I spent way too much time reviewing standby generators, but in the end, I decided to buy the Generac XP8000E Portable Generator. It was as quiet as you can get for a generator its size (8000 running watts and 12,000 starting watts) and it will run the entire house " without having to carefully start one appliance, then another, and so on " I'll simply fire things up as I please and not worry about it.
UPDATE: READ the comments below; it's said that the new model of the Generac generator WILL NOT work with a transfer switch. The one I purchased below does, so MAKE SURE to check on this before buying - if you plan on running your home with it.
I bought the generator at Lowe's for $1,249. According to the representative at Generac, of all their standby generators, the XP 8000 is their premier model (as opposed to the GP or other models).
I explain what I looked for on my about portable generators page, such as noise level, big wheels, watts, size of gas tank, warranty and more.
FYI: There are three pictures below, 1 of the panel BEFORE, 1 AFTER (there are not two panels) and the Generator itself with plugins.
My XP 8000 Standby Generator came with a cord that has ends for connecting extension cords, but that didn't work for me as I'm looking to feed the power into my home rather than having to run cords everywhere.
I ended up having a 80 foot standby generator cord made which ran me $2 per foot and $40 for each end.
I also had a new circuit breaker, manual transfer switch and power inlet installed. The power inlet (D) connects to the circuit breaker which is hooked up to a manual transfer switch; this is a double pole double throw (DPDT) "break before make" switch which prevents backfeeding.
When the power goes out, I simply pull out my standby generator (away from the home), start it, plug one end (C) into the generator, plug the other end (B) into the power inlet (D), move the manual transfer switch to the left (Emergency power) and I'm enjoying power again!
The total bill to hook up everything was $800:
80 foot cord... $240
Circuit Breaker... $20
Cover panel with transfer switch... $40
Power Inlet... $50
So, for everything, including the standby generator, it's going to cost you about $2,000. Remember, you don't have to buy such a big generator if only powering a few appliances, that there could save you $1,000; however, my goal was to find the best generator, producing the least amount of sound and still able to power the entire home.