top of page

Automatic Generators vs. Portable Generators from a Master Electrician

Power outages are a major inconvenience. Between finding your flashlights, checking on all the major housing processes for mishaps, and wondering when the power will come back on so you can shower before work tomorrow, power outages cause a lot of stress. The stress can only get worse when the utility company says there might be multiple days that you have to function without electricity. 

The best solution is to get a generator, which can range from powering only essential functions, such as plumbing, to powering all of your house’s appliances, fixtures, etc. However, there are two different generators that people have to choose between when finding what generator is right for them. Our Master Electrician, Bryan Butler, shared some advice that may help you choose which generator is the best choice for you and your family.

Option 1: Portable Generators

As the name suggests, portable generators can usually be moved relatively easily. They can power anywhere from 2,000 kW-14,000 kW (be warned, the more kW, the heavier the generator usually is) and typically cost between $300 - $1,000. The average family only needs 7,000-8,000 kW, so portable generators fit the needs and budget of most families. Butler Electric helps with the setup for portable generators a few times per week, so we know a thing or two about installing the necessary components for a portable generator. These are significantly more affordable than home standby generators, making them the suggested generator for the average family. 

Option 2: Automatic Generators

Automatic generators are more powerful and stationary. Most times, portable generators offer a better value for the smaller investment they require. However, there are specific instances that may make an automatic generator a viable option for you and your family. 

Where You Live

If you live outside of the city and have multiple appliances (water heater, electric oven), an automatic generator may be the best for you. The gas required to fuel an automatic generator is cheaper than using propane to power the appliances within your house if it’s in a more rural area. 

Size of Your Home 

For an exceptionally large house (>5,000 SF), you’ll need more kilowatts to send power throughout the house.

A Direct Comparison: Automatic Generators vs. Portable Generators


Portable Generator

Automatic Generator

Fuel Source

Propane tank or gasoline for generator battery

Natural gas or propane for battery

Kilowatts Provided

2,000 kW-14,000 kW

12,000 kW-24,000 kW




Difficulty of Set Up

We suggest having an electrician help with initial setup to prevent electrocution.

Need an electrician to help with the initial setup.


Very little effort needed, but make sure gasoline doesn’t sit in the generator for longer than 3 months. Bryan Butler suggests using recreational gasoline instead, as it lasts for a whole year.

Schedule annual maintenance through the generator provider for maintenance (Ex: Wolverine Power Systems). Ignoring maintenance can break the generator.

When it comes to purchasing a generator of any kind, it’s important to do your research. Bryan Butler does not recommend a particular brand of generator that’s more trustworthy than others. In fact, the most important factor to your generator’s performance is to keep it properly maintained with oil changes and repairs. The performance of the generator can vary based on brand, model, and maintenance over the years. So, carefully look at customer reviews when you’re considering which generator is right for your needs, budget, and living situation.

We’re happy to help with the preparation and installation of the wiring needed for your generator. If you’re still not quite sure which generator is right for you or would like some help with your generator, give us a call at 616-643-8287 or fill out our inquiry form.


Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Black Google+ Icon
  • Black LinkedIn Icon
  • Black Facebook Icon
bottom of page