As weather conditions become more extreme (hotter summers, colder winters, and more severe storms), the chances of power loss in your home increase. Considering how much we depend on electricity to keep our food fresh, our homes heated and cooled, and even to work, it’s no surprise that sales of home generators have grown steadily over the past few years.
However, there is a lot to consider before purchasing a whole house generator. This guide will tell you how generators work, how much they cost, and other pros and cons of installing a home generator.
What is a home generator?
A whole house generator, also known as a home generator, standby generator, or backup power generator, essentially acts as a backup power supply in the event of a power outage. If there is a power outage, the generator will register it and automatically provide an alternate source of electricity to power your home.
The majority of whole house generators run on fuel, such as natural gas or liquid propane. This fuel powers an engine, which works with an alternator to produce electricity. This electricity is then supplied to your home in the event of a power outage. In the meantime, the generator is on standby outside in a waterproof container a short distance from your property.
There are portable generators that are smaller, cheaper and, as the name suggests, portable compared to larger, permanently installed home generators. These don’t provide as much power, but some can still be connected to your home’s circuit breaker from outside as an alternative. Keep in mind that they don’t offer as much convenience because you have to manually plug them in when you need them, and they’re also notorious for being noisy. These require fuel to operate, much like whole house generators and should never be used outdoors as generators produce the poisonous gas carbon monoxide.
Backup batteries are also growing in popularity; it can be small devices that can only power a few devices or a large power bank that can supply power to your entire home. However, unlike gas-powered generators, backup batteries will only last as long as there is a charge in the battery itself and cannot be recharged until power is restored or they are connected to solar panels.
Home or standby generators are the most reliable option for providing electricity to your entire home and that is what we will focus on.
What are the benefits of a whole house generator?
1. Reliable — A whole house generator provides a reliable and consistent supply of electricity (if you’re hooked up to a gas line) if your area is prone to power outages. It provides peace of mind knowing that even in the event of a power outage, you can carry on as you were. Plus, these operate 24/7, so you can rest assured you’re always covered. This can be especially crucial if you lose power during a storm – a generator can keep your sump pumps running, helping to prevent your basement from flooding.
2. Convenient to use — Whole house generators will automatically kick in, delivering power in milliseconds when needed, so you’ll barely notice the transfer. It will also turn off when power is restored and return to standby mode, ready for the next outage.
3. It works when you’re away from home — You can go to work knowing everything will be taken care of at home. Your food will stay cool and your lights will be on when you return. Your security systems will continue to work even if there is a power outage while you are on vacation.
4. Adds value to your home — It can be expensive, but a home generator will add value to your home once installed.
What are the disadvantages of a whole house generator?
1. Dear — Whole house generators come at a cost. Prices start from $2,000, but most cost between $3,000 and $5,000, depending on the brand. Generally, the more it costs, the more power it can provide, so only pay for what you need. You will also need to consider installation costs and the fuel needed to power it.
2. Use may be sporadic — It’s a backup resource at the end of the day, which means you may end up installing it and never using it. On the other hand, it could be one of your best investments. The use is entirely ad hoc.
3. Takes up space in your garden — These are quite large systems, with some measuring up to 50 inches in length. These should also be located a safe distance from all windows and doors; up to 5 feet is recommended, so make sure you have the proper space to accommodate it before investing. Portable generators must be more than 20 feet from your home according to the CDC, with the exhaust pointed away from your property.
4. You may need to store fuel — Fuel is needed to power both home and portable generators, so you should be prepared to store it a safe distance from your home if you’re not using a gas line.
5. It can be noisy — Generators are unfortunately not quiet – portable generators, in particular, make a lot of noise. Whole house generators aren’t as bad, however, some states have laws about the maximum noise that can be emitted from a home generator, so be sure to check that out.
6. It will need occasional maintenance — Although they seem like the ultimate convenience, home generators will still need occasional maintenance. They should be serviced every six months or at least once a year depending on usage. This involves changing the oil as well as the filters and checking the batteries. Some models perform self-diagnostic tests to keep things under control, which can help.
Should You Buy a Whole House Generator?
There seem to be more negatives than positives from the above, however, whether or not you should buy a whole house generator ultimately depends on your situation. If you suffer from frequent power outages, a home generator could make your life easier. After all, electricity is a crucial aspect of everyday life; without it, the refrigerator will stop working, television is prohibited – not to mention the lights turned off for the night.
That said, whole-house generators aren’t a cheap solution — not only are they quite expensive, but there’s some added expense to installing one in your yard. Consider the likely use you’ll get from such a system, then weigh that against the cons to get your answer.