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Just a few years ago, almost no one owned a home generator. But, due the increase in widespread power outages - some lasting several days or even weeks - they're becoming a popular household item.
If you lose power due to a hurricane, wind storm, ice storm, or any other type of natural disaster, a standby generator automatically kicks on to power your home. The alternative is sitting in the dark for days without heat or hot water and losing all of the perishables in your refrigerator. That's not an option for many people, especially those with children.
About Home Standby Generators
Home standby generators are installed as a permanent fixture in your home. The biggest difference between the many models available is the amount of power they provide. Some provide just enough power for the most essential appliances in your home, such as the refrigerator and furnace, while others are powerful enough the keep the whole house running as normal.
Home standby generators are not to be confused with portable generators, which are far less powerful and far less expensive. Gasoline-powered portable generators are designed to power just a couple appliances for a few hours. They're not suitable for the whole house or as a long-term power backup. They also require lots of fuel and need to be refilled several times a day, while standby generators are usually connected to a natural gas or propane line.
Home Generator Average Costs
When shopping for home standby generators, first decide whether you want to power the whole house or just a few critical appliances. The more power the generator provides, the more expensive it will be.
Essential circuit generators are the least expensive of the permanent home standby generators, typically running $1,500 to $4,000. They can power eight to 16 circuits in your house so you can keep critical appliances running. They typically have an electrical current of 15 to 50 amps.
- The Generac 5837 automatic standby generator with 50 amps and an eight circuit capacity usually sells for $1,700 to $1,800.
- A Briggs & Stratton auto standby generator with 10 kilowatts of power costs $2,400 to $2,500.
Smart circuit generators power most of the home - or even all, if you limit your electricity use. They typically have 15 to 20 kilowatts of power and cost $4,000 to $8,000. Most home generators fall in this price range.
- The Kohler 20 kilowatt automatic home standby generator costs $5,000 to $5,200.
Whole house generators, which provide 22 to 48 kilowatts of power, are the most expensive. They cost $8,000 to $15,000.
- A Generac Guardian with 30 kilowatts of power usually runs $9,000 to $9,300.
Installing a Home Standby Generator
Because home standby generators are permanent fixtures in the home, they require professional installation. Most are mounted outside on a cement pad. In addition to the cost of the generator, budget anywhere from $500 to $5,000 for delivery, installation, electrical wiring and gas hookup.
As a general rule, installation costs often run about one-third of the cost of the generator:
- A small home standby generator usually costs $500 to $1,000 to install.
- Mid-sized generators can be installed for $1,000 to $1,500.
- The largest generators cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 to install, depending on the complexity of the project.
A large portion of those installation costs are due to the electrical wiring. You'll need to hire a professional electrician at a rate of $60 to $100 per hour, and in some cases the process can take a day or two. You'll also have to pay the gas company to connect the generator. And if you opt to have the gas company bury the tank, factor about $2,500 to $3,000 into the total installation cost.
Typically, the total cost of buying a home standby generator and having it installed won't reach more than $15,000. At that price, you'll get a top-of-the-line generator that will power your entire home and a professional installation job. However, the vast majority of homeowners pay in the $5,000 to $10,000 range for both the generator and installation.