Many homes are vulnerable to floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, storms, and wildfires that can case a power outage. Adding backup generation is an easy way to power your house, but are home generators worth the cost?
Home generators are worth the cost if you are getting more value than the installed cost of the generator. This depends on what you are backing up and how often you experience a power outage. If you are backing up your refrigerator and AC unit, the home generator is worth the cost. They are also worth it if they provide backup resiliency for any medical equipment or safety equipment.
There are many factors that not only need, but deserve to be taken into account when discussing the purchase of a home generator. Pros and cons can be thrown around all day. In today’s article, we’ll be delving into the world of home generators, what are they used for, when are they useful and when are they useless, what are their pros and what are their cons, should you or shouldn’t you buy them, and lastly (and most importantly) – are home generators worth the cost?
Let’s get started.
Pros of Home Generators
Before talking about the pros of home generators, let’s discuss the the purpose for them. Reducing the impact of power outages are the main reason that makes home generators worth the cost.
Power Outage Issues Are Mitigated By Home Generators
Power outages can be predictable. In fact, most workers who work on the power lines are good at anticipating them and will inform the public when the power grid (or a part of it) will be temporarily down, explaining exactly why, for how long, and in what areas. This is great because you can plan to charge your phone, your laptop, and other stuff to keep you connected with the world.
However, power outages can come from unexpected sources, as well. Floods, storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, etc. – these are all natural elements that make nature so brutal and devastating, and despite the greatest efforts our meteorologists put – they’re still somewhat unpredictable.
Nature isn’t the only cause for power outages, it can simply be that your power supplier’s equipment stopped working or someone pressed the wrong button at the powerplant (admittedly, the latter is almost impossible since the systems don’t depend on a single button, but maybe they pressed several wrong buttons).
Home Generators Help Against Blown Transformers
A transformer can blow, a storm can rip a tree out of the ground and it can sever the wires, and in the best case, this is just a disruption – it will pass as soon as the workers fix it. You’ll be uncomfortable for a while, sure, but you’ll be up and running in no time. However, scenarios can get much worse than this.
Electricity can be gone for days, and everything in your fridge and in your freezer goes sour. You can’t run your business anymore, and what’s even worse than that, your alarms don’t work without electricity and anyone can rob your business, or even worse – break into your home.
This is why having a backup generator can be crucial, especially if you live in an area where these things occur on a regular basis. Imagine that there’s a power outage and your store is the only one working in the whole town.
With a backup generator, you can power some, or even all of your property and allow it to function normally – you’ll be able to work and live comfortably until everything’s back to normal. And if you’re a business owner, this is important for financial reasons – you won’t be losing profit.
Reasons To Buy A Backup Home Generator
Here’s a list of reasons why buying a backup generator can be a lifesaver.
Home Generators Can Power Your Sump Pump
It can power your sump pump. Sump pumps work to prevent your home from flooding. All the excess water is collected into a sump pit. Once the water level raises to a predetermined level, the pump will automatically throw it out into the local sewage drain.
Sump pumps don’t work without power. A home generator will keep your sump pump working, even if the outage was caused by flooding, in which case having a sump pump is more important than ever as it protects your home from the flood.
Backup Generators Can Power Your Entire Home or Business
It can power your business and your home business. A lot of people run businesses, either from home or from a different location. Wherever your business is, it needs electricity. You won’t be able to charge your customers without the cashier working properly, and it won’t work without electricity.
If you’re a repairman, you won’t repair anything without light. If you’re working from home, you won’t get anything done without Wi-Fi, and the internet won’t work without electricity. This can be massively important, as when these things happen, most businesses stop working. That’s because most businesses don’t have generators.
However, if your business is the only one working in the area, you’ll witness a huge increase in traffic, earning more money. Businesses that suffer from natural disasters already have it bad enough, especially if they’re uninsured. You’ll minimize your financial casualties this way.
Medical Devices Can Continue Working With Generators
Home generators are worth it because they can power your medical devices. If you or anyone else in your home is reliant on medical devices, losing electrical power can be very dangerous, perhaps even lethal.
All medical devices that require electricity to operate are vulnerable to power outages, and you should seriously consider buying a generator. You do not want to be putting yourself or your loved ones in danger.
Residential Generators Power Water Wells
They are useful for powering well-water. Not all homes have it, but there’s a respectable number of homes which supply their water from a well. If this is the case with your home, then you already know that you’ll be losing your water because it’s pumped with a pump. And that pump runs on electricity.
Heating And Cooling Can Stay On With Generators
Home generators are worth it because they can keep your AC and heater running. If you’re a fan of electric heaters, you’ll be disappointed to hear that you’ll be running out of heat if you run out of electricity.
It doesn’t matter if they’re fixed or portable, your electrical heaters will stop working as soon as you run out of power, so you’ll need a generator to keep them working. This can be very dangerous during the winter! You do not want your home cooling down to a dangerous degree when it’s already freezing cold outside.
Home Generators Are Worth The Cost To Keep Water Hot
Your hot water heater needs electricity to keep water warm. If you warm your water using an electric boiler, then you must understand that it will stop working as soon as you run out of power.
The case is the same with electric heaters – buy a generator and heat that water up! However, it’s not that dangerous as it is living without electric heaters. Cold water itself isn’t dangerous, but more of a nuisance.
Generators Provide Power For Camping And Boating
You can use a generator to bring power to your camping or boating experiences. Even though generators that are meant for houses can be a bit too large for a tent, you can use them on your boat, RV, or during your camping trip.
This about covers the most important reasons for buying a home generator, but here are a few more:
- Your pipes won’t freeze if you have a home generator
- The food in your fridge and in your freezer won’t go to waste
Appliances That Can Be Powered By Home Generators
Here is list of things that won’t work if the power goes out and you don’t have a generator:
- phones (after the battery dies)
- home security systems
- sump pump
- well pump
- furnace fan
- garage door opener
- microwave oven
- electric oven
- radio (unless it works on batteries)
- your television and home theater
- gaming console
- air conditioning
- washing machine
- clothes dryer
There are many more things that can be added to the list. However, this list covers the major items. Now, let’s move on to the cons of buying a generator!
Cons of Home Generators
Even though the pros may outweigh the cons when we’re discussing a lot of things, you should take a look at this yourself before you judge.
Reasons To Consider Not Buying A Generator
Here are a list of reasons you may not want to buy a home generator:
Home Generators Can Be Noisy
Home generators are noisy when they run. Yes, generators produce a lot of noise. Although a lot of people may argue that you can always cover that noise up, which is true in a lot of cases, not all people have huge properties with deep basements or sheds that will dislocate the noise.
One thing has to be pointed out, though – you won’t be using your generator forever, the generator will be working for a few days (at most), until the power is back up. So, if you really need power, you’re going to put up with the noise for a short while.
Also, there are sound attenuation enclosures that are designed to reduce the noise of the generator when it is running. And if you place the generator away from your house, you will not hear it as much.
Installation Can Be Pricey For Home Generators
Installation costs can be the same as the cost of the generator. Generators aren’t something that you just plug in. They require advanced plumbing and electrical skills, and they’re definitely not a DIY project. You should always have a professional come and install your generator.
However, this will cost you both time and money. It’d also be good to have your generator checked and serviced after each use, which will once again cost both time and money.
Home Generators Start At A Few Thousand Dollars
Pricing can deter many people from buying residential generators. Now we’re coming to the really important part – generators don’t come cheap.
The really big, industrial generators are clearly more expensive than your everyday home generators, but your home generators are still expensive enough to remove themselves from the everyday man’s list of priorities. A lot of people look at all the pros of purchasing a home generator and decide to buy them, but as soon as they take a look at the price, they turn away from the purchase.
This can be a smart move (financially) if you live in an area that doesn’t really require you to have a generator, but if your home or your business belong in the category of places that do require a generator, not having one may turn out to be more costly than spending money on one (in the long term).
Your average home generator can cost several thousand dollars, with an average unit costing around five thousand dollars. The top of the line generators cost around fifteen thousand dollars. These are huge investments, as smaller generators (which usually run under a thousand dollars) can’t bring power to the whole house.
You Need Adequate Access To Fuel For Home Generators
Generators don’t run on air. It’s important to have enough propane (or whatever your generator is running on, but it’s usually propane) to keep it running. However, buying fuel is costly.
Storing fuel is costly, complicated, and possibly dangerous (you don’t want gallons upon gallons of propane lying around your property). But, what if you’re stuck without power for a week and you didn’t want to buy too much propane?
This is the problem with generators, buying them means that you’re preparing for the worst possible scenario, but to prepare for that you need money, time, and storage room. If you have all that – great, but if you don’t then you may find yourself in a bad situation.
You really don’t want to be stuck in a snowstorm with power cut off and run out of generator fuel after three days. If you can, buy as much fuel as possible. Also, read up on storing fuel, as it’s not exactly without its expiration date. You can also try to hook up your generator to a natural gas line.
Generators Requires Routine Maintenance
Maintenance can be a barrier that makes home generators not worth the cost. Your generator is a machine, just like your car or your truck. It needs to be properly serviced after it’s been running for longer than 24 hours without stopping. This will cost time and money.
It will require scheduled fluid replacement, battery inspection, and oil changes. It runs similarly to your car engine, so it will need similar annual check ups.
How Much Home Generators Cost
Home generators vary in cost, depending on how much energy you need. Here are a few pricing options to consider for home generators:
This generator can power your refrigerator, 55 inch TV, WiFi, and LED lights for hours during a power outage. It provides 3300 watts, 120 volts, and up to 30 amps of power for a range of devices. The Durostar generator can run up to 8 hours at half the rated wattage.
Since it is portable, you will need to provide the gasoline to power it. The 4 gallon tank should last at least 8 hours. This home generator is worth the cost to keep you entertained and comfortable during a power outage.
It will cost you around $350 for the generator and does not require installation. You have to plug devices into this generator and use an extension cord for appliances far away.
The DuroMax generator provides 12000 watts of power with 120/240 volt outputs. It is EPA approved for all 50 states, making it an easy pick. It is also portable and runs off of gasoline or propane.
This generator will keep your lights on, small AC units running, and your gaming system going. It has enough juice to power roughly half of your house for 8 hours at a time. This home generator is worth the cost to keep your house mostly powered for a couple of hours during a power outage.
If you are looking to keep the essentials powered for days, this is your best option. It will cost you roughly $1,300 and does not require installation. Like the smaller option, it requires you to plug devices into it. Extension cords will likely be required.
This home generator is worth the cost for fully backing up your house. It will require professional installation since it will tie directly into your breaker panel. No need to run extension cords and plug appliances into it.
The 8.5 kilowatts of power is enough to keep most houses online during an outage. Since it is tied directly into your breaker panel, an automatic transfer switch should turn it on when it senses a power outage. That means you should only see a flicker when the power goes out before it kick on.
It will power your heater and air conditioning unit. This generator will power nearly everything in your home. You will need to work with a licensed electrician, which should cost a couple thousand dollars for the installation. The generator itself will cost roughly $4,000.
Are Home Generators Worth The Cost?
Now, to the big question. Yes, home generators are absolutely worth it, if you have the money to purchase one.
Home generators are a safety option that should never be overlooked by a homeowner or a business owner. They’re here to ensure safety during the (hopefully short) time that’s terribly unsafe, and a time we all hope to never experience. Despite their top dollar price, home generators are invaluable tools that are priced properly, if you think about it. If you want to be the only home in the neighborhood with power on during a power outage, you’ll want to buy a generator, and you’ll have to deal with the fact that it’s going to cost a lot.
Now, are home generators worth the cost, personally? That depends on a lot of things.
Does Your Location Make Home Generators Worth The Cost?
Firstly, let’s stipulate that you have enough money to purchase a generator. If that’s true, then you should take a look at this:
Do you live in an area that’s losing power or an area that’s susceptible to losing power? It doesn’t matter if the reasons for that are natural or if it’d due to the poor electricity provider – if you’re living in an area that’s losing power often, then you should definitely think about purchasing yourself a home generator. They can be a massively useful tool with this kind of problem. However, if your area is relatively safe with electricity and you’re not losing power often, then you don’t need a generator.
Getaway Retreat Makes Home Generators Worth The Cost
Another reason you might want to buy a generator is to power your house in the hills, your little weekend getaway. A lot of people have properties that are a bit far off from the city life, and if you have one, it’s possible that you don’t have electricity conducted there from the regular provider. If this is the case, then buying a generator may be the only option you have to get electricity in your home.
The second question you need to ask yourself before you purchase a generator is: do I really need it? Even if you live in an area that loses power often, there are instances where you may not need a generator.
Does Maintenance Make Home Generators Worth The Cost?
Thirdly, can you maintain a generator? Can you store fuel for it? Do you know how to run it? If the answer to all of this is no, then you need to learn how to do all that before you purchase a generator, as it’s very important if you want to keep your generator tidy and working properly.
However, if your answer to all the questions above is ‘Yes.’, then you should seriously consider buying a generator.
Generators are very important tools, often utilized by institutions that absolutely can’t work without electricity – hospitals, banks, various factories and offices, etc. If you feel that your home has the same dependence on electricity, then you should look into buying yourself a generator.
There are also solar generators that convert solar energy into usable electricity for your home. You can use a generator to charge a solar battery when there isn’t enough sunlight for the solar panels. Of course, you should size the solar generator to fit the needs of your home.
These are great options as a power source for your home or RV. Here’s a detailed list of the best portable solar generators for your home or RV.
Alternatively, you can also use a hydroelectric generator if you live near a moving water source. It’s possible to even make a portable hydroelectric generator yourself as a weekend project.
Lastly, you can harness the power of wind in lieu of a home generator. Depending on where you live, a home wind turbine may be worth the cost over a home generator.