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How Does a Whole House Generator Work and Should I Get One?—Part 2

House lit at night

Posted: March 25, 2019

In our last post, we explored some of the reasons why a whole house generator is a great option for keeping your family safe and comfortable in the event of a power outage.

But what factors do you need to consider when determining if a whole house generator is really right for you?

Size Matters

The size of a whole house generator depends on what you intend to operate during an outage. Electrical appliances in your home tend to fall into two categories:

  • Your “power essentials,” which include things like your lights, garage door opener, fridge/freezer, sump and well pumps, your furnace fan, security system, TV/computers, microwave, and washing machine, for example.
  • Your high-wattage items, including your air conditioner, electric dryer, heat pump, hot tub, water heater, oven, geothermal system, and well pump.

Generators range quite a bit in size – and price – depending on which and how many of each category of appliances above you want or need to operate when the power is out. A small, 5 kilowatt (kW) unit, for example, can operate power essentials such as lights, a refrigerator, a television and other small appliances.

A large, 25 kW generator on the other hand, can easily run high-wattage heat or air conditioning units while still being able to turn on lights and appliances. Depending on what other high wattage appliances are being run, a 25k generator may only be able to power one AC/Heat Pump unit so it is best to consider what you want your generator to accomplish. When it comes to whole house generators, it’s critical to identify your specific comfort needs up front.

Space Matters

Whole house generators can be as large as a central air conditioning unit – even larger, depending on the power output – so you’ll need a relatively large space outdoors to place the unit.

The generator also needs to be near the electrical service into the house. If using a natural gas generator, having it closer to the natural gas supply can save on the installation cost. Propane powered generators don’t have this consideration.

Finally, there are building and safety codes to consider which will affect where you can place generator. It is best to have a certified technician help you with all these issues and with determining what appliances need to be powered.

Installation

Since whole house generators need to be connected to both your home electric supply and a fuel source, you’ll need certified professional technicians to make sure the job is done safely – and done right.

Fuel Supply

Whole house generators are powered by natural gas or propane gas. If you choose a propane generator, you can count on Wilson to be your safe and reliable fuel supplier.

Cost

Roughly speaking, average project costs for installing a generator are in the $10,000 range, but that can vary widely. Whole house generators can be a great addition to your home – one that ensures your family’s well-being and your own peace of mind when the unexpected strikes. But they do require an investment of money and space outside your home, so it pays to spend some time to decide if a whole house generator is right for you.

If you’re ready to learn more about a whole house generator for your home or business, contact Wilson Oil & Propane. We can help flesh out the details to help you make your decision. We can start off by giving you a free estimate.