A Whole House Generator Can Protect Your Family and Your Comfort – Part II

Posted: July 17, 2014

Posted: July 17, 2014
Posted by: Kathryn Mehan, Propane Manager at Wilson Oil & Propane

Choosing the right generator for you.

In Part I of this post, I 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? Here, in Part II, we’ll get down to some specifics.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Other Considerations


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 or liquefied petroleum (propane, or LP) gas – which means you’ll need ongoing access to a safe and reliable fuel source and supplier.


Installing a basic unit can range in price from $7,000 to $12,000 which is a considerable investment for any homeowner. These costs reflect between $5,000 and $10,000 for the actual generator and another $1,800-$2,500 for electrical work depending on the complexity of the job

Whole house generators can be a great addition to your home – one that ensures your family’s wellbeing 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 today – we can help flesh out some of the details to help you make your decision with FREE size and cost estimates.

Until then, enjoy your summer!