How Much Should a Whole Home Generator Cost?

Whole home generators can be costly, but they more than make up for the cost by providing a range of benefits to people who live in areas where frequent power outages occur. A small generator may cost a few hundred dollars, but installing one that serves your entire home is a different story.

In 2021, HomeAdvisor put the average cost at $4,538, with most homeowners paying between $1,416 and $7,782. We will break down the whole home generator cost, including equipment, installation, and other variables.

It’s no secret that generators can run a pretty penny or two. In fact, Bob Vila has put the national average at $15,000 amidst a typical range of $10,000 to $20,000. The price tag you see on the generator model isn’t the final cost of the overall project.

How Do I Calculate the Cost of My Generator?

Cost of the Generator

The cost of the power generator itself depends on the type you install. Here is a look at the most common types of generators and their price ranges:

  • Gasoline: $500 to $3,000 – While gasoline can be easily found in most places, it’s difficult to store and does not have a long shelf life.
  • Natural Gas: $1,900 to $5,000 – Hooked up to the utility grid, a natural gas generator doesn’t require fuel storage and is suited for cold climates.
  • Diesel: $3,000 to $15,000 – A more efficient option for powering your whole home; diesel power is most cost effective when you need lots of power.
  • Liquid Propane: $500 to $6,000 – Burns clean and, if you store it correctly, propane will last indefinitely. Liquid propane generators, usually don’t last as long as other types.
  • Solar: $300 to $5,000 – Doesn’t require a constant fuel supply, but smaller generators don’t store large amounts of energy; they can also be ineffective on cloudy days.

Capacity vs. Cost

Capacity refers to how much power the system can produce at once to account for start up and meeting your home’s electrical needs. The rule of thumb is—the higher the capacity, the more expensive the generator. It’s not always directly related to the size of the home, although larger homes typically use more electricity (but a smaller home in a cold climate may require a higher capacity generator for heating).

If the generator’s capacity isn’t high enough to meet your home’s needs, the unit could be strained and connected devices can be damaged.

Generator Size

A small portable unit may cost between $300 to $1,200. But a large unit, with 20 kilowatts or more of capacity to power a 5,000+ square foot home, may cost $20,000 or more. Keep in mind operating costs. If an accident or freak storm triggers a prolonged power outage, you may spend up to $30/day on gas. For sporadic outages, it may cost just $5 per month to run the generator in standby mode. 

Installation Costs

Various installation factors can add $500 to $3,000 to the whole home generator cost. Professional installation is generally recommended, as the generator needs to be wired to your electrical system; and most need a gas hookup.

While installers typically assess your energy needs and provide an in-home estimate for free, add-on costs may include:

  • Connection to Utility Lines/Installing a Fuel Tank: $50 to $100 per hour.
  • Site Preparation: $50 to $75 per square foot; may include building a concrete pad.
  • Electrical Panel Updates: $65 to $85 per hour.
  • Materials/Equipment: $300 to $2,200.
  • Permits: $50 to $200 per permit.
  • Transfer Switch: $200 to $400 for labor.

On average, installation adds up to about 75% of the cost of the generator. That means you’re likely to pay about $7,500 to install a unit, that costs $10,000 itself. But if more extensive wiring and other work is needed, the percentage can be higher than that.

Contact Black Hills Inc. Home Services

We specialize in generator installation in the Olympia, WA, area. Our licensed electricians install all types, makes, and models of generators and can help choose the best unit for your home. To schedule a consultation and whole home generator cost estimate, request an appointment online or call 888-402-3514 today.