How Much Does a Standby Generator Cost?

Having the power go out in your home is never a fun time. If it is out for just a few minutes, or even an hour or two, it is an inconvenience. The problem occurs when your power goes out for a day or multiple days at a time. This goes from being an inconvenience to a real hassle. A few years back I owned a small farm way out in the country about an hour south of the Kansas City area. It was extremely peaceful there and watching the snow fall was great… until our power went out.

As I am sure a lot of you know, when the power goes out when you are in the country it can sometimes take days for it to turn back on. In one particular instance our power was out for three days. Luckily, this outage occurred in winter and we were able to keep most of our food cold and keep the house warm by using our fireplace. If this had been summer though we would have been hot and miserable as well as losing all of the food in our refrigerator.

It was immediately after this power loss event that we began looking into standby generator systems. I knew that portable generators were an option as well, but I wanted an option that would provide our whole home with power and that would require little or no setup when the power went out. Standby generators were the solution. We had researched various models and but had ended up not purchasing and instead sold the home the next year.

The concept of standby generators has fascinated me ever since and that is why over the past few months I have been researching and writing article after article on the topic. In today’s article we are going to take a look at exactly how much these generators cost. What can you expect when purchasing? How much does install cost? Let’s take a look.

How Much do They Cost?

Let me first state that standby generators are NOT cheap. If you wish to purchase one for your home then you better plan on staying in your home for at least a few more years. While purchasing and installing a standby system can raise your home’s value it will ONLY raise it by about fifty percent of the money you spend on the system. SO, if you spend ten-thousand dollars then your home’s value will only increase by five-thousand dollars. If you do plan on purchasing one just be aware that you should stick around for a few more years so that you can enjoy the system.

To answer your question folks a typical standby generator can cost between four-thousand dollars to ten-thousand dollars. It all depends on exactly what size of standby system you need for your home or business. Standby systems are measured in kilowatts. The higher the number the more power that will be generated by your generator and the more expensive it will be. In order to determine exactly what size generator your home needs you will need to tally up the wattage of all of your appliances and electronics. If you cannot find the wattage of an appliance or electronic then you can take the amperage that it uses and multiply it by the volts. (If the appliance uses the standard plug-in at your home it uses one-hundred and ten volts.)

Once you have added up all of your wattage it is recommended to add another thirty percent to that number. This will give you some buffer room in case you forgot something or plan to add an additional appliance down the road. Standby systems can come in a variety of sizes but in most cases you will units start at around seven-and a half kilowatts and go all the way up to forty kilowatts. A standard twenty-five hundred square foot home can typically get by on a twenty-two and a half kilowatt system. But again, I am going to defer to your own sizing calculations to determine your generator’s size.

You should also understand that even though you have the size of generator that you need figured out the price can still vary significantly depending on brands and features. As an example, the twenty-two and a half kilowatt systems can range from four-thousand dollars all the way up to ten-thousand dollars. This is going to be a matter of preference. Research each brand and also research the additional features. Are they worth the extra cash, or are you ok with a standard system? I am personally a big fan of the Generac brand.

The last big thing to mention here when it comes to pricing your standby system is installation costs. A  lot of folks do not think of this but it is a real expense that can be just as expensive as the standby generator itself. This is why it is so important to budget the installation cost before purchasing a standby system. There is a lot that goes into installing one of these systems. You will need the help of an electrician to hook the unit to your home, a plumber or other professional to setup the fuel lines from your generator to your gas or propane line, and in some cases a county or city representative to come out to ensure the standby generator is compliant with code. These installs can be costly.


So, when you factor in the cost of the generator and the install you could be looking at a total purchase price ranging from eight-thousand dollars all the way to eighteen or twenty-thousand dollars. It truly depends on your sizing needs as well as the brands and features you wish to invest in. To a lot of folks these amounts may simply be too much… especially if you only experience power loss a few times a year.

There is another option out there though. If you wish to save a ton of money and do some manual work there are portable generators. Portable systems are what you typically see at camping sites or RV parks. They are a portable system that can generate power wherever you need it. The downside of these systems it that they are all manual. When I say that I mean that when the power does go out you have to roll out the generator from storage, fill it up with fuel, and then manually connect the appliances you want to power via extension cord.

As you can imagine this will require a lot of work to get setup each and every time that your power goes out. The bright side is that you can save thousands by opting for a portable system. Looking at some of the models on we can see that the cost on a larger portable system will be right around one-thousand dollars. Now this unit may not power your entire home but it will provide you enough power to run your refrigerator, freezer, and other electronics.

Ultimately though folks, the choice is yours. Do you want to spend the money and invest in a standby system and save yourself time each time your power goes out? Or, do you want to save thousands and invest the time it takes to setup a portable system each time? Time or money?

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

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