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Standby Vs. Portable Generator

Which Type Of Generator Is Better For My Home?

North Carolina weather is amazing. Beautiful springs and falls, nice, hot summers and a few snow falls over winter – our weather just can’t be beat!

However, we do have some pretty extreme storms that come through, from hurricanes to tornadoes, ice storms to snow. When extreme weather hits home, you want to be prepared in case you lose power, which is why many in our state choose to have a generator for their homes.

A home generator can be invaluable when you lose power. When you think about all of the things that use electricity in your home, including your HVAC, refrigerator, sump pump, garage door and other appliances, the possibility of going without for days or even weeks is hard to fathom. Just like with other major appliances for your home, the purchase and installation of a generator takes research and planning as there are many brands and types from which to choose. Ultimately, you will first need to choose between the two main types of generators: portable and standby.

Portable Generator

A portable generator is aptly named as it is not permanently installed at a residence. Many turn to portable generators for their affordability and flexibility. Although the price may be right for these generators, it is essential to treat them as they are — major appliances that need to be operated with the utmost care and compliance. Not only should you read the owners manual from cover to cover, any instructions should be followed precisely.

There are many important things to consider when choosing a portable generator, including:

  • A portable generator works to power specific individual appliances in a home. You cannot hook them up to power your entire home. Instead, you use outdoor heavy extension cords to connect appliances one by one to the generator.
  • They run on gasoline and emit carbon dioxide, so it is vital to only use a generator outside and at least 20 feet away from a dwelling. Any type of partially enclosed space is not a safe place to operate a generator, including garages, sheds, crawl spaces or basements.
  • While it may feel like you should use it in the middle of a strong rain storm that has knocked the power out, portable generators need to be kept dry, so make sure to wait until after the rain ends before powering up your unit.
  • Portable generators require close attention and monitoring and are fairly labor intensive. They must be set up, have fuel added, not be left unattended, and put away when not needed.
  • These appliances are much more flexible in that, if you move, you can take the unit with you.

Standby Generator

A standby generator, also known as a whole home generator, is a generator that is permanently installed at a residence upon a hurricane-resistant foundation. Standby generators are more expensive than portable generators but come with a number of benefits, including:

  • Standby generators are integrated into your electrical system and can power your entire house, not just a few appliances.
  • These systems can be set to turn on automatically so that when your power goes out they kick on instantly. This can be helpful if you are not at home when you lose power so you do not come back to a mess after an event. It also saves you the stress of having to hook it up and monitor it when you need it.
  • While more expensive than portable generators, whole home units will typically increase your home’s resale value. We offer convenient financing options for new standby generators that allow our clients the option to pay monthly instead of the full price upfront.
  • Standby generators do take up room at the exterior of your home and require regular maintenance. While they tend to be less noisy than portable generators, they do have to turn on once per week for a short period of time to self-check operations and make certain it is in working order.
  • You can monitor a standby generator’s operation from your smartphone or computer to check that it is running properly. During its weekly check, if something pops up that is out of the ordinary you will be on top of things immediately to ensure that the system is ready when you need it.

Which One Is Best For Me?

Which type of generator is best for you really depends on your home’s individual needs as well as your budget. Do you regularly lose power for long stretches of time? Are you heavily dependent on your home’s electricity for medical reasons? Or are you interested in being prepared for any situation? Then a standby generator may be the right choice for you.

On the flip side, are you interested in just powering your refrigerator or another few appliances in the event of a power loss? Would you rather not invest a large amount of money and have the flexibility to adjust the location and control the operation of your generator? Then a portable generator may be the right option for you.

Comfort First For Generators

Here at Comfort First, we are here for your home’s comfort even when the power goes out! We are happy to help talk through your generator questions. In addition, we provide full installation, repair and maintenance services on standby generators.

Connect with us today at any of our locations to learn more about prices on generators, services we offer and more!

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What a great experience. Each and everyone that we had come out to our home from AJ who helped us pick out the system that was best for our home to the installers the spent almost a whole day ...


Extremely efficient and professional. Took the time to walk me through the process and to answer questions. I would highly recommend Comfort First Heating and Cooling.


Absolutely AWESOME! These guys knew what they were doing, had a plan, and executed it. The customer’s satisfaction was always paramount to any issues that arose. It was evident that "Customer First" is an attitude that stretches from the ...


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Excellent all-around generator install experience; the initial call, the sales meeting, the installation guys, the communication, the pricing... everything was/is perfect, I will highly recommend and use Comfort First again without hesitation.

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