At OPE Reviews, we’ve covered our fair share of generators. Between our product tours, hands-on reviews, and best-of lists, most of those units were portable. However, rest assured that we haven’t forgotten whole-house generators, and we know a thing or two about them. Indeed, our first-hand experience with such models will help you decide whether this is the route you want to take in your search for home backup power. Now, we’re sure you’ve heard of Generac Guardian generators, and you might be wondering whether they’re worth the investment. Well, it just so happens that we’ve given one an extensive workout, and here’s what we think.
Choosing a Home Generator: What to Know
Before we get into performance, there are a few background details we need to explore.
We’ve already highlighted Generac’s 18kW model in our Best Generator for Home Use list, and the Guardian series has demonstrated a consistent quality level across the board. The main difference between the models in this lineup is power, which ranges from 7.5kW to 26kW. (You’ll also see some difference in fuel economy.)
So, how do you choose the best wattage for your needs? Consider these three factors:
- How big is your house–Simply put, the larger your home, the higher the wattage you’ll want to choose, which leads to the next point.
- What do you want to power–Each appliance requires a certain amount of power. For example, your central AC/heat pump is a hog, particularly on startup. As such, we recommend at least the 14kW Generac Guardian generator, especially considering you’ll want more than just air conditioning and heat. So, plan accordingly when deciding.
- What fuel will you use–From a performance standpoint, propane is the best. It burns the cleanest and is, all around, more efficient. Additionally, it gives you the generator’s full wattage. Yup, you read correctly. Natural gas is convenient, but you get roughly 1,500 to 2,500 watts less than your model’s rated output.
Generac Guardian Generators Performance
Here at the OPE Reviews compound, we’re operating at 22kW, which is what we’ll focus on in this article–the Model 7043. Our system powers a 1,800-square-foot residence and a separate 2-car garage and shop.
To put this in perspective, this setup runs everything–heating, air conditioning, etc. We’ve been using natural gas on this model through outages that have lasted upwards of a week (we’re in the sticks). Thus far, it’s impressive.
First, this Guardian generator’s 999cc G-Force engine utilizes Generac’s pressure-lubricated design. Overall, we like its power, reliability, and easy maintenance. As to the last item, routine upkeep includes two oil changes a year. You should put this on your calendar for late summer and early spring.
Furthermore, the generator will run a self-test once a week, during which it will monitor everything from battery health to oil pressure. You can choose either a 5- or 12-minute test. Go with 12 minutes, especially in the dead of winter, for those of you in colder climes. If you’re lucky, you’ll go months without an outage, so it’s good to warm up the engine and give it some exercise.
We also recommend that you set your tests for Saturday or Sunday morning when you’re likely at home. That way, you know for sure that the generator is doing its job (unless you use the mobile feature, which allows you to monitor things from anywhere).
- Model: Generac 7043
- Engine: 999cc G-Force
- 22kW (liquid propane), 19.5kW (natural gas)
- Weight: 515 lbs
Finally, the G-Force engine is quiet. We’d say it’s a bit louder than a central AC compressor. Naturally, if it’s right up against your house, it’s going to be more conspicuous. Ours is located behind the separate garage, roughly 25 yards from the residence and, as such, it’s not at all intrusive.
Startup Sequence and Operation
Another standout performance feature throughout the Generac Guardian generator line is the startup sequence itself. Here’s how the 7043 works when you lose power.
Your home will go dark for roughly 10 to 15 seconds. This is in case the electricity suddenly comes back on. If it doesn’t, you’ll hear the generator startup. Whatever is wired to the system will come back to life.
After the utility company restores power, the generator will continue to run for a few minutes. This is in case the power goes out again. If it doesn’t, the engine shuts off.
Generac Guardian Generator Design
We found that one of the most important design features of this generator (and any home backup unit, for that matter) is the construction. Similar to your AC compressor, this machine is going to be outside in the elements, 24-7-365.
In particular, we like Generac’s RhinoCoat powder-coated finish. Ours has held up quite well, resisting extreme heat, cold, and other environmental abuses.
And, for something you might like on the technical side, Generac has included a mobile link cellular remote monitoring system. This enables you to check on your generator’s status using your smartphone or other wireless devices. Admittedly, we haven’t had much use for this feature.
The Bottom Line
Based on our long experience with this Generac Guardian generator, we can say that it operates seamlessly. It’s reliable, low-maintenance, and, in our opinion, an investment in your sanity.
Yet, that “investment” is also the biggest drawback of such products. They will hit you hard in the wallet, plain and simple. We are, after all, talking about a tool that actually requires infrastructure to operate. Consequently, you could wind up paying $10,000 or more depending on the system and the installation costs.
Generac Guardian Generator Price
The Model 7043 sells for $5,999 and comes with a 200-amp transfer switch. Expect to add at least $2,000 for installation. If you have natural gas, running a line will further increase the cost. Generac backs this model with a 5-year limited warranty.
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