What is the Cost Difference Between Portable and Standby Generators?

What is the Cost Difference Between Portable and Standby Generators?

When it comes to backup power systems, two main options exist: automatic standby generators and portable generators, also known as manual generators. In this article, we’ll explore the factors that contribute to the cost difference between these two¬†generators, enabling you to make an informed choice for your specific requirements.

Standby Generators: The Comprehensive Solution

Generator Costs

Standby generators are the premium choice when it comes to backup power. These robust systems provide a seamless transition from the main power source to generator power, ensuring your home or business remains operational during outages. However, this level of reliability comes at a price. The generator itself is a significant investment and can cost substantially more than a portable alternative.

Installation Complexity

When you opt for a standby generator, you’re not just buying the unit itself; you’re investing in a comprehensive backup power solution. The installation process includes obtaining permits, undergoing inspections, and potentially involving a plumber if you plan to run the generator off natural gas. Each of these steps adds to the overall cost and complexity of the project.

Location Matters

The location of the standby generator plays a crucial role in determining the final cost. If your generator is conveniently located near your electrical panel and gas line, installation becomes more straightforward and less expensive. However, if the generator must be placed on the other side of your property, additional expenses may be incurred due to trenching, piping, and routing around your house.

ATS (Automatic Transfer Switch)

An Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS) is an integral part of a standby generator system. It ensures a smooth transition between utility power and generator power. However, the ATS itself is a significant expense, often costing several hundred dollars.

Portable Generators: A Cost-Efficient Alternative

Lower Labor and Material Costs

Portable generators offer a cost-efficient alternative to standby generators. The installation process is simpler, involving less labor and fewer materials. Depending on the location of your electrical panel and where you want the generator to be, it can be as straightforward as installing a generator Inlet on your siding or brick.


Portable generators provide flexibility in terms of placement. They can be conveniently placed close to your electrical panel or in a location of your choice without the need for extensive piping or trenching. This flexibility can translate into lower installation costs.

Whole House Backup Consideration

While portable generators are a cost-effective option, it’s essential to note that they may not provide whole-house backup. If you require backup power for your entire home, a standby generator with an ATS is the more suitable choice, despite the higher upfront cost.


In conclusion, the cost difference between portable and standby generators is significant. Standby generators come with a higher price tag due to the generator itself, installation complexity, and the need for an ATS. Portable generators, on the other hand, offer a more budget-friendly solution with lower labor and material costs.

Your choice should depend on your specific needs and budget. If whole-house backup is a must, and your budget allows for it, a standby generator is the way to go. However, if you seek a more economical solution and are willing to forgo whole-house backup, a portable generator may be the right fit for you.

For expert advice and reliable electrical services in Kansas City, contact us today. We are dedicated to providing you with the best solutions for all your electrical needs.