Portable Generator Review – What worked for me!

I purchased a generator to power my entire home years ago and it is still going strong! Although there is a newer model available, I want to share with you the model and some of the hidden gotchas when deciding between a portable and stationary unit.

I originally considered a stationary home generator (natural gas) as the only possible solution and invited three companies to provide quotes (unit plus installation).

Stationary Home Generator (Natural Gas)

The first company was sent out by home depot; we often shop there and walk by a home generator on the way out, so during our last visit, we asked for a quote for the generator and installation.

Company #1 quoted me $6,700.00 for a 17kw Generac which included running the electrical, installing the transfer switch and $500 of gas pipe work. I asked about other generators, but the salesman was not allowed to talk about any other generator other than what Home Depot carried.

Company #2 quoted us $7,100.00 for a 17kw Generator and was told it’s the same thing as a Generac, they just labeled it differently for marketing purposes (I verified this and Generac does have a number of brand names).

Company #3 came in at $8,030 for a 14kw Kohler. It was pointed out that it would be in our best interest to go with a 14kw rather than a 17kw. He stated that Kohler is a quiet generator compared to Generac and that I could tack on 10% more for a Kohler.

Wow! That was more than I had planned for! Plus, there is the hidden cost of required service checks (turn up, oil change, etc.) that you are required to pay for if you want your warranty to stay valid. Top that off with required weekly run times of 20 minutes that can be loud enough to irritate neighbors and ruin a peaceful day. Oh, and what they might not tell you up front is that anything above 14kw may require a natural gas feed upgrade by the gas company costing $1,700 (that’s $485 for the alteration fee [technician to change the meter] plus $1,209 for the meter itself!).

Portable Generators VS. Home Generator

I later found out that if manually turning on my generator and filling it up with gas wasn’t a problem, that I could get by with a portable unit. I could get a 6500kw portable for less than $1,000, $800 for a mechanical interlock switch ($200 + $600 labor) and save a ton.

The proposed solution would be an outlet outside that I could wheel the generator to, plug in and start delivering the needed electricity. Needless to say, I decided to buy a portable generator and have company #3 do the wiring.

For me, a portable made sense and saved us a lot of money. I have no problem wheeling the generator to the box or having to refill the unit with gas. If the situation was such that I needed the power to kick on when I was away (travel a lot) or unable to lift heavy equipment, then I would have went with a stationary home generator.

Long story short I ended up saving myself $5,000 and ended up buying a Generac XP8000E Portable Generator capable of powering the entire house (heat, dryer, TV and VCR, stove, fridge, fish tanks, etc). The XP8000E was as quiet as I could find its size (8000 running watts and 12,000 starting watts) and it will run the entire house ” without having to carefully start one appliance, then another, and so on ” I’ll simply fire things up as I please and not worry about it.

NOTE: In the comments below, someone said that the new model of the Generac generator WILL NOT work with a transfer switch. The one I purchased below does, so MAKE SURE to check on this before buying – if you plan on running your home with it.

I bought the generator at Lowe’s for $1,249. According to the representative at Generac, of all their standby generators, the XP 8000 is their premier model (as opposed to the GP or other models).

FYI: There are three pictures below, 1 of the panel BEFORE, 1 AFTER (there are not two panels) and the Generator itself with plugins.

My Gererac portable generator and electrical box hookup

Note: Below is a close-up of the power inlet (item D) on the wall – the inlet shown in the picture above looks like it is a female, but as you can see below, it is male.
Closeup of connector for portable generator
My XP 8000 Standby Generator came with a cord that has ends for connecting extension cords, but that didn’t work for me as I’m looking to feed the power into my home rather than having to run cords everywhere.

I ended up having a 80 foot standby generator cord made which ran me $2 per foot and $40 for each end.

I also had a new circuit breaker, manual transfer switch and power inlet installed. The power inlet (D) connects to the circuit breaker which is hooked up to a manual transfer switch; this is a double pole double throw (DPDT) “break before make” switch which prevents backfeeding.

When the power goes out, I simply pull out my standby generator (away from the home), start it, plug one end (C) into the generator, plug the other end (B) into the power inlet (D), move the manual transfer switch to the left (Emergency power) and I’m enjoying power again!

More pictures:

The total bill to hook up everything was $800:

Permit… $80
80 foot cord… $240
Circuit Breaker… $20
Cover panel with transfer switch… $40
Power Inlet… $50
Labor… $370

So, for everything, including the standby generator, it cost me about $2,000. Remember, you don’t have to buy this sized generator if only powering a few appliances, that there could save you $1,000; however, my goal was to find a quiet standby generator capable of powering the entire home.

What to Look for in a Standby Generator

Consider the noise level, size of the wheels (bigger the better for me), watts, size of gas tank, length of warranty and size. I started looking at the 3500 watt models primarily because these tend to be more quiet, but noticed that they would have to run 100% to accommodate our needs; manufacturers list noise levels, run time and more at 50% power, so I opted for more powerful generators.

It’s hard to find common ground, some manufactures list specs at 50% power and others at 25% power or noise levels from 15 feet away vs. 5 feet away. In the end, I decided to look for 6500 watts or more with starting wattage enough to handle everything.

By choosing a higher powered generator, chances are I’ll be running at half power most of the time rather than full; not only will this be less wear and tear on the generator, but I know what to expect on ‘stated ratings’. I still kept an eye out for noise levels as well.

Also, consider using a generator that can run on natural gas or LP gas called (tri-fuel models) – if it’s bad out, the gas stations won’t have gas and there is always the danger of putting gas in a hot generator!

1 comment(s) need to be approved.
78 replies
  1. Jim says:

    Hello Raginald, I included a close of the of power inlet that receives the cord from my portable generator, but the image is from a different angle so that you can see it is female. Thanks for the question!

  2. Richard S. Wujciak says:

    I have a Generac XP8000E purchased prior to hurricane Sandy. Having to fill it with gasoline during the
    two week power outage was a bit of a pain. Now I would like to convert the unit to natural gas operation
    but I have not been able to find any product which clearly states that it will work with the XP8000E.
    Does anyone sell such a kit?


    Richard W.

  3. Reginald Petit says:

    Picture that shows:
    Plug b going into input d is illustrates two female type ends.
    This does make sense?

  4. Tommy says:

    Northern Tool + Equipment is asking for double your price ($2550.) for the XP8000E
    And Lowe’s doesn’t carry the XP8000E anymore. They carry an XT8000 for $1200. I wish Generac’s website would explain the differences between all the Model series they make.

  5. fact check says:

    allan boggs is incorrect: the author is OK. A transfer switch will not “put his backup power on the grid”. Transfer switches disconnect the house from the grid before connecting the generator to the house.

  6. allan boggs says:

    There is one problem with the sequence in which the author does his steps to switch from grid power to standby power. He starts his generator before moving the manual transfer switch to the standby(non-grid)position. This puts his backup power on the grid causing a shock hazard to line workers during the time the switch is in the grid position. He should move the switch to the standby(non-grid) position FIRST and then start the generator. He didn’t mention it, but this order should be reversed when the grid comes back online. Turn generator OFF and then move the manual switch from standby to grid position. This way the generator is OFF(and not connected to the grid) when the grid comes back ON. You have to be anal about these steps if you are going to do this manually for the safety of line workers.

  7. Ralph in Edgewood says:

    Here’s my problem. I don’t want anything fancy. I just want to get power from my portable generator to ONE new dedicated indoor dual outlet so I don’t have to bring an extension cord through an open window or door.

    Can I get an outdoor inlet box and wire it to the new dedicated indoor outlet? Which one should I buy? Please be specific. Thanks.

    By the way I have not read anywhere on the internet where somebody actually did this. Wonder why.

  8. ron says:

    how many watts do u think i need to run my 1 hp underground water pump and lights and other appliances safely. i have a 4000 watt generator now…is that enough??


    Does anyone have experience &/or opinion on either the Generac XG10000E or the Generac GP15000E? I will be connecting it to my home via a lockout switch. Also any info on a Champion model 41534 7500/9500W would be appreciated. Going to buy something within the next 2 weeks. Electric Generators Direct seem to have the lowest prices on Generac and offer free delivery via truck with a power lift for easy unloading. Anyone ever done business with them? Thank you for any information provided.

  10. Inverter says:

    Careful there JayTee Video Guy, you are dating yourself with that Columbo statement :)

    Thanks for the information on the portable generator electrical setup!

  11. mike says:

    Yes, the Generac XP is ok. You just HAVE to have a transfer switch that switches neutrals is all.

    An electrician will know what you mean….just tell him it is a neutral bonded generator and you need a MANUAL transfer switch that switches neutrals.

  12. Doug C says:

    I have a 5 year old Generac 100kw Elite generator with 1000 hours and cannot find anyone who will give me a fair market value on the unit. Any help would be appreciated.

  13. Garence Lee says:

    My situation:
    I live in a rental condo, therefore doubt that I want to hardwire an generator into my powerbox in the basement.

    • What would be the most practical setup if I bought a portable generator [electric start because of health problems – no exertion], placed in my attached garage [with exhaust hose to the outside] and ran an applicable extension cord setup into the house?
    • I live in Wisconsin where near zero weather is not uncommon; therefore the worst case scenario might be: [3] 1000 watt portable heaters, [1] refrigerator [don’t know the wattage], lights, microwave and a backup UPS system for computers.
    • The most maintenance-free & reliable electric start generator?

    Any thoughts on the Stanley 8000 watt generator as opposed to the Generic XP8000E?

    Any help would be appreciated.

  14. UGH again says:

    I just notice that the NEW XG series Generators are NEUTRAL BONDED ALSO.

    That’s about it for Generac!



  15. UGH AGAIN AGAIN says:

    By the way…. the OLD XPs were not GFI 240 jacks and supposedly DID work with the transfer switch.
    SO much BS info on this that I am soured on Generac and the various companies selling these claiming that they will work with a transfer switch.
    When my elderly mother freezes to death what are they going to have to say?

    We need a large group of people complaining to Generac……..

  16. UGH yet AGAIN! says:

    Peter…. Don’t do it! I just got off phone with Generac AGAIN, as INTERNATIONAL TOOL told me this would work and to call a “Jeremy Derma”….. anyway….. they told me that everyone at GENERAC has it wrong, and that Jeremy was high up and would correct this, and assure me it WOULD work… well, it turns out that this Jeremy is a SALES ASSOCIATE. Again, GENERAC EMPLOYESS JOSH told me IT WILL NOT WORK AND DO NOT TRY IT AND DO NOT risk danger of fooling around with trying to change things. It is the XG series you need. DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH INTERNATIONAL TOOL.

    It aint worth your life Peter.

  17. peter says:

    I’ve also been having problems with XP8000E GFI issues. I had called GENERAC BEFORE purchasing and was assured “its the best one” for protecting computers, plasma tvs etc because of “clean power technology”. Needless to say that I cannot connect without GFI tripping.
    This question relates to madmatt76’s solution: If you remove “the jumper wire”, will there be a hazard of electric shock if you touch the running generator? Could someone provide a drawing of how to do this? Thanks!

  18. Ugh AGAIN says:


    Exactly right. The bonded neutral will tell the transfer bad things and it will trip to put it as easily as I can. I just got another email form generac and will include it here also.
    Who has the BEST 12 circuit transfer switch? Reliance isn’t it!

    Mr ??????,

    The XP series has a bonded neutral therefore would not support a manual transfer switch. I am very sorry for any inconvenience. Have a great day.


    Customer Support

    Generac Power Systems Inc.


  19. Debra says:

    Jim and everyone else who has posted here,

    THANKS! You sure have saved me a ton of time! i need to get a generator pretty quickly as my mother-in-law is coming for the holidays and needs electricity for oxygen. i decided to go ahead and purchase Generac xp8000e to try and run entire house if case of power outage.

    1. on average, how much gasoline do I need daily to run let say refrigerator, stove, oxygen tank, furnace, tv, microwave.

    2. How does one buy and store gasoline? Do I buy 5 gal. Containers and fill them up at the gas station? is there some kind of service that brings gasoline to home? Where do you store this gasoline once you get it home? Can they be safely stored in garage?

    3. Just through the holidays I will be using extension cords to hook up everything to the Generators. What is the best way to run the cords into the house? Open window slightly? Squish cords under door?


  20. madmatt76 says:

    Re: Generator not working connected to home with GFCI on the gen. I have read about this on many electrical forums. From what I understand when you plug it into the inlet box, that inlet box is wired to your home load center which has the ground and neutral bonded in the home panel. Most of these new generators (mine included Generac GP7500e) has the neutral bonded to ground / frame via a jumper wire behind the panel with the receptacles (manual states this too).

    You can’t be bonded in two places at once. If you are especially with GFCI on the gen as soon as you plug it into the inlet box it will trip the GFCI breakers and shut the circuit down. The way around this is to use a transfer switch that switches the neutrals (expensive and circuit limiting vs hooking into your whole home panel) or removing that jumper wire on the generator as I did. The reason they bond the gen neutral to ground / frame is to keep their UL listing on it and comply with OSHA rules about stand alone use say on a job site.

    In the future I may install a toggle switch on the gen to turn the bond off and on as needed (connected to home or stand alone use). For now to comply I made a shorting plug that has the neutral and ground prongs connected via jumper. So if I use it as a stand alone gen, I just plug this into one of the 110 plugs on the gen and it reinstates the neutral to ground bond. Very easy to do.

  21. ugh too! says:

    I cancelled order for my XP8000E and will order the XG8000E, but am concerned about two things:
    One…. using the XG with LCD TV and computer
    Two: The XG says it has OSHA certified GFCI outlets as well. I called generac as Laura did and was told NO NO NO on the XP with a transfer switch, and yes to the XG, but now will call back tomorrow and ask what’s up with the XG saying it ALSO has the GFCI outlets.

    This is becoming a royal pain in the ass and I haven’t even gotten into the transfer switch nightmare yet. Reliance control seems to suck….. Electrician looked at one and said wire inside was to thin for what they were rating it at and could heat up and be a hazard. There are about a gazillion different brands and China seems to make them all. Great.

    Just for anyone’s information, I spoke with Josh at Generac.

  22. ugh says:

    Thanks for passing along the warnings from the Generac reps. The one you bought at Lowes should be OK… the “real” XPs (5931 and a slightly different # in California) cost about twice as much.
    The professional ones are intended for contractors/etc to plug tools and extension cords directly into the generator. The GFCI is a safety feature to protect workers if they have an electrical problem.

    I think the problem comes about when using a professional model to feed the circuits in the house. The circuit breaker panel splits the 220 volts in half to get two sets of 110 volt circuits. When something like a refrigerator turns on (on one circuit), a generator with a 220 volt GFCI will see it as an imbalance and shut off power to protect you from what it thinks is an electrical fault.

  23. Inverter says:

    Hi Jackie,

    Yes, that includes the hot water heater (but mine is the instant model (if that make a difference)) AC and Heat – I tried it all, but when I operated the microwave or coffee maker with all this going, then it started to bog down; I’m okay with that though, I’ll simply turn the heat off before I make a cup of coffee :)

  24. Lauva Currier says:

    Thanks for the web site. We decided to purchase a Generac XP8000e after doing our research. My husband found one at Lowes yesterday. I noticed that the Generac XP8000e’s I saw online would have another set of numbers or ‘model’ number in front of the generator’s XP8000e.

    I wondered why some of the machines that I saw online would say “model 5931 XP8000e”, or ‘5708 XP8000e’, etc. To be sure that the XP8000e would work with a transfer switch as emergency power for our home, I called Generac at 1-888-436-3722. Speaking to the customer service rep, he said that the Generac XP8000e would NOT work for a home because the XP series is made ONLY for professional use and if you tried to use this machine with a transfer switch in your home, it would turn itself off each time it was connected to your house because it has a GFCI. (Ground Fault Circuit Interruptor)

    I called my husband back at Lowes and told him what the Generac representative told me and I decided to call Generac back a 2nd time to see if I got the same answer. (This is the first time I had read or heard that an XP series generator could NOT be used for residential use.) Call #2 was to a different Generac rep and he told that the XP8000e WOULD work with a transfer switch in the home with no problems.

    Now I am confused, which then lead me call a third time to see which side the 3rd Generac rep would take. The 3rd rep seemed to know more than the first two. I also asked what the various numbers in front of the Generac XP8000e meant. He said that was the ‘model’ number of the XP8000e and that model #5708 WOULD work, whereas the NEW model #5931 WOULD NOT work, as the 120/220 outlet on the generator now has a GFCI built into the machine, whereas the #5708 did not which is why the older Generacs could be used for home use.

    I called my husband back at Lowes for the 4th time and asked him to tell me what the model number of the Generac XP8000e that he was looking was. The model of the one that Lowes had was “og9655″……neither the #5708 or the #5931 that the Generac rep had told me about!

    This prompted another call to Generac and they looked up the serial number of the motor (separate number from the Generac model number) along with the ‘og9655’ model and told me that this model had the GFCI built into the 110 outlets on the unit, but the 120/220 outlet did not, so this unit WOULD work on our house since we would be using the 120/220 outlet.

    The model #5931 DOES have the GFCI in the 120/220 outlet, so the NEW model of the XP8000e will NOT work for home use.

    I would recommend that anyone looking to purchase an XP8000e (or any other generator after discovering that there are model numbers within a specific generator) to call the company directly and asking if the generator will work with a transfer switch. I do not know if the GFCI is a national regulations or limited to new models of Generac only.

    I wanted to save the next person a lot of grief if they purchase a unit and it doesn’t work when hooked up to their home! We don’t have ours hooked up yet, but I have a lot of names of folks from Generac that will get a call from me if it doesn’t!!

  25. Jackie says:

    This is great infoormation…. One question. When you said it supplies electic to your entire home does that include the hot water heater, A/c and heat?

  26. Clint says:

    Anyone out here using the APC universal transfer switch 10-circuit 120v 240v? From what I’ve read it is pretty slick. It automatically manages the load when using appliances. It is approx $500 but I am seriously considering buying it. This October storm was the last straw. Going generator shopping.

  27. pmb says:

    wow NOT a good idea… jumping a 240v breaker to give 120 volts to both sides of the panel..

    Who’s going to remember to remove all this when power comes back on.
    Eventually, someone will forget and snap that breaker back on. BIG MESS and potentially deadly…

    People do not play with this. Get a transfer switch installed, they are not that expensive and provide the safety required during hectic times.

  28. Frank says:

    Karl has the right idea. It just needs a little clarification. If you hook the generator up to the circuit breaker panel with a 110 extension cord (a good one please) using a 240 breaker this is how its done. The 110 cord has three wires in it. Power, Neutral and ground. First open the main breakers to prevent backfeed. Open all breakers to prevent the generator from overloading. Remove both wires from the 240 breaker and secure them safely. Hook the black wire from the extension cord (the good extension cord) into one side of the 240 breaker. Now, install a jumper wire from this side of the 240 breaker to the other side. Install the white wire from the extension cord onto the neutral bar in the panel and install the ground wire to the grounding stud in the panel.

    Circuit breaker panels have 2 separate 110 circuits. Each side of the panel has its own 110 supply. The 240 breaker takes power from both sides. By installing the jumper wire you are energizing both sides of the panel with 110 volts. The down side to this is you can’t run anything that requires 240 volts and overheating the extension cord is a concern if you don’t use a very good extension cord. I recently did this with a 2000 watt Honda and my friend was able to run his hot air furnace, 27 cubic foot refrigerator, some lighting and a tv. Gas hot water so that wasn’t a concern. This was obviously an emergency situation and not recommended for long term use. Transfer switch kits are readily available. A 10 circuit kit sells for 500 dollars and are fairly easy to install. They come pre-wired. You end up with a plug on the outside of the house and switch box inside. you plug the generator in outside and turn on whatever switches you need on the inside. It is the way to go. The generator I like is Northstar from Northern tool and equipment. They are on the internet. It comes with the Honda motor but not the honda price. It is more expensive than generac. Generac is also a good choice.

  29. Linda Allen says:

    Can anyone suggest a website for debugging a generator that isn’t working? We’ve put in fresh gas w/ additive, changed the oil, changed out the spark plug and given it a new carburetor, all to no avail. :-(

    Editor’s note: Thanks for the correction Linda! Wish I could help with the troubleshooting…

  30. Chuck says:

    Went throught the same snow storm as Karl here isn southeastern PA. This was the last straw. Only spent 1 1/2 days without power, but others aren’t so lucky.

    Alot of great info on the Generac. Same concerns about “clean power” . Also, some other information on hooking the power inlet to the service panel. I’ve rewired the entire house, so hooking this up should be a breeze. Also, the older XP8000E is at Lowes, and other. Where do we find the latest and greatest XP8000E? Thank for the help, and this great thread.

  31. Karl says:

    Just finished buying and using the XP800E for the past 24 hours due to the northeast snow storm we had in Oct 2011.
    I ran my pellet stove, refridgerator,freezer,house lights,well pump,work computer since I was on call,2 quartz heaters,a couple of fans,2 tvs and satelite recievers.
    I turned off 2 of the heaters and turned on the water heater so my wife could take a shower and wash her hair, done the dishes then turned the water heater off and the heaters back on.
    As someone above said the 1500 watt microwave and the coffee pot tripped the gen breaker until I turned the heaters off while using those,after using the m/w and coffe pot turned the heaters back on.I used approximately 13 gallons of gas during this period.
    As for the breaker layout in the box, the 110volt breakers are staggered going down each side,1 breaker will be on left leg while the one below that breaker is on the right leg.If using a 240 amp breaker it runs from both legs in the box.You need to make sure the 110 amp breakers are balanced in the box or you may overload one leg on the generator and trip the generator breaker.
    I worked for a well known power company for 21 years and have seen all type of connections by homeowners and as said a disconnect panel is great and the safest BUT in an emergency make sure the main breaker is off before powering anything with a generator either by plugging the equipment into the gen or wiring directly into the breaker panel.One reason for turning off the main breaker is when the commercial power is restored all home equipment that is on can actually blow the line fuses on the main line, remember you are not the only person on the main line and with all the homeowners startup loads hitting the service at once even the line fuses will not hold.
    Hope the above information helps answer some of the questions and statements.
    My wife as well as myself love this Generac XP800E and if this month is a preview of the coming winter lookout.

  32. Jim says:

    If this will help, for those of you who want to purchase a portable unit, a disconnect switch is not necessary, and here is the reason why. First when your power goes off, turn your Main Breaker off, then hook up the generator and power your furnace, or refrigerator, or TV, or whatever you desire, If hooking your furnace up you will have to waste an extension cord cut off the male end and strip back the wires, hook it up where the shutoff switch is on the side of the furnace, this will power back up the furnace. Now when the power does come back up in your neighborhood, turn off the generator, unhook the extension cords, hook back up the furnace to its orginal setting, And then turm back on your main breaker. Its that simple, Hope this helps.

  33. Derrick says:

    Can anyone mention something about the noise level. What are the noise levels (with respect to an average lawn mower)?

  34. Dean Croke says:

    Love your website guys…………but I need a really good diesel generator for my home in Acton MA. I run a big rig so always have plenty of diesel in the trucks two x 150-gal tanks. Can anyone suggest a reliable brand than can handle around 6,000-8,000 surge watts?

  35. Johnny B says:

    Hey guys and gals …., I’m glad I came across this site !!!! I’m gett’n quiet frustrated look’n for the right portable home back up unit !!! :(

    So I’ve got questions too .. :)

    I was look’n at the XP series generators as a back up generator for my house .., and have been told by a GENERAC rep and by a local dealer that XP units can’t be used for home back up power because of it’s GFI outlets it has .

    They both also said that the XG series is what I need to purchase ..

    What does to matter if it has GFI 240v outlet ?

    Thanks for your input !!!

  36. ToledoTom says:

    Interesting dialogue. I am looking to get a unit for the house. Does anyone have info on the Troy-Bilt units? Lowe’s sells a 7000 running watt unit with 10500 watt surge. This is the biggest surge factor I’ve seen. It also has a 25 ft cord on a removable 4 plug panel that is interesting. The panel also has a digital output screen that provides the output while running and service reminders based on run time.
    Any info would be appreciated. On the recurring topic of back feeding through a plug. First it is incrediblely irresponsible to even consider it. Almost all generator use is during diasaters or emergencies during which many linemen are out trying to get power back to you. Second in most jurisdictions it is illegal. I consider it comparible someone asking if it’s OK to leave a loaded pistol on the coffee table. Stop asking and JUST DON”T DO IT.

  37. Frank - Dallas Pa says:

    Are there any people who have tried Subaru Generators ?

    I hear there pretty good ?

    Were looking to buy a new one.

  38. Chris says:

    I borrowed a portable generator from a friend and pushed the power in through the 220 dryer outlet. First turned off the main then every individual breaker. I cranked up the generator and then threw the breakers I wanted and was up and running in no time. That was in a pinch and I will have my electrician set it up correctly once I buy my own generator. My question is honda vs generac…..seems like you can get twice the power for half the price with a Generac. So why is Honda so pricey? Is it just the brand or noise factor? Is the “quality” of thepower that important for home appliance use? If I am looking for just backup power, it seems like a Honda might be overkill.

  39. Jon says:

    Tom, I live in Florida and just had a power outage due to a lighting strike two days ago that lasted 7 hrs. Not a comfortable situation with no AC, no lights, and obviously no fans either. I have been thinking about getting a generator for sometime and this last situation just got me off the fence. I agree with you concerning the unplanned sudden loss of power and the need of doing something that is otherwise not the best choice. But just for technical discussion, after disconnecting from the public power grid via the main breaker, instead of connecting to your home,s wiring system via a 120V outlet, couldn’t you connect to a 240V outlet, such as the dryer outlet, utilizing the generator’s 240V output? Thereby supplying power to both of the 120V buses in the house. Does anyone see any technical issues with that? Again, I am not advocating this due to the hazards involved and previously noted, but am curious if there is something that is being overlooked.

  40. Jon says:

    Just wondering if anyone is familiar with Gentron Model: GG10020 generator? 8000W running output with 10000W surge. If so, how it compares to the Generac above with noise level. Noise is a concern for me but having power out ranks neighbors squaking. Sams club has it for $878 delivered, so it sounds like a great deal. Thanks.

  41. Sizarro says:

    Hi Jim. Excellent post and website. Can you provide the specifics (product links would be awesome) for each of the following items that you used in your setup:

    – 80 foot cord
    – Circuit Breaker
    – Cover panel with transfer switch
    – Power Inlet


  42. Ellen says:

    I’d like to know the decibel level for this generator, since you said, “my goal was to find the best generator, producing the least amount of sound . . . .”


  43. Patrick says:

    Please all of you considering a generator, you must balance the load between the neutral and both of the 110 volts, remember that a 5000 watt generator only puts out 2500 watts on each side.

  44. ugh says:

    According to Q&A on Generac’s web site, the XP sold at Lowe’s/etc is an old model that does not have the TruePower.

    Tom, *never* bypass a breaker — they are there to protect the wiring in your house from overloads.

  45. Tom says:

    Thanks to all for the follow-on posts!

    Shiela – that is certainly the most direct approach. I thank you (even if my back does not!).

    Carl – thinking about it, what your brother discovered about one side of the breaker box makes sense. It would only power the breakers on the same side, assuming that each side is on a separate phase. Good catch!

    DangerMan – yes, I inderstand the inherent danger of potentially backfeeding power onto the grid. The only time this would ever be used is in an emergency AND where you could verify separation of the household from the grid by removing the main breaker at the panel. It’s also a good point about bypassing the breakers – will have to diagram that out. Certainly true for any device plugged into the circuit with the input plug. Thanks!

  46. DangerMan says:

    My God man, you’ll send power right up the wire and fry the utility worker! This is called backfeeding and it’s extremely dangerous, not only to the utility worker, but the neighbors as well and may bypass household circuit protection devices (Say goodbye to your electronic equipment!)

    NEVER feed the power from your portable generator into your household outlets!

  47. Carl says:

    My brother tried what you describe above (Turn off main breaker and power the house by connecting generator to an outlet). It worked for him. He did mention that it only powered the circuits on one side of his breaker box.

  48. Sheila says:

    Hi Tom,

    Why not play it safe and just run high-priority equipment via an extension cord? It would mean moving the refrigerator from the wall to get to the cord, but no one can get hurt (except for maybe your back!).


  49. Tom says:

    Great site and thank you for setting it up and keeping it going!

    I am seeking an opinion. Assume there is an emergency where you need to drag your generator to a house that wasn’t previously prepared (i.e., no transfer switch or power inlet are installed). Can you safely energize the house by: first, throwing the main panel breaker to prevent power from flowing back onto the grid; second, plugging the generator into a household outlet to energize the disconnected panel; and third, use the panel’s breakers to manipulate the flow of power to required equipment and outlets?

    I know it is neither ideal, nor elegant, but would it work safely – in an emergency?

    Thanks for any input!

  50. Inverter says:

    Hi Murray,

    Yup, the entire house! I’m running my air-conditioner, refrigerator, lights, tv, computers, you name it – I’ve put it to the test and you know what drags it way down when I have all that running? It’s my coffee machine (nice unit) and the microwave. When I run those two units, either one, and everything else is running, I can hear the generator struggling.

    Hope that helps!

  51. Murray Thompson says:

    Generac has a new unit 5735 GP17500E 26,250 Watt 992cc OHV Portable Gas Powered Generator With Electric Start. But unlike the XP series units it doesn’t have “True Power technology that provides clean, smooth operation of sensitive electronics, tools and appliances”. This concerns me. It would definitely run my house, but would I fry my house electronics.

    You say this unit will run your entire house. Could you give the break down of what you are actually running? I too am looking for something that in a pinch could run my entire house, or at least my AC unit, well, water heater, frig, and a few lights without tripping the unit. Thanks for the write up!

  52. Steven says:

    I contacted my power company and they put a transfer box on the outside of my house by the meter where I can plug my generator into, then just flip what breakers I want to run from inside my panel box without the hassle of extension cords everywhere. I didn’t even have to pay for it at one time, 90 bucks up front and then 92 a month extra on my light bill for the next 11 months ($1,102 total). Plus if anything goes wrong with the box it would fall back on the power company to pay for whatever damages

  53. Vince M says:

    I just read through all the posts. I’m thinking about the GP7500E or GP8000E. I want electric start and a motor that has oil pressure with an oil cooler, not the sump splash type. After reading this I’m concerned about running PCs, routers, modems, and flat panel displays from the power generated by the GP models. Is this really an issue these days, as the Power supplies in most devices can really handle a wide range of voltages, frequencies, and do some filtering. Has anyone actually tried running PC, routers, and flat panels with a GP series generator? DO I really need the XP line?


  54. Inverter says:

    Hi Dan,

    I know that the Generac XP model portable generators have TruePower technology that protects electronics, will check on the rest…

  55. Dan G. says:

    I looked at the specs for this generator but it was not clear to me if this unit has the electronics in place to “clean up” the electrical supply to insure that no damage was done to computer chips or sensitive electronics. Do you know if it does that?

  56. admin says:

    Hi Nick,

    I still have my Generac and I run it for about 20 minutes every 4 – 6 months – for me, it’s no problem, I just put it outside, start it up and mow the lawn ( or plow the driveway) and put it back in. I don’t run mine every month and have had no problems. And, finally, we had a storm that took out the electricity for two days – my generator worked like a charm and ran everything (but it is amazing how much juice a microwave or coffee machine takes!).

    Hope that helps!

  57. Maryland Shooter says:

    I have an older Generac Wheelhouse 5500/8500 – a manual transfer switch and the same type install as the author has. I think I got it in 2001 and the entire thing ran $1500 installed.

    I can run the refrigerators (2), well pump, gas heat (blower), washer/dryer, one complete bathroom and a bunch of outlets.

    I am in the North East and winters can get cold. Without heat and water, all you have is a glorified cardboard box with windows.

    Generators are a must if you are on a well.

  58. Nick Savarino says:

    Thanks for your research. I would love to purchase a portable generator, XP8000E, but have been told by several people that portable generators need to be run a few hours every week or two or at least once a month to keep them in good working order. I don’t have the time to do the periodic runs is the reason I haven’t bought one. Do the units go bad just sitting in storage? Do the hoses rot while just sitting if not being run for years? I would not store the unit with gas cause the gas would go bad after many months. What maintenance, if any, is required of the XP8000E while in storage AND prior to start up after storage? And finally, can the Generac XP8000E run a 3.5 ton central airconditioning unit with no other things running at the same time? I don’t think it would handle the 3.5 AC so a small backup window AC unit may be the option. I look forward to hearing your advise.


  59. ruthy says:

    From my understanding and investigating on this unit is sure lives up to it name. It gives peace of mind when their is a power outage. An important consideration for the elderly or sick needing constant and reliable power.

  60. Gary says:

    Hey…..Has there been a newer version of the Generac XP8000E produced as of 6/11 or any in the works? Thanks….

  61. Hurrican Veteran says:

    The automatic generators are sweet if you have a natural gas or a propane line in your home. Not only will the gas unit come on automatically (transfer switch and all) but the natural gas from your home will provide the fuel. This eliminates pouring / storing / finding gas.

    As far as natural gas goes:

    I’ve heard it gets cut off after an earthquake; fire will eventually shut down part of a grid’s gas; I’ve witnessed a good amount of ice storms and many hurricanes, including Katrina, and the gas has stayed on; worst case scenrio, that I’ve seen, is losing it after only three days.

    Three days = 50ish gallons of unleaded gas on an ETQ 7250 generator, continuously at 75%.

    This set-up will cost you but if it works for your situation you should consider it. This is a must do if you are building a new home.

  62. Chris says:

    I am considering the generac xp 6500E. Anyone have any problems with Generac. I have seem a fair number complaints but the BBB still gives them a high rating.

  63. admin says:

    We will look forward to it Rick! There are a good number of people out there looking for a creative solution like this and pictures would be a big help.

    Thanks for sharing!


  64. Rick says:

    Hi Jim;

    The Generac XP8000E Portable Generator is the one I was researching when I came across your page, I had studied the Generac home pages from one end to the other and decided it was the one I wanted because of the XP motor and all the other features.
    I can not hook up to the city power because of the location of my main power box, under my Mobile Home.

    I bought a 8 way portable distribution box that is rated at 30amp’s each so I have run PVC to all the things I need and I just unplug each item and plug into the genny power.
    It works fine but my old genny was 3000 watts, a search and rescue type thing to have the house warm and the food cold a few lights and no internet because of dirty power.

    One thing I have not been able to find is an AC__AC pure sine wave converter to get good clean power for my old genny, so I ran 2 – 300amp hr batteries and 2 -300 watt PSW inverters for the PC and other odds and ends.

    I will keep the batteries for the computer and just use my Iota 12 V 55 A Converter/Charger # IotaDLS1255.

    Well when the new genny shows up and it’s up and running I will take some pictures and give all of you an update of how things worked out.

    Thank Rick

  65. James says:

    This why the internet was created. To share important information. You have answered a lot of the questions that I had. Power outages are becoming more frequent and for longer periods of time. Now I can make an informed decision on how to proceed. Thanks much!!

  66. Ed says:

    What brand/model of transfer switch did you use? I can’t find anything even close to the price you show ($40). Is it possible to add the DPDT breaker to an existing electrical panel?

    Thanks for your help.


  67. Steve says:

    The only problems with this type of solution are that you have to be at your house (and not on vacation) and awake when the power goes out, have to possibly go out in a storm to move the generator away from the house.

    A whole house generator is of course more expensive, but with a Kohler or Generac whole house generator and an automatic transfer switch, it turns itself on when the power goes off automatically. When power is restored, the switch goes back to the regular power lines and the generator shuts off.

    For those with finished basements prone to flooding, the money is worth it to me. I love my Kohler generator!

  68. admin says:

    Hi Frank,

    They gave me the same run around and by the end of it all, I had a quote for a oversize generator that cost a fortune. I can run my whole house on my portable generator and have put it to the test many times and had no problems at all. Buy something like I got (doesn’t have to be the same) and you should be good to go. Are there questions you had for me on the generator I purchased?

    I’m happy to help.

    Best regards,


  69. frank lavigna says:

    I’m still confused regarding home generators as to what to purchase, been every where asking questions and get the same story, what appliance do you want to keep running in case of power failure? I always answer all !!!!!!!!! if possible, and then HOW much do you want to spend? as little as necessary i like the stand-by that appears above. Thank you for this consideration.

  70. Sam says:

    If you are in the country and have significant house motor loads such as a well pump and sewage treatment aerators, then you need to take that into account for the generator size.

    Absolutely do not hook into the home wiring without a transfer/disconnect switch. I would think that all jurisdictions require you to pull an electrical permit and to have the installation inspected. This is a good thing, not a problem. Keeps you safe and keeps the insurance people happy.

  71. Thomas Stark says:

    I did the exact same thing. I am eagerly waiting for your December post. I would like more specifics about the transfer switch and circuit breaker (like what brand and where you got them). I have the same generator and I would like to duplicate your setup. I am very close, but I could use a few more specifics. Thanks in advance….Stark.

  72. Thomas Bopp D.Sc says:

    Please!!!, don’t anyone try to hook up any generator to your home circuits without a disconnect switch properly installed in the circuit… if you accidentally supply power back into the power grid, you could end up killing a technician or other person working to restore power and be charged with manslaughter, as well as having that on your conscience the rest of your life.

  73. Randy says:

    Was wondering how I would connect the generator to my home and thought plugging it into a standard outlet would do the trick which would have been wrong. the pictures were a big help, thanks.

  74. Jim says:

    Hi Pat,

    I looked on the internet for the part number of the cover, but could not find it – I will ask the company that did the install for part numbers or details and will post them when I get them.

    You can probably create a parts list from everything that I have posted, but when I get time, I’ll try to sum everything up.

    If you do this before me, please post what you have and share it with everyone.



  75. Pat Fowler says:

    I was reading your article on the manual transfer switch and think this is a very good way to go.

    Can you get the information on the parts I need to order for the breaker panel and where I can find them.

    Thanks any information you can get me would be helpful.

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