Monday, January 20, 2014

Why Are Generators So Expensive?!

**Please note, this is not a sponsored post. Just a home-related escapade we are considering undertaking and I thought I would share my thoughts and feelings on the matter. Again, this is not a sponsored post and I was not compensated at all from anyone. Also, this might be a little boring. Forewarned is forearmed, friends.**

We have this issue.

Our power goes out. A lot.

Like, I can count on two hands how many times I've come home from work and appliances are blinking at me.

A pretty hefty gust of wind? Power's out.

Thunderstorm? Power's out.

Snow? Power's out.

This is particularly troubling to me, because we have a little one and it's currently winter. And a pretty freaking cold winter at that (POOOOOOOLAR VOOOORTEX. That is all.).

So when the power goes out, that means no heat. We are sometimes lucky that the power goes out for only an hour, but the last time it was out for three hours in the middle of the night when the temperatures were below freezing. Mama no likey.

We are also particularly scarred for life due to the derecho that blew through here in 2012, resulting in no electricity for a week, having to throw out hundreds of dollars of food, and fleeing our home because it was 100 degrees inside.

And then there was Hurricane Sandy. She was a real piece of work.

If this isn't a first world problem, I don't know what is. It's also rather eye opening, since I have totally realized that these simple things I take for granted are so scarce in parts of our country and throughout the world. I apologize if I sound like a big whiney baby, because COME ON, there are people out there that have it way worse.

But I still don't like it when the power is out.

That's why we started discussing having a backup generator installed in our home, the kind that is outside and tied into the existing gas line and turns stuff on in your house when your power goes out.

We had a contractor come out over the weekend to give us a quote on how much it would cost to install one of these bad boys:

That's a 17kW generator. A transfer switch is connected to it and would be mounted in our garage, which would sense the loss of power from the street and trigger the generator to turn itself on and make the magic happen. Once the power goes out, it takes about 12 seconds for the generator to kick in and BOOM...everything is back on. When the power at the street is restored, the transfer switch flips the power source back to the street from the generator and your generator chills out until you need it again. It keeps itself charged by running a cycle every so often and the oil needs to be changed every two years. It's pretty low-maintenance.

And pretty convenient, right?

The cost to have this installed is about the same as it would cost to buy a small used car. The unit costs about $3,500, plus the contractor says there are about 37 manhours that goes into installing the generator, and then include all the permitting that goes into it, and holy moly those costs add up.

This is certainly no DIY job, either. It requires re-routing gas piping and electrical switches and things that can make your house blow up and no thank you.

In the long run, I think we'd kick ourselves if we didn't do this but yowza, the price made my eyes bug out of my head. We have a lot of plans for the Spring/Summer that we've been saving for (sod/fence/gardens/general prettyness/etc.), and installing this would eat that money plus some. But it would increase the value of our home (not that we're planning on selling it any time soon), and would relieve some of the "what ifs" we start panicking about every time a storm is forecasted and we find ourselves trying to figure out where we can go if it gets too cold/too hot to stay.

I guess we'll call around for more estimates and references, but in the meantime I'll put it out to the internet: Anyone have one of these? Do you think it's worth the up-front costs?

Please feel free to let me know what you think. I'd love to hear!


  1. ugh, that sucks! :( home ownership blows sometimes. we just spent a good handful of money the other day because the motor went out on our furnace :( ... blah!

  2. Oh no! That is definitely no bueno!


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