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Whether you’re after a full-fat backup generator to keep your household ticking over during a power outage, or a smaller portable unit for powering just the essentials while you’re on the road, reliability is key, but not all generators are up to the challenge.
Some will give up the ghost when you most need their assistance, leaving you high and dry to face your emergency situation completely powerless. This is why it’s best to buy a quality unit from a reputable buyer, but where to start?
Well, with over 100 years of experience in the power generation industry, the folks over at Kohler have learned a thing or two about a quality generator, which is why they’re considered such a reliable brand.
So, to solve your power problems in one fell swoop, today I’ll be showing you the 5 best Kohler generators you can buy.
Best Kohler Generators: Reviews
OUR TOP PICK
This is a single phase Kohler standby generator, meaning it cuts a balance between affordability and performance.
Rated for 20Kw, it’s an absolute monster of a machine capable of keeping a full household (and even a small business) running at full capacity when grid power lets you down.
The US-built commercial-grade engine doesn’t only boast raw muscle, it also provides exquisite power delivery, which leads to higher energy efficiency and super fast power transfer — We’re talking 10 seconds max! So you won’t be in the dark for long.
Thanks to an insanely robust, corrosion-proof enclosure, all the high quality internal components remain safe and sound when the weather gets extreme, which usually coincides with power outages, so to say this is a welcome addition is an understatement.
But what shocked me during my tests was just how quiet this thing is.
Even if it’s stationed right outside your house, hugging the wall, you’ll only ever hear a faint murmur from within, and even when you’re outside, it’s not that loud, which will certainly keep the neighbors happy!
- Solid enclosure — Combined with maintenance, ensures long service life, even in extreme climates
- 20Kw — Enough watts to run a 5-ton 60,000 BTU air conditioner
- Quiet running — Not loud enough to distract you and others in the area
- Dual fuel options — LPG or natural gas will keep this thing ticking over
- Single phase — Not suitable for demanding commercial applications
Here we have another 20kW beauty from Kohler.
Much like its cousin above, this thing will have your power back on in as little as 10 seconds, and thanks to the advanced voltage and frequency regulation, it does so while protecting all your sensitive electronics such as laptops and TVs.
The 4-stroke Kohler Command PRO engine is about as good as they get, so a long service life is all but guaranteed, and being that this unit arrives with an RXT 200-amp service-grade auto transfer switch, you won’t have to make any pricey aftermarket purchases.
Despite its power, it’s a pretty quiet machine, and you can forget about any irritating break-in sessions or pricey valve adjustments, as it arrives with hydraulic valve lifters that prime it for action from the get-go.
Perhaps my favorite thing about this generator is the PowerBoost technology that provides you with an extra surge of power to get the most demanding appliances up and running.
- 20kW — Enough power to keep any household fully functioning
- Transfer switch included — Most of what you need for installation arrives with the generator
- PowerBoost — Can fire up electronics with stacked starting requirements
- Volume — Very liveable running dBA.
- LPG/natural gas — Can be installed whether you have a natural gas hook up or not
- Diminished capacity — When run on natural gas, it tops out at 18kW
20kW may be overkill for you, which is why I’m shining a light on the 14RESA, a slightly smaller, less powerful unit. Yet, as it’s fitted with a state-of-the-art air-cooling system, it’s still capable of powering some hefty electronics for extended periods.
It has the same fantastic polymer, corrosion-proof enclosure as the previously discussed units, so it doesn’t matter how wild your climate gets. Whatever the weather, this generator will keep the lights on when grid power leaves you high and dry.
Again, you’re looking at roughly 10 seconds for activation, so even if you rely on grid power to run essential medical equipment, the 14RESA will kick into action before anybody’s health is affected.
It can also be purchased in single or three phase formats, so you can tailor your purchase to the fine details of your power needs.
- Price — Affordable for what it is
- Activation time — has you up and running in 10 seconds
- Polymer enclosure — Shrugs off extreme weather like it’s nothing
- PowerBoost technology — Punches above its weight in terms of starting watts
- Noise level — Still quiet, but due to the air cooling system, it’s a little noisier
Here’s something of a curveball — A Kohler steam generator for transforming your shower into a full-blown steam room!
Kitted out with fast-response technology, it can produce enough steam for a rejuvenating steam shower in as little as 60 seconds, which, if you’re new to this kind of technology, is insanely fast.
Competing units will often take 5 minutes or longer to steam the place up, so if you’re interested in a steam generator to soothe respiratory issues, you’ll appreciate the instant relief of the K-5533-NA.
And get this… it cleans itself at the push of a button, leaving you with a very meager maintenance schedule. It just gives, gives, gives and wants nothing in return!
Unfortunately, you will have to purchase the K-5556 control kit to use this generator after installation, but once you have that final piece of the puzzle, you can enjoy a good steam every single day without going to the spa.
- Fast-response technology — Provides a steam shower in 60 seconds, providing prompt relief for those that suffer from respiratory ailments
- Adjustable output — Tailor functionality to your steamy preferences
- Power Clean technology — It cleans itself!!!
- Price — It’s not for the faint of heart
- Additional purchases — You’ll need to purchase the control system which is sold separately
Also available from Kohler
Here we have yet another fine example of Kohler’s whole house standby generators.
Rated for 20kW, it’s capable of powering anything and everything in a typical American household, so if you want comprehensive coverage during a power outage, this is the generator for you.
It doesn’t arrive alone, either, as a 200-amp transfer switch is included with the purchase, meaning that after a few site preparation tasks, installation can be started in earnest.
It can run on both LPG and natural gas and even has a system in place that enables you to switch between fuel sources easily.
As for activation speed, you’ve guessed it… this generator will keep your house electrified after only 10 seconds of downtime. You won’t have to lift a finger; as soon as this unit senses a lapse in grid power, it jumps in to shoulder the load!
- Fast acting — 10 seconds until it kicks in, perfect if you need to keep medical equipment powered.
- Switch included — No expensive additional purchases required before installation
- 20kW — It will power it all!
- Price — It’s an expensive purchase, but a portion of the price tag comes down to the included transfer switch.
Even when you’ve narrowed your choice down to a single brand, choosing a generator is never an easy process, especially for newcomers to the market, which is why I’ve composed this handy buyer's guide.
Standby Vs. Portable Vs. Steam Generators
A logical place to start is deciding between standby and portable generators. Standby generators are generally large static units designed to provide a lot of power to a property in the event of a blackout.
They’re either plumbed into natural gas infrastructure or hooked up to a discrete fuel tank installation so they’re always primed and ready to fire up and shoulder the power burden of a property when grid power lets you down.
As you’d expect, they can carry some pretty scary price tags, but you can’t put a price on reliability and safety during emergencies.
Portable generators are much smaller (although they can still be pretty big). They have limited outputs, so they’re best used for powering just one or a few essentials. If you’re a consummate camping or RV enthusiast, this is the kind of generator you’ll need.
Now, steam generators are another kettle of fish entirely! You won't normally hear about this form of generator in guides such as this, but as Kohler makes them, I’m obliged to tell you about them.
Steam generators are designed specifically to produce steam for steam showers. They cannot be used in the same way standby or portable generators can be used, as their sole purpose is to produce lots of steam.
Inverter Vs. Traditional
Next on the agenda… deciding between inverter and traditional generators. In nutshell, inverter generators are the premium option, as they’re far more efficient, but don’t feel you have to fork out big bucks to get a quality unit.
Yes, inverter generators are technically more refined machines, but they also tend to be quite small, so if your power demand is quite high, you may have no choice but to choose a traditional design.
Figuring Out Your Power Needs
Before you can choose a generator, you first need to know how much power you require. The power of generators is given in watts.
The higher the wattage of a generator, the more appliances you’ll be able to power simultaneously, while the higher the watt hours, the longer you’ll be able to power them.
To figure out how much power you’ll need, begin by making a list of the electrical items you want to run when the power goes out. Then, note down the wattage of each item. Finally, add up each wattage to find a rough estimate of the power you’ll need to meet your demands.
The more power a generator is capable of providing, the heavier and larger it’s going to be, which is why standby generators are so hefty. In light of this, if you need something you can load into and out of your vehicle with ease, you’ll have to sacrifice some power.
Some units will arrive with ergonomic or foldaway handles, while heavier generators arrive with wheels, making them easy to get from A to B when they hit solid ground, but not so easy to lift.
Most generators run on gas, but Kohler has a respectable selection of propane options too.
The installation type may dictate the fuel source, but if you have to choose between these fuel sources, propane is considered the best for reliability and efficiency, while gas generators are more affordable upfront.
Any modern generator worth its salt should arrive with at least a couple of safety features.
Overload protection is a must in this day and age, especially for your first generator, as you’re bound to make a few operational mistakes at some point, and you don’t want these blunders to damage your expensive generator.
Short circuit protection is another great feature, and CO2 detection is becoming more popular as the years go by.
Some generators arrive with intelligent control systems and fancy displays that boost the user-friendly factor significantly. They cost a little more, but if you’re looking for a highly intuitive, easy-to-use generator, it might be worth your while paying the premium.
Standby generators in particular tend to have super deep control systems to keep users in the loop and instill peace of mind that they’ll be ready for action when the power goes down.
Portable generators offer more of a range where control systems are concerned, so if you’d rather save a few bucks and get something that uses a rudimentary LED indicator system, you can.
Generators are pretty dang noisy, but they’re not all as loud as each other. If you’re going to be in close proximity to your generator while it’s in use or have neighbors close by, it’ll be worth choosing a quiet inverter generator as opposed to a traditional generator.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Many Watts Will It Take To Power A Whole House?
As houses and the families living within vary so much in size, it’s impossible to tell you how many watts a whole house generator should have, but generally speaking, you’re looking at something between 5000 and 9000 watts to keep the average household backed up.
Is Kohler A Reputable Brand?
The Kohler name is synonymous with excellence in the generator world. All their products use commercial-grade motors and can withstand years of heavy usage in the most demanding circumstances.
Part of the reason their generators are so fantastic is the rigorous testing they put each and every unit through before it hits the market. This is a company that strives for perfection, and it shows when you use their products.
Without a doubt, Kohler is one of the most reputable companies in the generator industry at the minute.
Is A Kohler Generator Better Than A Generac?
Both Kohler and Generac produce amazing generators, especially in the backup category. Their products have a lot of the same features, but they’ll be built slightly differently.
Generac is perhaps the most recognizable of the two brands in today’s market, but as Kohler has about 40 years' experience on Generac, I’d say Kohler is the smart man’s choice.
How Many Hours Will I Get From A Kohler Generator?
As long as you stay on top of maintenance, there’s no reason your Kohler generator won’t last for more than 3000 hours.
As for how long you should run a standby Kohler generator continuously, the general rule of thumb for any standby is to limit runtime to 500-hour sessions at most, which is almost a month!
How Many Years Will A Kohler Generator Last?
Assuming normal usage and a tight maintenance schedule, you can expect a Kohler generator to last about 20 years, although there are no doubt some out there that have exceeded this life expectancy.
However, at a certain point, it’ll be worth upgrading to take advantage of all the latest technology.
Where Are Kohler Generators Made?
Most Kohler generators are made right here on US soil. Even the bulk of their motors are made in-house. However, a few of their smaller gasoline units are put together in China, which may or may not be a big deal to you.
When Was Kohler Founded?
Kohler was founded way back in 1873 by John Michael Kohler in Wisconsin on December 3rd, and since then, the company has garnered international acclaim, with Kohler generators being sold and used across all 7 continents.
Whichever you go for, a Kohler generator is a fantastic choice, but the 5 listed in this guide are especially great, so if one caught your eye, bring it on home; you won’t regret it!
With one of these fantastic generators, next time the power goes out and those around you fall into a flurry of panic, you can be that cool, calm, and collected individual that knows full well they’ll get by until grid power returns.