Is Buying a Generator worth It for a New Home

Updated On: 
December 27, 2019
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Christmas decorated home

What would you do if you woke up on a cold January morning and felt a bone-chilling coldness in your home? When you go to try and turn up your thermostat, you realize that the power has gone out. After a couple of calls to your local utility company, you unfortunately find out that the power might not be turned out for at least another 48 hours. Besides piling the family in the car to spend the day at the local library, what else can families do to protect themselves and their homes from extended power outages? Below, we offer a complete rundown on the benefits that come with purchasing a generator for a new home. 

The Vulnerabilities that Come with Relying on the Electrical Grid 

According to one report, “between 2000 and 2014, the number of reported power outages – including weather-related outages – rose across the entire country…An aging infrastructure, combined with a growing population and more frequent extreme weather, are straining the electric grid.” The report goes on to show you the five year annual average of outages doubled every five years. Essentially, homeowners in the United States are four times more likely to experience extended power outages today that they were 15-20 years ago. 

Global climate change also poses a very real threat to our electrical grid, specifically due to the increased frequency and probability of extreme weather events. One way to measure the incidence of severe weather events is through measuring their economic impact. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) finds that “2019 is the fifth consecutive year (2015-2019) in which 10 or more billion-dollar weather and climate disaster events have impacted the United States. Over the last 40 years (1980-2019), the years with 10 or more separate billion-dollar disaster events include 1998, 2008, 2011-2012, and 2015-2019.” 

The increasing occurrence of severe weather events is directly related to climate change, and these types of events only further multiply the vulnerability of our electrical grid. 

What is a Home Generator? 

A standby home generator is designed to keep your home powered during the event of a power outage. Most home generators are installed on the exterior of your home, like your AC and furnace units. While older models of generators had to be started manually, today most of the generator options will come on automatically once a power outage occurs. Home generators most often are fueled by propane or natural gas, so you won't have to go outside with a gas can to keep it running during extended outages. 

The size of your home generator will determine how long your home can be kept with power, though there are generators designed to provide up to 3,000 hours of continued power. That means that your home could be protected for up to 125 days in the event of a major climate emergency. 

Cost Analysis for a Home Generator 

The cost for purchasing and installing a home generator can vary widely, depending on your home, the size of the generator, and the type of fuel it will run on. Small generators that only provide a day or two of backup power in the event of an outage can cost under $1,000, in some cases. In general, you should look for a home generator with a wattage rating of about 5,000 watts. This size unit will cover the majority of your household appliances in the event of a generator emergency. 

According to one website, the average cost for installing a backup home generator stands at $3,700. While this home generator cost might seem like a major investment, a backup generator can not only keep your family safe, but can also protect your home from potentially costly repairs in the event of an extended power outage. 

For example, a 72 hour power outage in the dead of winter could very well lead to frozen and eventually burst pipes throughout your home plumbing system. According to one estimate, repairing a burst pipe can cost $100 to $200 per foot, and water damage repair and cleanup can cost you in the thousands. Investing in a simple backup generator could help to avoid this type of potentially costly repair.

Backup generators can drastically increase the resilience of our homes, and essentially act as an insurance policy against our increasingly unpredictable national electrical grid system.


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