Table of contents
Portable generators are great for applications that have a small budget or that require a high degree of mobility.
Portable generators typically have a lower starting purchase price than standby generators.1,3,4
Portable generators do not require installation as they are designed to be mobile and interface directly with the electronics they are powering.1,2
Portable generators are generally incapable of producing the wattage require to power an entire home. Instead, they are often used to power select essential electronics.1,2,3,4
Portable generators must be manually deployed during a power outage. This includes physically transporting the generator to a safe location for operation, running extension cords to essential electronics that require power, and continually monitoring and refueling the generator every few hours.1,2,3,4
Portable generators typically lack weather proofing that enables them to operate uninterrupted during inclement weather. To ensure continued operation during inclement weather, additional weather coverings must be purchased and setup to protect the generator from damage.3,4
Portable generators require little to no maintenance beyond basic generator care recommended by the manufacturer to ensure safe and reliable operation.1
Standby generators are great for applications that have a large budget or that require hands off operation.
Standby generators typically have a higher starting purchase price than portable generators.1,3,4
Standby generators must be professionally installed, significantly increasing their upfront cost.1,3,4
Standby generators generally raise the value of a house or property by a significant amount.
Standby generators often require a permit and subsequent inspections to insure than they have been installed correctly and are safe to use.1
Standby generators must be wired into the circuit they are intended to power by a certified electrician to insure safety regulations are not violated.1,3,4
Standby generators must be connected to their fuel source by a certified plumber to insure safety regulations are not violated. Additionally, fuel suppliers will often require a safety inspection be preformed before supplying fuel.1,3
Standby generators are typically capable of producing enough wattage to power an entire home or similar structure. This is achieved by wiring the generator into the structures existing main circuit panel via a transfer switch.1,2,3,4
Standby generators are automatically deployed when a power outage is detected. Unlike portable generators, standby generators do not require frequent monitoring and refueling and can be safely operated worry free for long stretches of time.1,2,3,4
Standby generators typically include weather proofing that enables them to operate uninterrupted during inclement weather.3,4
Standby generators must be regularly inspected by a professional to identify maintenance needs and ensure safe and reliable operation.1
Standby generators must receive basic generator care recommended by the manufacturer after prolonged use.1
Standby generators periodically perform automatic tests to proactively self identify potential maintenance needs.1
Conventional generators are great for applications that require large amounts of power.
Conventional generators produce only one alternating current (AC). While they can safely power most electronics, they are susceptible to producing unstable AC sine waves (dirty electricity) which can damage sensitive electronics.5,7
Conventional generator engines must maintain 3,600 rotations per minute (RPM) to produce a clean AC. As a result, they are fuel inefficient under light loads as their engine speed cannot be lowered.5,7
Conventional generators are built with large engines and fuel tanks to counteract their inefficiencies under light loads. As such, they are typically built with features, such as a pulling handle and wheels, to ease transportation.5,7
Conventional generators are notoriously loud as they are unable to lower their engine speed under light loads.5,7
Conventional generators produce more harmful emissions than inverter generators due to their greater fuel consumption under light loads.5
Conventional generators become significantly less expensive than inverter generators as larger quantities of power are required.5,7
Conventional generators cost less than inverter generators due to their mechanical simplicity and widespread use.5,7
Inverter generators are great for applications that require reliable power delivery for sensitive electronics.
Inverter generators are three-phase, meaning that they produce three alternating currents (AC) that are then converted into one direct current (DC) before being converted back into one stable AC.5,6,7
Inverter generators can safely power sensitive electronics as they produce a stable AC sine wave (clean electricity).5,6,7
Inverter generators, as a result of being three-phase, are not required to maintain a static engine speed. Therefore, they are more fuel efficient than conventional generators as their engine speed can be lowered under light loads.5,7
Inverter generators are built with small engines and fuel tanks due to their efficiency under varying loads. As a result, they are often light enough to be picked up and transported via an integrated carrying handle.5,7
Inverter generators are generally quiet due to their small engines and ability to reduce their engine speed under light loads.5,7
Inverter generators produce less harmful emissions than conventional generators due to their lesser fuel consumption under light loads.5
Inverter generators become significantly more expensive than conventional generators as larger quantities of power are required.5,7
Inverter generators cost more than conventional generators due to their mechanical/electronic complexity and superior features (greater efficiency, greater portability, lower noise, and lower emissions).5,7
Fixr - Portable vs Standby Generator
Generator Source - Portable vs Stationary Generators
Consumer Reports - Portable vs Standby Generators: Which is Right for Your Home?
Generator Joe - Comparison of Portable and Stationary Generators for Home Standby Use
Best Generator - Inverter Generators vs Conventional Generators: What's the Difference?
Absolute Generators - Three Phase Generators
Off Grid Ham - Inverter Generators: What You Need to Know