(Editor’s note: While we recognize the viability of portable generators for such things as camping, this article confines itself to a more permanent whole-house solution, since a portable generator is limited in scope.)
Residential generators start at about $2-3k and up, uninstalled. This is no small cost for a homeowner, so certain factors have to be weighed carefully before considering a generator as a viable option.
However, there are some ideal reasons to consider a residential generator, so we’ve outlined them here, along with a few other things to keep in mind:
1) Medical equipment: If any member of your family has in-home dialysis, oxygen machine, or other respiratory equipment, a power lift or other medical devices, a generator is a must.
2) Home location: if you live in an area where there are frequent outages because of storms or other poor performance reasons, a residential generator begins to look like an attractive option. Likewise, if you live in a location where your pipes can freeze and burst, or where the furnace is electric. In the southwest, a generator can keep the A/c running when temperatures exceed 100 degrees.
3) If you own a well, which needs electricity for the pump to operate unless it has its own source of power.
4) Your family will never be without power. Sometimes we forget the sheer luxury of nonstop electricity. You never have to lay in a supply of flashlights or worry about heating the baby’s bottle.
5) Protect appliances and freezer stock: Generator power means your refrigerator food won’t spoil and your freezer food won’t melt. But, maybe even more importantly, when power is restored, sometimes sudden surges occur which can destroy delicate electronics and damage household appliances.
6) Other costs: If you have to leave your home for an extended amount of time, staying at a hotel and paying for meals can get expensive fast. There is also the potential for looting while your home is abandoned.
How will I be able to afford a generator?
Many people choose to have the generator financed in order to make it more easily affordable. In addition, the homeowner can sometimes get a “loss mitigation credit” on their homeowner’s insurance policy.
What about fuel?
Whole house generators (with an automatic transfer switch,) use natural gas, propane, or diesel fuel.
If your home already has natural gas, of course, that would be the ideal choice.
Another option is liquid propane, which comes in a tank. If you’re already using propane, say, for your furnace, you might already have a tank in place, but your generator may need a separate source.
Diesel fuel is another option, although it requires the use of a fuel additive once a year, as diesel fuel goes bad without it.
What about noise?
The noise of a home generator varies, depending on the style you choose. Home generators are much more neighborhood-friendly than they used to be, about the same as the noise of a vacuum cleaner or less.
What are some other considerations?
You’ll need an electrical permit and inspection to have a whole-house generator, but a licensed electrician can give you some size and style options to suit your needs. The cost of home generators has come down substantially, but, keep in mind, generators require a certain amount of maintenance after so many hours of operation or after a year of non-use, whichever comes first.
Whatever you decide, a whole-house residential generator might be just what you need for your home and family’s safety, and your peace of mind. To see some different options, visit Generac here.