The standby generator that is right for you depends on what you want to power. Choose to power essentials in your home, select appliances or whole-house backup.

We will walk you through the process of finding the right generator for your home by discovering if you need a portable or standby generator, what fuel type you should go with, how much power your generator needs and why Symphony II Power Management System could be right for you.

Standby vs. Portable Generator

Home standby generator systems and portable generators are the two most common types of backup power solutions homeowners choose. Both keep power flowing to a home during a power outage, but in differing ways. A portable generator is an immediate but temporary solution powered by gasoline, while a home standby generator is an automatic, permanent backup power solution powered by natural gas or liquid propane.

Portable Generators


  • Portable, proper storage is required
  • No installation is needed


  • Manual with a pull cord

Fuel Type

  • Gasoline
  • Refueling is needed

What It Can Power

  • Select items plugged into an extension cord that is plugged into the generator

Home Standby Generators


  • Permanently installed onto your home
  • Professionally installed by a certified Briggs & Stratton dealer or licensed electrician


  • Automatic
  • Starts when the power goes out

Fuel Type

  • Natural Gas or Liquid Propane
  • No refueling needed

What It Can Power

  • Overall home needs: lights, water heater and refrigerator
  • Selected high wattage appliances: A/C, electric stove
  • Can manage up to 8 high wattage appliances with Symphony II power management system

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Propane vs. Natural Gas Standby Generator

For residential use, generators run on either natural gas or liquid propane. Natural gas can keep your generator running for weeks, while liquid propane will keep power for several days. Generators produce more power while operating on liquid propane as the fuel supply is limited depending upon the size of the storage tank. If buying a larger generator and using liquid propane as the fuel source, it is recommended to increase the size of the fuel tank to ensure lasting power for more than a few days.

Natural Gas (NG)

  • Offers virtually endless supply of fuel
  • If available in your municipality, natural gas can be added to your home

Liquid Propane (LP)

  • May need the propane tank refilled at some point due to normal usage depending upon the size of the tank and the requirements of the generator
  • If you already have a LP tank, it may need to be sized up to power our standby generator
  • LP is typical in rural areas where natural gas is not available

Most homes can operate equally well on either fuel source type, but it depends what the home has to offer. Natural gas is supplied by the municipality through the existing infrastructure or you are responsible for having a propane tank and piping installed on the property.

What Size Generator Do I Need For My Home?

It's easiest to determine what home standby generator system is right for your household by first thinking about what household items your family wants to remain functioning normally during a power outage. The number of home appliances or electrical loads you want to power will determine the size and cost of the residential generator.

There are generally three different types of standby generators, which vary based on how much your home needs to power:

Select Circuit Home Generators: Power Essential Appliances
A select-circuit generator system is a cost-effective way to power your home’s basics to get you comfortably through a power outage. These units can power up to 10 electrical loads in your home, including the fridge, some lights, television and the microwave. It’s a perfect small home generator solution.

Managed Whole-House Power Generators: Smaller, More Power
Equipped with the smartest Power Management system available, Symphony® II Power Management, these backup power solutions give your family the benefits of whole-house power with a smaller, more affordable generator system. With the innovative power of Symphony II, these home generator systems can manage to power all of your electrical needs — including up to two air conditioners.

Whole-House Generators for Maximum Backup Power Needs
Whole-house standby generator options are the best backup power solution for extra-large and luxury homes. They power an array of high wattage appliances – from double ovens to hot tubs – with the performance you could expect from commercial generators.

Use the Home Standby Generator Sizing Calculator below to help determine the best size and type generator for your home.

Home Standby Generator Sizing Calculator

  • Step 1 Home Size Selector
  • Step 2 Essentials/Appliances
  • Step 3 Recommended Generators

The product selector tool is for information only to help you identify relevant products. No warranties are made as to accuracy, reliability, or fitness for a particular purpose. Cleaning results may vary based on conditions.

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