If you live in an area that experiences frequent power outages or just want to be prepared for the occasional outage caused by weather conditions, you should invest in a good home generator. When it comes to choosing generators, you have a few options. You can use a whole house generator or one of two generators Best portable generators In the market. The generator you choose will depend on your overall needs and budget since the power and price difference between a whole house generator and a portable generator is quite large. To help you choose the right option for you, CNET has put together this guide that breaks down what home generators cost and whether they’re worth the investment.

The average American is experienced 5.5 hour outage in 2022This is thanks in part to the extreme weather. Although those hours were fewer than the past two years, the long-term trend shows that Outages are becoming more commonwith the increase resulting from weather-related outages.

While addressing the conditions that cause severe weather requires systemic solutions, you can keep the lights on and get a little peace of mind with a home generator. Generators come at a cost that may make them seem more of a luxury than a necessity.

Consider the costs of a home generator, understand the installation process, and know… What to expect from this backup power source. Then, you can make an informed decision about whether you want to run your home generator when the lights go out, or if you are better suited to an alternative or convenient generator and Willing to stay in the dark Until the interruption passes, even as it becomes more common.


Canter Power Systems offers a full line of Generac gas-fired generators and rechargeable battery backups, has provided backup power options for 70 years and is now the nation’s largest installer of full-service generators.

How much does a home generator cost?

The cost of a home generator depends on several factors, from its make and model to its capacity and features. according to Home advisorThe typical cost of a whole house generator ranges from $5,000 to $25,000.

One of the biggest factors in the price of a generator is how much power it will need, which is usually measured in kilowatts (kW). According to the US Energy Information Administration, the average American household uses just under 900 kilowatt-hours per month, or about 30 kilowatt-hours per day. Typically, 20 kilowatt generators are considered whole home generators and cost more. If the generator has a power capacity of less than 10 kilowatts, it is intended for small tasks and will cost less.

Another factor that plays an important role in the cost of a generator is the fuel source. Gasoline powered generators are the most common type of generator and usually cost less than alternatives such as Solar battery backupsWhich stores electricity to use when you need it.

You will have to factor the cost of the fuel itself into this equation, as you will need to fuel the generator to use it. Some home generators run on natural gas, which is usually cheaper than gasoline. Propane is a common fuel source for Portable power stations, less so for whole-home options. Diesel is the most efficient generator fuel, although it is less effective in cold temperatures. These trade-offs and considerations will play a role in your decision.

Installation and maintenance of generators and other costs

“The biggest cost by far is the cost of purchasing and installing the generator,” he said Don Wallyfounder and former president of Direct energy. Installation costs will vary depending on the type of generator you purchase.

With a portable generator, there is no real installation cost. In contrast, a whole home generator is a more permanent structure and requires proper setup. Installation costs include labor and electrical work including circuits and transfer switches. This may include installing a concrete pad for the generator. All of this can cost between $500 and $5,000, according to HomeAdvisor.

Generator maintenance carries a small annual cost. You should also check your generator before the seasons you are likely to need it. This can cost up to $80 to $300.

Then there is the cost of actually running the generator, which varies depending on the type of generator. HomeAdvisor estimates that if you’re running a whole-home generator powered by diesel or propane, you can expect to pay about $200 per day for 20 kilowatts of power. A portable gas generator that provides 5 kilowatts of power can cost about $100 per day, depending on gas prices.

Four people move an electric generator into place with the help of a small loader. Four people move an electric generator into place with the help of a small loader.

Installation costs, including any concrete work required, are part of the total cost.

Judy Jacobson/Getty Images

Natural gas, typically used for whole-home generators, tends to be the least expensive option, although it can also lead to higher costs, depending on how long you have to rely on it.

“The cost of running the machine, assuming the fuel is natural gas piped to your home, can be significant,” Whaley said. “But in the current market, natural gas is hovering at or below level Three dollars per million British thermal units (million BTUs), you would have to have an extended outage for that cost to become significant.”

What are the benefits of a home generator?

Having power at home during a power outage isn’t just about convenience, although it certainly makes riding out the storm easier. It’s also about safety and security. “A power outage that lasts for several days is not only inconvenient. It can be life-threatening,” Wali explained.

When the power goes out for short periods, a generator can prevent the hassles that often follow, such as food spoilage. When outages are longer or are the result of severe weather events, generators can prevent disasters.

When Texas experienced a severe winter storm in 2021, many households were not prepared for the loss of power and experienced extremely cold temperatures. More than 240 people died as a result of the storm and the resulting power outages, according to the agency Texas Department of Health and Human Services. Generators can also power the air conditioner during heat waves that lead to power outages. In these cases, generators can be life-saving purchases.

Is a home generator worth it?

Having a home generator during a power outage can be a relief or potentially life-saving depending on the situation, but it carries a significant cost that some may not be willing or able to pay.

“The system is unlikely to pay for itself based on the electricity produced versus the cost of electricity from the grid,” Wali said. A generator is more of an investment in protection than one in which you might expect a return.

According to Wally, it’s worth considering your situation and how your family could benefit from a home generator. He explained, “Families with young children or elderly parents are the ones for whom generators make the most sense. These are the vulnerable segments of the population and the least able to adapt to prolonged power outages.”

Whether owning a home generator is worth it depends on whether you can afford the upfront cost and ongoing maintenance, and how vulnerable you and your family are if you are without power for an extended period. Along with your budget, consider the support network around you and your access to other essential goods.

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Backup batteries are a relatively new alternative to home generators.

Savant Systems

Alternatives to home generators

Generators keep your entire home powered in the event of a power outage It may be too expensive or overkill for some families. Some alternatives can run a room or basic systems throughout your home at a cost that may fit your budget better.

A portable generator, typically designed to provide power to one room for a limited time, typically costs between $500 to $2,000, compared to $5,000 to $18,000 for a whole-house option. There are also generators for critical systems, which are intended to support essential systems including heating, lighting and kitchen appliances. You can expect a critical systems generator to cost between $2,000 and $6,300.

These systems typically run on fossil fuel sources, but there are solar options available as well. Most Solar and battery storage options are more expensiveespecially for higher capacity, but can operate without fossil fuels.

common questions

How much does a home generator cost?

The cost of a home generator varies depending on features, capacity, fuel source, and other variables. In general, you can expect a home generator to cost between $5,000 and $25,000. You’ll also need to pay for fuel, maintenance, and installation, which can drive up the cost.

Do I need to back up my entire home?

You don’t need backup power for your entire home. You can use a home generator to support essential systems like electricity or appliances or get a generator for one or two main rooms within your home. Choosing to back up only part of your home will usually reduce the capacity needed for your generator, meaning it will likely cost less to purchase and operate a generator.

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