The Two Types of Generators: Pros and Cons

A generator can be a wise investment for a home or business owner. When the lights go out, you need a reliable source of backup power. While a great asset, it can come with high costs, so you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons before deciding which generator is right for you.

Portable Generators

Gas-powered portable generators plug directly into your appliances or a subpanel. They generally cost from $500 to $2,000, depending on brand, features, and power output.


Small and easily stored when not in use

Can be used to power a variety of things, like individual appliances or RVs

Inexpensive when compared to standby generators

Don’t require professional installation

Easy to refill fuel source


Loud motor that emits smelly gasoline exhaust

Cumbersome and must be set up each time the power goes out

A lot of long wires to manage and store after use

Maintenance needed to keep it operating for long periods

Needs to be sheltered but also kept a safe distance from the home or business being powered

Unable to generate electricity for a large building

Standby Generators

These generators are powered by natural gas or propane. They start automatically during power outages. Prices usually start at $4,000 and can go up to $7,000 or more, usually with installation included.


Much quieter than portable generators

Starts automatically when power goes out

Installed permanently on your property

Adds to property value

Much larger capacity than portable units


Expensive: thousands, rather than hundreds of dollars

Requires professional installation

Large and heavy: can weigh hundreds of pounds and often the size of a small car

Require a lot of upkeep, more specialized fuel, and must be serviced regularly if used often

Before buying a generator, consider which appliances you’ll need most during a power outage and your specific situation. A generator is a big investment, but you’ll be thankful for it the next time the lights go out.