A candid view on installing a whole-home generator in 2022

Like some of you I am sure, being stuck in a cold house with my wife, kids, and mother-in-law in the middle of the February 2021 freeze was the tipping point for us. It was time to get a generator. Also like many of you as a result of the pandemic, we were in the middle of reassessing our living decisions and space needs around that same time. It was not until summer 2021 that we decided to move to West U and started exploring a generator for our new home.

Much like Eric did for his generator, and with his blessing, we used a portion of Reliant’s annual sponsorship to have a whole-home generator installed at the Lanza household. Reliant, of course, is the multi-year sponsor of Space City Weather. As in Eric’s case, my experience will reflect that of any consumer in my situation. We laughed, we cried, and it was not always pretty. But it got done.

Obviously, getting a generator is an investment. An average installation will likely run you between $10,000 to $15,000 depending on your home and needs, and that may have even nudged up a bit due to inflation. That said, I think we have learned from recent disasters both here in Texas and along the Gulf Coast that if you are able to purchase a whole-home generator, it will likely be a worthy investment. This is not something I really ever thought I’d do but having an infant and toddler roaming around a powerless house can change minds. My goal in this post is to describe the process of having a whole-home generator installed in a 2022 world, sharing how my experience differed from Eric’s that he wrote about last year.

Reliant works with a Houston-based company called Quality Home Products of Texas. To begin this effort, Quality sent a technician to my house back in November 2021. Joey was our tech, and he was extremely informative and knowledgeable about the process. We live in an older house (1940s) that has been modernized, so there were a few quirks about our situation in terms of wiring, logistics, etc. Those became an issue during the installation process, but broadly, Joey’s plan worked on paper. They were good at finding workable, minimally invasive solutions for a home’s unique situation.

The first physical element of the process was getting a pad installed.

We outlined where the generator would go in our yard, placed some stakes in the ground, signed a contract and paid 25 percent of the total up front. Here is where my situation first deviated a bit from Eric’s experience. Eric’s home required a stand, but in our case a pad worked fine. To do this, workers came on two visits to construct the “outline” of the pad and then pour concrete. Both visits were quick, easy, and required little effort on our part.

The second difference from Eric’s experience was the Great Supply Chain Crisis of late 2021 and 2022. When we signed the contract in November, we were told that the process was going to be a bit delayed because of supplies. Apparently, a lot of folks want generators! The tentative timeline was that installation would probably be in February or March. Being fairly plugged into the news, I expected this, and it was just an inevitable outcome that was understandable. I appreciated Joey being honest about it up front.

Our gas meter upgrade was one of the thorniest parts of the process. It involved a bit of diplomatic navigation between CenterPoint and Quality Home Products, but once complete, it worked fine.

Then, as it turns out, our approval process in West U hit a delay. Thus, my installation was delayed another month or two in City Hall. Finally, we got the ball rolling in April, the pad poured in May, and the installation in June. So why am I writing this in September? A number of things: My schedule and a Covid outbreak in our house, then a number of minor issues that led to five- to seven-day delays each time. We had issues getting our gas meter upgraded with some back-and-forth between Quality and CenterPoint. The regulator necessary for gas supply to the house was installed a week before CenterPoint was able to come out to upgrade the meter, leading to hot water supply issues. We also had issues with how our HVAC system connected to the generator. We had a couple parts that needed replacing. My takeaway here: Inevitably, things happen so just be prepared to deal with that in this process. There were difficult moments, but Quality worked with us fully to navigate the issues and they got the job done.

Ultimately, the generator was installed in June and we reached startup in late August.

The process of installing a generator provided ample headaches, but hearing it test itself on Mondays offers peace of mind that is tough to put a price tag on.

The installation process itself was about a half-day effort involving your power being cut for a couple hours in that time. Factor that into your plans if you work from home or want to avoid excessively hot or cold days. But overall, it was rather unobtrusive. The startup process was also straightforward. It does involve a brief power cut to test the generator. I got to see first-hand what would happen if we lost power, and admittedly it’s pretty cool. The power goes off, and within about 10 seconds, the generator turns on and life inside the home can resume a degree of normalcy. To ensure things stay operational, the generator is set to test itself once a week, and if anything is flagged, they’ll come out to see what’s up.

All in all, the installation process itself is not that bad. But it was a long road, and it certainly was not without a couple points of legitimate frustration. Despite a couple trip-ups, Quality does good work overall, and they have fairly comprehensive maintenance and monitoring services as well. All my interactions with their staff were positive. And to their credit, they apologized and explained the issues whenever things hit a snag.

If you decide to get a generator, plan ahead and prepare to be patient. Another piece of advice? Pay attention when they explain certain elements of the process. There may come a point where you have to explain to someone why something was done a certain way (like me trying to resolve issues between a plumber and CenterPoint). That can be taxing, but it will save you frustration. You don’t need to be an electrician or plumber to understand the whole process but ask questions and give the installers your attention.

Now, say a generator is not in the cards for you. There are alternatives to keep the critical functions of your home up and running in the event of power loss. Reliant is knowledgeable about these solutions as well and will work with you to find the right product for your lifestyle.

  • Goal Zero, Reliant’s sister company, provides numerous affordable and flexible power solutions, including portable power stations that can be charged through solar panels, power banks for smaller devices, lanterns and more – all perfect for when storms roll through or getting outdoors.
  • These devices can power everything from fridges and internet modems to phones, laptops and even critical medical devices. They can also integrate directly with your home’s circuits for a seamless experience.
  • In the event of a major storm or grid-related problems, portable backup power solutions will give you some peace-of-mind that you’ll have power to keep important devices charged and stay connected to family and friends.
  • • To learn more about backup power options, visit reliant.com/backuppower. (Reliant customers receive a 15 percent discount on Goal Zero products!)

Overall, I am grateful and relieved that this process is finally over. But as I said, while frustrating, the peace of mind we have now is tough to replicate. So was it worth it? I believe so. I also have confidence I can assist Eric in the event of a power-breaking storm! And that’s good for everyone.

76 thoughts on “A candid view on installing a whole-home generator in 2022”

  1. Great story, Matt. We did not use CNP or Quality, and I bet there wasn’t one iota difference in our experiences. As you implied, it is just part of the process. And, you’re right…there is nothing better than hearing the weekly test of your full home generator “exercising” as our Generac calls it. Great write up. Thanks for sharing it with everyone.

  2. Also had a generator installed over the summer from Quality—looks like a similar 22kW unit from Generac. We signed our paperwork in September 2021 and it took until May 2022 for the work to be completed, but we’ve had a couple of small (i.e., <30 minute) outages since May and the generator has chugged online and handled the load without any issues. I wouldn’t say I’m looking forward to any future outages, but I’m a lot less anxious about them.

    • The tutus and the two fours are practically the same chassis the only difference being size of the alternator and wiring. The two sixes on the other hand are slightly bigger both deck and height along with some components changes on certain parts both motor and alternator. If you have painted motors it is likely to be a Wisconsin engine were a cleanish motor is the signifies a South Carolina built unit.

  3. I have lived in my home for 28 years and only lost power for a few days twice, during Hurricane Ike and the February 2021 freeze. I did not have a generator at the time. Rather than spending $10-15k for a whole home generator, this past spring I bought a tri-fuel generator that I can hook-up to my natural gas line for uninterrupted fuel. It has enough power to run a portable ac or heater, refrigerator, coffee maker, TV, and modem. I paid $500 to the plumber to hook-up a quick disconnect valve to my gas meter and $1,500 for the generator. I also invested in some high quality extension cords. I keep the generator and extension cords and portable heater in my garage hoping that I won’t need to use it for a third, days or week long, power outage.

    • This sounds great! Would you mind posting the links to your generator and extension cords and all I ask for when calling to schedule the plumber is to come install a quick disconnect valve? Thank you!

    • This is nice for a well able bodied person. I have helped people do this that were trying to cut corners and all was fine while he was able to set it up. When he passed away, it became an impossible task. Pro tip: Save up enough money to be fully automatic, you will never regret it.

    • This is what I did as well after the wintergeddon. 9kw dual fuel generator for right around $1000. I installed the interlock on my electrical panel from a kit. I also plumbed the line from the gas manifold to where the generator will sit on the patio when in use. There are kits for this too, typically for people wanting to connect their gas grill to their home propane tank. It took a few weekends, probably 15 hours of my labor, and about $1300 all in.

    • The problem is that portable generators do not provide clean power for tvs and other electronics.

      • FYI, neither do full home generators. Inverted generators can deliver a pure sine wave, however, you pay for what you get and you will want a Honda generator.

      • Some portable generators deliver clean power. When shopping for the generator, look for one that has less than 5% total harmonic distortion running under full load. Those will most likely have a power head that is fully copper wound. Honda, Northstar, and Power Horse are three brands that meet that spec.

    • FYI regarding dual fuel and tri fuel generators. If you are using anything other than gasoline, such as using natural gas instead or propane fuel, the generator will deliver 25%-30% less power of the advertised generator wattage. For example, if you are using anything other than gasoline on a 1000W generator, you will only be able to get max 750W-800W of power and not the full 1000W.

    • I did the same. At the beginning of the pandemic I was concerned with a storm knocking out power and losing all of our frozen goods, so I bought a trifuel generator, a large amount of heavy duty extension cords, and a window unit air conditioner so we could have one area of the house cool. I didn’t imagine that the first need would be during a winter storm, but the generator ran, kept our refrigerator and freezer at temperature, ran hair driers that I used to thaw pipes, and I even ran a cord up to the attic to power our furnace (the BTUs come from natural gas, so it doesn’t use that much electricity to keep the house warm)
      I bought a trifuel generator from Costco. I utilized the natural gas tap that I’d put in for the grill (and had sized with a generator in mind).
      https://www.costco.com/firman-7500w-running–9400w-peak-tri-fuel-generator.product.100840185.html
      https://www.costco.com/firman-25%e2%80%99-heavy-duty-generator-power-cord-l14-30p-to-4-x-5-20r-with-storage-strap.product.100735755.html

      It’s not as convenient as a whole house generator. If the power is out and seems that the outage will continue I need to manually open the garage door (as there’s no power for the opener), pull out cars, bikes, etc to wheel out the generator, haul it around back, connect cords, connect the gas line, check the oil, fire it up, and then start plugging things in the house into it. It’s also louder than a Generac or equivalent. It’s not completely weatherized. If the wind is still blowing and rain still coming down it’s not safe to start it up. For the winter storm I did put a shade canopy over it to protect it from rain while it was running. That said it was a nice insurance policy against an extended outage, it’s more convenient than trying to get gasoline, and it was $10,000 less expensive than a whole house unit.

  4. We moved to Navasota in 2015. We have Entergy. The first year that we lived here, our power would go out if someone sneezed. We had a generac installed in 2016 and it was one of the best decisions we’ve made! It was smooth and painless but that was back before all the supply chain garbage. I don’t think anyone would regret getting one.

  5. For all generatorsnitndoeantake a few seconds to power ipnand restore power to your house. This will mean internet, cable and other online services will hiccup. I installed a cheap battery backup (ups) behind all these “critical” services so I don’t get knocked offline when the power goes out

    • Sorry for the typos! Fat finger Correction
      For all generators it does take a few seconds to power ip and restore power to your house. This will mean internet, cable and other online services will hiccup. I installed a cheap battery backup (ups) behind all these “critical” services so I don’t get knocked offline when the power goes out

  6. How does a whole-home generator (or even a portable generator) compare to something like getting solar panels set up?

    • IMHO the big downside to solar panels, is that one of the biggest reasons to have back-up power in SE Texas is for hurricanes and other severe storms. Solar panels are a lot more likely to get damaged in those situations, which means you might not have solar power when you need it most. Solar makes more sense if you just want to use less grid power in general, and/or you want to be “green”. It’s less effective for backup power generation especially since some of the solar systems still require grid power to work (they feed the solar power back into the grid rather than directly powering your house).

      • We just had solar installed on our house a few months ago. The solar panels tie directly to the house…NOT the grid. In fact, the electrician demonstrated this by disconnecting the house from the grid. There was not a blip. I had asked about damage from hurricanes, and was shown a bunch of photos in the wake of a hurricane in Florida. The houses with the least roof damage were the ones with solar panels installed. They’re hardy, and guaranteed for something like 30 years.

        I seem to remember them saying the solar power regulations vary state-by-state. Other states, like California iirc, the solar panels are required to be connected to the grid, and not the house. But in Texas, we’re absolutely allowed to have a house connection.

        • Do you have battery storage? I’ve only heard of being able to go off grid with a battery… which are more expensive than the panels at times.

    • I think solar is a lot more expensive. You have to have enough structural support on your roof to support the panels.

  7. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    With so many people installing home generators I’m concerned that the gas distribution grid may not hold up the next time there’s a widespread power outage event. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

      • A gas cooktop uses ~10,000BTU/hr with all burners on.

        A gas oven uses ~16,000BTU/hr.

        A 10kw generator uses ~150,000BTU/hr at full load.

        See the potential problem if a bunch of people in the neighborhood install generators and crank them up at the same time (unless the distribution system is getting upgraded)?

    • I imagine the price of gas will go through the roof for that as well.

      If we have another deep freeze, I’d be horrified to see my gas bill after powering my house in a generac for 2-3 days.

      • Have you seen the price for your gas lately? It already is UP and wildly exporting it to Europe isn’t going to help the price go down.

  8. I ordered my 24KW Generac at the end of February 2021 from large online retailer of generators and power products. In addition to the generator, I ordered the copper Generac wiring as it is bundled tight and saves space and a 3 inch precast pad. Everything was delivered in June 2021. I had my electrician and plumber do the install. I’m not in the city, so there were no permits, and I saved considerable money organizing everything instead of paying a dealer to subcontract the work to an electrician and plumber.

  9. Something to keep in mind is that flood insurance does not pay for flooded generators that are installed outside the infrastructure of the home even though they are connected to the home. Ours flooded during Hurricane Harvey and we had to absorb the loss and fund the replacement ourselves. We installed it on a 4ft platform the second time around. Lessons learned.

    • There is actually a loop-hole to this rule regarding flood insurance not covering this. If your concrete pad is touching your house, the generator can pass as part of the house. If you set your pad or stand off of the house, then it is not covered by insurance.

  10. I’m curious what people typically pay for ongoing maintenance and service. (The article mentions maintenance and service contracts.)

    • An air cooled generator engine is as easy to maintain as a lawn tractor engine. It takes two quarts of oil and a spin on oil filter plus you need to inspect the air filter and spark plugs and replace if needed. I do my own maintenance on my vehicles and lawn equipment, so maintaining my generator isn’t difficult. If someone isn’t familiar with small engine maintenance, then a service contract with a generator dealer could be a good option.

  11. This pretty well matches my experience – same generator, same company. QHP actually screwed up (according to Centerpoint) the first plumbing job and Centerpoint wouldn’t swap the meter until they fixed it, so there was some back and forth that delayed the installation. They started in late October and finished in early February. Like Matt, QHP was up front about the delay in getting the generator (about 5 months for us). But it has worked well since then: we’ve had two short power outages and one long one (15 hours) and it fires up within about 10 seconds and ran our entire house, including both AC units, on a hot July day.

  12. I don’t see your breaker box or the transfer switch. Looking at the large conduit running up the house I suspect these boxes are located a ways away. Was this a problem and did it add a lot to the cost of the job?

  13. We don’t have a gas meter (house is all electric), but do have gas lines running across the street. Guess that would be an additional cost to run the gas under the road to our house. Any comments?

    • Ask your gas company about installing a second meter for the house. Our gas company is CNP. We have a pool in our backyard. The house meter is on NW corner of house. Generator had to be installed on SE corner of house. There was no way CNP would be able to tap the gas line around the pool much less under it; Therefore, we had a second meter installed. Our cost for second meter from CNP was $700, which was our total cost and included installation. Payment for second is completely separate from existing house account, and payment cannot be added to existing house account to payout over time i.e. installment payments; We wrote a check. There is also some paperwork involved, but it’s just one (or maybe two) pages. I also provided a property plat to CNP showing easements and where generator was being installed.

      The second meter is dedicated to the generator. CNP tapped the main gas line, which was in our neighbors yard behind us. CNP used their big machine to bore underground between the new meter location and the main gas line that they tapped into. The second generator is a separate CNP account number, but we married the two accounts to make one monthly payment.

      I hope this helps.

  14. Definitely worth the peace of mind, not having to run a gas generator at all, not having to lose power at all. We just got ours installed last week by Generator Superstore and was a seamless process after the long wait we know we have in Houston for generators.
    Before the generator, we had our electrician install, per his advice, a transfer switch so we could plug our gas generator directly into the house. Our gas generator was not powerful enough to run our air conditioning so big draw back but at least we didn’t have to run cords all over. This might be a partial solution for some people as it’s a lot less than whole home generator but still $600.

  15. We are using Quality also. It’s been a journey. We ordered our generator in October 2021 and our installation occurred a few weeks ago ( with several issues along the way). But until Centerpoint does the meter upgrade, we still don’t have an operable generator.

  16. I also purchased a home generator thru Quality Home Generators based on Eric’s review and researching the company. We had some gas meter issues and the whole meter, regulator everything was replaced but that was pretty seamless except for gas lines that were initially installed by Quality – Centerpoint redid some of those but then I ended up having a gas leak and another Centerpoint employee came out quickly and partially redid what the previous Centerpoint employee should have done. We also needed a new panel box and upgraded breakers and Quality Generators took care of that. The old breaker box we had was from a company that installed very unsafe products some years ago and we were grateful that Quality caught that and upgraded everything. The additional cost was worth it! We purchased in April of 2021 and it was installed in October 2021. We have peace of mind now during hurricane season and unreliable grid situations. I would recommend Quality Home Generators. We asked a lot questions during the whole process and I suggest anyone else do the same.

  17. We had ours installed a couple years ago. Well last month during a power outage the motor blew up on the generator. It sprayed oil all over everything and dripping out of the bottom. Contacted our power company and they said it took several weeks to get the warranty approved by Generac, another couple weeks for the motor to come in and probably another few weeks before it’s fixed.

    • I have installed at least 100 generators, maybe only a dozen or so small, under 40kw residential units. Im sure its much more but over the years, I have lost count. The one thing I do remember is that the Generac brand is consistently problematic as the very bottom of the line brand. Make sure to buy a Kohler or a Cummins, liquid cooled if at all possible.

      • I have been looking into a whole house generator and agree that a liquid cooled Cummins (my 1st choice) or Kohler would be a great way to go, but there is a significant cost difference in rhese units, both in higher purchase price but also installation costs
        These liquid cooled units start at the 25KW size and are significantly larger and heavier, as they have either 4 or 6 cylinder automotive grade engines with a radiator / fan, etc. The cement pad / slab reqired is bigger and thicker, and rebar reenforced, like a driveway slab.
        One big advantage I see with these liquid cooled units are if the power is failing due to an extreme high temperature event (i.e. many days in a row above 110F or so) causing blackouts from too high a load on system, the Air-Cooled generators will be struggling to provide the ‘rated’ power, and may even shut down due to high temperature safety limits – just when you need them the most if you are counting on the generator to run your AC system when it is like 115F outside!
        Another advantage of at least one of the Cummins liquid cooled units I looked at was that not only could it be run on Natural gas (NG) but also Propane (LP) like most, but unlike many where that selection is a ‘one time’ choice at install, this unit could be hooked up to both, then it would normally run on NG but if the pressure of the NG line went low it would automatically switch over to the LP line.
        I have room in my install area, behind a fence, for a 1000 gallon LP tank (usable capacity of 800 g) which would give me about a week with a 25KW generator, conserving electrical use… But I haven’t pulled the trigger as the whole cost including install would probably (rough estimate) be about 40 to 50K.

  18. I ordered one from Texas Star Power, we ordered it in Feb of 2021 and it was finally cut over in Aug. 21. They wanted nothing down and payment upon completion. We had some hiccups with scheduling and rain delays but we were told at the beginning that it would be July or August before completion because of scheduling and supply chain issues. The cut over switch was the most difficult to get I believe. Leading up to the cut over we were losing power with increasing frequency and duration, a few days before the cut over we lost power for 5 hours. I took a ribbing from my neighbors because of my non functioning generator. Since the cut over, again that was a year ago, we lost power once, it was for three and a half hours, we were happy to be sitting in our Ac watching TV while the rest of the neighborhood was dark. It was expensive but I think worth it.

  19. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. A whole house generator would be way out of our budget, but I’m going to look into the alternative products you mentioned. I appreciate you taking the time to walk us through this.

  20. I had a whole house generator from Briggs & Stratton installed in October 2020. There wasn’t a long waiting list like the Generac, although I had ordered it before Laura took direct aim at Houston (according to some forecasters). Getting the gas line trenched across the yard was also pretty expensive. I didn’t lose power much during the freeze, but the houses behind me and in front of me did. It ran for a total of 9 minutes during that time.

    Generators are pretty noisy, so you can look at Kohler, who claims they have quieter ones. I would also be concerned about natural gas prices. They are better here, but when we export lng to the rest of the world, the prices will rise are lot too.

  21. It may already have been commented upon, but I am stunned your provider had you put the generator on a slab. Our generator in Bellaire is 4′ above grade and Harvey still threatened it. I would have put that on a raised platform, for sure.

  22. Would I expect to recoup most of the costs of the generator upon selling my house? What are the ongoing maintenance and monitoring costs?

    • I bet you can recoup 100% of the cost. Generac has an app that I purchased. I think it is $59 per year. It tracks any time it runs, sends messages and emails every time it runs and lets you know when it’s time for maintenance. I also have a phone app that lets me monitor it.

  23. Ordered mine March 2021 and installation was completed December 2021. I also set mine about 20″ above grade. You won’t believe the peace of mind having that thing kick on when a power failure happens. As one of my friends said, “That is the most expensive toy you will ever have and hope you never play with it.” Seems legit to me!!

  24. we bought a generac from generator supercenter in tomball, took 15 months and the service was awful but guess thats the price you pay for something in such demand. overall glad we got it, but would choose a smaller vendor if we had to do it again.

  25. My gf had one of these installed at her home in 2016. A year later it ran for six days straight during Harvey. We were the only house on the block that had power and AC! Worth EVERY penny!

  26. What was not mentioned were the after-installation costs; $20/month by Centerpoint to maintain the account and and an annual (bi-annual?) maintenance cost of $350 to change the oil and review the generator.

    Make sure the vendor is willing to do repairs quickly. Our generator’s green light has changed to red twice. The original contractor said he would come out in four days because of other customers. His subcontractor came out the same day. He talked me through corrective action during the second problem.

  27. Matt, thanks to you and Eric on providing your similar but different experiences with “whole home” generators. “We” haven’t taken that jump yet although our in-laws have.
    One question…is it possible to also post experiences with solar installations? Not something you or Eric will be in the market for but other readers might and lately there have been what I consider horror stories of having solar installed and then waiting on Center Point. Your and Eric’s generator experiences should be archived so readers can find it easily. Maybe you have a tab “Alternate Energy”.

    • See my other reply up above. My installation was not without issues and delays as well, but so far…seems like a good investment

  28. I did a whole house back up generator system a couple of years ago, well worth the investment.

    I live in a mountainous area outside of Los Angeles that is subject to Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS.). I had a relatively difficult install due to terrain and my choice of generator and propane tank installation, bringing my cost up to $17.5k. There is no natural gas service in my area, so I opted for a 500 gallon propane tank that soles serves my generator. This will give me apps 7 days of run time. The only thing I would have done differently is gone with a water cooled diesel powered unit. The general propane unit is great, and my tank will give me a good amount of run time, but in a major disaster scenario, I would most likely not be able to get propane delivered, were as I could go get jerry cans of diesel. The other upsides to diesel would be they are water cooled, and can run longer without having to let them cool off, and a little bit quieter. I’m not sure what would be better in a wildfire situation, a big tank of propane, or a big tank of diesel fuel, as both could be volatile in that situation. The downside of a diesel powered unit would be more maintenance (due to a cooling system,) cost, and possible air pollution factors.

    Other factors you may want to think about when setting up a generator system. UPS systems for computers and sensitive electronics. These don’t have to be large systems, since you will be running on generator power within a minute. The UPS will prevent your computer from shutting down when the power goes out, and protect it from the surge when the back up generator kick in, and when the transfer switch goes back to grid power.

    If you want to shut your generator down at night to give it a rest, or cut down on night time noise levels; larger UPS or battery back ups for telephone and internet systems should be considered. Most modern phone systems will need power to operate. Some systems go down if the telecom or internet provider has power issues at their switching station. YMMV

  29. We acted as our own contractor for our generator. We ordered the generator on Amazon the week after the deep freeze. It took six months to get the generator delivered. We poured our own pad and got permits from the power company and our HOA. No city or county permit was required. We hired a licensed electrician to install the generator. By acting as our own contractor we saved $5,000 from the lowest bid we received.

  30. We did a whole home Kohler generator system 12 years ago and have never regretted it. During the freeze, had neighbors and their pets for three days. The generator ran slightly over 55 hours, but we could cook, we were warm, and NO BROKEN WATER PIPES. Need I say more.

  31. Then protect your investment with a noise reducing enclosure from Zombiebox.com! They install easy and make it 60% quieter without affecting the generator at all.

  32. Hi, We had a similar drawn out experience with a different installer, who was excellent. But Ultimately we were on line before the Valentines Day freeze of 2021. You will never regret the cost and trouble if you go through something like that. More so if you can pod family and friends during such a horrible event.

  33. We had a whole-home generator installed in August 2009 as a result of Hurricane Ike and the hurricane-caused outages in mind. We are in The Woodlands and have Entergy as our provider. A storm can miss Houston, but hit Entergy’s infrastructure in East Texas, which have resulted in outages that affect us. We never considered needing it in winter, until Snowmageddon. It worked well, keeping us warm and protecting out pipes. The gas bill went up, but far less than the cost of having broken pipes repaired as many of our neighbors did. It is behind our detached garage so the noise is minimal (just enough to let you know it’s running). We have a maintenance contract with QHP, which I will renew next month. We not regretted this purchase. Thanks for the article.

  34. What are the electrical wiring/breaker box requirements to support a whole-house genny? You mentioned your house was built in the 40s but upgraded. Was the house completely rewired as part of that updating?

  35. I know you stated your purpose of posting was really to talk about process but it could have been summarized with “it took longer because of supply shortages, permitting and other quirks of my property.”

    It would be helpful to share a little more about the experience of when the generator is running. Are you able to run everything normally in your home, as if there wasn’t an outage? When it runs at night, are you able to hear it? Do you have one HVAC unit and are you able to run it normally? What about other large appliances?

    How did you go about selecting the physical location? Does it need to be near a gas line or did they have to dig and bury one? Same question for connection to a transfer box and integration with the main breaker panel? I imagine they’d put it wherever you want and charge for it. You also skim around the topic of approvals and potential permitting involved. C’mon, you’re glossing over the process.

    Also, respectfully, since you used sponsorship money to install this for your personal residence, you should be transparent with exactly what it cost instead of giving us an average window. What factored into the size of the unit selected? Were there larger units with fancier features? Or ones that this one has that were ‘must-haves’?

    I get this isn’t a full on technical review and perhaps need more time to give a fuller report — but it doesn’t offer us much beyond “yeah it’s worth it and be patient once you decide.”

    • Hi John, My impression is that anyone who posts all of these specifics on line as representative of your needs is probably not honest or accurate. My experience is that these are individual installations. You need to pick your vendor and talk to them. It’s not an “out of the box” issue. Best wishes.

  36. Curious how noisy these generator are? I’m pretty close in proximity to my neighbors. I’m just imagining all the noise.

    • Somehow I think if there is a need for your generator to be running, there are bigger things out there than noise.

    • I spent $25K and put in a liquid cooled 38 kw Generac for my 3,300 ft2 one story house with Generator Supercenter in August 2021. I live out in the county on 1.2 acres and running my natural gas line another 200 ft was $3,000 of that $25K. I am considering adding a mother-in-law house to my property so I wanted the quiet and large enough for two houses. I got it. We had a power outage on the day after the hurricane last year and we did not know that our entire neighborhood was out for 3 hours for replacing a high line until I asked m neighbor why he was standing in his front yard.

  37. Nice article… I help homeowners with backup power solutions, solar + battery and whole home generators. Over the past few years I have learned a few things that I want to share with Eric and anyone else reading.

    Nothing can beat a generator at producing a lot of electricity in an emergency situation. They really do a great job at generating enough for every damn thing in your house to be on and not have to worry too much about the AC not working, or running out of battery power or gas. The biggest downside to a whole home generator is cost…. for the amount of time that you will actually run this thing in a grid down situation is on average 6 hours a year. Generac WHGs like Eric’s has a 500 HOUR warranty. So that is 21 days of continuous usage which is probably a really bad hurricane or just a cumulation of several smaller outages over time. But like I said the average household uses their whole home generator for 6 hours a year. If you had to break down the cost of just the generator for the 500 hours and assume your gas was free(a typical full day will run you around $50 in natural gas), and say you paid $15k for one of these, that equates to $1.36 per kWh with out even factoring in the fuel, oil, maintenance, exercising the system once a week for 15 minutes. etc…. So for the amount of time you use it you are really paying a premium for those watts.

    I have a house with a 10kWh battery by Enphase that enables me to microgrid and create my own islanded grid indefinitely with my solar system. This allows me to run my home with the battery and solar panels during the day, hopefully charge enough to run essential circuits at night. This is really for emergency situations and for daily arbitrage of my solar power to run the home at night to offset my electricity costs. I use my battery every day, it has a 10 year warranty and uses LiFePo4 batteries which are very strong. In fact they last 3-4x longer than Lithium Ion batteries found in EVs like the Tesla cars and Powerwalls. They also have the slight benefit of not exploding when punctured. These batteries are designed for residential use and use graphene as their membrane so they keep their power density much longer than a normal battery. These are some seriously space-city batteries.

    So it is harder to compare these two options apples to apples. Generators have a few week spots; moving parts, still being grid tied to the gas infrastructure which will be significant if there is increased demand for LNG during an event like the winter storm. Eric did you know that our LNG pipes “froze” not because it was cold outside but because the demand for LNG was greater than the capacity to supply homes first, then utility generators second. This means if too much demand for LNG happens the pipes freeze… this can happen in the summer months as well. It is the same effect when you use a propane, or compressed air bottle as it empties. Another factor is noise, don’t put this near someone’s bedroom window. In fact that seems to be the #1 HOA concern that I have found. Now batteries are slightly more expensive than a generator and unfortunately only one system that I know allows the ability to generate your own ground and run off-grid indefinitely, and that is Enphase. They are the “Apple” of solar and their technology is light years ahead of the competition. But batteries in an emergency situation can be a literal lifesaver. They seamlessly supply power when the grid is cut off. There is no 10 second wait for the generator to get to speed. However you have to be so much more aware of your power usage. You should really try to conserve as much power as possible in a grid down event. You can add more batteries for capacity and even run your whole home and AC, furnace, and whatever your heart desires, just know you will have to have a little left over in the morning to power up the solar system. You can even hook up a generator to kick in when your battery gets low. This greatly reduces the time your generator will be running and is infact the best off-grid solution if you can run your generator off of a tank. But the best thing about batteries is that you can use the battery every single day to help lower your electric bill and it just really “completes” the solar system. This is what you are going to want for that zombie apocalypse everyone is so worried about these days. Not having to worry about a gas interruption, or bill for that mater is also pretty sweet. So, let’s say you installed a 10kWh battery and used 80% of it daily until the 10,000 cycles life is over. that is 80,000kWh over the life of the battery being used daily. Now say you paid the going rate which is about $20k. That equates to $0.25 cents per kWh. That is over 27.4 YEARS! Isn’t it incredible we can design batteries that are projected to last as long as these solar panels are warrantied? I am sure the price of batteries will be falling over the next decade as more technologies come to fruition, but LiFePo4 is already here and “affordable” to most families in the electricity savings they offer.

    Anyway I hope Eric reads this and gets in touch with me about writing up some articles about solar + battery technology in Ars Technica. I love your writing and I have never written on your blog but this is my area of expertise and I love that you shared your experience. This is construction and it takes time. There are often unforeseen hurdles in permitting or electrical and plumbing that take a while to iron themselves out.

  38. As a disclaimer, we have thought about a whole home generator, so I’m not knocking it or anyone that has one. That being said, when I think about a whole home generator, I think about it as a massive luxury item. As other people have noted, there are much cheaper options to keep you safe and relatively comfortable, such as a much smaller portable generator that could run a single room AC or space heater and the fridge. You could also agree with a neighbor that has a generator, as many in West U do for example, that if there is a serious issue you crash with them for a few days and pay for food let’s say, at least until the kids are old enough to tough it out. We did this during the freeze and honestly had a blast visiting with friends and pooling resources. Though this isn’t totally fair because it does require someone to have a whole home generator. But you’re saying that if the power goes out, you want to be able to power your entire home, without interruption, as if nothing happened. That’s a luxury item, barring some health issue or other consideration that can only be solved by having your entire home powered. I certainly wouldn’t call it an investment. Just my opinion.

  39. Excellent article, just in time, getting my whole house Generac in October, ( ordered in February) wrote down a lot of final questions when they install it . Thanks so much.

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