How Much Should a Whole Home Generator Cost?
According to BobVila, the average cost of a whole home generator is about $15,000, and the typical range is from $10,000 to $20,000. This is an investment that can keep the lights on, food frozen, AC going, or medical equipment running if a power outage affects your home. Think of the value of the whole home generator cost in terms of reliability; if the power goes out, the system will automatically sense it and turn on your backup power system, oftentimes without you even realizing it.
What Impacts the Cost of a Whole Home Generator?
Home generator installation is one of the many electrical services we offer, so our team is familiar with all the variables that affect how much a system costs. These include:
A fixed generator that powers your entire home, and that’s permanently installed and hardwired to your electrical panel, is more expensive than a smaller portable unit. Fixed systems operate as standby generators. They cannot be moved around and are also designed with safety features that minimize the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. This is one of the downsides to using portable generators, which is why we recommend keeping them at least 20 feet away from your house. In any case, it’s a good idea to have carbon monoxide detectors installed.
Whole home generators are available in 7 to 38 kilowatt capacities. The higher the capacity, the higher the cost of the unit. You’ll need a larger generator the bigger your home is. About 25,000 kilowatts are needed to fully power a 2,500 square foot home.1 On the other hand, you’ll get much less capacity with a portable generator.
Capacity determines how much power a generator can produce at any given time. If the generator is not powerful enough, it won’t meet your electrical requirements and can be damaged. While generator capacity is generally proportionate to home size, a smaller home may require more energy if it’s in a cold climate, to account for your heating needs. Also think about what appliances you’ll need running during an outage; if that number is limited, consider unit capacity accordingly.
Whether your generator is powered by natural gas, propane, diesel fuel, or gasoline doesn’t really affect the initial cost. But it can impact the cost of running the system. Fluctuating fuel costs and the cost of storing fuel are just a couple of things to consider. Solar-powered generators are newer and less common, so investing in one can incur different costs than sticking to more traditional models.
A concrete pad is recommended and must be poured in place to reduce vibration and ensure adequate airflow. It will also prevent water from pooling up under the unit causing rust or damage. In addition to concrete pouring, you’ll have to consider site preparation. A professional installation job just for the pad is around $50 to $75 per square foot.
Whole home generators require a transfer switch to connect to your home’s circuit panel. This can take several hours and requires a professional electrician. Your options include manual switches you turn on yourself when the generator is needed. Switches can also be automated and turn on the generator when they sense a power failure. Installing a transfer switch can add hundreds of dollars in labor costs to the project.
In addition to the equipment aspects of the whole home generator cost, you’ll also require a permit. Permitting requires an inspection to ensure the work is done properly and safely. To acquire a permit, you may need to pay up to $200.
Installation alone can cost from $500 to $3,000. Depending on the contractor, they may charge a flat rate or itemize the installation cost to factor in site prep, labor, electrical panel work, materials, and labor. Installing a fuel storage tank may cost extra. When hiring a contractor, ask what is included in the quoted installation price to ensure there are no surprises later.
Whole house generators will cost you over the long run as well. Fuel purchase and storage, maintenance, and efficiency upgrades such as wireless monitors and smart load managers are expenses to consider. Natural gas, liquid propane, and diesel are generally more expensive than gasoline. You may be able to save some by comparing several estimates, having one contractor complete all necessary tasks, and purchasing a generator during the time of year power failures are less common and it’s not so stormy (you can avoid higher product, material, and labor costs).
Schedule a Consultation with Express Electrical Services
Our licensed electricians in Los Angeles specialize in home generator and other electrical installation services. They can inspect your home to determine your needs. For an estimate on your whole home generator cost and to learn more about the options, specials, and financing we can offer, call 323-727-7799 today.
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