The Use Of Home Generators: The New Normal?
It seems power outages are no longer a surprise these days, especially up and down the West Coast. They are announced by local utility districts any time weather predictions tout warnings of high winds and dry conditions to prevent fires starting from downed power lines. These new “planned” power outages have schools closing, hospitals on back-up power and everyone else wondering if this is the new normal.
It used to be that residents of rural areas prepared themselves to be without electricity, employing generators to stem the gap before power was restored. But many residents of even suburban neighborhoods are considering buying a home generator these days. DesertSun’s Risa Johnson and Chris Woodward report that consumers are already making generators fly off the shelves of big box stores instead of waiting any longer to see if power outages are a new part of daily life. They quote a Home Depot spokesperson, who says, “Our stores have been busy with customers coming in to purchase emergency items like gas cans, lanterns, batteries, cell phone chargers, and generators. Our merchandising and supply chain teams are working hard to replenish these important items as quickly as possible to best serve customers.” Lowe’s also evidently reported strong demand for generators and other emergency supplies.
Generators vary widely in size — from something you can place in a shopping cart to one that will need to be shipped by truck. Rental pricing varies depending on the size of the generator that is needed, the distance to the property, the amount of fuel the generator uses, and when services are required (after hours costs more). A one day rental for a 1,000 square foot home can average around $600 per day, and you’ll need to pay a professional electrician to set it up for you.
Buying a standby generator for permanent installment means purchasing one that runs on typically operate on natural or liquid propane gas. They can produce power for an entire house or a few designated circuits. Johnson says Home Depot was offering a 7,500-watt standby generator for $1,999 on its web site, and a 12,000-watt model for $2,519. A 60,000-watt model was going for $17,999.
Then the question is posed: will installing a home generator be worth it? Will it add to your home value? Many in the real estate industry think so since it adds a tangible, practical, safety-minded feature to your home. Home electrical damage, storm damage, and property loss due to power outages cost homeowners literally billions of dollars a year nationwide. As for the return on investment, experts say that’s not as easy to gauge. But industry insiders say the return on a home standby generator stands at roughly 65-70% ROI.
Those using generators should check with their local air districts about rules and permit requirements. Most boards consider the operation of stationary and portable diesel engines during a shutdown to be an emergency that meets state regulations. Before choosing a generator, consider what you are getting into, however. Some big generators are deceptive, making their wheels and handlebars look portable. Not only are they heavy, they also have a hefty appetite for fuel. And if you fail to start and run them every month or two, they will require resurrectional service that can cost you.
Portable generators can’t power your home around the clock during an extended power outage. With careful management, however, an emergency generator can keep a minimum number of appliances operating to provide more comfort and convenience during an emergency. And with careful purchasing, you might be able to get what you need for less than $400.