Depending on how long it lasts, a power outage can be either a minor inconvenience or a major burden on your daily routine. However, if you equip your home with an automatic standby generator, you'll hardly even notice when the power goes out.
An automatic generator sits outside of your home and keeps the energy flowing via a fuel supply. This fuel is often something along the lines of liquid propane or natural gas. As the generator sends power to your home's electrical circuits, you'll find appliances such as your refrigerator and water heater still function properly despite the power outage. Many generators are powerful enough to offer an uninterrupted energy supply to everything in your home. For example, one with 30kW of power could power a 3,000-square-foot home.
What Makes These Generators Automatic?
You don't have to use a pull-string starter to power your home. As the name implies, automatic standby generators turn on as soon as your power goes off. When the power outage is resolved, the generator automatically turns off. This is all handled by an automatic transfer switch.
For example, if a storm disconnects you from the power grid, the switch begins a combustion engine and directs that energy to your home. Once the utility company has completed local repairs, the switch reconnects your home's energy supply to the main grid.
There are several types of automatic transfer switches to consider. Load centers include a transfer switch and sub-panel, and these generally connect to up to 16 circuits. On the other hand, a service disconnect transfer switch can be more expensive but connects to your whole panel, so it doesn't require a sub-panel. Standard switches are the oldest style, and these are generally not included with today's modern generators.
How Much Do These Cost?
Expect to spend about $4,000 - $10,000 to have an automatic standby generator added to your home. The cost of installation contributes to that price, and you'll likely need to hire professional help no matter what kind you buy. This is because adding a standby generator requires expert skills that only a certified plumber or electrician will safely offer.
Most standby generators will include an automatic transfer switch. If not, you'll need to find one that matches your main breaker in amps. This can add roughly $1,000 onto the overall price of the project.