Added Value for Standby Generator?

chisueJanuary 5, 2009

DH and I are considering installing a natural gas powered standby generator for our home. We have not had a power outage longer than three hours in the seven years we've lived here, but we had three-day outages twice in our former home 15 miles to the south. (Once in summer, once in winter -- when we had to drain the pipes and decamp to a hotel.)

I'm not sure we NEED a standby generator. Power here is under ground. Prior home power was above ground, and we were on a circuit that failed frequently and was so small that we were always last on the repair list.

Anyway...back to the reason for the post: Is having a generator of any added value when selling? (Bids are running around $7K to install.)

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would think it would only be attractive if you could convince the new people that power goes out routinely for long periods of time - and then see if a generator would be enough to keep them coming to look!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2009 at 6:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I look at generators the same way as sump pumps. It makes me wonder if there is some inherent problem you were obliged to remedy on a regular basis. It doesn't seem you have a major problem with staying on the grid anymore, so why advertise you do?

    Bookmark   January 5, 2009 at 6:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We installed one after a severe storm several years ago. Power was out for our street for seven days. After that, "whole house generator" became my mantra. We had suffered power failures sporadically before that storm and it was annoying and inconvenient. When we had it installed, the inspector told us a new substation was being built to accommodate our area. Figures, right? Since then, we've lost power 3-4 times. The last time was during a windstorm last week when we were OOT. Ironically, all our power lines are underground. When we were having the whole house generator installed, both the inspector and the installer told us that all new builds over $400K (the beginning of upper end for my area) were having them installed as standard.

My street has 14 homes. Prior to that massive storm there were five whole house generators. As of right now, there are 10. Since we are the same price point or better than the new construction where a whole house generator is now standard, it would be a detriment for us to not have one when we go to sell.

The sump pump comment makes me blink. In many towns in my area a sump pump is required by law to sell your home (it does not matter how old the house, it is required) regardless of whether or not the house has ever had a drop of water in the basement. Lack of a sump pump would make me wonder about the homeowner's preventive measures.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2009 at 9:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Oh, I get the sump pump comment!

Sump pumps are not the norm here, so the presence of one indicates a water problem.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2009 at 10:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Having a sump pump does not indicate a water problem at all..My 1st home had one and it NEVER went on in the 7 years i lived there...My current home has one, and it will go on for a while after a hard steady rain,but not for long...Neither home is/was anywhere near a water source..

    Bookmark   January 5, 2009 at 10:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Interesting - I looked at a house recently that had a generator and I thought it was kind of odd. It wasn't a plus I would have paid more for. No one has them where I live now. Where is it that this is standard in a new build - and why?

    Bookmark   January 5, 2009 at 10:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

gibby3000 I an in WNY. Except for that one storm we've never had a major power failure in the area ever (and let's hope we never have another one, that was terrible). They have become standard in higher-end new builds in this area. You won't see them installed as standard in a new $250K home here, but you will see it in a new $500K home. Basically it is a nice convenience for those that can afford one.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 3:19AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When we bought our present house I must say "yes" the generator was/is a big plus. We had two 5 day power failures where we lived before and with a well and septic that is not pleasant. It is really great having a fully functioning home during a failure.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 8:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"Having a sump pump does not indicate a water problem at all"

Maybe not where you live, but as I said...
"Sump pumps are not the norm here, so the presence of one indicates a water problem."

HERE, where I live, they are not the NORM.
HERE, where I live, the presence of one means that there was a water problem that needed remediation.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 8:59AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

In regards to a generator,i would look at having one as a positive,but not pay up for it..While losing power for any long period of time is highly unlikley, i have lost power several times in the last 2+ years in Pa,most for 5 hours or less, but once for 24 hours...Having a generator would be very comforting..We actually looked into having one installed but the cost didn't make sense...

In regards to sump pumps,i think every home i looked at here in Pa 2+ years ago had one..Most of the homes were fairly new,3 years or so...Thinking back to my last home,my home didn't have a sump,but all my neighbors did..Though i didn't have a basement,so that probably is why..

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 9:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

In my area, SE Texas, homes with swimming pools and stand by generators sell 10 times quicker than those without them.
However, they only recover 40 to 60 percent of the purchase price at the time of sale.
If I were searching for a new home I'd call them a must.
We just went a week without electricity after Hurricane Ike. My little (12k) shop generator was OK but couldn't power the home and air conditioners at the same time so I had to bounce between the load demands.
I'd bet in your area it would be the same 50 percent return on the initial purchase price and make your home sell quicker than a home a few thousand less with an equal floorplan.

See ya,

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 10:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well. You didn't really ask for advice on whether you need one, but it sorta sounds like a waste of money. If I were looking at houses and one had a standby generator and one didn't, it might tip the generator-equipped house over the finish line if everything else was equal (INCLUDING the price). It's not something I would pay extra for, and I have experienced weeks of being powerless, having gone through the 2004 Florida hurricanes. The solutions for that were: Suck it up; use the generator selectively (obviously not a whole-house generator); go hang out at a hotel for a week. We did all three of those options. When the power is out, the sound of a generator is unbelievably loud. It got on my last nerve. Plus, even in Florida, the need for one really was relatively rare. I'm not going to fire up a generator for a 3-hour power outage. That would make me feel like a wuss, I think. The multiple-day duration outages were quite rare. Except in '04. Now I live in Tennessee, and we recently sold the generator we bought in '04 but hardly used. I much preferred our week-long stint at the Portofino Bay hotel in Orlando--they offered $99/night specials for Florida hurricane evacuees and it was well worth the money. That's actually one of our more pleasant Florida memories.

Anyway, all that to say my take on it is (a) take a vacation or something with your extra dough--or maybe some cool home improvement project OTHER than a standby generator; and (b) I would not pay extra for it, although it might help me decide on two otherwise equal homes in the extremely unlikely event I found myself once again house searching. (It's not that I don't like the home buying experience; it's that the home selling experience scares me to death after reading this and other forums...)

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 10:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

word doc, you don't have to "fire it up", whole house generators normally "kick in" after a specific time frame once power goes out...The ones i looked at were powered by natural gas,and i would have needed to run a seperate line to it...If i recall correctly, it would turn on after 15-20 minutes

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 11:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If you live in a suburb with thousands of power customers, underground power cables, city water & sewer, and hotels nearby - then you don't need the generator and therefore little value added (some might see it as an alarm bell and walk away from a sale - "do you loose power here often?"). I would count on zero added value.

I live in a rural area on a mountain and put the generator in because I know we will loose power often enough to justify it (in 1 year we had 6 outages, 2 extended). I talked to neighbors and we loose power up here often. The feeder lines are above ground, we have huge trees, lots of wind, regular ice storms - it is going to happen again. We have 140 power customers on the main road I live on which means that the power company puts us last on the list to restore power when we have big storms. A majority of the people here have some kind of generator - many portables, some standby. If power goes out we loose heat, water, septic pumps etc - not good living at all. The closest hotel/motel that I would be willing to sleep in is over 20 miles away - too dangerous to travel in bad weather. So having a generator up here did add some value to my house but I would never expect to get even close to the full purchase price I paid for it, or the sweat equity I put in to install it. If we go to sell and people ask "do you loose power often" we can answer truthfully "yes, and that is why we have the generator".

I still think it is a good idea to have an emergency plan no matter where you live but that doesn't mean you have to spend 7 grand on a generator.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 11:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I may see it as a benefit but wouldn't want to pay for it, so the value added is minimal.

Personally, I would have preferred you invested in a on-grid solar system w/ storage. Our state offers 30% rebate and the feds offer 30% tax credit. So for 7K you could buy a 18K solar system that provides emergency energy and a monthly payback. Depending on location and usage it could probably provide 25-50% of your power needs.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 12:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Anyway...back to the reason for the post: Is having a generator of any added value when selling?

Honestly, I wouldn't pay extra for a home with one but if I was buying and there were similar houses I liked, that would probably be the deal breaker, I'd opt for the generator house.

You can't predict when power will go out and for how long. In some areas, power goes out more then others. If I had kids or a home business a generator is nice as a backup.

At our old place we did lose power pretty frequently. I'd have to say at least 4 times per year if not more. We though about adding one. Lines were above ground.

In the new house, we've had the power go out 3 times already, more so if you count the quickies. Lines are below ground.

My dad had a generator on the back of his tow truck, when the power would go out he'd hook it up some how. Wish I would have watched him.

Bids are running around $7K to install

With your quote, what exactly are they doing for that $7k? I don't understand what's so expensive?

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 1:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

snifdog and others have held my hand on the generator question on the 'Wiring' forum.

Today I phoned our electric company and got the history of outages at our address -- back about 20 years. There have been NO outages of over six hours. I know 'past performance doesn't guarantee future' but this is an almost completely built-out suburb.

My suburb requires every home to have a sump -- even if you are top o' a hill! We're near a flood plain and our sump works quite a bit. However, we have an unfinished basement of about 2000 sq ft. Even if power to the sump were out for a day during a downpour, I doubt the water in the basement would reach the furnaces and water heaters. If it started to look like a really long outage, I guess we'd have to quickly FIND a small gasoline powered generator.

chris -- Today I also called our suburb's permit dept. and asked if anyone in town had installed solar panels. That's still a "No." I would hate to be the pioneer here. We've already had our 'fun' with the town's nit-picky Building Review Board when we built; the prospect is daunting. I'm afraid states are going to pull financing for all but the most crucial programs in this economic downturn. How far would $7K go even if we got permission to do solar? (I'm north of Chicago.)

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 3:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Unfortunately 7k doesn't go far with solar PV. You really need economy of scale to be realistic. I'm in central IL and I priced a system at $25K (10k after incentives) which would provide ~1/3 of my electric needs. The lack of experienced installers would probably make the cost too great in your area. The return on investment for the average household isn't there yet. But if you put significant value on "emergency" energy capability, then the numbers can change quickly.

I haven't heard any info on if IL is going to drop their program or not. I'm hoping to install a solar water heating system using the program. I'm limited on south facing roof space so I don't have enough roof space to make solar electric realistic at my current location.

I've seen several sources expecting solar panel prices to drop 20-30% this year, due to the recession and the drop in polysilcon prices. This may encourage more pioneers to take the leap.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 4:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If you live in a suburb with thousands of power customers, underground power cables, city water & sewer, and hotels nearby - then you don't need the generator and therefore little value added (some might see it as an alarm bell and walk away from a sale - "do you loose power here often?"). I would count on zero added value.

I do live in a subdivision of 1000 homes surrounded by even more, have MUD water/sewer, underground service and hotels nearby.....BUT my underground service comes via aboveground cables, we are far enough from the coast that we are where the storm evacuees end up (therefore no room as the inn for me) so we do have a standby generator (not a whole house tho) - enough to power a TV/fridge/freezer/lamp/box fan (but not the A/C!)

Carolyn on the West side of Houston

    Bookmark   January 6, 2009 at 10:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

For $1000 you can get a portable generator that will run the essentials. Unless you live somewhere where the power goes out a lot (or you have a need for full power in the house no matter what, like someone disabled lives with you), or you have money to burn, why get the standby generator when you know there is little chance you will need it?

We got a quote on a whole house generator when we built, it was $9k (4000 sf house). In three years we've lost our power once, for less than 8 hours (and that was during an infamous ice storm). We also have underground utilities.

I don't think it will add to the value of the house. Now, if you lived on the side of a mountain in the boonies, maybe it would.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2009 at 5:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My two cents:

It sounds to me that you don't really a need to have a whole house generator. I wouldn't pay more for this "feature. I''m not even sure I would give the nod to the house with a generator over one without a generator, all other things being equal.

Now, I would more likely buy a house with alternative energy source (e.g., geothermal, solar, whatever). How much is a solar water heater?

FWIW, I survived for 6 days without power after Hurricane Fran in Chapel Hill, NC. While annoying, it wasn't that bad because within a day I would walk/bike/drive to a place with power. Also my gas appliances still worked so I had hot water and I could cook (ancient stove with a pilot light). It would have been a different story if I lived in a remote area like the mountains.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2009 at 6:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We recently went 13 days without electricity after Hurricane Ike. It wasn't pleasant, but it didn't kill us either, and taught us a few useful lessons about how much electrical consumption was 'necessary' and how much really wasn't. (We've cut our electric bills 40% after Ike and we weren't unusually wasteful before.)

After the hurricane, we found out that our house was dead-last in line (yes, dead last) on our local electric branch (trunk, branch, twig?). And that even though our lines are burried, the 50 or so ahead of us aren't, and are directly under the tree-limb canopy.

We thought about installing a whole-house system, and might do it one day when we have an extra few $000. But several months later, I'm now leaning toward a much smaller system -- enough for one refrigerator, one TV, and one A/C unit instead of whole-house.

Would I expect to see a return on investment on resale? Sadly, no.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2009 at 11:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

As I write this post on generator power, I have to chuckle about the timing of all this. We have lost power twice already in 24 hours - once last night for about 3 hours and the second this morning now going on about 4 hours. It is very cold, we got hit with a nasty ice storm and the trees are dropping - sounds like bombs going off. Value of generator to me right now: priceless. Added value to the purchase price if I were selling right now: zero.

This post is about recouping cost and using that potential to justify a purchase. You should not buy a generator thinking of it is an investment, you should treat it as a sunk cost.

Obviously if you live on the Gulf coast or anywhere natural disasters are a real possibility, then buying a generator for your safety and comfort would make sense. But don't expect a buyer to pay you what you paid for the generator when you sell.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2009 at 12:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Putting a standby generator in an expensive house when you don't need one is just as useless as putting one in a cheap house if you don't need one. It's like putting shark cages in a swimming pool. Even rich people have been known to ask why when speaking to a realtor. And if I were to ask a realtor why a generator would come with a house, and they said just because of course I'm going to assume somebody isn't giving me the full story. To me, if there were no outage issues, then it would be about as redundant as an old hot tub, IOW you might as well take it with you when you go.

As for the remark about sump pumps, I certainly don't have one of those million dollar high end homes, but at least my basement is dry. If you don't live in an area where the ground water level is higher than your basement, it sounds to me like regardless of how much prestige or money your home implies, something was lacking in the basic engineering.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2009 at 7:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

we're about to get a pto driven generator for our farmstead. we've been quite lucky over the 30 years we've been here and have only lost one freezer full of food.
but it make sense to have one now for a bunch of reasons, and if the seller doesn't care we'll simply bring it with us.
the start up costs haven't been too bad, we were able to have the wiring set up during the remodel, already have a large enough tractor to run it and hubby found a good deal on a diesel tank.
the peace of mind will be worth it, imo.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 6:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Funny you asked this -- in my newspaper today it listed backup generators as having the "smallest return on investment."

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 9:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

what about sump pumps? :)

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 1:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Our foundation has an excellent drainage system, perforated pipes inside and outside the footing that connect and drain the water away to daylight (the slope of our lot allows this). We've had 2 major flooding events in this area since we moved in and haven't had any water issues. However, we still have a sump. Why? Because crap happens. Let's say the hot water heat breaks, the water will flow to the sump and out rather than flood the entire basement. If for some reason the daylight drain failed (frozen, clogged by animal nest), the sump is an emergency backup. In three years we've never had to drop a pump into it, but it's there just in case.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 3:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What an AWESOME thread!!!

I'd say its a unanimous NO and very geographical as to if you really need one at all.

One thing seems obvious, I'm the only person who feels you might get a little return on it. Although I'm the only one who said they'd pay a little extra for a house with it I'd feel reasonably certain, in my area, there are others too. When your forking out 300 big ones plus, what's a few grand more. I know for fact that if two equal floorplans that showed the same and had the same price, one with generator and one without, that I and most likely everybody else would take the one with it.

quote "the peace of mind will be worth it," quote

I'll second that statement and add

When my salesgirl built her home we put a 17 standby with an auto transfer switch on during construction. She was "In Like Flynn" after the hurricane. Her only load bouncing was turning off one of the AC's while she ran her swimming pool.

My pool water was wasted for a week and a half plus after the storm while hers was sparkling within 48 hours.

I'd call the comfortability of living during extended periods without power, PRICELESS.

See ya,

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 2:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We are having one installed here next week. It is a 14 killowatt unit that should be able to run almost the whole house. We live in Upstate NY and had a massive ice storm this past December where we lost power for almost 4 days. Yes, it was unusual, but our grid tends to go out often here even if it is only for a few minutes and I think the power surges have ruined some of our appliances. I don't trust the grid. It is more susceptible to interruptions as it is aging. Remember the massive power outage we had across the Northeast when a power plant in OH went bad? I believe that was in the 1990's. It could happen again and it would be really bad if it happened in the winter.

Apparently the power went out this past week with subzero temperatures across New Hampshire. With temperatures below freezing right now, I would never want that to happen. Pipes can freeze and cause extensive damage in cold weather. It is much easier to have a backup system that comes on automatically for peace of mind.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2009 at 2:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It all depends on where the home is at and what experiences you have had sitting around in the dark. A generator would make the house more attractive to the buyer especially if they have experienced being without power for a few days or more before. I am not sure you would recoup all the investment in a sale but it is possible. Around here the home with broadband available other than satellite will sometimes get the nod over the one with none available.

Will someone pay more money for these things... of course some will and others it will have no real bearing between one home or the other. Overall it should make a home a more attractive buy.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2009 at 1:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A generator is high on my list of wants. We are on a well and septic and since we live rurally, we're last priority on the list of who to restore electricity to first.

Days and days without a toilet or water is not fun. We do have a secondary heat source.

Every time it storms I start filling containers and the bath tubs so we can use it to flush toilets. Clearly we don't loose lights every time it storms so it's big pain in the neck to go through the water ritual. We lost our lights for three days before Xmas and I wasn't paying attention to weather. Sure enough, the lights went out and I wasn't prepared at all. Duh!

In my area, a generator would be a real bonus.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 4:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If you live in MO, KY, OH, AR or WV and will be without power for the next few weeks, my guess is the worth of a house with a whole generator just went up a bit.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 7:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We are upgrading to a much nicer home( ready in March,yeah) and a generator was a must. I bought the 17k Generac from Home Depot. Haggled them down to 3000 and current electrician is installing for 1200.
In our current house we have a sump pump that constantly ran during heavy rains which always happened to be when the power went out. Our portable generator bailed us out but you need to be home to use the portable. We also had a flooded basement due to power outage while on vacation and thats what tipped it for us on the new house.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 4:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here in Louisville, KY we're currently experiencing our second major power outage in less than six months. Hurricane Ike roared through in Sept. and left about 300,000 without power (myself included) for upwards of 10 - 14 days.

Just this past Monday we got hit with an ice and snow storm leaving 220,000 in the dark. Again, the prediction is 7-10 days before everyone is fully restored. Temps are hovering in the mid teens, the hotel rooms are all booked up, and the hardware stores are sold out of generators.

Yes, a whole house generator would be nice addition but it would have no influence on my offer to purchase a home. A portable stand-by with enough juice for the freezer and a couple of lights / tv would be enough to satisfy my needs.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 1:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The presence of a large generator would give me pause as to why it is needed.

Unless it was a complete system with auto start and crossover I would not view it as a good setup.

I have installed many large systems for commercial locations, but still have never bothered putting one on my own house.

With the almost complete disappearance of the smaller NG turbine units, I do not think I will bother.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 3:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We were without power for a short time after Ike. We would have loved to have a generator but not a whole house generator. We will be getting one soon that will pull double duty in our travel trailer. I would not pay extra for a house that has one. To me, it's like a car, it loses it's value every year you have it. So, if you get a whole house generator and sell your home 20 years from now, I especially wouldn't be excited about your 20 year old generator. What is the life expectancy of those things anyway? Like any mechanical device, I would expect to have problems with an older, used unit just due to it not being used frequently.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 1:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Unless you live in the country, you will probably NOT be allowed to have a generator.

Noise restrictions on generators are extremely tight. Even though they only run intermittently, and are much quieter than an air conditioner, most cities and suburbs have noise restrictions on generators making the installation of a generator very difficult.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 5:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Interesting thread.

Lots of people got generators after the 1998 Ice Storm, but without being maintained, most were useless after a couple of years. I don't know about the bigger ones being discussed in this thread.

Many city homes (ours included) have a gas fireplace, so that would handle the heat issue of being without electric power. And we have several power boxes that can be used off-grid that are handle for short power failures (to plug in some lights). I wouldn't bother with a generator, myself.

During the big power failure in August (2004?), we just did without power for a day, but a few people in our urban neighbourhood had generators - it just made the rest of us irritated, because they ran their AC and had all their lights on, and made a racket. Not impressed.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 5:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"Unless you live in the country, you will probably NOT be allowed to have a generator.

Noise restrictions on generators are extremely tight. Even though they only run intermittently, and are much quieter than an air conditioner, most cities and suburbs have noise restrictions on generators making the installation of a generator very difficult."

Not true for MANY places.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 9:44AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Home Buyers Please Vote: Would you rather ...
1. A $2,000 kitchen appliance allowance or any stainless...
Did you change the locks out when moving into new home?
Did you change the locks on the exterior doors or have...
Exclusive listing?
We are moving out of state in July, therefore need...
Verbal offers suddenly surface
Too much drama. We put offer on house number one, house...
Randy Ritchie
pros/cons of first floor master
I've looked at several newish (1990s or newer) homes...
Sponsored Products
Butter Up Circle Rings Giclee Glow Plug-In Swag Pendant
Lamps Plus
French Grand Table Lamp in Red
$129.00 | LexMod
Series 140 Concealed Thermostatic Twin Shower Faucet Valve 1 Outlet
Hudson Reed
Yuma 3-lt Pendant
LBC Lighting
Gus Modern | Adelaide Bi-Sectional
Athena Metal Scroll Table/Desk Clock
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™