Portable vs Standby Generators: Which One Should You Choose? In practical use, the two most common categories for generators are standby and portable generators. The former are connected to the main electrical system of a building (usually the house) or to the power grid and are kept in standby mode for automatic starting up in case of a power failure, while the latter is not permanently connected to this system and is running only when needed – from 3 or 4 hours per day up to 8 or 12 hrs daily (less often).

In practice, both types are fueled by diesel (both liquid and vapor), gasoline/petrol, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and natural gas.

In this portable vs. standby generators comparison, we’ll see what differentiates the two and which one will be suitable for you. Generally, the main differences lie in the fact that the portable generators are more transportable, quieter and less-powerful than the standby generators.

However, we’ll go further by comparing their advantages against their disadvantages before comparing them feature-by-feature.

Side-by-side comparison

In this comparison, we tested in detail the features and capabilities of both types of generators side by side to see how they compared. Our favorite model was the best because it provides excellent power output and fuel efficiency while also being at a reasonable price point.

1. Power output

Standby generators are perhaps the most powerful types of portable generators. Business and whole-house standby generators have between 8 and 50 kilowatts of power output, while there are industrial standby generators with more power output range.

However, portables range from 1,000 to around 8,000 watts for inverter generators and 2,000 to 25,000 for conventional generators. So if you want to power an entire home but can’t handle the lack of mobility of stand-by units, then high end conventional is for you.

2. Fuel-efficiency

Portable generators usually use less fuel than standby generators, but they are able to achieve lesser power output. However, if you’ve decided to go for a standby model, it can typically be fueled by several different types of fuels – such as Diesel, Propane, and Natural Gas.

However, natural gas may cost anywhere between $0.75 to $1.25 less than the equivalent of gasoline per gallon. The cost of diesel per gallon may more expensive than gas, but this is offset by standby generators’ greater output. However, due to less power production and fuel consumption, non-standby generators are louder than the portable ones.

3. Price

Generators are lifesavers when it comes to keeping the power on. However, generators – even those that last for a long time – cannot be used continually and will have to be put into intervals of use accordingly. Standby generators may be running throughout the day while they are being charged and used in bursts to provide electricity during necessary times.

Very powerful portable generators can often cost around $2,000 to $4,000 dollars but standby generators will cost around $2,000 dollars but can even reach as high as twenty thousand depending on the type you choose. You also have to consider there’ll most likely be installation costs included with your purchase which means extra money spent so make sure you’re getting what’s right for you!