The Scoop on Home Generators


Recent storms have forced many to reconsider the wisdom of owning a generator. Brief, infrequent electricity outages are easy enough to endure, but if you’re losing power more frequently and for longer periods of time, it may be time to purchase a portable or standby generator.

Portable generators: Hands on but affordable

Smaller portable generators can cost anywhere between $300. and $1,500. and are capable of powering your home’s essential appliances. But while this type of generator is relatively inexpensive and quick to set up, it does require manual operation and close monitoring.

First things first: You must be at home when the grid power goes out in order to get a portable generator going. And because a gas tank will hold three to six gallons on average, you must periodically refill it, even during foul weather.

Standby generators: Hands-off but expensive

More powerful, quieter and safer than their portable counterparts, standby generators start automatically in a blackout — you don’t need to lift a finger. But that convenience doesn’t come cheap. Installed, an average system of this type will cost anywhere from $3,000  to  $14,000.

The flipside is that standby generators tend to last a long time, approximately 15 years. And upon home resale, they could recoup approx.. 50 % of their value. Though maintenance is necessary every two years, licensed professionals can help ensure a unit’s reliability.

Whether it’s worth it to purchase a standby generator depends largely on your needs. Grid failures are certainly inconvenient for everyone, but for some people, living without power can be dangerous —families with home medical equipment come to mind.

In making your decision, strike a balance between what is essential for your comfort and what your budget will allow.