Home Guru

Installing a Standby Generator May Be a Good Bet

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By Bill Primavera

For many, the effects of Hurricane Ida are still being dealt with, reminiscent of the travails of the infamous Superstorm Sandy that hit us in 2012. 

Sandy was very costly to me as a homeowner in that it knocked over 17 trees on my property that needed to be cut up and removed.

Power outages are not only very disruptive, but they can also be expensive. At that time, my wife and I were literally in the dark for more than a week, and cold as well. Gone were our refrigerator and freezer contents. Operating a business from home, we were unable to reach our clients by e-mail.

That’s why having a backup generator is important, especially in areas that tend to experience extreme weather conditions that lead to power outages. With a backup generator, all or part of a property can have power so that its residents can live or work more comfortably and minimize financial losses during periods when electricity stays out for days.

But not all generators are created equal. The type of generator one buys could dictate how well it performs when needed. While a buyer could opt for a less expensive portable generator, a standby generator may be a better bet.

A standby generator is one that runs on natural gas or liquid propane and is hooked up to an existing gas line. Standby generators are designed to kick in automatically when the power goes out so that the home or business owner doesn’t experience an interruption in power. A standby generator can start working in less than 30 seconds once the power goes out.

A standby generator is hooked up to a transfer switch that tells it when to automatically turn on or off. An experienced electrician or technician is generally needed for installation. As such, with a standby generator, nothing needs to be done once the power goes out – the home or business owner can just sit back and wait for the lights to come back on.

However, with a portable generator, you’ll need to manually hook it up with extension cords and pour gas into it to get it to work. A portable generator will usually only power a couple of appliances in your home or place of business. A standby generator, on the other hand, could have the capacity to power an entire home or business.

Buying a generator isn’t cheap, especially a standby unit. For a residential property, it could cost $7,000 to $12,000 or more, depending on the size of the property. A standby generator for a commercial property can cost even more, but the price ultimately depends on property size and the capacity being sought.

For example, a standby generator may not need to power the entire home, but rather it can power most of a home’s appliances, although not an air conditioning system which requires a lot of power.

Portable generators are much less expensive than standby generators, costing between $500 and $2,000. A portable generator might power a few lights, a TV, a refrigerator, a septic pump and maybe a water heater.

Also, with a portable generator, obtrusive extension cords could prove hazardous. And a portable generator needs to be replenished with gasoline to keep it running, whereas with a standby generator, there is an automatic transfer right into the natural gas line so that a homeowner doesn’t have to worry about powering it.

Finally, portable generators can be more dangerous; they must be properly ventilated to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Homeowners and commercial property owners can benefit from having a standby generator. Aside from food losses, for those who work from home, a standby generator is a solid investment, as it ensures the homeowner or business owner won’t suffer a loss of income due to circumstances outside their control.

For a commercial property owner, having a standby generator could make it easier to attract and retain tenants. Businesses don’t want to have to worry about losing inventory or customers, which investing in a standby generator obviates.

Can installing a standby generator increase property value?

According to Remodeling Magazine’s recent Cost Vs. Value Report, a $12,860 generator increases resale value by $6,940, which means 54 percent of the investment is returned to the owner.

Having a standby generator could make it easier to sell a property, and that could be a source of savings as well. In some cases, having one could also lower insurance costs for the property.

Standby generators offer peace of mind, and there’s value in that alone. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of losing power and potentially having it stay out for days on end, then a standby generator is a smart investment.

Though a homeowner may not recoup that generator’s entire cost when selling the property, having that unit could save a world of money – and hassle – along the way.

Bill Primavera, while a publicist and journalist, is also a realtor associated with William Raveis Real Estate and founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc. (www.PrimaveraPR.com). To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.

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