How Long do Standby Generators Last?

If your home experiences power losses frequently then it may be time to look at purchasing a standby generator, or a whole home generator. These standby systems automatically detect when a power loss occurs and will switch your circuit board away from the power grid and over to the standby system within seconds of the power going out. In most cases you will just see a flicker of the lights as the switch occurs. After that it is smooth sailing and your home can function just like it did before when you were receiving power from the grid.

These standby systems are a great investment. A few years back my family and I lived quite a ways out in the country on a small farm of about twenty acres. It was absolutely beautiful and I miss it every day… but it was not perfect. I live in Kansas and during the spring and summer we can have some significant thunder storms. Since we were so far out and away from the city our power went out quite frequently. We also had the same problem in the winter with ice or blizzards. It became an occurrence we were all too familiar with.

We had a portable generator we could use for back up but it was a hassle. You had to roll it out in place. You had to fill it up with fuel. You had to hook up all of the extension cords and even then you still couldn’t power everything in your home. A standby system however could power our whole home. This is when my wife and I seriously started looking at purchasing a standby system. While these are the best option for power loss at your home they can be quite expensive as well.

You can expect to pay between four to ten thousand dollars for a standby system and THEN you have to pay for the installation. Typically the install is the same as the purchase price. So, if you purchased a five-thousand dollar system then you can expect to pay about five-thousand dollars for the install for a total cost of ten-thousand dollars. As I said before, standby systems are an investment. Only purchase these if you plan on staying in your home for a while and you do experience frequent power outages.

One of the questions we came across when researching standby systems is how long do they last? After all, I am not about to spend ten-thousand dollars on one if they are only going to last five or ten years. This ladies and gentlemen is where this article comes into play.

How Long Do They Last?

Before I give you the answer to this question we need to understand that how long your standby system lasts depends on two main variables. The first is how often are you running the generator? If you have a ton of power losses and are running it for thousands of hours per year then it is going to shorten the life span. The other important question here is maintenance. If you are performing proper maintenance on your generator then you can expect to truly achieve the longest lifespan. However, if you neglect maintenance and just ignore the system until you need it then you could significantly shorten the life span of your system. The other day I wrote an article on the maintenance required on standby generators which can be found by clicking here. Here is another article outside of ToughAssTools that provides many great tips on maintenance as well.

With all that being said the numbers I found when researching this topic stated that a standby system can last for about twenty-thousand to thirty-thousand operating hours. Now most folks said that the twenty to thirty thousand number equates to about a twenty to thirty year life span of the generator. But, as I said before, it all depends on how many hours you are operating the unit. For example, let’s say you are averaging about twelve-hundred hours of generator operating time per year. Let us also say that your generator will last around twenty-five thousand operating hours. Now it is just simple math of dividing twenty-five thousand by twelve-hundred to get us a number of twenty. So in this example your generator would last for twenty years.

I am sure that if you genuinely care of your generator and do not run it often you could see it last for thirty years. That number I gave above is a range. There are going to be exceptions. I see no reason why a generator that is sparingly used could last for thirty plus years. Again, take that same example above and instead of twelve-hundred hours a year call it seven-hundred. That math works out to about a thirty-five year life span.


All in all folks it really depends on how well you take care of your generator and how often you are running it. The numbers I gave you above were rough estimates. If you are serious about purchasing a standby generator I would make it a point to ask the longevity question to the dealer that you are working with. If the dealership is helpful you may even find that some brands last longer then others. Personally, I have always been a fan of the Generac brand. They are the most recognized and have the largest market share. That is NOT to discount the other brands out there though. Do you research and determine what is right for you and your family.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

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