 4000 sq ft often require 16kW and above to run everything including multiple AC units.

Noise Levels

All generators make noise when running, just like a car or lawnmower engine. Noise is measured in decibels (dB). The closer the dB level is to 60, the quieter the unit operates.

  • Standard Generac models produce 62-69dB when running. QuietSource models operate at 59-62dB.
  • Lower dB allows the generator to be placed closer to living spaces without noise disturbances. This is ideal if you have close neighbors.

WiFi Connectivity

Some Generac generators feature built-in cellular modems that enable WiFi connectivity and monitoring via smartphone apps. This allows you to check generator status and get notifications from anywhere.

  • WiFi capability is only available on select Elite series and Evolution series units. It’s not offered on any Guardian models.
  • Connectivity provides real time tracking of maintenance needs, run times, power output, and outage info. It’s the ultimate convenience for your generator.

Now that you understand the key factors that set Generac generators apart, let’s review some of the best selling models across their lineup.

Reviews of Our Top Picks Across Generac’s Lineup

Here are complete reviews of 4 great Generac options spanning their Guardian, Evolution, Elite, and portable generator product lines:

Generac 7043 Guardian Series 7kW

Overview: The most affordable Generac model. Provides basic, essential backup for smaller homes and living spaces.

Power: 7kW output, enough for refrigerator, furnace, lights, kitchen appliances, and some small HVAC.

Fuel: Available for either natural gas or liquid propane setups.

Noise: Very quiet for the price at 69dB.

Features: Basic controls with LED status indicators. Durable steel weatherproof enclosure.

WiFi: No, lacks advanced connectivity of Evolution and Elite models.

Dimensions/Weight: 48” x 25” x 29”, 418 lbs

Warranty: 5 year limited warranty.

Price Range: $1,700 – $2,200 MSRP

Ideal For: Smaller apartments, homes and living spaces that only require the essentials backed up during an outage. An excellent value for the entry-level Generac Guardian series.

Generac 7039 GP Series 11kW

Overview: Generac’s best selling home standby provides ample power for most homes.

Power: 11kW output can run central air, major appliances, electronics, and more.

Fuel: Supports both natural gas and liquid propane setups. Choose what fits your home best.

Noise: 69dB is average for its class. Not intrusive but not ultra-quiet.

Features: Digital touchscreen controller for easiest homeowner use. Enclosure resists fading and chipping.

WiFi: No, use touchscreen to check diagnostics and track maintenance.

Dimensions/Weight: 48” x 25” x 29”, 470 lbs.

Warranty: 5 year limited warranty.

Price Range: $2,100 – $2,800 MSRP

Ideal For: Medium sized homes looking for a user-friendly, powerful backup generator from Generac’s trusted Evolution series.

Generac 7043GPF-STD Elite Series 20kW

Overview: Higher end diesel powered generator provides maximum power output. Ideal for large luxury homes.

Power: 20kW can run a full house load including AC, appliances, electronics, and pool pumps.

Fuel: Diesel is preferred but also supports natural gas and propane.

Noise: Ultra quiet at just 66dB. Insulated steel enclosure dampens sound.

Features: Mobile Link WiFi, multilingual LCD touchscreen, stainless steel base.

WiFi: Yes, enables remote monitoring and access via smartphone app anytime.

Dimensions/Weight: 48” x 30” x 69”, 1,680 lbs.

Warranty: 5 year limited warranty.

Price Range: $6,200 – $8,500 MSRP

Ideal For: Large luxury homes that require maximum backup power for the entire home and smart features. This top-end Elite model is the quietest, most technologically advanced Generac available.

Generac GP6500E Portable

Overview: Portable model provides power on the go for camping, RVs, job sites and temporary backup.

Power: 6500 starting watts and 5500 running watts. Enough for most essentials.

Fuel: Runs on gasoline for ultimate portability.

Noise: 68dB is average for a portable generator.

Features: Fold down handles, never flat wheels, outlets, USB charging port.

WiFi: No, designed for simplicity and basic power needs away from home standby uses.

Dimensions/Weight: 48” x 26” x 28”, 261 pounds.

Warranty: 3 year limited warranty

Price Range: $1,000 – $1,500 MSRP

Ideal For: Camping, tailgating, RVs, outdoor events, job sites, and temporary emergency power where a permanent home standby generator isn’t practical.

Hopefully these reviews provide a good overview of Generac’s lineup and which models best fit your needs based on size, fuel type, noise, connectivity and other features we covered.

Now let’s discuss how to select the ideal Generac generator size and specifications for your home.

How to Choose the Right Sized Generac Generator

Choosing your home backup generator is more complex than simply going as big as possible. You want to size the wattage appropriately to your needs. Consider these factors when selecting:

  • Make a list of essential appliances and devices you’ll want powered during an outage. Units like central AC need more power. Focus on necessities.
  • Measure the square footage of your home. Homes under 4000 sq ft can typically run on 7-11kW models. 4000+ sq ft homes often need 16kW or more.
  • Determine which fuel type – natural gas, propane or diesel – makes the most sense for your install location and exterior venting.
  • Review the noise specifications and your proximity to neighbors. Opt for QuietSource models if a low decibel level is important.
  • Decide if you want the convenience of WiFi capabilities for remote access and notifications. This adds cost.
  • Have an electrician provide guidance on your transfer switch and circuit breaker requirements to integrate properly.
  • Pick an outdoor location that meets clearance requirements with proper exterior venting away from doors, windows and ground level.
  • Work with a licensed Generac dealer for professional installation, permitting and integration with your home’s electrical system.
  • Compare pricing across local certified Generac dealers using MSRP as a baseline. Dealers can offer competitive discounts.

Choosing the properly sized unit for your household’s power consumption and budget is critical. Don’t overspend on more kilowatts than you truly require. An electrician and Generac dealer can assess your needs and recommend ideal specs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Generac Generators

Q1: How long do Generac generators run on a tank of fuel?

This depends on the fuel type and tank size. For liquid propane, expect 24-48 hours from a standard 100 gallon tank depending on generator load. Diesel and natural gas generators tap into larger external fuel tanks and gas lines for longer durations.

Q2: How loud are Generac home standby generators?

Most Generac units operate at 62-69 decibels which is comparable to background music or conversation levels. Their QuietSource models reach down to just 59dB for ultra quiet operation.

Q3: What size Generac generator do I need for my home?

A 7-11kW unit will suffice for most homes under 4000 sq ft needing to run basics like fridges, lights, furnace and some AC. Larger homes may require 16kW or more for full house power. Have an electrician assess.

Q4: Where should a Generac generator be installed outside?

Generacs require exterior installation with proper clearance from windows, doors, vents and ground level for sound, exhaust and proper operation. They must be on a solid, level foundation with overhead protection but allow room for maintenance.

Q5: Do I need a transfer switch for my Generac generator?

Yes, a transfer switch is crucial for connecting your generator to your home electrical system safely when utility power is lost. It also disconnects before utility power returns to avoid any issues.

Q6: How often does a Generac generator need maintenance?

Generacs simply need an oil/filter change every 200 hours of operation or 2 years. Batteries may need replacement every 3-4 years. Regular exercise helps keep systems conditioned. Clean debris when needed.

Q7: What does the Generac generator warranty cover?

The 5 year limited warranty covers parts and labor on major components that fail due to defects. Warranties may differ for commercial vs residential use. Register within 10 days.

Q8: Does Generac offer financing for home generators?

Yes, Generac has financing plans through EnerBank USA to help cover all or part of your generator purchase with flexible payment options. Dealers can provide details.

Q9: What if my Generac generator runs out of fuel during an outage?

The generator will shut down once it runs through its current fuel supply during operation. When utility power is restored, it will revert back and need to be refueled before the next use.

Q10: Can a Generac home standby generator be installed on my roof?

Generac does not recommend rooftop installation. The units are ground-mounted to provide proper ventilation, protection from elements, and easier maintenance access.

Looking for a trusted solution to keep your home powered when utility lines fail? I hope this guide has helped demystify Generac’s lineup so you can find the perfect generator for your needs. Reach out if you have any other questions – I’m happy to help tailor recommendations for your unique situation. Stay prepared and run strong!

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