How Much Should You Expect to Pay for a Portable Generator?

Are you considering investing in a generator to keep your home powered during outages, but aren’t sure what it might cost? The price of a generator varies greatly depending on factors such as size, type, and fuel source.

In this blog post, we’ll break down the costs associated with different types of generators, from portable models to whole-house systems. We’ll also explore installation expenses and provide tips for choosing the right generator for your needs.

Key Takeaways

  • The cost of a generator depends on factors such as size, type, power source, and installation.
  • Whole – house generators provide an efficient solution for homeowners during frequent or prolonged power outages but can cost anywhere from $500 to $30,000 upfront with additional installation costs ranging between $10,000 and $20,000.
  • Portable generators are the cheapest option with prices ranging from $500 to $2,000 but cannot be used indoors due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Solar generators are eco-friendly backup options that use renewable resources like sunlight to produce energy. They come at a higher initial cost than traditional fuel-based generators but require little maintenance and eliminate harmful emissions into the environment.

Factors That Influence The Cost Of A Home Generator

The cost of a home generator is determined by various factors, including the size and output capacity of the generator, installation requirements, brand choice, and fuel type.

Generator Size And Output Capacity

One important factor to consider when purchasing a generator is the size and output capacity. The size of your generator will directly impact its ability to provide sufficient power for your home during an outage.

To determine the right size, you will need to evaluate your electricity needs by identifying which devices and appliances you want to keep running when the power goes out.

Output capacity is measured in kilowatts (kW), and choosing a generator with the appropriate capacity is crucial for ensuring it can handle your home’s electrical load. Whole-house generators typically range from 9 kW up to 48 kW or more.

If you have an average-sized home that requires around 20 kW during peak usage, then investing in a 20-22 kW whole-house generator would be suitable. Keep in mind that larger generators consume more fuel and may result in higher ongoing costs as mentioned earlier – large gas generators can cost between $50 and $150 per day depending on their output capacity and energy consumption rates.


One of the key factors affecting generator cost is the installation process. Proper installation is crucial for your home generator to function optimally and ensure you are well-prepared for any unexpected power outages.

Professional installers typically charge between $3,000 to $5,000 for their services, but this investment can potentially save you money in the long run by avoiding any mistakes that may lead to costly repairs or maintenance issues down the line.

When deciding on an installer, be sure to factor in additional costs like permits and regulations as well as concrete pad installations if necessary.

Brand Choice

One of the factors that can greatly impact the overall cost of a generator is the brand you choose. As an informed customer, it’s essential to select a reputable manufacturer known for their quality and reliable products.

Some leading brands in the generator industry are Generac, Kohler, Briggs & Stratton, Champion, Honda, and Cummins.

For instance, Generac is well-known for its wide range of residential generators specifically designed for homeowners’ needs; while Honda has earned a reputation for producing high-quality portable generators often preferred by professionals working on construction sites or outdoor events.

When choosing your ideal generator brand consider not only the initial purchase cost but also factor in long-term expenses such as maintenance costs and availability of replacement parts.

Fuel Type

Choosing the right fuel type for your generator is essential since it affects both the initial cost and ongoing operating costs of your home backup generator.

Gasoline generators are generally the most affordable option upfront, but they may require more maintenance than other types due to their lower efficiency. Diesel generators are often recommended for larger units since they provide greater energy output per gallon and are more cost-effective in the long run.

Liquid propane generators are versatile since they can be small portable options or larger standby units that draw from a permanent fuel tank. On the other hand, Natural gas generators offer low operating costs compared to diesel or gasoline, with no need for refueling as it draws directly from a utility source which eliminates downtime during extended emergencies.

Types Of Generators

There are different types of generators, including whole-house generators, standby generators, portable generators, and solar generators.

Whole-house Generators

As a homeowner, it can be frustrating to experience power outages frequently. That’s where whole-house generators come in handy and provide an efficient solution. A whole-house generator is designed to kick in automatically when your power goes off, ensuring that you don’t lose access to essential appliances and electronics.

These generators are more expensive than portable options but deliver adequate backup power for homes of any size. Depending on the fuel source and brand choice, whole-house generators can cost anywhere from $500 to $30,000 upfront with installation costs ranging between $10,000 and $20,000.

They also have varying output capacities measured in kilowatts (kW).

Whole House Generators.

Standby Generators

If you’re looking for a more permanent solution to power your home during an outage, you may want to consider investing in a standby generator. These generators are installed outside of your home and come on automatically when the power goes out.

One of the biggest advantages of standby generators is that they can provide continuous power for as long as necessary. This makes them ideal for people who live in areas with frequent or prolonged outages.

Another advantage is that they are powered by natural gas or propane, which eliminates the need for refueling like portable generators.

Portable Generators

I always recommend portable generators to my clients who need a backup power source for occasional use or in case of emergencies. These units are usually the cheapest option, with prices ranging from $500 to $2,000.

However, it’s important to note that gas-powered portable generators cannot be used indoors during a power outage due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

So it’s essential to position them outside in an open space with proper ventilation. Another downside is that they don’t offer a whole-house backup solution like standby generators do.

Portable Geneator

Solar Generators

As eco-friendliness becomes a growing concern, solar generators are increasing in popularity. They use solar panels to produce electricity from the sun’s rays and can be sustainable backup power solutions for homes when there is an outage or no electrical grid available.

Solar generator prices range between $2,000 to $25,000 depending on capacity and brand chosen. Although they come at a higher initial cost than traditional generators powered by gasoline or propane, they require little maintenance and don’t generate any harmful emissions into the environment.

Solar Generator

Generator Costs By Brand

Each brand offers a range of generators at varying prices, with Generac offering lower-end models starting at $500 and higher-end ones costing up to $30,000, while Kohler’s generator systems can run between $3,000 and $20,000.


I highly recommend checking out Generac generators when shopping for a home generator. Generac is one of the most well-known and reliable brands in the market, offering a wide range of options with different outputs and capacities to fit every homeowner’s needs.

Depending on the size and complexity of your project, whole-house Generac generators can cost between $1,500 and $5,000. I have worked with several homeowners who have installed partial-home Generac generators to save on costs while still having backup power during an outage.

Plus, some Generac models come equipped with wireless monitoring and smart load management features for added convenience.


Kohler is a popular brand of generators that offers reliable and efficient backup power solutions for your home. With a range of high-quality gas-fueled whole-house and portable generators, Kohler has you covered during power outages.

Kohler generators have output capacities ranging from 8 KWH to 150 KWH, which ensures that you can get the right size generator to fit your needs and budget. The cost of Kohler whole-house generators ranges from $12,000 to over $20,000 depending on factors such as output capacity, fuel source, and features.

Additionally, Kohler offers a 5-year limited warranty on their residential generators so that you can enjoy peace of mind knowing you are protected in case something goes wrong.

Briggs & Stratton

If you’re in the market for a reliable home standby generator, Briggs & Stratton is a brand worth considering. They offer a range of models that can handle the power needs of an entire home, with prices ranging from around $3,000 to $7,000.

One advantage of investing in an inverter generator by Briggs & Stratton is that they consume less gas and produce less noise and pollution than traditional generators. Not only do they save on fuel costs over time, but they are also more environmentally friendly.

Additionally, customers praise Briggs & Stratton for their customer service and ease of use when it comes to maintenance and repairs.


Champion is a well-known generator brand that offers affordable backup solutions for residential and commercial use. Their generators are available in different sizes and capacities, from portable generators to whole-house standby models.

The cost of a Champion generator varies depending on the output capacity, fuel type, and other features. For instance, a 9 kW home backup generator with an automatic transfer switch may cost around $3000 to $4000.

In contrast, a larger 22 kW model designed to power multiple appliances simultaneously could range between $5000-$6000 without installation costs included. Whether you choose propane or natural gas as your preferred fuel source will also impact operating costs long-term since propane prices tend to be more stable than gas prices over time.

Whole-House Generator Cost By Fuel Type

The cost of a whole-house generator can vary based on the type of fuel it runs on, with natural gas and liquid propane being cheaper options than diesel generators.


Diesel is one of the fuel options for whole-house generators, along with natural gas and liquid propane. Diesel generators are more expensive than gasoline generators, with prices ranging from $3,000 to $20,000.

However, diesel generators are considered more efficient and cost-effective as they get larger. This is especially true if you live in an area where power outages are frequent or expected due to extreme weather conditions.

Running a diesel generator can cost up to $175 per day on average but it does provide reliable backup power during extended periods without grid electricity.


Gasoline generators are the most affordable option, with prices ranging from $500 to $3,000. They’re suitable for small appliances and devices but may not have enough power output for larger equipment or houses.

Larger models will cost more to purchase and operate, so it’s important to calculate your energy needs before making a decision. Gasoline is easily accessible at gas stations, making refueling easy during an emergency situation.

However, gasoline has a shorter shelf life than liquid propane or diesel and burns less efficiently.

Liquid Propane

Liquid propane is a popular fuel option for whole-house generators because it can be stored indefinitely if stored properly and burns cleaner than gasoline or diesel.

LP generators can cost between $600 and $21,000, depending on the size and brand. While propane may not be as readily available as natural gas, it’s still an excellent choice for those who live in areas where natural gas lines are not easily accessible.

Homeowners should consider the cost and availability of propane before purchasing a generator that runs on this fuel source.

Natural Gas

Natural gas is one of the most popular fuel options for whole-house generators. It’s a clean-burning option that produces less carbon emissions and pollution than diesel or gasoline.

However, natural gas is also more expensive to run than other fuel sources, costing about $90 per day. The cost of installation for a natural gas generator can be higher than other types due to the need for a utility hookup and professional installation.

Despite the higher costs, many homeowners choose natural gas as their preferred fuel source because it’s reliable and widely available in their area.


One environmentally-friendly option for powering a home generator is solar energy. Solar generators use renewable energy to generate electricity, making them sustainable and cost-effective in the long run.

The initial cost of purchasing and installing a solar generator ranges from $2,000 to $25,000 depending on size and output capacity. However, homeowners will see savings on their utility bills over time as they rely less on traditional power sources.

Additionally, those who invest in solar energy systems for their homes or businesses can take advantage of the Federal Solar Tax Credit in 2023 as an additional benefit.

Installation Costs And Considerations

DIY installation may seem like an easy way to save money, but it can be more complicated than anticipated, and permits are required for most installations.

DIY Vs. Hiring A Professional

Installing a whole-house generator can be a complex and challenging process. It’s essential to decide whether you want to go the DIY route or hire a professional before starting the installation process. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Safety risks: If you have no experience dealing with electrical systems, hiring an experienced electrician might be the safest option. Installing generators involves working with electrical wiring and high-voltage power sources, which can be dangerous if not handled correctly.
  2. Peace of mind: Hiring a professional can provide peace of mind that your generator has been installed correctly, meets code requirements, and is fully operational in case of emergencies.
  3. Time and expertise: Professional installers have the experience and training needed to complete the installation quickly and effectively without any mistakes or mishaps that may cost more in time and money.
  4. Cost-effectiveness: The cost of hiring a professional installer versus doing it yourself depends on your skill level, experience, and availability of tools. In most cases, it’s more cost-effective to hire a professional than attempt to do it yourself.
  5. Compliance with local codes: Depending on where you live, there may be specific local codes or regulations governing generator installations that must be adhered to; violating these laws could result in fines or other legal penalties.
  6. Warranty protection: Some manufacturers may require professional installation for their warranty to be valid, so check with your manufacturer before proceeding with self-installation.

In conclusion, installing a home backup generator is an investment that requires careful consideration before attempting DIY installation. While doing it yourself might seem like an easy way out at first glance, it could lead to costly mistakes both in terms of money and safety risks if not approached correctly; hence hiring a professional installer is always recommended where possible.

Concrete Pad Installation

For a whole-house generator installation, having a concrete pad is crucial. It provides stability for the equipment and helps to protect it from moisture damage. Plus, with the proper installation of the pad, you can reduce vibration that may occur during generator operation.

The cost of pouring a concrete pad varies depending on its size and complexity, but on average can range from $1,500 to $5,000. This includes site preparation costs such as leveling and grading the area where your generator will sit.

Transfer Switch Installation

Installing a transfer switch is an essential aspect of connecting your home generator to the electrical panel. It’s important to have this done by a professional since it requires precise wiring and installation.

A transfer switch disconnects your home from the power grid during a power outage, ensuring that your generator can provide backup power safely and effectively. Backfeed can occur when generators are improperly connected, causing serious damage to appliances or even creating hazardous conditions for technicians working on power lines.

Permits And Regulations

Before installing a generator, it’s important to understand the permits and regulations that come with it. Depending on where you live, you may need to obtain a permit from your local government before installation can occur.

These permits typically cost between $50 and $200 each. In addition to permits, some areas have specific noise ordinances or zoning regulations that must be followed when operating a generator.

Portable Generator Noise Levels
Decibel Chart

It’s also worth noting that if you plan on using natural gas as the fuel source for your whole-house generator, there may be additional regulations and requirements related to proper gas line installation.

Furthermore, improper ventilation or air exchange could pose a safety risk while running any type of generator indoors – either portable or standby – so make sure these factors are taken into account during installation as well.

Additional Costs And Maintenance

Generator maintenance costs can vary depending on the type and size of the generator, with recommended annual inspections and oil changes for standby generators costing around $300, while portable generators may need more frequent servicing at a lower cost.

Running costs will also be incurred by fueling the generator during power outages, with natural gas usually being more expensive than propane or diesel fuel options.

Maintenance Costs

Proper maintenance is important to ensure that your generator runs efficiently and lasts as long as possible. Regular checks, such as checking the oil level, replacing air filters, and inspecting fuel lines can help prevent issues from arising.

The cost of maintenance for a home generator averages between $150-$300 per year. This cost may increase depending on the size of your generator and how often it is used.

However, routine maintenance is much less expensive than repairs or replacement which can cost thousands of dollars.

Additionally, standby generators require maintenance service every 200 hours or annually which may range from $80 to $300 per visit based on your location and provider which will cover their inspection services including oil changes and other minor repairs they deem necessary to keep it operational at peak performance levels over time.

Running Costs

As a homeowner, it’s important to consider the ongoing running costs of your generator before making a purchase. The type of fuel you choose can significantly impact these costs, with natural gas costing around $90 per day, propane costing around $220 per day, and diesel averaging out at $175 per day.

In addition to fuel expenses, homeowners should also factor in maintenance and repair costs when budgeting for their generator’s upkeep. With proper maintenance, generators can last up to 20 years, with annual costs ranging from $150 to $300.

Battery Backup Installation

In addition to the cost of purchasing and installing a home generator, there are also additional expenses associated with battery backup installation. These costs can include electrical upgradeswireless monitoring, and smart load management.

For example, if you want to connect your whole-house generator to specific circuits using smart load management, hiring an electrician can help reduce energy consumption and lower overall costs.

Proper maintenance is also crucial for preventing breakdowns and costly repairs. Routine checks of oil level, running the generator once a month, removing gas when storing, and changing filters as needed can all extend the life of your generator while keeping it functioning properly in case of an outage.

Tips For Choosing The Right Generator

When choosing a generator, it’s essential to assess your power needs, consider your budget, research the specifications of different options, and seek professional advice.

Assess Your Power Needs

It’s important to assess your power needs before purchasing a generator. Take note of the appliances and systems you want to keep running during an outage, such as refrigerators, HVAC systems, and medical devices.

This will help determine the size and capacity of the generator you need. For example, a whole-house generator can power multiple rooms and appliances simultaneously but may not be necessary for those with smaller homes or fewer energy needs.

Keep in mind that larger generators come with higher costs both upfront and in maintenance fees. A portable generator may be sufficient if you only need enough power to keep food cold, lights on, or electronics charged during short outages.

It’s also important to know how long you expect to use the generator; if it’s just for short periods during storm season, a less expensive option might suit your needs better.

Consider Your Budget

Before making any investment, it is important to consider your budget. Generators come in various sizes and types, with prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

A partial or portable generator may be more affordable for those on a tight budget, but keep in mind that they may not be powerful enough to meet all of your energy needs during an outage.

On the other hand, investing in a whole-house generator can provide greater peace of mind and convenience, but can also be significantly more expensive. Consider your location and level of power outages when deciding if a whole-house generator is worth the investment.

Research Generator Specifications

To ensure you choose the right generator for your needs, it’s important to research generator specifications. This includes factors like output capacityfuel type, and start type.

For example, a whole-house generator typically ranges in power from 22 to 48 kilowatts (kW), while portable generators can range anywhere from 500 to 12,000 watts (W).

It’s also important to consider features like wireless monitoring and smart load management when researching generator specifications. These upgrades can help increase your generator’s efficiency and save you money on running costs over time.

Seek Professional Advice

As I’ve discussed, choosing the right generator for your home involves considering many factors, from generator size to fuel type to installation costs. With so many choices and variables at play, it’s important to seek professional advice before making a purchase.

An electrician or generator expert can help you determine the appropriate size and output capacity for your home based on your specific needs and appliances. They can also provide valuable insight into installation options and costs, including permits and regulations you may need to consider.

As someone looking to invest in a generator, you likely have some questions about the buying process.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a generator cost?

The cost of your generator will vary depending on its size, features, and fuel source.

Should I choose a standby or portable generator?

This depends on your needs. If you only need power for essential appliances during an outage or while camping/hiking, then a portable generator may be best.

Can I install the generator myself?

Although it is possible to do so with certain generators by following instructions carefully; but professional installation is recommended for both safety and technical reasons.

Can I finance my purchase of a new generator?

Yes! Many manufacturers offer financing options for their products through their dealerships or third-party financing companies. It’s important to compare interest rates and terms before signing up for financing to ensure you get the best deal possible.

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Skyler is an outdoor adventurist and avid RV-Fan. He loves to explore the world and all its beauty, but he's just as happy relaxing at home with his family. His favorite pastime is taking weekend trips in his RV with his wife and kids, where they can get away from it all and enjoy nature. He’s also a self-proclaimed expert on all things portable generators and can often be found reviewing the latest models on our website.

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