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A whole house generator is a very comforting prospect, something to keep the lights on and the food fresh when the grid lets us down, but there are plenty of factors to consider before you hand your hard-earned money over for one of these hefty power supplies.
Are they worth it? Well, according to sales statistics, people certainly seem to think so.
The global generator sales market is forecasted to hit an all-time high of $26.5 billion before long, reflecting a huge surge in the popularity of backup power.
So, should you jump on the bandwagon?
The Pros Of Whole House Generators
Let’s start with the good stuff!
Power When The Grid Goes Down
The primary duty and obvious benefit of a whole house generator is that it keeps your home running at full capacity regardless of grid failure, and they aren’t called whole house generators for no reason!
Not only will you be able to keep your lights and refrigerator running, but your TV, your coffee makers, your games consoles, your HVAC system, your oven… you name it!
The world may feel like it stops turning during a blackout, but your little universe can tick over pretty much as normal when you have one of these beefy backups.
This is of course a fairly universal benefit of whole house generators, but it’s going to be more important to certain people.
Those who work from home, for instance, will especially appreciate having power during an outage, as they can continue their work in safety and comfort.
Better Than Portable Generators
Whole house generators offer a far more comprehensive power solution than their portable counterparts.
If you have plenty of fuel, you can keep one of these stationary units running for weeks on end, meaning no matter how long the power outage drags on, you’ll be sitting pretty.
Portable generators are so at a cost… power and longevity.
Even if you have enough fuel to keep a smaller generator running indefinitely, it’s not going to be able to shoulder this burden for long, as it’s only designed to run for short periods of time.
What’s more, they’re relatively limited in terms of load-bearing capacity. It’s unlikely you’ll find one that will run your whole house as normal.
For the most part, portable generators need to be prepared and run by you, but whole house generators, on the other hand, take care of everything automatically.
As soon as the grid gives up the ghost, your whole house backup will fire up and keep all your appliances running full steam ahead — No downtime!
This immediate, automated reaction saves you a lot of stress and bother, but perhaps best of all, it protects sensitive electronics that require steady, stable power.
I’d also like to highlight how important this automation is for certain portions of the population. Take seniors, for example.
They may not be capable of moving and running a portable generator, especially over longer power outages, but all they have to do with a whole house generator is keep the fuel topped up — Perhaps not even that!
Potentially Lifesaving In Extreme Climates
If you live somewhere with a particularly volatile climate, somewhere that sees bitter winters and scorching summers, your well-being is inextricably bound to your heating and cooling facilities, especially if you belong to a vulnerable group, meaning a blackout could be fatal!
A whole house generator ensures you’ll be able to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer, which, by the by, is when the aging grid infrastructure is most prone to failure.
As established earlier, whole house generators are wired into your primary electrics, so you don’t have to manually link them to any of your appliances as you would with portable generators.
A quality whole house generator is an enticing prospect to buyers should you ever decide to put your home on the market, which means you can bump up your asking price a little — We’re talking between 3 and 5%... possibly even more as demand for generators grows.
If you drive an electric vehicle, your generator will keep it juiced so you can still get from A to B during an outage.
The Cons Of Whole House Generators
Now for the not-so-good stuff…
Whole house generators are incredibly expensive units ($10,000–$20,000), and unfortunately, upfront costs don’t start and end with the price tag.
You’ll also have to fork out for professional installation which can land anywhere between $5000 and $11,000!
Then there are recurring fuel costs to consider. They can become a real drain if you experience a lot of blackouts.
No matter how big or small, all generators need regular maintenance if they’re to stand the test of time, and, again, you’ll need to pay a pro to come in and give your backup the TLC it needs and deserves.
Whole house generators may have some serious muscle, but therein lies a problem… their size.
Even the smaller models of these things are pretty huge, and you’ll need a suitable space on your property for installation.
What’s more, if you can’t get your generator plumbed into existing infrastructure, you’ll also have to install large, unsightly fuel tanks.
Generators have come a long way in terms of running volume, but whole house generators are still capable of making a lot of a racket, which neighbors might not be all that happy about, especially in high-stress situations such as blackouts.
A whole house generator can be an extremely valuable investment, but whether you specifically will extract enough value from such an installment depends entirely on your circumstances.
If you’re unlikely to experience blackouts in your area, then one of these generators is 100% overkill.
You’d get by just fine with a portable generator.
By contrast, if you live in a volatile climate and face frequent blackouts, you almost certainly will find a whole house generator worth it, but before you dedicate yourself to a purchase, consider how much backup power you actually need.
To power the bare essentials such as lights and refrigerators, you don’t necessarily need an all-singing-all-dancing stationary generator, but if you need to keep lots of stuff running, a larger unit is a no-brainer!