Is the Expense of Having a Home Generator Worth It?

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    Although it is something that nobody enjoys, it is becoming increasingly normal to find themselves in the dark. In 2022, the typical American household went without electricity for five and a half hours, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. There has been a 64% increase in major power outages between 2011 and 2021 compared to the previous ten years. Weather was the primary cause of those disruptions.

    With a home generator, you may maintain some peace of mind and keep the lights on even while systemic changes are needed to address the causes of extreme weather. Because of their price, generators could appear more like a luxury than a need.

    Take into account the price of a home generator, comprehend the installation procedure, and be aware of the features of this backup power source. Then, even if power outages become more frequent, you can decide with knowledge whether you want your house generator to start when the lights go out, whether you’re better off with an alternative, or whether you’re just fine and ready to be in the dark until the outage passes.

    What is the price of a home generator?

    A home generator’s price will vary depending on a number of elements, including its features and power output as well as its make and type. As to HomeAdvisor, a whole-house generator usually costs between $5,000 and $25,000.

    The amount of power a generator must produce, which is commonly expressed in kilowatts (kW), is one of the main determinants of its cost. As per the US Energy Information Administration, the typical household in America consumes approximately 30 kWh day, or little less than 900 kWh per month. Whole-home generators are usually more expensive and have a capacity of up to 20 kW. A generator with less than 10 kW of power is more affordable and designed for minor tasks.

    The fuel supply is another important component that affects a generator’s price. The most popular kind of generators are gasoline-powered models, which are usually less expensive than substitutes like solar battery backups that store energy for use at a later time.

    Since you must fuel the generator in order to utilize it, you must account for the cost of the fuel itself in this calculation. Natural gas is used by certain home generators, and it’s usually less expensive than gasoline. While whole-home generators are less prevalent, portable generators often run on propane. Although it performs less well in cold weather, diesel is thought to be the most efficient generator fuel. These trade-offs and factors will influence your choice.

    Installation, upkeep, and other expenses for generators

    “The cost of buying and installing the generator is by far the largest expense,” Direct Energy founder and former president Don Whaley said. Depending on the kind of generator you buy, installation charges will change.

    There are actually no installation costs when using a portable generator. In comparison, a full house generator is a more permanent installation that needs to be set up correctly. Labor and electrical work, such as transfer switches and circuitry, are included in the installation price. It might need setting up a concrete base for the generator. All of that may run you $500–5,000, according on HomeAdvisor.

    A generator requires minimal yearly maintenance. Prior to the times of year when you’re most likely to require it, you should also get your generator inspected. This may set you back between $80 and $300.

    The cost of actually operating a generator is another factor that differs depending on the kind of generator. According to estimates from HomeAdvisor, you should budget about $200 per day for 20 kW of power if your full house generator runs on propane or diesel. Depending on gas costs, a portable gas generator with a 5 kW output may cost as much as $100 a day to operate.

    The most economical choice is usually natural gas, which is also the most expensive alternative, depending on how long you have to rely on it. Whole home generators are typically powered by natural gas.

    “The cost of running the machine, assuming the fuel is natural gas piped to your home, can be significant,” Whaley stated. “But in the current market, with natural gas hovering at or below three dollars per MMBtu (metric million British thermal unit), you’d have to have an extended outage for that cost to become significant.”

    What advantages may a home generator offer?

    While it does make weathering a storm easier, having power at home during an outage is more than just convenient. It also has to do with security and safety. “Day-long outages are more than just annoying. They might endanger your life,” Whaley said.

    A generator can stop the problems that frequently arise after brief power outages, such as food deteriorating. Generators can avert catastrophes in the event of prolonged outages or severe weather.

    In 2021, Texas was hit hard by a strong winter storm that left many homes without electricity and with bitterly low temperatures. The Texas Department of Health and Human Services reports that over 240 persons lost their lives as a result of the storm and the ensuing power disruptions. In addition, generators can continue to run your air conditioning unit when heat waves cause power outages. Generators can save lives in these circumstances.

    Do you really need a home generator?

    Depending on the circumstances, owning a home generator during a power outage might be advantageous or even life-saving, but it does come at a hefty price that some people may not be able to afford.

    “It’s unlikely that the system will ever pay for itself based on electricity produced versus the cost of electricity from the grid,” Whaley stated. Investing in a generator is more about protection than potential financial gain.

    Whaley says it’s important to think about your circumstances and how a home generator might help your family. “The families that benefit most from generators are those with young children or elderly parents. He clarified, “These are the demographic groups that are most susceptible to long-term disruptions and the least equipped to adjust to them.

    Whether or whether a home generator is worth it depends on your ability to pay for the initial investment and continuing upkeep, as well as how vulnerable you and your family may be in the event of a prolonged power outage. Consider your support system and your availability to other necessities in addition to your spending limit.

    Ways not to use a home generator

    For some houses, a generator that supplies electricity to the entire house during a blackout could be too expensive or excessive. At a price that might fit more comfortably in your budget, other choices can power a room or key systems throughout your house.

    While a full home option can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $18,000, a portable generator, which is usually intended to supply power to a single room for a brief length of time, usually costs between $500 and $2,000 instead. Additionally, there are generators for crucial systems, which are designed to maintain appliances in the kitchen, lighting, and heating. A critical systems generator should set you back between $2,000 and $6,300.

    Although solar power is a possibility, these systems are usually powered by fossil fuels. Although the majority of solar and battery storage solutions are more expensive, particularly for larger capacities, they are fossil fuel-free.

    FAQs

    What is the price of a home generator?

    A house generator’s price varies according to its features, capacity, fuel supply, and other factors. A house generator will often set you back between $5,000 and $25,000. In addition, fuel, maintenance, and installation will need to be paid for, which could increase the price.

    Does my entire house need to be backed up?

    Your complete house does not require backup power. You might have a generator for one or two important rooms in your house, or you can utilize one to backup vital systems like appliances or electricity. If you decide to backup only a portion of your house, you will usually require a smaller generator, which will result in reduced purchase and operating costs.