Best Home Standby Generators for Cold Climates

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 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.

Cold temperatures present a different problem. Oil viscosity decreases which makes it harder for the engine to turn over when cold. And the cold 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 starts to fall below freezing, starting is harder and draws more power from the battery. It takes longer for the engine to warm up and prepare to take the electrical load.

Air Cooled Generator vs Liquid Cooled : The Air Cooled Advantage

Usually a generator won’t have trouble starting unless the temperature drops below zero, but it does put additional strain on the starter and on the battery which must draw on it’s 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.

Generator manufactures combat the cold with accessories designed to make starting and running in cold weather 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 which makes 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 possible.

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

22kW Generac Generator 70432 with 200-Amp Automatic Transfer Switch

Generac 18kW Generator 7228 with 200-Amp Automatic Transfer Switch

See all Generac Guardian Generators

Cold-weather accessories regions where temperatures regularly fall below 0 degrees. These accessories turn on at 40 degrees and turn off at 55 degrees, ensuring that as temperatures fall, the generator remains ready to start.

Generac Battery Pad Warmer - 7101

Generac Oil Heater - 7102

Generac Breather Heater - 7103 (For climates with heavy icing)

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 with 200-Amp ATSHigh Quality Power with advanced voltage and frequency regulation, ultra-low harmonic distortion, along with Power Boost Technology provide excellent utility-quality power with a fast response to load demands that won’t hurt your electronics and 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 through 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 20-Kilowatt RES Home Standby Generator with 200-Amp Automatic Transfer Switch

Kohler 14-Kilowarr RES Home Standby Generator with 200-Amp Automatic Transfer Switch

Shop all Kohler Home Backup Generators

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

Kohler Carburetor Heater for 20-Kilowatt RES Standby Generators

Kohler Carburetor Heater for 14-Kilowatt RES Standby Generators

Kohler Battery Heater for 14 and 20-Kilowatt RES Standby Generators

Kohler Fuel Regulator Heater for 20-Kilowatt RES Standby Generators (reliable starting from -20 to 0 Degrees)

Briggs and Stratton

Briggs and Stratton had 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

20kW Generator with 200-Amp Automatic Transfer Switch | 40584

17kW Generator with 200-Amp Automatic Transfer Switch | 40630

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


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 the addition of a 5-ton air conditioner while under full pre-load.

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 Quiet Connect 20-Kilowatt Home Backup Generator with 200-AMP ATS

Cummins Quiet Connect 17-Kilowatt Home Backup Generator

Cummins Quiet Connect 13-Kilowatt Home Backup Generator

Shop All Cummins Home Backup Generators

Cummins Quiet Connect Home Backup Generators operate out of the box down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit. The extreme cold weather kit is designed for installation on generators in climates where temperatures drop below zero. The 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

 Updated June 9, 2021


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