Select Your Country/Region

Backup Generators: How Do Portable Generators Differ From Standby Generators?

Facebook icon Twitter icon Twitter icon Email icon


  1. Introduction
  2. What is a Generator?
  3. A Deeper Dive into Portable Generators VS Standby Generators Differences
  4. Real-life Applications of Portable Generators and Standby Generators
  5. Growatt INFINITY 1500 Power Station – The Pick of the Bunch
  6. Conclusion


In a world increasingly reliant on a steady supply of power, backup generators serve as lifelines during power outages. These versatile machines provide power to keep our lives on track when the main power supply fails, whether due to severe weather or technical problems.

Understanding the nuances of different types of power generation devices is crucial, particularly when discussing portable generators and standby generators. In this article, we aim to delve deeper into these devices and highlight their individual capabilities, functionalities, and applications, thereby enabling you to make informed decisions based on your specific requirements.

What is a Generator?

A generator, fundamentally, is a device designed to convert mechanical or chemical energy into electrical power. This process is typically facilitated by fuel sources such as diesel, propane, or natural gas. Additionally, there are solar-powered generators available that utilize the energy from the sun. Understanding this fundamental concept allows us to differentiate between a portable generator and a standby generator more effectively.

Portable Generators

Portable generators are portable units designed to provide power to selected appliances during a power outage. These generators are typically fueled by gas or diesel and are used to provide temporary electrical power. Key features of portable generators may include:

  • Portability: They are often lightweight and easy to move, providing flexibility in terms of where and how they can be used.
  • Manual Operation: They necessitate human intervention for setup, operation, and maintenance.
  • Power Supply: While in most cases, portable generators can't power an entire home, they're capable of keeping essential appliances running.

Standby Generators

Standby generators are permanently installed outside your home and automatically kick in when they detect a power outage. These generators can handle a much higher load compared to portable generators. Key features of standby generators may be listed as follows:

  • Automatic Operation: Thanks to an automatic transfer switch, these generators can sense a power outage and start up on their own.
  • Power Supply: Standby generators are capable of powering an entire house, including large appliances and heating or cooling systems.
  • Installation: Standby generators require professional installation and are typically larger and more robust than portable units.

A Deeper Dive into Portable Generators VS Standby Generators Differences

As we further explore the characteristics of both portable and standby generators, we aim to highlight the fundamental factors that differentiate them, thereby assisting you in making an informed decision based on your specific needs.

  • Power Capacity: Standby generators are constructed to have a greater power capacity, often suitable for powering an entire house during extended power outages. They are designed to manage high-demand appliances like central heating and cooling systems, refrigeration units, and even high-definition televisions and computers, ensuring your life remains uninterrupted. On the flip side, portable backup generators, while they can't typically power an entire home, are equipped to keep essential appliances operational. This might include a refrigerator to preserve food, a few lights for visibility, and perhaps a space heater during colder months. These units are ideal for intermittent power outages that last a few hours.
  • Cost: Standby generators come with a larger price tag. This not only includes the cost of the unit but also a professional installation that might involve alterations to your home's existing electrical system. Additionally, standby generators often operate on natural gas or propane, the cost of which should be factored into the total cost of ownership. Conversely, portable generators are less costly upfront, making them an appealing option for those on a budget. They are portable, require no installation, and operate on readily available fuels such as gasoline or diesel and solar energy. Solar portable backup generators, offered by GROWATT, can potentially result in lower operational costs. This is because they harness the sun's energy, a free and renewable resource. and typically require less maintenance due to fewer moving parts.
  • Maintenance: Regular maintenance is essential for the longevity and functionality of both types of generators. For standby generators, due to their more complex nature, this often requires professional service and might include tasks such as replacing worn-out parts, checking and replacing the oil, and testing the unit regularly to ensure it's operational. Portable backup generators also require maintenance but it's typically simpler and can often be performed by the homeowner. This might involve replacing the spark plug, changing the oil, and occasionally testing the unit to ensure it starts and runs smoothly. For battery-powered portable backup generators, they require less maintenance than their fuel-based counterparts.
  • Noise: Standby generators, due to their larger size and power output, generally produce more noise than portable generators. This noise level is, however, dependent on the make and model of the generator. Some high-end standby generators incorporate sound-dampening technology to limit the noise they produce. Portable generators, in spite of less noisy overall, can also vary in noise output depending on the model. If you prefer a silent environment, you can check GROWATT out, for we provide power solutions at the lowest noise level.
  • Fuel Consumption: The fuel consumption for both types of generators depends largely on the size and model, as well as the load placed on them. Standby generators, due to their greater power output, typically consume more fuel. This can be a significant ongoing cost, particularly during prolonged power outages. Portable backup generators, while smaller and less powerful, are often more fuel-efficient or solar-powered, particularly if used strategically to power only essential appliances.
  • Convenience and Ease of Use: The major difference that sets these two types of generators apart is the operation method. Standby generators come equipped with automatic transfer switches that detect a power outage, start the generator, and transfer the electrical load to the generator without any human intervention. This ensures a virtually seamless transition during power outages, an especially important feature for individuals relying on constant power for medical equipment or work. In contrast, portable generators require manual operation - setup, starting, and refueling/recharging are all tasks the user must handle. Despite this, portable generators offer flexibility with their portability, being useful for more than just power outages at home.

Real-life Applications of Portable Generators and Standby Generators

Standby generators can be a more appropriate option under certain circumstances:

  • Frequent or prolonged power outages: Standby generators shine in areas where power outages are frequent or extended. For instance, if you live in an area prone to extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes or heavy snowstorms, a standby generator can provide continuous power for the duration of the outage, ensuring your home remains functional.
  • Large power requirements: For large homes or businesses with substantial power demands, standby generators are often the best choice. These generators can handle higher loads, keeping multiple heavy-duty appliances or systems running simultaneously. Imagine running a restaurant, hospital, or data center; these places cannot afford a power interruption, hence the need for a robust standby generator.
  • Automatic power supply: Standby generators offer an automated solution, turning on immediately when a power outage is detected. This can be crucial in situations where manual intervention isn't feasible or safe, such as during a severe storm or when the building is unoccupied.

However, portable generators can be a more suitable choice in other scenarios:

  • Portable power needs: Whether it's a camping trip, an outdoor event, or simply moving between different locations, a portable backup generator can be your best bet.
  • Cost-effective solution for critical appliances: If your power needs are centered around running critical appliances, such as refrigerators, medical equipment, or essential lighting, a portable generator can provide a more cost-effective solution. These generators typically cost less than standby generators but can still provide ample power for these important devices.
  • Shorter or less frequent power outages: If power outages in your area are less frequent or of short duration, a portable backup generator might be all you need. It can keep your home appliances and electronic devices powered during these temporary disruptions without the need for a larger, more expensive standby generator.

In the end, the choice between a standby and a portable generator should reflect your power needs, lifestyle, and budget. It's essential to consider these factors in your decision-making process to ensure you have a reliable power solution that suits your specific circumstances.

Growatt INFINITY 1500 Power Station – The Pick of the Bunch

Looking for a trustworthy energy solution for home or outdoors? You're in the right spot! The INFINITY 1500, with a rapid EPS feature, ensures seamless power transition in less than 20 milliseconds during unexpected outages, keeping your devices running uninterruptedly. The INFINITY 1500 astoundingly reaches full capacity within just 2.5 hours using solar power MPPT charging, redefining speed and efficiency in renewable energy. With multiple ports and an advanced user-friendly app, you can monitor and manage your power needs remotely, making it a convenient, powerful, and safe power solution.


In conclusion, whether you opt for a portable generator or a standby generator ultimately depends on your power requirements, lifestyle, and budget. Portable generators provide a cost-effective, portable solution for maintaining power to crucial appliances during power outages. In contrast, standby generators offer a higher-capacity, automatic solution for extended or frequent power outages. Both backup generator types serve a critical role in ensuring continuous power supply, promoting convenience, safety, and peace of mind in a world where consistent power is a necessity rather than a luxury. By understanding their differences, you are better equipped to choose the ideal generator that suits your specific circumstances.

Read More