Evaluating the Pros and Cons: Are Generators Worth the Money?

Picture this: It’s the middle of a stormy night, and suddenly, the power goes out. You’re left in the dark, your refrigerator stops running, and your heating/cooling system shuts down. A familiar situation, right? Now imagine if you had a generator that could kick in automatically and keep your home running smoothly. In this blog post, we’ll explore the world of generators, weighing the pros and cons, and helping you decide whether “are generators worth the money” is a question you should be asking yourself.

Short Summary

  • Assess your power needs, frequency of outages in area, and comfort/convenience to determine if a generator is worth the investment.
  • Consider initial cost ($500-$20K), installation expenses ($1.5-$5K) and fuel costs when weighing savings & benefits vs costs associated with owning a generator.
  • Consult professionals or manufacturer guidelines for choosing right capacity (min 15kW) and fuel type that fits your needs for safe & successful installation

Understanding Generators: Portable vs Standby

man starting generator during blackout

When it comes to generators, there are two main types: portable and standby. Portable generators are mobile units that need to be manually set up each time you lose power. They’re typically less expensive than standby generators but come with limited power output and require more hands-on effort. On the other hand, standby generators are permanently installed, automatically switching on when the power goes out. These generators are more convenient and powerful but come at a higher cost.

Both types of generators serve the same purpose: providing electricity to your home during power outages. But the differences in the power output, fuel type, convenience, and cost that generators produce make them suitable for different situations.

Let’s take a closer look at each type of generator, including air cooled generators.

Portable Generator

Portable generators are a popular choice for those seeking a more affordable and movable backup power source. These generators usually run on gasoline or diesel and provide up to 3-5 kW of power. However, their runtime is limited to a few hours before they need a refuel. This means that while portable generators can supply power to a couple of devices or a single larger appliance, they can’t power your whole home.

Although portable generators are more budget-friendly, they come with their own set of drawbacks. They require manual setup each time you lose power, and their limited power output means you’ll have to prioritize which appliances and devices to keep running during an outage. Nevertheless, for those who experience only occasional power outages and need backup power for just a few appliances, a portable generator might be a suitable choice.

Standby Generator

Standby generators are designed to provide a more reliable and comprehensive backup power solution for your entire home. These generators are permanently installed and automatically switch on when the power goes out, ensuring your essential appliances and devices remain operational. Standby generators can be powered by natural gas or liquid propane, offering a consistent and cost-effective fuel source.

The main advantage of a standby generator is its convenience and automatic operation during power outages. This means you won’t have to worry about manually setting up your generator or prioritizing which appliances to power. However, these benefits come at a higher cost than portable generators, both in terms of initial investment and installation expenses.

For those who experience frequent power outages or rely on crucial appliances and devices, investing in a standby generator or a backup generator may be worth it for peace of mind and uninterrupted power supply.

Assessing the Value of a Whole House Generator

Investing in a whole house generator can be a significant decision, as it comes with several upfront and ongoing costs. However, the value of owning a whole house generator goes beyond just the price tag. When considering whether a generator is worth the investment, it’s essential to evaluate factors such as:

  • The frequency of power outages in your area
  • The importance of maintaining power for essential appliances and devices
  • The comfort and convenience it can provide during an outage

By carefully assessing these factors, you can determine if the benefits of having a reliable backup power source outweigh the costs. In the following sections, we’ll delve into each of these factors to help you make an informed decision on whether a whole house generator is the right choice for your home.

Frequency of Power Outages

The frequency of power outages in your area can play a significant role in determining if a generator is necessary. If you live in a region prone to natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, or tornadoes, a generator could be invaluable in providing backup power during extended outages. To find out more about power outages in your area, you can check with your local utility company or consult websites like PowerOutage.us or Generac.

If power outages are a rare occurrence in your area, investing in a generator might not be as urgent. However, even if outages are infrequent, the peace of mind and convenience offered by a reliable backup power source can still be valuable, particularly for those who rely on essential appliances and devices.

Essential Appliances & Devices

Maintaining power for crucial appliances and devices is an important factor to consider when deciding whether a generator is worth the investment. If your home relies on medical equipment, security systems, or heating/cooling systems, a generator can ensure their uninterrupted operation during a power outage.

Additionally, some appliances and devices, such as fish tanks, water filters, and sump pumps, can be adversely affected if the power goes out. Having a generator can help minimize the risk of damage or loss due to power outages, making it a worthwhile investment for those who rely on essential appliances and devices.

Comfort & Convenience

Beyond the practical advantages of maintaining power for essential appliances and devices, a whole house generator can significantly improve your comfort and convenience during a power outage. With a generator, you won’t have to worry about losing heating or cooling capabilities, ensuring a comfortable environment for your family during an outage.

Moreover, a whole house generator can provide peace of mind during times of frequent power outages, especially if you live in areas prone to natural disasters. By investing in a generator, you can rest assured that your home will continue to function smoothly, even during unexpected power disruptions.

Costs & Savings Associated with Generators

A portable blue generator with appliance plugged in

Owning a generator comes with several costs, including the initial investment, installation expenses, and ongoing maintenance and fuel costs. The cost of a generator can range from $4,000 to $25,000 or more for whole-house generators, and around $5,000 on average for standby generators. However, generators can also provide potential savings by reducing the impact of power outages and offering cost-efficient fuel options, such as natural gas generators.

To better understand the costs and savings associated with owning a generator, let’s break down the expenses and potential savings involved in each aspect of generator ownership.

Initial Investment

The initial investment for a generator depends on its size, power output, and features. Portable generators can range from around $500 up to about $2,000, while standby generators can range from $2,000 up to more than $20,000. It’s essential to consider your household’s power needs and budget when determining the appropriate generator size and type for your home.

While the initial investment for a generator can be significant, it’s important to remember that this cost also comes with the added benefits of a reliable backup power source, increased comfort and convenience, and potentially increased home resale value.

Installation Expenses

An image showing the installation process of a generator, highlighting the question Are generators worth the money?

In addition to the initial cost of the generator, you’ll also need to factor in installation expenses. For a standby generator, these expenses can range from $1,500 to $5,000, depending on the size of the generator and where it’s being installed. Professional installation is recommended to ensure proper setup and avoid potential problems down the line.

It’s also worth noting that depending on where you live, you may need to obtain a permit before installing a generator. Be sure to check your local regulations and requirements to avoid any complications during the installation process.

Maintenance & Fuel Costs

The ongoing expenses of maintaining and fueling a generator can vary depending on factors such as the generator’s size and fuel type. Generally, generator expenses include:

  • Repairs: around $273
  • Maintenance service charges: ranging from $300 to $900 depending on the size of the generator
  • Fuel costs: will vary by generator type, with natural gas generators typically offering cost-efficient fueling options.

While these ongoing expenses can add up over time, it’s important to weigh these costs against the potential savings and benefits that a generator can provide, such as reduced impact of power outages and increased home resale value.

Safety Considerations for Home Generators

Home generators, while providing numerous benefits, also come with certain safety concerns that need to be addressed. Proper usage, carbon monoxide risks, and electrical hazards are among the safety considerations that should be taken into account when using a home generator.

By following proper safety precautions and guidelines, you can minimize the risks associated with home generators and ensure that they’re used safely and effectively. Let’s explore some of the key safety considerations for home generators.

Increasing Home Resale Value with a Generator

house with the lights on

A whole house generator can not only provide backup power during outages, but also increase the resale value of your home. Potential buyers may view a generator as an attractive feature, as it offers a reliable backup power source and demonstrates a commitment to maintaining a comfortable and functional home environment.

The potential increase in home resale value can range from 3-5%, with some cases showing a return of up to 84%. Factors that can influence the potential resale value of a home with a generator include:

  • Size of the generator
  • Type of the generator
  • Installation costs of the generator
  • Maintenance costs of the generator

Choosing the Right Generator for Your Needs

Selecting the best generator for your specific situation can be a daunting task, as there are many factors to consider, such as capacity, fuel type, and installation requirements. To make the process less overwhelming, it’s essential to assess your household’s power needs, research the pros and cons of different generator types, and consult with professionals if necessary.

In the following sections, we’ll offer guidance on how to choose the right generator based on these factors, ensuring you make an informed decision that best suits your needs and budget.


To determine the appropriate generator size for your household, follow these steps:

  1. Make a list of all the electronics you want to use with the generator.
  2. Add up their wattage or amperage.
  3. This will give you an idea of the generator size you need to power your essential appliances and devices during a power outage.
  4. For a more accurate estimate, it’s best to consult an electrician or a generator certified sales professional.

Keep in mind that the smallest generator size capable of powering a whole house is usually around 15kW. However, you may need a larger generator if your household has more significant power demands or if you want to power additional appliances and devices.

Fuel Type

When choosing a generator, it’s important to consider the fuel type, as this can impact factors such as cost, efficiency, and availability. Common fuel types for generators include:

  • Gasoline
  • Diesel
  • Propane
  • Natural gas
  • Solar energy

Each fuel type has its pros and cons, with factors such as cost, efficiency, and environmental impact playing a role in determining the best option for your needs.

For example, different fuel types have their own advantages and disadvantages.

  • Natural gas, often supplied through a natural gas line, is usually the cheapest and easiest to access fuel type, but it may not be as efficient as diesel or propane.
  • Diesel is reliable and less likely to be affected by extreme weather but can be more expensive.
  • Propane is clean burning and more efficient but is also more costly than other fuels.

By carefully evaluating the pros and cons of each fuel type, you can select the most suitable option for your specific needs and budget.

Installation Requirements

Proper generator installation is crucial for ensuring safe and effective operation. When installing a generator, you’ll need to make sure it’s placed at a safe distance from your house, doors, windows, and fresh air intakes. Additionally, depending on where you live, you may need to obtain a permit before installation.

Professional installation is recommended to ensure that your generator is set up correctly and to avoid potential problems down the line. By consulting with a professional or following manufacturer guidelines, you can ensure that your generator is properly installed and ready to provide reliable backup power when needed.


In conclusion, generators can be a valuable investment for homeowners seeking a reliable backup power source during power outages. By carefully assessing factors such as frequency of power outages, essential appliances and devices, comfort and convenience, costs and savings, safety considerations, and home resale value, you can determine if a generator is worth the investment for your specific situation. With the right generator, you can enjoy peace of mind and uninterrupted power supply, ensuring that your home remains comfortable and functional, even during unexpected power disruptions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it worth it to have a home generator?

A home generator can be a great investment, as it will provide protection and peace of mind during power outages. It will preserve the quality of life even in times of emergency, making it well worth the money.

Investing in a home generator is a smart decision, as it will ensure that you and your family are safe and comfortable during power outages. It will also provide a sense of security, knowing that you are safe.

What is the life expectancy of a generator?

In general, a standby generator will last anywhere from 25 to 40 years, depending on its quality and size and how well it is maintained.

Maintenance plays an important role in extending the life of the generator.

What are the pros and cons of a generator?

A home standby generator is a great choice as they run for days, are quiet and don’t require weather covers. However, the initial cost and installation can be pricey, ranging from several thousand to over $10,000.

Are standby generators more powerful than portable generators?

Standby generators are more powerful and reliable than portable generators.

How much does it cost to install a standby generator?

Installing a standby generator can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000, depending on the size and location.