A backup generator is a great backup power source for use during an extended power outage, and can provide electricity to critical appliances during downtimes. A backup generator can help keep the food in the fridge cold, provide power for tools, and even ensure the heating and air conditioning systems in the home continue working when the power goes out.
Most homeowners spend around $4,000 for a backup generator. Of course, the price of a generator installation depends on many variables, including the size of the unit and labor rates in the area.
A small portable generator to run the lights might cost $300 to $1,000, whereas a mid-range generator to keep the HVAC system working will run about $4,000 to $5,000. A generator that comes on automatically in a blackout and meant to power the entire house might cost as much as $10,000, installed.
Therefore, you will need to decide what you would like to do and how much you are willing to spend. When you live in an area with extreme temperatures, either cold or hot, keeping the HVAC system running might be the top priority.
Types of Electric Generators
With so many options, it will not be too difficult to find something to fit your needs and budget. One drawback common to all but the solar generator is the noise. Gas-powered generators can be very noisy and might upset your neighbors.
The liquid propane generator typically costs $500 – $5,000. These units burn clean, but don’t consider these as a long-term solution; they don’t last long. Plus, you must find a place to store the fuel. It might require adding tanks and more expenses.
Gasoline or Diesel
Gasoline generators are by far the most conventional fuel generator, particularly for portable units. The biggest drawback is the danger of storing gasoline. These usually cost $500 – $3,000.
However, when it comes to generating electricity for the entire house, nothing beats a diesel for dependability. In fact, these are what the military and hospitals use for backup power. These units are the most expensive option at $2,000 to $20,000.
Obviously, a solar-powered generator is the eco-friendliest option. However, the batteries to store the power until needed is often cost-prohibitive. The storm that caused the blackout and overcast skies might make it impossible to generate electricity.
By installing a few solar panels and hooking into your home’s electrical control panel, you can get away with spending $500 – $1,000. But, if you want a system you can depend on regardless of the weather, you will need storage batteries. The batteries themselves cost $400 to $800 per kWh of storage.
Check out our solar electric cost guide to learn more about the cost of adding solar power to supplement your home’s electricity.
City or Natural Gas
These units are the most convenient and user-friendly. Once you run the line, unless you forget to pay your bill, you always have fuel available with no worries about storage. However, they cost about $2,000 to $5,000 and usually require a plumber and an electrician.
Plus, since these burn more fuel than gasoline or diesel, it costs more to operate. But, as a backup generator, the expense is about $5 – $10 per month, or $25 – $50 for an entire day depending on gas prices in your area.
To hook the generator up to your home’s electricity, it will cost about $500 – $1,000 to install a sub-panel for the unit. You must also install a transfer switch to safely swap from utility power to generator in case of a blackout.
One of the primary benefits of a home generator is a seamless transfer. You don’t want to come home to a cold house and thawed freezer.
Learn more about the costs associated with electrical circuit breaker panel upgrades.
How to Hire an Electrician to Install a Generator
On average, an electrician charges $50 to $100 per hour, but for a project like this, they will often quote a flat-rate price for the install. It’s essential to understand what other costs are associated with the project, such as plumbing for gas lines or permits.
Make sure to check with the local building inspector about permits before you begin. Permits usually cost between $20 and $100, but your project might get shut down, and you could receive a fine for completing work without one. An electrical inspection is also a really good idea to ensure your installation is safe and free of hazards.
Check out our free electrician locator to find electrical contractors in your area and get several free estimates for the project. Compare the scope of work provided by three or more contractors to ensure they will connect a transfer switch or sub-panel, determine their warranty, and what else they will do.
All pricing information on this page is based on average industry costs, and is subject to variance for project-specific materials, labor rates, and requirements.