How Much Does a Generator Cost?

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generator on table

Are you annoyed with the constant power outages? You’re not the only one. Many US residents are face-to-face with the same struggle. This is why it’s time to throw away your candles and flashlights to purchase a generator instead.

You must be thinking, how much does a generator cost? Well, a unit that powers the entire home has a national price of $15k.

But since there are lots of categories of generators and their fuels, you need to know all the factors influencing the cost. For this purpose, we have written this guide.

Difference Between the Expenses of a Full House Generator and a Half House Generator

First things first, the type of generator installed in your home is directly correlated with its cost. It goes without saying that a whole house generator and a partial generator have a huge difference in costs. Whole house generators offer maximum and consistent power.

With this device, you will feel as if there’s no extended power outage because the entire house, with the appliances, runs smoothly. This is a superb option for individuals who frequently experience power outages that go for more than 24 hours.

Even when natural disasters shut down the power for days or weeks, a whole house generator has got your back loyally. Of course, partial house generators don’t offer such comprehensive coverage, which is why their installation cost is way lower.

However, this device allows you to power important appliances, with some compromise on remaining conveniences. This option is suitable for regions where the power outages last for a shorter period.

Portable Generator Vs. Standby Generator

If you wish to reduce the installation cost of a backup generator, a portable generator is a great idea. These feature a diminished capacity and can offer 7,000 watts.

Their price range varies from $200 to $5,000. There’s no need to install them, they are user-friendly and affordable to maintain.

However, portable generators demand more work from the user as you need to buy fuel separately for the operation. When the power shuts down, take the fuel from the storage room, place the generator outside, add fuel and determine the electric connection. This generator can’t be started indoors.

On the other hand, standby generators come with an automatic switch. This means that the user doesn’t need to do any work when the power shuts off.

It also provides higher power coverage. Hence, standby generators are a better option, depending on your budget.

westinghouse portable generators wgen20000

What Factors Influences Generator Costs?

Size And Category Of Generator

Portable and fixed are two types of generators available for homes. As previously mentioned, only the fixed generators can power the whole house. These are installed in the external area of homes and hardwired into the electric system.

Their size range varies from 7 to 38 kW, and the price range is $800 to $20k. For a 2,500 square feet home, a standby generator with 25,000 kW is suitable.

If you want a portable generator, it should have a power capacity of 2-8 kW. These generators are available in the market for between $500 to $2,000.

Type Of Start

All generators have a manual start option. Portable generators usually display a pull cord just like a lawnmower starter. As for other generators, they have an electric switch.

As previously stated, fixed generators automatically sense the power interruption and turn it on on their own.

This means that potential damage and power losses are minimum in this case. As a backup, there’s a manual start switch in the portable generators too.

Concrete Pad

Standby generators demand a permanent resting place, which is why they’re commonly installed on a poured concrete pad. This choice avoids pooling water from harm or rust, decreases vibration, and boosts airflow.

The concrete pad should be balanced and solid. Its installation runs between $50 to $75 on each square foot. This range includes concrete pouring and site prep.


Installing whole house generators is not accomplished in one take. A contractor lists down the expenses for the following:

  • Installation cost
  • Preparing the site
  • Fuel storage tank
  • Labour
  • Upgrade of the electric panel

Some contractors have a flat rate for the entire process. In this case, make sure to ask what the installation includes and if you’re okay with it. Installation cost usually varies from $500 to $3,000.

Transfer Switch

For a standby generator, you need to hire an electrician for the installation of a transfer switch. This connects the generator with the circuit board and allows it to run through the current circuits.

It requires 3 to 4 hours of installation, which translates to $200-$400 in labor cost. The switches are of two types – automatic or manual.


After the installation, a permit is required to determine that the work is done completely without any mishaps.

Moreover, the majority of municipalities demand a permit for the pouring of a concrete pad. On average, the cost of a permit runs between $50 to $200.

Are There Any Extra Costs To Consider?

After the purchase and installation, there are more expenses to consider.


Standby generators run automatically for a few minutes a few times each week. This allows proper functioning and ensures that the engine is properly oiled. It also serves the purpose of a diagnostic test.

This automatic run doesn’t cost a penny, but it means that fuel should be sufficiently added to the generator at all times. After certain periods, you have to schedule a maintenance service by a technician, which costs between $75 to $300 for this service.


Different upgrades improve the efficiency of a generator. A valuable enhancement is a wireless monitor that offers access to the generator’s status. If a power outage occurs when you’re not at home, you can turn on your generator.

A wireless monitor can be purchased for $200 to $400. Likewise, a smart load manager can develop various zones in the house to switch power between them. This allows an undersize generator to operate in a bigger home, and it can be purchased for $150 to $300.

Types Of Fuels Employed In A Generator

The fuel used affects the overall expense in two ways. First, the cost of the device itself is influenced by the type of fuel. Secondly, the running cost depends on the specific fuel too.

Natural Gas

The buying cost of a generator fueled by natural gas is higher than gasoline – varying from $2,000 to $20k. There’s minimal fuel wastage.

However, a natural gas generator eats more fuel to power the home as compared to other fuels.


Priced between $3,000 to $15k, diesel generators are bigger, more budget-friendly, and offer outstanding efficiency.

Liquid Propane

You can store this fuel for indefinite periods. Liquid Propane generators can be a big standby units or a small portable generators. Whichever one you choose, you can expect to pay between $500 to $20k.

But remember that it’s important to purchase a contractor or a big tank. Otherwise, you’ll have to store a large number of little gas cans, which is anything but cost-effective.


This is the least expensive option. Gasoline generators are straightforward engines, and since this fuel type is readily available in the US, it’s a famous choice.

The only downside is that gasoline comes with a limited lifetime, and once it has reached its end, you’ll have to discard it, which comes with a price.

Plus, don’t expect too much power coverage from these machines either. Other noteworthy features are a manual start and portability. Their price range is – $500 to $2k.


These machines have a modest size and are portable. Solar-powered generators are eco-friendly and do not rely on petroleum fuel.

As much as it is sustainable, one can’t always depend on its power formation because the machine will only assist if there’s lovely, sunny weather and will do nothing if there’s a storm.

Note that storms are a major cause of power outages in the first place. However, we hope that solar technology will evolve over time. Their price range varies from $1,500 to $5k.

Solar generator

Confused About Which Size To Get? Read On…

All generators are labeled by dimensions and the total kW they can generate. Don’t make the error of buying a unit with way too much power or way less power. Know what your power demand is, and get the one that can fulfill it.

A professional way to know what size you need is by calling an installer to your home and checking out your property. They will offer accurate recommendations.

If you wish to do it on your own, make a list of all appliances and their watts that you want to be powered by the unit. The formula should look like this:

Number of watts required/1000 = number of kW required for home

If the calculated result ends up falling between two sizes of units, you can pick the bigger one for emergencies or the smaller one if you want to save power by following a strategic power use.

How Do I Save Bucks On A Generator?

When it comes to backup generators, only timing and patience can help you save money.

  • Gather a few estimates – the installation cost and the size you should go for.
  • Select a skilled contractor to execute all the critical tasks to save subcontractor fees, like gas plumbing, concrete pouring, and binding with the electric system.
  • Install the unit at an off time when power outages are less common.
  • Do not purchase a unit straight after experiencing a storm as the labor, item, and material expenses are the highest at this time.
  • Ask if there is any work you can carry out individually, like pulling the permit or prepping the site.
  • Ensure that you don’t have to change sizes prior to purchase.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can A Whole House Generator Be Installed Without A Professional?

Installing a generator is hardly a DIY project as it’s a big and heavy unit. Plus, it needs to be combined with the electrical system, or even with fuel lines, in the case of a fixed unit.

Which Conditions Make It Crucial To Buy A Generator?

  • If you run a home business, you will need power at all times in order to fulfill the expectations of your clients.
  • If you reside in an area that is a frequent victim of natural disasters, it becomes a must to buy a generator.
  • If anyone in the home is relying on an electric medical device, such as a home dialysis machine, respirators, or breathing machines, it’s critical to have a whole house generator so that no compromise is made on the health and life of a loved one.

What Is The Lifetime Of A Whole House Generator?

A generator can last for a minimum of 20 years, with proper annual maintenance. But if a unit is heavily used, its lifetime will naturally be shorter and will require more upkeep.

The Takeaway

After reading the whole guide, we hope that you’re well-versed with generator costs and all the factors contributing to them.

Good luck and happy shopping!