When the power goes out there is nothing like the comfort of a generator humming in the yard.  Our recent spate of rains and early snow brought to focus the value of some kind of emergency power source.  I personally have a portable generator which powers my heat, well pump and most lights and appliances on an as needed basis.  After the last black out, I may upgrade.  Fortunately, for our office we invested in an automatic generator which came on and powered everything for the duration.

Like any insurance policy, a generator is an unwelcome expense until the power goes out and then it can literally be a life saver.  Family members and friends with medical conditions that require constant power can be at risk during these blackouts.  Extended power outages in the winter can allow pipes to freeze especially if you are away on vacation or only up on weekends. Hundreds of dollars of food can spoil during a summer power failure, so the price of a back-up system can be offset by the damage and losses it prevents.

Most new homes we design in areas prone to power loss include an automatic back-up system. Homeowners can setup a simple system with the help of an electrician for as little as $1500 which will power their oil or gas fired furnace, well pump and a few other outlets.  Of course someone must be around to manually turn it on and keep the generator filled with gas.

The following is a range of prices for generators including installation by an electrician.  Not included is any structure or gas tanks/lines which would be provided by the individual gas companies or any underground work.


$2,100 portable generator


$370 transfer switch

1. Portable generator with manual transfer switch-$1000 to $3000 for the generator  plus $400 for the switch and installation. (Powers a few circuits)

12 20Kwintelligen Ats 35459 Zoom

$4000 propane generator including automatic transfer switch

2. Small propane generator(15kW) with automatic transfer switch-$4000 plus $900 installation and any underground work needed.(Powers most circuits in average home)

30Kw Left Bo 2 62069 Zoom

$11,000 (30kW) propane generator

3. Medium sized propane generator(30kW) with automatic transfer switch-$11,000 plus $1300 transfer switch plus  $1750 installation and any underground work needed.(Powers the average whole house completely)

Special thanks to Kyle Lougheed of Ginocchio Electric who installs generators for many of our clients for his help in estimating installed prices

About the Author: James Crisp

James M. Crisp has been an architect for well over 30 years. His architectural firm, Crisp Architects, designs projects throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts. In April of 2007, Taunton Press published 'On the Porch' by James M. Crisp and Sandra Mahoney.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

One Comment

  1. B7E37Ed638650D13181Dfa0882B35A21?S=54&R=G
    Kathleen Bailey May 31, 2021 at 9:34 pm

    Overall, this is a superb article! As usual, the cost is the main concern when buying a generator. Our clients always asking first for the price then the rest will follow.

Leave A Comment