Whole-House Generator Costs: A Detailed Breakdown and Guide

Professional Tool Reviews for Pros

The typical whole-house generator cost ranges from $1,500 to $15,000, with most homeowners paying $4,800. We’re going over the factors that influence the cost of a standby generator for your home, including the power capacity, brand, and installation costs. Genset

In the last 20 years, the number of homes with whole-house generators has risen from less than 1% to almost 6%. Extreme weather events and increased demand on power grids have contributed to the popularity of whole-house generators. 

Experts in the industry attribute the rise in popularity to several other factors, including the number of people working from home and the increased number of people with electric vehicles and critical medical devices. 

Having a standby generator for your entire home isn’t just for storms anymore, although people who live in hurricane-prone regions like here in Florida are often more driven to purchase whole-house generators than others. More and more, people purchase one simply for the peace of mind they provide.

Several factors influence the cost of home generators. When selecting a unit for your home, the power capacity, brand name, and installation costs are the primary factors to consider. Here’s a rundown of each of those considerations so you know what to look for.

The size of a generator, also referred to as its power capacity, is a primary determiner of home generator cost. Whole-house generators are typically sized from 9 to 48 kilowatts (kW). The average home uses 30 kW per day, or about 900 kW per month.

The higher the power capacity, the more a generator costs. Here’s a breakdown of the average costs of typical generator sizes:

A few name brands stand above all others when it comes to generators. Generac, Briggs & Stratton, Champion, Honda, and Cummins are among the highest-rated generators for whole-house use.

These top-name brands offer various sizes of generators, starting at about $1,300 for Honda generators. Generac is the leading manufacturer of whole-house generators, with a wide range of products available. Their lowest-priced generators start at around $6,000.

Installation costs vary depending on several factors. Some municipalities require permits for generator installations, typically running between $50 and $200.

Choosing the best spot for your generator will lower installation costs. The best spot for your generator is near your electric panel, and you could incur extra costs if it has to be farther away.

The average installation cost for a whole-house generator is $1,500 to $5,000. Many contractors will charge a flat rate for whole-house generator installation, and it’s crucial to know what is involved in the installation to avoid hidden costs.

Site preparation involves creating a place for your generator and the fuel storage tank. Whole house generators aren’t portable and require a heavy-duty concrete pad to prevent vibration. 

Concrete pads protect the unit from weather damage. The concrete pad costs $50 to $75 per square foot but could be included if your installer charges a flat installation fee.

Unlike a portable generator, a whole-house generator is designed to be installed permanently, with wiring that goes directly to your electric panel. That way, when the power goes out, you only have to flip the generator switch, and you’re set to power your house on standby mode.

An electrician will have to install a transfer switch in your home. The transfer switch prevents electricity from traveling in the wrong direction, protecting your home and generator. The average cost of a transfer switch installation is about $1,200 and takes three to four hours to install.

Electric wiring costs for standby generator installations vary depending on how far away the generator is from the electric panel and the size and type of the generator.

The type of fuel you choose will affect the cost of fuel storage setup. Homes connected to natural gas infrastructure will pay much less for installations than homes that require a diesel tank setup, for example. 

Various types of fuel sources have different requirements. For example, many propane companies lease their tanks for $50 to $250 annually and install and maintain the tank without charging you extra.

The cost of whole-house generators can vary widely depending on the type of fuel used for power. Here’s a look at the cost of whole-house generators by various fuel types.

A natural gas whole-house generator connects to your house’s existing gas line, so it doesn’t require additional fuel storage.

A natural gas generator is one of the least expensive to operate, at about $90 per day. They are more environmentally friendly, but they require more maintenance.  

A natural gas whole-house generator costs $2,000 to $6,000, not including installation.

Liquid propane generators burn fuel cleanly, but the fuel is more expensive. Installation must include a large fuel tank.

Propane generators are the best choice when you don’t have access to natural gas infrastructure. However, the engine has a shorter life expectancy, and costs about $200 per day to operate.

A propane gas whole-house generator costs $2,000 to $6,000, not including installation.

Diesel, while still explosive, is much safer than other types of fuel. It’s also more efficient and reliable than propane or natural gas.

Diesel generators can run longer and provide more energy than other types of generators, so they’re often chosen for remote locations and off-grid applications. 

A diesel whole-house generator costs $5,000 to $18,000, not including installation, making it the most expensive type of generator.

Are you having trouble deciding if you should pull the plug on a whole-house generator? Here are a few things to think about to help you decide.

Increased extreme weather events across the United States are leading to more power outages. If you’re in a region prone to power outages, that’s a good reason to consider a whole-house generator. 

Nobody but you knows your personal needs, and there are many valid reasons for a dependence on power. For example, if you have a CPAP machine or an electric car, having a whole-house generator is more critical for your health and well-being.

A whole-house generator’s average return on investment is about 150%, so it’s an excellent way to build equity in your home. 

To do a cost-benefit analysis, brainstorm the benefits and assign each benefit a monetary value. After you analyze the cost of installing a whole-house generator, it’s easier to compare the two values to help you decide if it’s worth it.

Calculate your home’s energy consumption to determine what size generator you need.

Conducting an energy audit of your home is always an excellent idea. To determine your home’s energy consumption, list all the electrical appliances you need to operate with your whole-house generator.

Understanding the importance of sizing for peak demand hours is critical. Add up all of the appliances that will be used during peak demand hours.

It’s smart to size your generator to plan for increased usage as time passes. Once you’ve calculated the peak load, add an additional 20% to 25% to account for potential additions to your home or family.

DIY generator installations are not typically a DIY-friendly project. Instead, this is a job for a licensed electrician or contractor. 

Whole-house generator installation involves specialized knowledge about plumbing, electricity, placement, and permits. In many municipalities, you will also be required to confirm through the permitting process that a licensed electrician is hooking up your emergency standby generator.

As a homeowner, understanding the installation process is critical because it helps you make the right purchasing decision. 

Use these money-saving tips when shopping for a whole-house generator.

You can save up to half the price of a generator by shopping during the off-season, but the best time to buy a generator depends on where you live. 

If you live in Hurricane Alley, you’ll need a generator from June to November, but if you live in the colder regions in the northern parts of the United States, you’ll want a generator during the opposite time of the year. Try to time your purchase so you’re not buying when demand is at its peak.

When shopping for expensive items like generators, it pays to look for manufacturer promotions and rebates. You may also qualify for a rebate for a generator from your power company.

Taking care of your generator will ensure that you maximize the life expectancy, which is typically about 20 to 40 years, or between 10,000 and 30,000 hours of run time. 

It’s a good idea to purchase a DIY generator maintenance kit for $20 to $110, and follow an annual maintenance schedule, addressing these common maintenance tasks:

In addition, stay in compliance with your warranty by performing routine maintenance after every 100 hours of use and recording the results of your inspections. You can also sign up for annual maintenance contracts, which cost about $200 to $650 per year.

As more and more extreme weather events leave people feeling vulnerable about power outages, it’s no mystery why there’s a rise in the popularity of whole-house generators.

When you have to hunker down, there’s no place like home, and having a reliable source of continuous power, regardless of external factors, provides a peace of mind that can’t be matched. 

Like all major equipment, whole-house generators require regular maintenance. You should use an annual maintenance checklist for routine maintenance tasks like spark plug replacement and oil changes, and then be sure to follow the manufacturer guidelines for maintaining your generator after 100 hours of use.

Whole-house generators are long-lasting machines. The typical lifespan of a standby generator is between 20 and 40 years, usually between 10,000 and 30,000 hours of run time.

The average standby generator ranges in loudness from about 50 decibels (dB) to 100 dB. While noise is a concern, it’s usually much lower than most people expect. To compare, 50 dB is about the level of a quiet refrigerator, and 100 dB equates to a hair dryer or lawn mower.

All types of fossil fuels contain pollutants that harm the environment and human health. Because of this, some people invest in alternative solutions like solar generators or home battery backup systems.

A small generator that produces about 5,000 to 7,500 watts is enough to power most households, including an air conditioner, refrigerator, and television. Whether or not you can upgrade an existing small generator to use as a whole-house generator depends on the energy needs of your house and what you absolutely need to power during an emergency. 

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