How Much Does a Generator Cost?

Julia Pelly
Written by Julia Pelly
Reviewed by Salvatore Cutrona
Updated March 4, 2022
A portable inverter generator
Photo: Tomasz Zajda / Adobe Stock

The typical cost of a generator and installation is between $700 and $26,000

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 Whether you live off the grid, frequently lose power, or just enjoy camping vacations without leaving all the comforts of home behind, a generator is an important tool. Portable generators have no installation costs, so you can be up and running with a unit that costs between $300 and $1,200. Standby, or whole-home generators, are permanent installations, so you can expect to pay $2,000 to $15,000 for the generator, plus another $400 to $11,000 for installation. 

How Much Does a Home Generator Cost Near You?

Across the United States, the average cost to install a home generator is $4,520 and the cost of a 20-kilowatt generator is typically $5,000, for a total cost of $9,520. However, installation costs and other factors can make this price fluctuate depending on where you live. Here are some typical home generator costs from around the country:

CityInstallation AverageGenerator and Installation Cost Average
Orlando, FL$1,720$6,720
Raleigh, NC$5,030$10,030
New York, NY$4,320$9,320
Portland, ME$5,240$10,240
Chicago, IL$5,280$10,280
Kansas City, MO$1,330$6,330
Dallas, TX$3,600$8,600
Phoenix, AZ$1,715$6,715
Denver, CO$1,705$6,705
Sacramento, CA$4,155$9,155
Portland, OR$2,550$7,550

What Kind of Home Generator Can I Get on My Budget?

Home generator pricing varies dramatically depending on the type you choose and its size, as something like a whole-house generator costs more than a smaller unit. No matter your budget, there’s a solution to fit your needs.

$1,000

At a budget of $1,000, you can afford a basic portable generator that runs off diesel, gas, propane, or solar energy. These units have a power capacity of 4 KW to 10 KW, with the former enough to power one appliance, and the latter enough to power two large appliances or several smaller ones. 

Although they don’t offer much capacity, these portable units don’t require installation, so they can cost as little as $300. Due to the restrictions in power, these generators are best suited for emergency situations when you may only lose electricity during the occasional blizzard or thunderstorm.

$5,000

At a budget of $5,000, you can afford a larger portable generator or a smaller standby unit (also called a whole-home generator), both of which are capable of powering several small appliances and circuits. 

Depending on installation costs in your area, there may not be enough in this budget to install a standby unit of more than 16 KW. This is the absolute minimum level necessary to power an entire home, assuming a small house of 1,000 to 2,000 square feet with minimal appliances. In this case, it would make the most sense to invest in a more capable portable generator or install a partial house generator that will only power select appliances during emergencies.

$10,000

At a budget of $10,000, you can afford to forgo portable generators and install a more powerful standby unit. Including installation costs, you can equip your home with a standby generator with a capacity up to 22 KW on this budget. 

These generators run on natural gas, propane, or solar energy, and can handle the minimal loads of a 3,000- to 5,000-square-foot home. They’re an ideal solution for areas that see power outages several times a year, such as the hurricane-prone East Coast.

$15,000

At a budget of $15,000, you can afford the costs of a whole-house generator that can power an average 5,000-square-foot home. This level of power allows you to use more than one major appliance and several circuits at the same time. Generators in this price range are rated at 22 to 35 KW and use natural gas, propane, or solar energy as fuel. 

While they may not be able to power all of your appliances at the same time, a generator in this price range will allow for comfortable living if you have to go an extended period of time without electricity.

$25,000

At a budget of $25,000, you can invest in a state-of-the-art generator that can power your 5,000+ square-foot home or business indefinitely. These permanent units tap into your existing gas or propane fuel line to provide continuous power should you lose electricity. 

These larger units are the best option if you live in an area that’s mostly off the grid or otherwise suffers from regular loss of electricity. With capacities of up to 40 KW, these generators can easily handle multiple appliances and circuits, meaning you can run your busy household just as if you were using conventional electricity.

How Much Does It Cost to Install a Home Generator Yourself?

Technician services outside AC units and generator
Photo: LifestyleVisuals / E+ / Getty Images

For those who don't want to fuss with complicated DIY installation, portable generators are your best bet. In most cases, you’ll move your generator outside of your home, fill it with diesel/gas or connect it to propane, and turn it on. In the case of solar-powered generators, you’ll simply charge your batteries at the first sign that you may need to use your generator.

However, it’s best to have professionals install a standby generator. While you may be able to pour a concrete pad, it’s safest to hire a local generator installer to wire the generator to your utility grid and connect it to a fuel source.

Home Generator Cost Breakdown 

The cost of your generator will depend on the type you choose and its particular installation requirements.

Cost of the Generator Itself

When choosing a generator, you’ll need to choose between portable and standby units. 

Portable

Portable generator prices range from $300 to $1,200. These units cannot power an entire home, but they’re a good choice if you need emergency power during outages caused by weather, such as winter storms or hurricanes. Due to their design, you can move and position portable generators to fit your needs and even take them from place to place. 

You can choose from units that run on diesel, gas, or propane. These will require you to have these fuel sources on hand and regularly refill your generator as the fuel runs out. You may also opt for solar-powered generators; these charge batteries that you’ll later use to run your small appliances like an electric kettle or coffee maker to keep the warm drinks flowing.

Standby

Standby (partial or whole-house) generators cost $2,000 to $20,000. Depending on the generator size you choose, you may be able to power a few small appliances or your entire house. Smaller units can keep you comfortable during weather-related power loss by keeping your air conditioner and refrigerator running. The largest units can power your entire home and its appliances as if you were using electricity from the power grid. 

Standby generators are permanent, so they can’t be moved around like portable versions. Generators with capacities up to about 35 KW use natural gas or propane from your existing lines or solar energy as fuel. Larger units are designed to run on natural gas or propane hookups.

Cost of Generator Installation

There are usually no installation costs associated with portable generators. However, a standby generator’s installation cost averages $4,520, which includes permits, assembly, placement, and wiring.

Permits

Portable generators don’t generally require permits or planning permission, but permanently installed standby units may. Depending on your area, you can expect to pay $50 to $200 for permitting.

Concrete Pad

Because portable generators can be placed almost anywhere outside the home, they don’t require a dedicated area. You can position them on the driveway, a back patio, or even in the grass.

Larger standby generators do require a spot of their own. They’ll be permanent, so you’ll need to pour a concrete pad, just like the one your air conditioner sits on. It typically costs $50 to $75 per square foot for site preparation and concrete pouring. Assuming you need to pour a 3-foot by 6-foot pad, you can expect to pay about $1,000.

Fuel Source

Portable generators use diesel, gas, or propane as fuel. With these generators, there is no need to install a fuel source; instead, you’ll purchase fuel from a gas station or similar as you need it.

Permanently installed standby generators require dedicated fuel sources. If you don’t already have a natural gas line or propane tank, you’ll need to install one. Deciding which fuel source to use depends on availability, budget, and personal preference. 

Natural gas is not available in all areas, but in those areas where it is, it’s piped in for a constant supply. Propane, on the other hand, is delivered by truck and available almost anywhere. You’ll need to place a propane tank on your property and receive regular deliveries. While natural gas offers a more convenient setup, it burns faster than propane and so it’s not as efficient.

If you don’t already have a natural gas or propane supply, you can expect to pay $50 to $100 an hour to set up a natural gas line or install a propane tank.

Transfer Switch

Transfer switches detect when you’ve lost electricity and move the power load of your home from the electrical grid to your backup generator.

Portable generators don’t require transfer switches, but you can install them if you don’t want to deal with extension cords. Instead, your portable generator will be wired into your electrical panel.

As standby units are permanently installed and hardwired to your electrical panel, they require transfer switches to function properly. It will take an electrician about four hours to handle this wiring, so you can expect about $1,200 of your generator installation cost to go to transfer switch installation.

How Much Does It Cost to Install a Home Generator by Type?

There are no installation costs associated with most portable generators, so you just have to worry about the generator itself. Portable generators typically cost $300 to $1,200.

Standby (partial or whole-house) generators require professional installation. Depending on the size of your unit and its requirements, installing a whole-house generator costs around $400 to $9,500. This includes permitting, site preparation, assembly, placement, and wiring.

Generators Costs by Brand

There are a variety of generator brands offering both partial and whole house generators that offer homeowners a range of options that will meet their needs. 

BrandType (Partial or Whole House)Cost
Champion Both Starting at $1999.99
Briggs & StrattonBothStarting at $3149
Generac BothStarting at $5997
CumminsBothStarting at $3707
Honda Partial Starting at $1310

What Factors Influence the Cost to Install a Home Generator?

The type of generator, its size, and its required installation procedures influence the total cost of installation.

Type

Portable generators can save you money because there's no installation or regular maintenance costs. There is maintenance on portable generators but not as often or as costly compared to standby generators. And, because they're not hardwired into your home, it's less of a hassle, and less expensive, if they break down.

Standby generators require professional installation as a pro must wire them into your electrical panel and hook them up to a fuel source. You may also have to pay for permitting, site preparation, and fuel source installation, depending on your existing setup.

Size

Standby generators offer load capacities of 10 KW to 40 KW. The larger the generator, the more circuits to which it can be wired. Small generators can handle just a few circuits, while large ones can tackle an entire home's needs. It costs more to install larger generators as they require more electrical work.

FAQs About Home Generators

What size generator does my house need?

You can determine what size generator you need by listing the various appliances it will power during an outage. Write down the start-up watt usage of each, and then add them all together. You’ll then want to purchase a generator that can handle this load or greater.

A 7,500-watt generator will run your refrigerator, freezer, well pump, and lighting circuits without problem. However, you’ll need an extra 3,000 to 4,500 watts to run your water heater and another 5,000 to 25,000 watts to run your electric furnace. In these instances, a whole home generator is your best bet for running your critical equipment 

Is it worth installing a whole house generator?

The cost of whole house generators are high, no doubt, but installing one can be worth it in more than a few scenarios:

  • You work from home

  • You experience frequent or prolonged power outages

  • You store lots of cold food

  • You have a sump pump

  • You use well water

  • You have electronic medical devices

  • You live in a climate where heating or cooling is essential 

With enough fuel and proper maintenance, generators can run for weeks. Plus, many people deem whole home generators a luxury add-on, which could increase your home’s value should you sell your home down the line. 

How long do generators last?

With proper maintenance, generators can last up to 20 years. Generator maintenance and repair costs vary by region and generator type, but you can expect to spend $150 to $300 per year to keep your unit in tip-top condition.

Are generators safe?

When installed and used properly, generators are safe to use. The most important generator safety tips to keep in mind are:

  • Never use a portable generator inside or in an enclosed space as the carbon monoxide exhaust it creates is lethal.

  • Never attempt to connect your generator to your home’s electrical panel on your own; hire a professional for this dangerous job.

  • Never overload your generator by connecting more appliances than for which it’s rated; you can damage your generator and appliances or even cause a fire.

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