In light of natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes, many homeowners are increasingly considering how they can best protect their homes from inclement weather.
In some cases, installing a whole house generator is an excellent way to ensure your home has reliable power during and after an emergency. However, these units are relatively expensive compared to portable generators, including installation costs.
But how much does it cost to install one?
The following guide outlines what you need to know about whole house generators, including costs associated with installation.
Table of Contents
Factors to Consider When Calculating the Installation Cost Of a Whole House Generator
1. The Size of the Unit
The size of the generator is one factor that will determine how much you end up paying for installation. There are three general sizes of generators: small (7.5kW), medium (10kW), and large (over 15kW).
Smaller generators require less work to install than larger ones; however, they generate less power. If your site needs a lot of power and you want to maximize efficiency by going with a large generator, then plan on spending more on installation costs.
2. Contractor Experience
How long has your contractor been in business? The longer they’ve been operating, typically, the more experience they have. If you’re not sure, ask for their trade credentials. They should have licenses and certifications that show how long they’ve been in business and when or if any issues occurred with regulatory agencies or law enforcement.
Additionally, visit their job sites to see how they operate and ask for referrals from people who have hired them in the past.
3. Installation Site
Another factor is whether or not you choose to install your generator in an enclosed building or outdoors. If you decide to have, your generator installed indoors, be prepared to spend extra on ventilation and exhaust systems.
However, you can expect to save on outdoor installation costs by accessing existing electrical wiring and outdoor utility poles. Also, keep in mind that power generators are exceptionally loud, so installing them outside means dealing with external noise.
4. Additional Structural Changes
A whole house generator is generally installed on an outside wall. If there are structural issues with your home, address them before installing a generator. If these issues are not corrected, you may end up paying for additional repairs down the road or experiencing more expensive installation costs.
Some electrical work will need to be done as well to allow for safe and proper wiring between your home’s electrical system and your new generator. This means hiring an electrician if you don’t have one already.
However, ensure that your power company knows about any service or construction that might affect its delivery services or its ability to inspect lines running into your home.
5. Projected Time Frame
When figuring out how much it will cost to install a whole-house generator, you need to make sure you have an accurate timeline. You don’t want your generator to break while everyone is at home, resulting in a scary situation.
If your house is getting some new plumbing or electrical work done, make sure those tradesmen consider when they should be finished so that installation can happen when you expect it. This will help you manage installation costs.
Also, keep in mind things like shipping dates and delivery times if you plan to buy a whole-house generator online and have it shipped directly to your house for installation. So, do some research ahead of time to avoid being startled by additional costs.
A Look at the Installation Cost of a Whole Generator
The installation cost of a whole house generator will depend on several factors, including those mentioned above. Installing a whole house generator can cost anywhere from $10,000 for an entry-level unit to $20,000 for commercial-grade generators. The average cost is around $13,000, including labor costs.
As with most projects, it’s important to determine what you need vs. what you want when installing a whole house generator. Always stick to your budget.
That being said, the installation cost of a whole generator can be divided into two parts. One is site preparation costs; on-site inspection by the local electrical department and licensed electrician.
The second part includes professional installation costs: unless you are a skilled do-it-yourselfer, you will have to find a reputable generator installer.
So, let’s delve deeper into each section.
1. Site Preparation Costs
As with any major project, initial costs must be factored into your budget before installing a whole house generator. One such initial cost is site preparation costs. It involves on-site inspection by the local electrical department and licensed electrician.
The purpose of these inspections is to verify compliance with codes for safe grounding, proper wiring installation, proper clearance from combustible materials, or other conditions as required by local codes to ensure adequate safety during all installation phases.
Site preparation can range anywhere from $300-$800, depending on where you live. Please note: This does not include permits that could significantly increase the total cost.
2. Professional Installation Cost
This section is divided into four sections; Bed installation, piping installation, wiring, and transfer switch installation.
These critical components will determine how much you will spend installing a whole house generator. Each section has different prices that we will mention here in detail.
The following costs determine the cost of a generator’s bed installation: leveling the foundation, gravel and earth to be used, crushed stone underneath them, plywood to support your machine, and concrete.
All of these materials vary in price due to personal preference. However, you should expect to spend around $500-$1000 to set up a whole generator’s foundation.
You will also need to hire laborers for about half a day or less, depending on their experience level. But remember, experienced workers, are usually more expensive.
Installing piping for your whole home generator can add up to $500 to $1,000 to your total installation cost.
Piping is necessary to route gas from your home’s gas meter to your new generator. This includes any work done by a plumbing contractor and is not something most homeowners can handle independently.
These costs will vary depending on several factors, including how close your home’s gas meter is to where you plan on installing your generator. Before deciding which generator is right for you, make sure you know these figures.
Wiring to the House
Assuming your existing wiring is in good condition, having it modified to accommodate a generator can cost anywhere from $150 to $500. If you require new wiring and hire an electrician for these services, expect to pay between $1,000 and $2,000. This will depend on how many circuits need to be re-worked and how much of that work involves trenching or laying the conduit underground (which adds significantly to labor and material expenses).
However, note that all costs are subject to change due to location, service provider (i.e., licensed electrician) fees, supply costs, and other factors.
Transfer Switch Installation Cost
If you’re considering installing a whole-house generator to power your home, one important thing to keep in mind is how you’ll transfer between your utility power and generator. If you are installing a whole-house unit, you’ll need to put in a transfer switch as well.
A transfer switch is an electric switch that connects or disconnects an electrical load from its power source.
The primary purpose of installation transfer switches is to prevent catastrophic damage to your home by isolating dangerous voltages from you, your family, and your expensive property.
Several variables can impact how much it costs to install transfer switches for whole house generators. Your home’s setup and size, whether you’re moving your panel or adding a new one or whether you need to hire an electrician. That’s said, the average cost for installing a transfer switch is $2,300 but could be as low as $1,800 or as high as $3,000. If your home has an existing panel, there should be no additional cost.
Insurance: It’s also important to confirm whether or not your home insurance provider covers against damages caused by smoke damage during installation of one of these systems; many do, but some don’t cover generators at all, so make sure you’re covered before work begins.
Other Permits: Some states require permits before starting on projects like installing whole house generators, so make sure you check into what might be required in terms of additional licensing by local authorities if necessary before hiring a professional. A quick call to your local authorities can help save time and money.
Testing Cost: One of the biggest advantages of getting an independent 3rd party to test your whole house generator is that they provide you with complete detailed results.
Since these independent tests can take anywhere from 2-5 hours per test, there will likely be additional costs depending on how complicated your generator is.
The cost can range anywhere from $300 per hour, depending on who you choose to do your testing and what you choose to have tested.
Labor Cost: The total installation time takes about 8 hours based on an average of three days per week but can be completed much faster, depending on your schedule.
Based on that scenario, assuming you are hiring a professional to install your system and their price is $80/hour (most professionals charge $85-$100/hour). It would then cost $1,900-$2,400 for the three days to install a 10kW whole house unit which makes up his salary.
However, these costs can vary greatly from region to region, so it’s best to start by contacting your local certified generator installer to provide an exact quote based on what you need.
Maintenance Cost: Once you’ve made your investment into installing a whole house generator, you’ll want to consider additional costs associated with its use. A typical maintenance contract will run between $50 and $100 annually.
This small cost is more than worth it for ensuring that all mechanical parts are working properly; some may even recommend twice-yearly service calls to prevent any issues from developing.
Faqs About Whole House Generator Installation Cost
How much does it cost to run a Generac whole house generator?
The cost varies depending on several factors such as: how big your home is, what appliances you have plugged into it, etc. Some features come with house generators like auto transfer switches and automatic start-up systems. These additions will cost extra but make it easier to monitor and maintain your generator. Installation cost can range from $2,000 – $20,000 depending on these variables.
Are whole house generators worth it?
If a disaster strikes, a complete house generator provides additional backup power. If you live in a location prone to hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, or blizzards, a generator can keep you and your family safe while providing peace of mind. Generators can supply backup power for energy-intensive appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, and sump pumps, ensuring that you don’t lose food or water in the event of a power outage.
Is there a tax credit for a whole house generator?
Yes. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers a tax credit worth 26% for installation costs for these systems. However, there is no longer any carryover from one year to another regarding individual credits.
So, if you were eligible in 2021, you will get your tax credit in 2021; all unused credits expire at the end of each calendar year.
How long does a Generac generator last?
Generac generators, like any other piece of machinery, will eventually fail after many years of use. Your generator could last 20-40 years, depending on how often you use it and how well you maintain it.
Generators in areas with harsh winters have a shorter lifespan than those in more temperate climates because of the salt and other corrosive elements.
Is a Kohler generator better than a Generac?
Kohler generators are more expensive than Generac generators, but they are worth it because they last longer. Kohler engines are more durable and can operate on two cylinders, but Generac engines require all four cylinders to function. Kohler offers lifetime coverage on its parts, while Generac offers only five years of protection.
How much does a 20kW Generac generator cost?
The price of a whole house generator, such as our 20kW Generac model, will cost around $4,500. When factoring in installation and additional necessary materials, expect your total bill to be somewhere in between $6-7,000.
How many kW Generac do I need?
The first step in sizing your generator is to figure out how much power you require. This varies depending on how many appliances you intend to operate simultaneously, their size, and distance from your generator.
If you live in a region where brownouts or blackouts are common, buy extra power so you’ll be ready if another outage comes while your generator is running.
How big of a house will a 22kW generator run?
A 22kw generator can run up to 2,600 square feet. For example, it could power one refrigerator and one freezer, two air conditioners, three washing machines and dryers, two televisions with DVD players or satellite connections, and four lights but not simultaneously.
How big of a generator do I need for a 1500sq ft. house?
A 1500-square-foot home will require a generator with a power output between 2500 and 4000 watts. However, the type of appliances in your home determines the amount of electricity you’ll need for your emergency power supply.
Wattage loading capacities on generators determine how many appliances can be run simultaneously without the motor overheating.
Which whole house generator is best?
The best whole house generator is the Generac Guardian Wi-Fi Enabled Standby Generator. It provides you with plenty of power during an outage, has an easy install process, and has awesome features like remote monitoring and control via smartphone or tablet.
How long does it take to install a Generac generator?
The actual time to install one of these generators will vary depending on where you live and what kind of equipment is installed. The further your home or business is from an electrical grid, for example, the longer it will take due to difficult terrain and supply issues.
In general, however, most experts estimate that you should plan on installing a whole house generator in three days or less.
Can I use solar panels in conjunction with my whole house generator?
Unfortunately, you cannot use solar panels with your whole house generator. The reason for this is that your whole house generator gets its energy from the local power grid, which means it doesn’t have a self-contained energy source like solar panels.
We propose installing solar panels and a backup generator as separate pieces of equipment if you want an energy solution that combines solar panels and a whole house generator.
Installing a whole house generator is certainly an expensive home improvement project but can be done with relative ease. When you consider how much power it will take to run your entire house and all of its appliances, you’ll realize it is a must-have unit in a home.
To ensure that you get what works best for your home, talk with an expert who can help you find or install one. An in-depth discussion about what sort of system will work for your home is crucial for ensuring that it’s installed properly and safely.
Additionally, ensure your generator purchase includes installation from start to finish, so there’s no unnecessary stress on either party later down the line. And once it’s installed, make sure it gets inspected by professionals to ascertain that everything is up to code.