My wife and I first began thinking seriously about a whole-home generator last August, as Hurricane Laura barreled into the Gulf of Mexico and threatened Texas. Since we built a new home in League City in 2017, this was the first time a major wind storm threatened the upper Texas coast, and the fading memory of extended power outages during Hurricane Ike came back to me. Alas, the process of purchasing and installing a generator takes advanced planning, and it’s a big decision.
Eventually, we decided to go for it. So earlier this year I reached out to Reliant to inquire about a whole-home generator that is powered by natural gas. As a reminder, Reliant is the multi-year sponsor of Space City Weather. To note, I did not receive this generator for free, and I chose to purchase it with a portion of Reliant’s annual sponsorship fee. So, you can rest assured that my experience should be similar to yours.
Buying a generator capable of powering your entire home is a major investment. For the average homeowner in Houston, it will likely cost between $10,000 and $15,000. But for many, it may be a worthwhile investment—especially following the recent winter storm and annual threat of hurricanes for our area. With this post, I am going to describe the installation process and what you can expect if you decide to purchase a whole home generator.
The process begins with a home visit by a generator technician. Reliant works with a Houston-based company, Quality Generators, and they sent Mike to my home in mid-January. Over the course of nearly an hour, Mike and I discussed my home’s power needs, existing power and natural gas lines, and potential solutions. I really knew nothing about this, so it was great to have Mike help us navigate the process. He explained all of the costs and fees associated with buying the generator and installing it.
On February 1, we agreed to contract, and I signed it. I paid half of the purchase price up front. Then we put stakes into the ground, an outline of where a platform would be built, and where the generator would go outside my house. We tentatively planned an installation later in the month. And then, the Valentine’s freeze came to Houston. We lost power for days. I remember standing in my darkened home office, as the temperature plummeted into the teens, looking out the window at those stakes.
After the freeze ended, installation began in March. All of this work was communicated well in advance, with a schedule clearly laid out. Any time I had a question, I would call Mike. I appreciated that there’s a local service phone number that a real person answers. I received regular updates, by phone, of what to expect, and when to expect it. Then, after each job, someone would check in to make sure I was satisfied.
First, a team of workers built a stand, which took a couple of hours. (Sometimes, a generator is installed on a concrete pad, instead). A few days later came the installation itself. This process was more laborious and lasted most of the morning. It involved power being disconnected to the home for about two hours, which I was told of in advance. But after this, the generator was ready to go.
A whole home generator is a back-up plan. When the electricity goes off, for whatever reason, the generator kicks on within seconds. The lights come back on. Depending on the size of the generator it can power some, or all, of your home’s electricity needs. Theoretically, it should provide continual power through an ice storm, a hurricane, or any other type of disaster. I have fortunately not had to test that yet, but it is comforting to hear the generator fire up once a week to ensure its readiness.
And that really is perhaps the biggest benefit of having a generator. You never know when the power is going to go out, especially in a region prone to severe storms. Every time there is inclement weather in the forecast, there will always be a little bit of concern. When you have a whole-home generator, it takes the anxiety away. And reliable power is especially important considering that during inclement weather we want to continue providing you with timely updates on Space City Weather!
The bottom line is that buying a generator is costly, and a big decision to make. But if you’re considering it, you want to make sure you’re working with a company that is experienced and established. My referral from Reliant for Quality Generators was a painless process. The people I worked with were friendly, knowledgeable, and happy to answer all my questions. If there’s a problem, I’m confident they’ll be there to help.
If you’ve been considering a whole home generator, Reliant customers can receive 10 percent off with the first year of maintenance free. Learn more here.