FAQs: Natural Gas Generators

There’s a lot to know about natural gas generators, which is why it has become such an important topic of interest among so many homeowners. The idea of living without electricity for anywhere from hours to days, or even weeks or months, is enough to get people talking about what the alternatives are. If you’ve always wanted to learn more about this type of energy source, these frequently asked questions can increase your understanding so you can decide what your home needs.

What’s the Cost of Installing a Natural Gas Generator?

Like many homeowners, you may have an established budget for your household. It’s important to consider the cost of an update like this to your home, but first, consider the price you may pay for being without electricity. Without proper electricity, you can’t heat or cool your home effectively or use your traditional methods for providing food for your family.

There remains an intangible price tag on comfort, familiarity, and contentment — all feelings you can have if you know you maintain control over any outages you may experience that affect your household. Think about the longest you’ve been without power. Maybe it was associated with a powerful storm on the coast of Florida, or perhaps the combination of a large tree branch and powerful wind made a power line fall. Even if you were without power for a couple of hours, you probably remember it feeling like much longer as you waited for a resolution.

There are a lot of factors to consider when determining the cost of purchasing a generator and installing it at your home. Before you decide, ask yourself these questions:

  • According to my county and city, do I need to secure permits for this change to my property?
  • How many kilowatts (kWs) do I normally use?
  • In the event of an outage, do I want to make sure I have enough power for the whole house or just the essential electricity needs?
  • Do I require an additional gas line, or would it be better to upgrade the meter I currently have?

One other consideration to keep in mind is the location of the gas and electric meters on your property. In general, generator installations are more cost-effective if both the electric and gas meters are in close proximity to each other because there is less of a need for longer lines of either the piping for natural gas or the conductors for electricity. Although the cost of installation can vary, you might find that the cost of the generator equipment is equal to what most companies charge for installation. This estimate can at least help you begin your budgeting process.

How Much May an Installation Cost for a 2,000-Square-Foot Home?

Because there are so many factors that are a part of installation pricing, you may not receive a true cost until you contact generator suppliers for more in-depth estimates. However, a 2,000-square-foot home usually needs a generator that’s almost 20 kilowatts. This can cost as much as $12,000, although you may pay as low as $8,500 for the installation. Most companies include the cost of the ancillary equipment for the installation, like gas lines and electric conductors, as well as the price of obtaining the permit and any licenses the project may need.

The good news about this is that many suppliers offer financing for a purchase of this amount. If having a natural gas generator is important to you, but you don’t immediately have the funds to pay for it, ask for financing options.

What Should I Know About Purchasing Generators From a Home Improvement Store?

You may have seen natural gas generators at your neighborhood home improvement store at what looks like a reduced rate, but oftentimes, the store isn’t including the cost of installation when they attach a price tag to the generator. The price you see is usually only the cost of the generator equipment itself.

What Are the Operational Costs of Owning a Generator?

The costs of operating a generator aren’t fixed. It depends entirely on how big your generator is, how long you are running it for, and the cost of natural gas in your area. You may find that the cost is fairly low if you’re operating under certain criteria.

For example, if you’re only operating the generator to power certain parts of your home and the electricity is restored in an hour, you may find that your total cost is $1 for that hour you were without electricity. Having a natural gas generator is typically a very cost-effective way of powering your home when you need it. Consider portable gasoline generators in comparison. Not only do these types of generators require refueling, but they are more expensive because you’re using a resource that’s not always readily available like natural gas is.

Can I Do the Installation Myself?

The installation of a natural gas generator can be fairly complicated. There is a lot that can go wrong and hinder your ability to make the most of your new purchase. It’s best to hire a professional who is trained and licensed to perform this type of work. Once a professional has completed the project, your utility company will supply the natural gas to your generator.

Do I Need a Permit for the Installation?

Every city and county is different, so it’s best to check with yours to see what the permitting rules are. It’s common for properties within city limits to need a permit and inspections before installation work can begin.

How Long Does Installation Take?

Every installation project is different, and it can take days, weeks, or even months from starting the project to its completion. That’s because there are many steps to the process, including permit issuance and supply acquisition, that can delay the project a little more. The installation can take even longer if you’re purchasing a generator during the stormy seasons or the winter months.

What’s the Process If I Already Have a Natural Gas Line?

A generator is most effective when it experiences an ongoing yield of natural gas at a sustained pressure, so it’s common for homeowners to need to either upgrade the line they currently have or add a second line specifically for their generator. If you secure a second natural gas line, your utility company will probably bill you for the second meter separately. A licensed professional in this line of work can tell you if you’d benefit from an upgrade or a second-line installation.

Should I Inform My Utility Company About the Change Before Installation?

Yes, it’s important for your utility company to be aware of the addition of a natural gas generator on your property so they can disconnect service (and electricity) to the lines and reconnect it when your installer is done with their work. This is to keep line persons safe during the installation process. Even though you may need to provide authorization, the installer typically manages the communication with the utility companies.



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