4 Best Diesel Generator For Home

If you are pondering about purchasing a diesel generator but aren’t sure if such a generator is the right choice for you, our guide might be able to help you!

First things first, we want to introduce you to our Top 4 of the best diesel generators for home use out there. Next, because we know how much people can struggle when shopping for a generator, we are going to talk about the benefits of diesel generators and give you a couple of tips to help you choose the best one.

But first, let’s have a look at our 4 picks!

4 Best Diesel Generators For Home Reviewed

When picking diesel generators for review, we’ve tried to select unique, distinct generators. Our goal was to diversify our top and hopefully meet the needs of as many people as possible.

Below, you will find a brief overview of each generator. For every pick, we’re going to highlight the key features and downsides (if any) to let you know what you are looking at.

1. Generac XD5000E (6864) Diesel Portable Generator

QUICK SUMMARY

  • Style: Portable.
  • Surge/running watts: 5,500/5,000.
  • Fuel tank size: 12 gallons.
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: Less than 5-6%.
  • Outlets: (2) 120V 20A GFCI 5-20R duplex, (1) 120/240V L14-30R twist-lock outlet, (1) 120V L5-30R twist-lock outlet.
  • Weight: 252 pounds.
  • Dimensions: 33.1 x 22.5 x 25.6 inches (L x W x H).
best diesel generator

Up first on our review is the XD5000E portable diesel generator from Generac. This portable generator is a great pick for heavy use cases and even industrial applications. 

With surge/running wattage of 5,500/5,000, XD5000E isn’t anything spectacular at first glance. You can find up to 10-12kW generators for a cheaper price. 

However, these high-power generators are unlikely to have the same quality of electricity as XD5000E. Thanks to a THD of less than 5-6%, this generator can safely run sensitive electronics.

Unlike the typical household portable generator, XD5000E also has an idle mode. In this mode, the generator’s motor will run at a lower RPM to conserve fuel. This mode isn’t as flexible as the throttle control in inverter generators, but it’s better than nothing.

Speaking of the motor, XD5000E sports a huge 435cc air-cooled engine with industrial-grade components. This bulky motor is noisy and makes the XD5000E generator really hefty, but when it comes to heavy use cases, it should perform wonderfully.

The frame of the Generac XD5000E generator is tough as well. Fully welded, the 1-1/4-inch steel tubing should easily take abuse and protect the generator’s key components. The integrated eye in the center also allows for easy lifting too.

Generac also offers an optional portability kit with wheels, handles, and a support foot. This kit somewhat adds to the price of the generator, but given how difficult this thing is to transport, it may be worth it.

In terms of convenience, the Generac diesel generator is pretty nice as well. It has an electric push starter for quick startup, and it also features a backup pull starter. Thanks to a compression release lever, XD5000E is pretty easy to start in low ambient temps too.

The push starter requires a battery though, which you will have to buy separately. And we do recommend that you buy a battery because the pull starter isn’t too reliable.

The set of outlets in the Generac diesel generator is pretty nice, and you can also switch between 120 and 240V for one of them. The control board additionally has an hour meter with maintenance reset tracks to allow you to keep an eye on the generator’s usage.

Finally, XD5000E has a 12-gallon fuel tank that is advertised to provide up to 32.4 hours of runtime at 50% load – pretty nice.

In conclusion, XD5000E is a great choice for heavy and even professional needs. Particularly, it’s a great choice if you want portable clean power anywhere, be it in your backyard or out in the wild camping.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Great if you want portable power.
  • Delivers rather clean power for a portable generator.
  • Tough frame with integrated lifting eye.
  • Can start in cold temps.
  • Idle mode for fuel savings.

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • The pull starter isn’t reliable.
  • The electric starter requires a battery, which needs to be bought separately.

2. Generac Protector RD03022ADAE 30kW Standby Generator

QUICK SUMMARY

  • Style: Standby.
  • Max continuous power: 30,000 watts.
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: Less than 5%.
  • Output voltage: Single-phase 120V.
  • Weight: 842 pounds.
  • Dimensions: 95 x 35 x 59 inches.
  • Tank size: 132 gallons.
best diesel generator

If you want enough power to supply your entire home with electricity, then strongly consider the Generac Protector RD03022ADAE standby diesel generator. Although this generator’s price tag is very steep, it’s actually rather affordable for its power output and features.

With max continuous power of 30kW, the Generac standby generator will be able to satisfy the needs of most US households. Now, you’ll have to determine the total wattage of your appliances on your own, but for most people, 30kW should be more than enough, especially if you manage your power consumption well.

As you’d expect, the Protector standby diesel generator delivers clean power with a THD of less than 5%. So you should be able to safely operate sensitive electronics and electrical appliances.

Note that this particular generator delivers single-phase power. There also is a three-phase variant available, which may be what some of our readers need.

Generac made the installation and maintenance of this generator rather easy. Its internal components are easily accessible to ensure quick setup, and the breaker and control board are placed in clear view to allow you to check the unit’s condition at a glance.

The control board of this generator is pretty easy to use too. It features an LCD display with a multilingual UI and backlit, color-coded buttons that are easy to use in low light.

Notably, this generator also boasts Generac’s Quiet-Test mode where the unit runs a quiet, low-RPM test weekly to ensure proper operation.

The Protector diesel generator line has some other features that we suggest you investigate yourself. All in all, for home or even workshop use, this generator provides plenty of power at a rather low price point.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Enough power to satisfy most homeowners’ needs.
  • Delivers clean power.
  • Actually not too expensive for its power output.
  • Integrated fuel tank (extended variant available).
  • Easy installation.

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Nothing really to complain about.

3. Cummins Onan QD 8000 8kW Diesel Commercial Generator

QUICK SUMMARY

  • Style: Standby.
  • Wattage: 8,000.
  • Output voltage: Single-phase 120V.
  • Weight: 420 pounds.
  • Dimensions: 36.35 x 24.23 x 22.28 inches (L x W x H).
portable diesel generator

The Onan QD 8000 diesel generator from Cummins is a wonderful choice for heavy applications. 

Powered at 8,000 watts, this generator probably won’t be able to run your entire home, but it should be good enough to keep its vital systems running. It might also be able to entirely power small properties.

QD 8000 delivers pure sine-wave single-phase electricity to safely run sensitive electronics. Thanks to the computer-controlled engine RPM, this generator will also deliver as much power as you need while minimizing noise and fuel consumption.

The Onan QD 8000 generator is filled with safety features as well. Among its highlights are the waterproof connector, over-speed & overload safety, one-touch stop, low oil pressure safety, and a few other things. 

The mounting system of the QD 8000 diesel generator is also designed to reduce vibration, which will increase its service life.

Usage and maintenance are simplified for buyers as well thanks to features like self-diagnostics, low-maintenance components, easily accessible maintenance points, and more.

Note, however, that unlike the Generac standby diesel generator, QD 8000 doesn’t have any fuel tanks. You’ll have to take care of fuel storage and supply on your own.

Additionally, the Onan QD 8000 generator is very steeply priced, but given its features and design, it’s worth the money if your use cases are highly demanding.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Great for demanding applications.
  • Computer-controlled variable speed.
  • Clean, pure sine-wave output.
  • Filled with safety features.

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Very expensive.
  • Has no fuel tanks.

4. Multiquip DA7000SSA3 Diesel Generator

QUICK SUMMARY

  • Style: Standby.
  • Wattage: 7,000.
  • Output voltage: Single-phase 120/240V.
  • Fuel tank capacity: 6.6 gallons.
  • Weight: 534 pounds.
  • Dimensions: 100 x 56.5 x 21.5 inches (L x W x H).
  • Power outlets: (2) 5-20R 120V 20A, (1) L5-30R 120V 30A, (1) L14-30R 120/240V 30A, (1) CS6369 120/240V 50A.
standby diesel generator

Finally, we have the DA7000SSA3 diesel generator from Multiquip. This is an even heavier-duty generator than Onan QD 8000, offering more advanced controls and safety features. It’s powered 1,000 watts lower and is priced higher than the Onan generator, but its features might be worth it for you.

The first thing to catch the eye in this diesel generator is the 120/240V output. Though for most needs, 120V is enough, if you have any tools that need 240V, then this generator is the only suitable standby option on this top.

The control panel of the DA7000SSA3 generator is also remarkable. It features a wide range of diagnostic tools such as a voltmeter and an hour meter, controls like idle/full power switches, and it additionally boasts a few single-phase receptacles for quick tool connection.

According to Multiquip, this diesel generator is also OSHA- and NEC-compliant and is thus suitable for professional uses. The safety features of the Multiquip generator are nice too, including a GFCI circuit breaker, auto-shutoff, full receptacle covers, and a few other things.

This generator also has an integrated 6.6-gallon fuel tank. However, if you are planning to make full use of this generator’s potential, then you will obviously need a larger fuel container.

WHAT WE LIKED

  • Excellent for extreme use cases.
  • 120/240V output.
  • Control panel with a voltmeter, hour meter, and single-phase receptacles.
  • Auto-shutoff with low oil pressure or high water temps.
  • GFCI circuit breaker.
  • OSHA- and NEC-compliant.

WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE

  • Very expensive.
  • The integrated fuel tank is really small.

Why Choose A Diesel Generator?

Before moving to our buyer’s guide, we think that it’s worth talking about the benefits of diesel generators over gas generators.

This section will help you better understand the pros and cons of diesel generators. Once you are done with this part, you should understand whether a diesel generator is truly the best option for you.

So, compared to gas generators, diesel generators offer the following benefits:

  • Higher efficiency 

    To produce the same amount of power, diesel generators use up less diesel fuel. This is because gasoline engines compress both air and fuel to generate energy, while diesel engines only compress air.

  • Higher reliability

    A diesel generator will serve you longer than a comparable gasoline generator. If well-maintained, diesel generators typically go for 15-50 thousand hours without major servicing. In contrast, gasoline generators typically go for up to 3-5 thousand hours.

  • Lower Maintenance 

     Diesel generators lack some of the components of gas engines – like spark plugs or carburetors – so they require less maintenance.

  • Longer fuel shelf life

    If kept cool or dry, diesel can be typically stored for 6-12 months, while gasoline usually has a shelf life of 3 months.

  • Lower fuel flammability

    Diesel is less flammable and way safer than gasoline.

Of course, diesel generators aren’t downside-free as well. Here are their drawbacks:

  • Higher cost. Diesel generators cost more upfront than gasoline generators.

  • Higher fuel price. Diesel typically costs more than gasoline. In the long run though, the higher fuel efficiency may still make diesel generators cheaper to run.

  • Major failures in light use cases. Diesel generators and engines generally don’t like to sit without load for a long time. When left idle for long periods, diesel engines require exercising to keep all parts in order.

So all in all, diesel generators are ideal for heavy use cases when you need backup or off-grid power often. 

If you aren’t going to need backup or portable power too frequently, then there’s really no point in overpaying for a diesel generator. Although diesel generators are efficient and highly durable, their benefits only get revealed under heavy use in the long run.

What To Look For When Shopping For The Best Home Diesel Generator?

  • Now, to help you pick the right diesel generator for your needs, let’s talk about important specs & features that you should know about.

    Types of diesel generators

    Diesel generators and generators, in general, are available in 3 styles – portable, inverter, and standby. We’ve seen generators of 2 on our top – portable and standby. 

    To help you better understand their pros, cons, and use cases, let’s talk about each type more in-depth. Although we didn’t have any inverter generators in our reviews, we’ll still cover them so that you know what you are dealing with.

    Portable generators

    We’ve had one portable generator on our list – Generac XD5000E.

    As evident from the name, portable generators are generators intended to be moved from worksite to worksite. They don’t have the highest output power on the market, but they are great for those projects where mobility is crucial.

    Now, the phrase “portable generator” nowadays isn’t used to refer to every portable generator. Inverter generators, for example, are also portable by definition. However, what differs between generators marketed as “portable” and “inverter” is their circuitry.

    Without diving too deep into technical terms, portable generators:

    • Do not have throttling – their engine operates at max power no matter how many watts you actually need. This results in reduced energy efficiency and increased wear. But do note that some portable generators have an idle mode where the motor RPM is reduced when no power is being drawn. The idle mode doesn’t provide as much energy efficiency as full throttle control, but it’s at least something.

    • Typically produce low-quality power that is unsuitable for sensitive electronics. We’ll cover the electricity quality more in-depth a little later.

    • High noise levels, partly because the generator is always running at full power.

    In contrast, portable generators are the cheapest of all generator types out there. 

    Although the 2 downsides listed earlier are pretty serious, portable generators are still optimal for some use cases. If your tools don’t need clean power or if you are going to load your generator a lot, then a portable generator is a good option.

    Note that some portable generators – like Generac XD5000E – produce way cleaner power than the average portable generator. However, there are some other details as well that should be covered separately.

    Inverter generators

    Inverter generators comprise an internal combustion engine, an alternator, and a DC-AC converter. Without diving too much into details, the technical design of inverter generators allows them to produce clean sine-wave power that is suitable for running sensitive electronics, such as computers or lights.

    Aside from clean power, inverter generators also have the following benefits:

    • High efficiency. Because inverter generators can throttle their motor, you are getting only as much power as you need. This results in higher energy efficiency, reduced fuel consumption, and longer service life.

    • Low noise level. This benefit somewhat flows from the ability of inverter generators to throttle. When your power needs are low, inverter generators are much, much quieter than portable generators. Of course, at full power, these generators get noisy, but not as noisy as portable generators.

    • Support of parallel running. Inverter generators can usually be connected with another inverter generator (typically of the same model) to satisfy higher power needs.

    Standby generators

    3 of 4 reviewed generators were standby diesel generators – huge, expensive, and powerful generators that can power a vast number of electrical devices, tools, and appliances at once.

    Although standby generators have the same purpose as portable and inverter generators, their capabilities and feature sets are drastically different. More precisely, here’s what you get with a typical standby generator:

    • Automatic operation: Standby generators can detect power outages and come online to supply electricity automatically.

    • No need for refueling. Generally, because standby generators are hooked up directly to a fuel line, then don’t need any refueling. With that said, some generators may have small built-in tanks as well.

    • Excellent durability. Standby generators are exceptionally durable and weather-resistant.

    • High power capacity. Powered at thousands or tens of thousands of watts, standby generators can power entire homes.

    Standby generators are typically used as backup sources for entire homes or workshops. If you absolutely want your appliances or tools to run at all times, then a standby generator is going to be the right choice for you.

    With that said, keep in mind that standby generators are expensive, as well as have higher space needs and are more difficult setup.

    Wattage

    The next important thing to consider in a generator is wattage.

    Generators are available in a broad range of wattages (or “sizes”) – from as little as 1,000 watts to as much as 60 kilowatts. Needless to say, a larger generator is going to be priced steeply, so you shouldn’t oversize your generator. On the other hand, your generator shouldn’t be too small for your needs.

    To properly size your generator, consider what you are going to power. Electrical appliances all have power requirements that you can find in their spec sheets online or in the manual. Check out those to know roughly how much power you will need.

    For smooth and easy sizing, here are a few tips to follow:

    • Both starting (also called surge or peak) and running (continuous) wattages are important. Generators have two wattage specs – starting and running watts. Electrical devices usually need more power for startup than for continuous use. To meet these needs, generators can provide a short burst of power, but they can’t maintain that level of power continuously. Because of this, surge wattage is always higher than running wattage in generators.

    Manufacturers usually provide the start/running power needs of their devices – make sure to check these out and get a generator that can satisfy them.

    • Consider how many devices you will be using at a time. If you will be running only one tool or appliance at a time, then you don’t need a powerful generator – only as powerful as the tool requires. But if you do need to use two or more devices, then you should add up their power needs and look for a generator that can run them.

    • If you aren’t going to use more than one tool simultaneously, then determine the requirements of your most power-hungry tool. If your generator can power up your most powerful tool, then it will handle everything else assuming you aren’t powering more than one thing at a time.

    • Give 10-20% headroom. Once you’ve determined how much power you need, you may want to add 10-20% headroom just in case. Power spikes are rather common, and the added wattage should protect you, your devices, and the generator from harm.

    Total harmonic distortion

    If you care about the quality of your power, then pay attention to the total harmonic distortion (THD) as well. Basically, this spec shows how clean the electricity supplied by the generator is – the lower the THD, the better the quality.

    Generally, THD lower than 5% or 6% is considered “clean” electricity that is suitable for sensitive electronics, like household appliances. Lower quality generators may have THD of around 9-15%, or perhaps even more. Such high THD will probably be only suitable for powering tools or other low-demand equipment.

    Keep in mind that generators with low THD cost a lot, so before investing, make sure that you even need clean power.

    Power outlets

    No matter what generator type you are going for, make sure to check what kind of outlets they have. If you have particular needs, then ensure that you are investing in a generator that can satisfy them. Check the available voltage as well – some generators allow you to switch from 120 to 240V, and a few also have DC outlets.

    Starter style

    Standby generators usually power on automatically, so the starter style matters only in portable and inverter generators.

    Starters can be electric or manual recoil (also called pull). Electric starters are convenient in that they allow you to start up the generator with a push of a button. These starters require batteries to operate though.

    Recoil starters are engaged via a rope, and they don’t require battery power. However, they are less convenient and reliable than electric starters, often requiring multiple pulls.

    Electric starters are generally preferable due to their convenience. However, having electronic AND recoil starters is a good idea since electronic starters tend to malfunction.

    Safety features

    Safety features are important in generators as well, especially those used very heavily. Among features that you may want to look for are:

    • Automatic overheating shutoff.

    • Low oil pressure shutoff.

    • GFCI power outlets & circuit breakers.

    • Waterproof exterior components.

    • Warning lights to let you know of malfunctions.

    Maintenance & convenience features

    Apart from safety, you may also want your generator to be convenient. Like with safety, this especially matters in heavy use. 

    Among maintenance & convenience features to look for are:

    • Self-diagnostics.

    • Maintenance reminders.

    • Voltmeters.

    • Hour meters.

    Fuel tank size & runtime

    Diesel generators typically have fuel tanks, but not always – standby generators, for example, may not have any tanks, instead relying on an external fuel source. As for portable or inverter diesel generators, they all have integrated tanks.

    When it comes to tank size, you should pick a generator based on how long you want to keep your devices running without refueling. A larger tank, needless to say, translates to longer runtime.

    Manufacturers typically indicate their generators’ runtime in the spec sheet. Usually, the runtimes are given for 1/2, 1/4, or full load.

    Note that some manufacturers provide runtime only for 1/2 load, while others give figures for 1/4 load. You can’t directly compare the runtimes of two generators if they are given for different loads. If possible, find comparable specs and base your decision on them.

    Noise level

    Diesel generators can get really noisy. No generator is quiet – however, some are quieter than others.

    If you do care about noise, then find the noise level in the spec sheet of the desired diesel generator. Usually, the noise level is measured in decibels, or dB. Manufacturers provide the noise levels of their generators at a given load (such as 1/4 or 1/2) and at some distance (e.g. 10 or 20 feet).

    Because manufacturers measure and list generator noise levels differently, you can’t always directly compare two generators to each other. Like with runtime, you should ideally find comparable specs and make comparisons with them.

    Portability

    Want an easy-to-carry generator? Then pay attention to how portable the desired model is.

    Obviously, this point applies only to portable and inverter generators – standby generators aren’t intended to be moved anywhere.

    Since manufacturers employ a broad range of features and tricks to make their generators portable, we can’t outline them all here. With that said, the most basic portability features to look for are wheels, carrying handles (with very light generators), and towing handles.

    Some generators (like Generac XD5000E) have more unique and special features like lifting eyes. If you want portability, be on the lookout for such things too.

    Size & weight

    Finally, consider size and dimensions.

    The size will matter with any type of generator. Standby generators are huge and thus need space in your backyard. Portable generators are rather compact, but if you want something space-efficient, dimensions will matter in them too.

    So no matter what you are intending to buy, make sure to measure how much free space you have and buy a generator accordingly.

    As for weight, it will only really matter with portable generators. If you are going to transport a generator in your pickup or RV, then you should make sure that it doesn’t exceed the weight limits of your vehicle. Not only that, but a heavy generator is less convenient to transport.

Final Words

No matter what you want – a small diesel generator or something that can power an entire home – make sure to understand your needs first. There’s a lot to think about before investing in a diesel generator, so you ought to determine why you are buying a diesel generator.

Remember the points we’ve talked about earlier, do more research if necessary, and you should be able to invest your money right!

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