Best Home Standby Generators for Extreme Cold

Written By: MJ Logan

A thermometer displays a temperature of  -15 Degrees, well below the normal operating range for most natural gas home backup generators.Just as some liquid cooled generators perform better than others in hot climates, some standby generators are better equipped for extreme cold weather. 

For most homes and some small businesses in the continental United States, an Air Cooled Generator is an economical and fuel efficient option, including locations with below freezing weather for at least part of the year.

Did you know that a Whole Home Generator Keeps Your House Warm Throughout a Power Outage. It's Automatic and a part of the installation.

Extreme Cold presents a different problem. As the temperature drops, oil viscosity decreases which makes it harder for the engine to turn over when cold. Colder temperatures reduces the combustibility of the fuel which contributes to hard starting. Without cold-weather accessories, most generators are designed to operate above 32 degrees. Once the temperature falls below freezing, starting becomes  harder and draws more power from the battery. It takes longer for the engine to warm up and prepare to take the electrical load. To make matters worse, battery performance drops in cold weather. Extreme cold can reduce available battery power dramatically.

Air Cooled Generator vs Liquid Cooled : The Air Cooled Advantage

Usually, a generator won’t have trouble starting unless the temperature drops below zero. It does put additional strain on the starter and the battery must draw on its reserves to provide enough starting power. If starting takes longer, the generator starter motor draws additional energy from the battery which further decreases available starting power and increases the time required to recharge the battery to full charge.

Generator manufactures combat the cold with accessories designed to make extreme cold weather starts easier. Cold weather kits and equipment allow standby generator engines to start and operate well below freezing. Common strategies include battery pads or wraps which keep the battery warm and increase available power. Oil warmers heat the oil to increase viscosity, making it easier to flow and lubricate the engine, which in turn makes it easier for the starter to turn the engine. Once started the engine speed stabilizes quickly and the generator can take the full electrical load.

Other accessories also help to make starting and running easier.

Natural Gas Generators for Home and Commercial Use


Generac Power Systems is the world leader in the manufacture of Home Standby Generators. They earned the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval and surpassed more than 1 million units sold in 2013. Generac Guardian is the best-selling backup generator for homes in the United States.

Generac Guardian Features

Generac 22-Kilowatt 7043 Home Backup Generator with 200-Amp ATSPowered by twin overhead valve engines specifically designed and rigorously tested for powering a standby generator, Generac’s G-Force engines are behind the success of the most reliable generators home backup generators.

Generac Guardian feature True Power Technology with super harmonics and sine-wave form with less than 5 percent total harmonic distortion for utility-quality power compatible with sensitive electronics, micro-chip based appliances, and heavy -duty motor-driven equipment including air conditioners, compressors, refrigerators, and freezers. Solid-State frequency compensated voltage regulation within 1% provides fast response to changing loads and maximum motor starting capability.

Automatic Transfer Switches by Generac provide a long life and reliability synonymous with the Generac Brand and controls that ensure complete compatibility with Generac Home Backup Generators.

Featured Generac Home Backup Generators and Accessories

Generac recommends cold weather accessories for extreme cold in climates where temperatures regularly fall below 0 degrees. Generac's thermostatically controlled accessories turn on at 40 degrees and turn off at 55 degrees. Even in the extreme cold, your Generac Generator is ready for the next power outage.

Generac 26kW Generator 7291 + 200A ATS

Generac 24kW Generator 7210 + 200A ATS

Generac 22kW Generator 7043 + 200A ATS

Generac 18kW Generator 7228 +  200A ATS

See all Generac Guardian Generators

Recommended Cold-Weather Accessories

Generac Battery Pad Warmer - 7101 

Generac Oil Heater - 7102

The Battery Warmer 7101 and Oil Heater 7102 are compatible with 8kW-26kW Generators manufacturer from 2008 to present.

The Generac Breather Heater - 7103 Use in climates with heavy icing. Compatible with 9kW-26kW generators manufactured 2013 to present.

Note: When using Generac cold-weather accessories, replace the oil with 5W-30 Synthetic Oil.


Kohler Power Systems began delivering generator solutions in 1920. The Automatic Power & Light Generator System was a unique system available to rural farms where electricity was not available. The Automatic generator turned itself on and off as needed. Today, Kohler Backup Generators add a dependable source of power to keep homes safe and comfortable during power outages of any duration.

Kohler Features

Kohler 20-Kilowatt RESCL Generator with 200-Amp ATSHigh Quality Power with advanced voltage and frequency regulation, ultra-low harmonic distortion, with Power Boost Technology.  Provides excellent utility-quality power with a fast response to load demands that won’t hurt your electronics. Satisfies the needs of your most power-hungry appliances including air conditioners and other electric motors.

Kohler Home Backup Generators operate quietly to fit into the neighborhood. They operate on lower natural gas pressure with a 5.3-inch minimum water column.

A Kohler Command Pro engine with hydraulic lifters powers the generator for years of reliability. The fully pressurized three-quart oil system ensures proper lubrication with an integrated oil-cooling unit for unattended, long-term extended run times and maintenance intervals of up to one year.

Featured Kohler Home Backup Generators and Accessories

Kohler 20kW Generator 20RESCL + 200A ATS

Kohler 20kW Generator 20RCA

Kohler 12kW Generator 12RESV + 100A 12 Circuit LC ATS

Kohler 12kW Generator 12 RESV

Shop all Kohler Home Backup Generators

Kohler recommends the use of cold weather accessories for regions where temperatures fall below 32 degrees.

Briggs and Stratton

Briggs and Stratton has more than a century of power expertise. Four out of five homes across the country utilize their engines and products. They have the respect of industry professionals around the world and offer world-class support with thousands of dealers.

Briggs and Stratton Features

Briggs and Stratton 20-Kilowatt with Symphony II 200-Amp ATSWorld-renowned Commercial-grade Vanguard Engines featuring dual overhead valves power Briggs and Stratton Home Standby Generators for years of reliable service and easy conversion between LP Gas and Natural Gas during installation.

High-quality power ensures safe power for your electronics. The Symphony II Power Management System is customizable to your home’s needs and balances the power requirements of high wattage appliances including central air conditioning units, electric ovens, water heaters, and electric dryers. A customized approach to power management allows a more affordable home generator to provide whole house power without additional fuel costs.

Meets NFPA-17 guidelines for flexible installation as close as 18-inches to the building. The Unique Air-Flow Technology makes these models up to 50 percent quieter than portable generators with exhaust pushed out the front and directly away from the home.

Featured Briggs and Stratton Home Backup Generators

Briggs and Stratton 26kW Generator + 200A ATS 40678

Briggs and Stratton 22kW Generator + 200A ATS 40783

Briggs and Stratton 20kW Generator + 200A ATS 40676

Briggs and Stratton 18kW Generator + 200A ATS 40753

See All Briggs and Stratton Home Backup Generators

Cold Weather kits are tested down to 25 degrees for smooth starting and reliable operation during the winter. They include a thermostatically controlled battery warmer and two oil heaters. The cold-weather kit components activate as the temperature drops. Fits 16-kilowatt to 20-kilowatt models.

Briggs and Stratton Cold-Weather Kit 6030A for  10kW to 12kW Generators

Briggs and Stratton Oil Warmer BS6840 for 17kW to 26kW Generators


Cummins Power Generation is known world-wide as a leader in the power generation industry. Their consumer standby generator products are backed by a corporate philosophy that places responsible community citizenship on equal footing with technology and financial performance.

Cummins Features

Cummins Quiet Connect Home Backup GeneratorThe robust design allows Cummins Home Backup Generators to operate in cold weather down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit out of the box. They are tested to meet UL, EPA, and CSA standards and also meet NFPA 17 for 18-inch to building installation. Powerful motor starting capability allows a 5-ton air conditioner to start while under full pre-load.

In extreme climates, Cummins rates their cold weather models down to -40

Exceptional power quality for sensitive electronics. Intelligent load management allows it to control up to four loads while monitoring each load’s power requirement, then intelligently selects which loads to run based on how much power they require and the amount of power available from the generator.

Flexible exercise modes allow the owner to set the date, time, and frequency of the generator exercise cycles. A patented “crank-only” exercise allows the generator to crank without starting the engine for diagnostics while reducing wear and tear on the engine, fuel costs, and an even lower noise level. Cummins Home Backup Generators produce just 65 dB of sound, less than most competing home backup generators.

Featured Cummins Home Backup Generators

Cummins 20kW Generator Extreme Cold -40 F. + 200A ATS

Cummins 17kW Generator Extreme Cold -40F

Cummins 13kW Generator Extreme Cold -40F

For models rated down to 0 degrees, the the extreme cold weather kit includes a battery heater, engine oil heater, and instruction sheet. Fits 20-kilowatt, 17-kilowatt, and 13-kilowatt Quiet Connect Home Backup Generators.

Cummins Quiet Connect Extreme Cold Weather Kit

Shop All Cummins Home Backup Generators

Champion Power Equipment

A Champion 22kW Generator installed outside a house on a driveway. Yard and house in the background on a rainy day.Champion Power Equipment is a leader in home standby generators and portables generators, delivering dependable power products designed in the U.S.A with more than 2.5 million generators sold in America. Champion has consistently earned Consumer Reports “Best Buy” and “Recommended” Ratings since 2018—No surprise after earning a reputation for designing the finest, most durable power equipment in their U.S. and Canadian facilities.

Champion's Innovative Design begins with the unique gull-wing doors that open wide for easy access to the controller, engine, and alternator for maintenance. Powerline technology eliminates costly control wiring while aXis power management ensures your home's most important circuits receive the power they need throughout a power outage. With aXis, your home runs on a smaller and more efficient generator with the added expense of a larger generator that uses more fuel. Champion Home Standby generators feature a 24-Volt starting system for improved performance in extreme weather from -22 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

Backed by the industry leading Champion 10-year limited warranty.

Featured Champion aXis Generators

22kW Champion Generator + 200A ATS

14kW Champion Generator + 200A ATS

12.5kW Champion Generator + 100A 12 Circuit LC ATS

 Updated February 5, 2024


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