A standby generator, unlike a portable generator, is permanently connected to your electrical system and goes on automatically when the power goes out. Standby generators can run on propane or natural gas, eliminating the need to monitor the fuel. And they’re quieter. You can buy one large enough to power everything in your house, or you can buy a smaller unit and choose the most critical circuits to power. Standby generators start at about $1,800, plus installation. (And they do need to be installed by a pro.)
The difference in cost between a portable generator and a standby unit may not be as great as you think. Remember, a portable unit requires either expensive extension cords or a transfer switch. Standby units can run on less expensive natural gas, which will save you money in the long run.
When it comes to portable generators and ease of use, liquid propane (LP) sure beats gasoline. Gasoline is a handy fuel, but it’s not without problems. Storing enough gasoline to get you through a several-day power outage requires constant vigilance. First, you have to buy several 5-gallon gas containers and find a safe place to store them. Then you have to add stabilizer and ideally replace the gas after several months to make sure it’s still fresh when you need it.
Propane-powered portable generators solve these problems and more. You can store and use liquid propane (LP) indefinitely (it doesn’t go bad). Refueling is simple and safe; just replace the propane tank with a full one. And you don’t have to worry about the carburetor on your generator getting gummed up with old gasoline.