How Much Does a Whole House Generator Cost?

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Home backup generators are quickly becoming a necessity in many parts of the world. 

Winter storms, forest fires, hurricanes, and other extreme weather events are constantly stressing the aging power grid and leaving many families without power for weeks at a time. 

Installing a whole-house backup generator can ensure that your family’s basic needs will be met, even amid a prolonged blackout. 

Depending on the model you choose, a home backup generator can power your home exclusively with fossil fuels like gas or diesel — or with clean, renewable solar power. 

The upfront investment and installation costs vary widely depending on the type of generator, manufacturer, output capacity, and fuel source. 

Read on to learn more about what impacts home backup generator costs — and which solution is right for you.

How Much Does a Whole House Generator Cost?

Depending on the output capacity and quality of manufacture, a whole-house generator may cost anywhere between $1,000 and $20,000, with the average being around $5,000.

How much electricity your household needs during an extended blackout will go a long way toward determining your initial and ongoing expenses.

EcoFlow Whole Home Generator are a battery-powered alternative to traditional gas generators. All of EcoFlow’s portable power stations allow solar charging from optional solar panels. These modern systems enable you to convert your home to off-grid solar power incrementally and at your convenience. 

You can use portable power stations and solar panels full-time to offset your reliance on grid power or to store reserve energy for blackouts. Whole-house solar generators like the EcoFlow DELTA Pro have a starting price of around $3,700. 

Factors That Influence the Cost of a Home Backup Generator

There are additional costs to consider other than just the initial purchase price when installing a home backup generator. You may also need connectors, a transfer switch, permits, and professional installation. The output capacity, type, and fuel source of your generator also play a significant role in ongoing and final costs. 

Generator Size and Output Capacity

Large gas generators with higher output capacity typically cost more to purchase and operate. Gas generators generally run at full power whenever they are on, and the more electricity you consume, the more gas gets guzzled. 

The impact of output capacity on fuel consumption differs when using solar generators and portable power stations. These devices can generate electricity using solar panels — and store energy from other sources like household AC power or your car. They don’t require constant fossil fuel consumption to operate. 

The price ranges of a gas generator depend on their output capacity, measured in kWh:  

  • A 10 kWh gas generator can only support a relatively small amount of electricity usage during a power outage. These units are between $3,000 and $4,000. 
  • A 20 kWh will keep essential appliances and lights running during a blackout. Units of this size will cost between $7,000 and $12,000. 
  • A 38 kWh model is sufficient for the average family to fuel a home during a power outage. These units can cost between $13,000 and $16,000. 
  • A 48-50 kWh gas generator will cost between $17,000 and $20,000. This capacity is the largest size sold in most big-box hardware stores. 

Generator Type

The type of generator also impacts the cost. The most common generator types are below:

Portable Generators

A basic gas-powered portable generator should not cost more than $1000, depending on the output capacity. However, these devices are extremely loud and create greenhouse gases and particulate pollution. Portable gas generators are not practical for indoor use during a power outage — using one indoors can be deadly. You can’t use portable gas generators as a whole-house backup solution. 

Portable Power Stations

Portable power stations are a step up from the traditional gas generator. Most incorporate lithium-ion or LiFePo4 batteries, operate in near silence, and don’t generate toxic fumes or harmful emissions. 

Some models — such as the EcoFlow DELTA Pro Portable Power Station — can also operate as a solar generator by adding solar panels. Portable power stations may cost $3,000-5000 up front, but solar panels can eliminate the ongoing operational costs of burning fossil fuels.

Standby Generators (Natural Gas)

Standby generators are permanent installations integrated into your home’s electrical panel and natural gas line. A standby generator will kick on within moments of the power going out and start producing electricity for the home. Depending on the capacity, the standby model may cost $10,000-$20,000.

Inverter Generators

Inverter generators are an advanced version of portable gas generators. Most gas generators always run at full throttle. An inverter generator can adjust the engine intensity as needed. It helps consume less gas and reduce the noise and pollution associated with gas generators. 

These units will cost more upfront than portable gas options. Like the latter, they also can’t support an entire home’s energy demands. 

Fuel Source

The fuel source and refueling expenses significantly impact the ongoing operating costs of a home backup generator.

Gas

The price of a generator can shift wildly, as gas prices often go through dramatic changes. Gasoline price fluctuations reflect supply and demand and crude oil costs on the global market. Geopolitical factors beyond your control also regularly impact the price of gasoline.

On a local level, extended power outages and extreme weather can temporarily drive up the price of gas in a region just when everyone needs it most. Under certain conditions, going to a gas station to buy more fuel won’t be an option. 

Diesel

Unlike gas models, diesel generators do not have carburetors. This results in less maintenance over the long term. Diesel generators also burn fuel more efficiently. These factors decrease the long-term costs of owning a diesel generator. 

Propane

Propane is great for off-grid applications when a natural gas line or frequent trips to the gas station are impractical. Propane can be kept indefinitely if you store it properly, allowing you to always be ready for power outages

Propane tends to be more expensive than gasoline or connecting to a natural gas line. Gas generators tend to be cheaper to operate, but propane burns much cleaner than gas or diesel. 

Natural Gas

Natural gas generators usually connect to a utility gas line, allowing for unlimited use of your generator as long as the gas line is operational. However, the main line connection can cause fuel costs to add up, as you are not limited by the gas you have on hand. Natural gas is usually cheaper than propane but burns at about twice the rate. 

Solar

Using solar energy will bring the ongoing fuel costs down to $0. Solar generators like the EcoFlow DELTA Pro portable solar generator do not require gas, propane, or any other fossil fuels to operate. Instead, homeowners can charge their generators with solar panels or from other sources like AC electricity before an outage. 

The sun provides unlimited free energy as long as you have the solar panels to capture it. 

Just make sure your equipment the solar input capabilities to handle the amount of solar panels you want to use. If you want to use a lot of solar panels, consider the EcoFlow DELTA Pro Ultra, which can scale up to a staggering 90kWh capacity, sufficient for an entire month of home backup. With an astonishing 7.2-21.6kW continuous AC output, you’ll have plenty of power. You can add up to 42 400W Rigid Solar Panels to achieve 16.8kW of solar charging potential!

Transfer Switch

Depending on the amps rating, a transfer switch that connects a generator to your home wiring may cost anywhere from $150 to $1000. You will also need an electrician to install the transfer switch. An electrician typically charges between $75 and $125 per hour for their labor. 

Permits

Many states require permits for the installation of whole-house generators. Some states don’t have permit laws, while others only require permits for generators of a specific size. Permit costs usually range between $50 and $200. 

You can find detailed information for generator permits by state here

Installation

The average installation cost for a whole-house generator is between $500 and $3000. The installation bill depends on many factors, including the size and location of your generator. Large fossil fuel generators usually require a concrete pad, adding another $50-100 to your costs. 

Cost of DIY Backup Generator Installation vs. Hiring a Professional

In theory, you can save a lot of money with a DIY backup generator installation — up to thousands of dollars in labor and other costs. 

The total cost of a whole-house generator may end up between $5,000 and $20,000 for the equipment. But installation costs can bring that up by another $3000+. 

However, installing a whole-house backup generator is a multi-faceted project that can involve gas lines, electrical wiring, rooftop installation of solar panels, and pouring concrete. 

Unless you are extremely confident in your DIY abilities, leaving the job to a professional is best. 

Large gas generators are also heavy and unwieldy. Special machinery is usually required to deliver and properly place the unit. Even if you do a DIY installation, you may still have to pay for vehicle rentals to transport and unload the machinery. 

Solar generators are modular — if you want more power, you can add extra batteries. Most solar batteries are reasonably sized and do not require a moving truck or other special equipment. However, connecting a solar generator to your existing home wiring and installing rooftop solar panels may also be better left to a pro. 

Tips When Buying and Installing a Home Backup Generator

Buying and installing a home backup generator can be complicated. There are so many options, each varying in price and functionality. Here are a few tips to help make your search a bit easier: 

  • Anticipate Your Actual Usage. To save money, purchase a generator with only the output capacity that you will use. Check your electricity bills to help estimate your usage. If your area receives only short, occasional power outages, you may not need a large-capacity whole-house generator. 
  • Hire a Professional to Install Your Natural Gas Generator. Unless you are comfortable hooking up gas lines, leave the installation of your natural gas generator to a professional. Solar generators do not involve gas lines, so they are simpler and safer to self-install. 
  • Go Solar for Savings. Solar generators do not have a combustion engine like traditional fossil fuel generators. Using renewable energy allows them to save money in two ways: there are no ongoing fuel costs, and maintenance costs are virtually none. There aren’t nearly as many moving parts that can potentially fail. 
  • Choose Modern Systems. Newer generators will perform better, run more efficiently, and even include smart features like Wi-Fi control and monitoring. The EcoFlow Smart Home Ecosystem allows homeowners to keep track of their solar generator usage, battery storage, and more — all from the convenience of your smartphone

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does It Cost To Run a Whole House Generator?

A whole-house fossil-fuel powered generator may cost between $50 and $150 per day to run, depending on the output capacity of the generator and your energy consumption. Fuel makes up most of these costs, which could amount to $30 or more just for gasoline. Solar whole-house generators don’t have any fuel costs.

How Much Does It Cost To Have a Whole House Generator Installed?

The installation of a whole-house generator may cost between $500 and $3000. The total expense may include the skilled labor required to install a transfer switch, natural gas lines, concrete pads, and more. You can save on these costs by performing all or part of the installation yourself — but remember, safety first!

Final Thoughts

Purchasing and installing a home backup generator can be a significant undertaking that involves working with gas lines, transfer switches for integrating with your home wiring, and permanent installation of solar panels or a large fossil fuel generator. Installation can become costly and confusing and usually requires outside professional help (especially for natural gas line connections and electrical wiring). 

You can simplify the process by going solar. Solar power systems are modular so that you can increase your off-grid energy generation and storage over time. No professional installation is required for standalone portable solar generators, and there are no ongoing fuel costs. Check out EcoFlow’s state-of-the-art solar solutions for your home. Whether you need a whole-house generator solution or just need to power a few essential appliances, EcoFlow has an answer for you.

ECOFLOW
ECOFLOWhttps://www.ecoflow.com/
EcoFlow is a portable power and renewable energy solutions company. Since its founding in 2017, EcoFlow has provided peace-of-mind power to customers in over 85 markets through its DELTA and RIVER product lines of portable power stations and eco-friendly accessories.

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