Let me take a moment and explain how I went from looking at a full fledged home generator to a portable generator and saving thousands of dollars!
I was ready to buy a home generator and invited three companies to provide quotes (natural gas generator plus installation).
The first company was sent out by home depot; we often shop there and walk by a home generator on the way out, so during our last visit, we asked for a quote for the generator and installation.
Company #1 quoted me $6,700.00 for a 17kw Generac which included running the electrical, installing the transfer switch and $500 of gas pipe work. I asked about other generators, but the salesman was not allowed to talk about any other generator other than what Home Depot carried.
The second company we picked out quoted us $7,100.00 for a 17kw Generator and was told it's the same thing as a Generac, they just labeled it differently for marketing purposes (I verified this and Generac does have a number of brand names).
The third company came in at $8,030 for a 14kw Kohler. It was pointed out that it would be in our best interest to go with a 14kw rather than a 17kw. He stated that Kohler is a quiet generator compared to Generac and that I could tack on 10% more for a Kohler.
Portable Generators VS. Home Generator
I later found out that if manually turning on my generator and filling it up with gas wasn't a problem, that I could get by with a portable unit. I could get a 6500kw portable for less than $1000, $800 for a mechanical interlock switch ($200 + $600 labor) and save a ton.
The 3rd company also pointed out that anything above a 14kw may require a natural gas feed upgrade by the gas company, an upgrade that may run as much as $1,700 (that's $485 for the alteration fee [technician to change the meter] plus $1,209 for the meter itself!) - something none of the other companies mentioned. Here is a copy of a Alteration Bill from the gas company.
The proposed solution would be an outlet outside that I would wheel the generator to, plug in and start delivering the needed backup power. Needless to say, I decided to buy a portable generator and have company three do the wiring.
For me, a portable made sense and saved us a lot of money. I have no problem wheeling the generator to the box or having to refill the unit with gas. If the situation was such that I needed the power to kick on when I was away (travel a lot) or unable to lift heavy equipment, then I would have went with a stationary home generator.
Other benefits of portable generators include:
- Generator can be moved to any location for whatever need. Have your mother's house installed with a mechanical interlock and she is ready to go - Chances are you won't both be without power...
- Home generators need to run for 20 minute a week (something like that) and can be loud depending on the model. This constant noise can irritate neighbors and ruin a peaceful day.
- Home generators need services (tune up, oil change, etc) ever few months. Do it yourself and you may void the warranty and is something one needs to consider.
- Portable generator cost thousands of dollars less than a full blown home generator!
So, to that end, I've created this review of portable generators with emphasis on noise levels. Visit my Standby Generators page to see what I ended up buying! Should you have any questions or would like to share your experience, please feel free to leave a comment. If you are local and would like information about the company I ended up selecting, feel free to leave a comment at the link above and I'll provide you with details.