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Do It Yourself or Not: Install a standby generator

Gene and Katie Hamilton, Tribune Content Agency on

A power outage can be a major inconvenience to any household and cause problems a generator is designed to solve. The job of a standby generator is to keep the appliances and systems of a house working when the power goes out. When a major power outage occurs, the lights go out, the food in the refrigerator and freezer begins to spoil, and there’s no way to charge electronic devices to stay in communication with others. You can’t even access your car if it’s parked in a garage with an electric garage door opener.

A standby generator is located outside the house and wired directly to the house through a transfer switch. Loss of power starts the generator and connects it to the house wiring. The most economical units to purchase and operate are in the 20 kilowatt (kw) range and are fueled with natural gas or propane. This size will power specific circuits you choose like the refrigerator, heating unit and lights, but it will not be a substitute for the power company.

A professional will install a 20 kw Generac Synergy unit with a variable speed motor for $8,100. This includes wiring the transfer switch and hooking up a propane or natural gas line. This is not a do-it-yourself job. In most areas, you are required to get a building permit, which usually comes with some sort of inspection. Most of the work requires a licensed electrician and a plumber to hook up the gas line. To honor the warranty, most manufacturers require a trained tech to do the initial startup and checkout. Most of these costs are included in the professional installation. Leave this project to the pros.

Pro Cost: $8,100 — DIY Cost: $5,400
Pro time: 22.0 — DIY Time: 29.0
DIY Savings: $2,700 — Percent Saved: 33%



To find more DIY project costs and to post comments and questions, visit www.diyornot.com and m.diyornot.com on smartphones.

©2022 Gene and Katie Hamilton. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.




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