Extreme weather is here to stay and is becoming the norm rather than the exception for many regions of the country. According to Climate.gov, a record 22 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters occurred across the United States in 2020, costing the nation $95 billion in damages.
So, what can you do to give your homebuyer peace of mind when the power goes out? Install a natural gas backup generator. During a power loss, such generators can avoid:
- Wasting $200 to $500 worth of food when the refrigerator goes off.
- Spending thousands to renovate a flooded basement after the sump pump fails.
- Losing several days of work in the home office until power is restored.
According to Remodeling, an industry trade site, homeowners recoup an average of 54% of the cost of a generator within a year and in some cases up to 84%. Other research shows that residential standby generators hold their resale value and, in some cases, may increase in value by 150%.
Comparing natural gas to other fuels
Natural gas backup generators can keep running for weeks. For liquid propane, operating time is limited by the size of the fuel tank; for a larger generator, a larger tank is required. For instance, a 500-gallon tank is required to operate a generator 24 hours per day for over a week. With natural gas, there are no hassles with storing or refilling fuel tanks.
A permanently installed generator also provides numerous advantages over a portable generator running on gasoline or diesel:
- Minimal risk of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Less expensive to operate than gasoline and diesel.
- No refilling of fuel tanks or storage of flammable fuels.
- No need to run extension cords throughout the house.
- Automatic operation and protection 24/7.
Depending on the price of natural gas, it shouldn’t cost more than $4 or $5 per month to run the unit in exercise mode. During a power outage, costs can run around $20 to $30 per day for a load under 50%.
Generator cost and features
Standby generators typically range in cost from about $2,000 up to $15,000, depending on the size of house and the power load. In general, the most critical household equipment (well pump, refrigerator and lighting circuits) can be operated with a generator rated at 5 to 7.5 kilowatts. To operate these appliances simultaneously, at least a 7.5-kilowatt or higher capacity generator is required.
Installation costs vary by system size, local building codes and other parameters. Typical generator features include:
- Automatic transfer switch, providing power in as little as 10 seconds.
- Noise levels comparable to a central AC unit.
- Remote monitoring using a smartphone, tablet or PC.
- Comprehensive five-year limited warranty of parts, labor and travel.
- Approximately 3,000 hours of use or more than 30 years of service.
- Power management function to reduce required size of generator.
Some models also offer rust and corrosion resistant aluminum enclosures, wind rating of 181 mph for hurricane-prone areas, and management of up to 32 modules for high-voltage appliances.
For builders who invest in natural gas generators, homes are usually easier to sell, especially in outage-prone areas. They can also be marketed with an increased value of about 3% (on average).