Stationary generators you can monitor from afar

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Published August 21, 2013

| Consumer Reports

Stationary generators routinely check themselves and display any issues on their control panels. But what if there’s a problem while you’re away? We looked at three remote options from Briggs & Stratton, Generac, and Kohler that let you check on them remotely—and can even e-mail or text you or a servicing dealer if something goes awry.

Briggs & Stratton InfoHub. Optional on Briggs & Stratton, GE, and some other models, this add-on module monitors the generator and alerts your cell phone if service is needed. A smart-phone app also lets you check the generator and schedule service from afar. All this adds convenience. But you pay for it: $280 initially plus $13 a month ($10 monthly for a three-year deal).
Tested model.
Power delivery on the Briggs & Stratton 40445, $2,200, was excellent and it was easy to use but the power quality was not as good as that of other models we tested.

Generac MobileLink. Like InfoHub, Generac’s $280 system uses cellular signals to send data. But it first goes to a secure Generac website that subsequently relays it to you via text or email. You can also check your generator's status yourself on the website. Service for the first year is free; after that, you pay $12.50 a month (or $100 per year in advance).
Tested model.
The Generac 6237, $2,250, is a CR Best Buy. Power quality and delivery were both excellent and the controls were intuitive.

Kohler OnCue. At $475 up front, this is the cheapest option in the long run. But it’s the only one that requires a hard-wired Ethernet connection to a router or switch in your home. And it requires software (shown above) that works only on a Windows PC. The good news? You can still get text alerts by phone or e-mail.
Tested models.
The Kohler 8.5 RES-QS7, $3,200, was our top small stationary generator and the Kohler 14RESAL, $3,700, was our top-rated large stationary generator. Both had excellent power delivery and quality.

—Ed Perratore

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