Products & Services
Stationary generators have an important advantage over portable models—they switch themselves on in the event of a blackout and maintain readiness by running periodic self-diagnosis routines. But while you might prefer this hands-off approach, be warned: Depending on where you live, the process of buying a stationary generator and having it installed won’t necessarily be done in time for winter. The reason? Local ordinances for obtaining the necessary permits often require you and your installer to jump through bureacratic hoops to satisfy concerns about hazards, noise, and other factors.
In the best-case scenario, the installer you hire will have previously installed the model you’ve selected and be familiar with noise and setback requirements. Still, we recommend that before you make the purchase you get some reassurance that the model you’ve picked will pass muster with your municipality.
In our reporting, we found some examples of what a town might specify. Local installers should already be familiar with requirements such as:
From start to finish, the permiting process could take just a few weeks. Unfortunately, you and your installer can do everything right and still wait months. The necessary inspections and approvals, in a small town, can rely on a single building inspector. In such situations, the best you can do is work closely with the installer, follow procedures to the letter, make yourself available for site inspections, order the generator itself (if possible) before a major storm hits, and be very, very nice to that official.
Before you settle on a generator, see our buying guide and the video below on how we test. Then see our Ratings of mor than two dozen stationary and portable models, including the top-ranked stationary Kohler 14RESAL, $3,700, which comes with a transfer switch.