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The Pros and Cons of Backup Generators: What Every Homeowner Should Know

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Backup Generator provides power during blackouts


With climate change intensifying extreme weather events and aging grid infrastructure becoming increasingly unreliable, more homeowners are considering backup generators as a viable option for maintaining uninterrupted power supply. While having a generator can be incredibly convenient, it’s important to weigh the advantages and drawbacks before making the investment. This article aims to provide a comprehensive look at the pros and cons of backup generators to help you make an informed decision.

The Basics of Backup Generators

Backup generators are devices that provide electricity during power outages. There are two main types: standby generators, which are installed permanently on a concrete pad outside your home and are automatically activated when the power goes out, and portable generators, which are mobile and need to be manually set up and turned on.

Pros of Backup Generators

1. Reliability During Outages

The most obvious advantage of having a backup generator is the reliability it offers during power outages. Whether it’s a short-term loss due to a thunderstorm or extended outages from natural disasters, a backup generator ensures that you have a continuous power supply.

2. Increased Home Value

Installing a high-quality standby generator can increase your home’s value. Prospective buyers often see a generator as a valuable asset, especially in areas prone to frequent power outages.

3. Safety and Comfort

Having a backup generator ensures that critical systems like heating, cooling, and refrigeration continue to operate. This is essential for the safety and comfort of elderly family members, children, and pets.

4. Flexibility

Portable generators offer the benefit of being moveable, providing power wherever you need it, be it for a backyard party or a camping trip.

5. Business Continuity

If you run a home-based business, a generator can be a lifesaver, helping you continue your operations and avoid financial losses during power outages.

6. Surge Protection

Standby generators usually come with built-in surge protectors, safeguarding your appliances and electronics from power surges when electricity is restored.

Cons of Backup Generators

1. Initial Cost

Installing a standby generator can be costly, ranging from $3,000 to $15,000, depending on the capacity and features. Portable generators are cheaper but still require an initial outlay of $500 to $2,000.

2. Maintenance

Generators require regular maintenance, including oil changes, filter replacements, and general inspections, adding to the total cost of ownership.

3. Fuel Requirements

Generators run on various types of fuel like gasoline, diesel, propane, or natural gas. The cost and availability of these fuels can be a concern, especially during extended outages when everyone is rushing to refill.

4. Noise and Pollution

Generators can be noisy and contribute to noise pollution. Many regions have noise ordinances that limit the acceptable decibel level for residential areas. Additionally, fuel-based generators emit greenhouse gases.

5. Space Constraints

Standby generators take up space and need to be installed a safe distance from your home to prevent exhaust from entering. This can be a challenge for those with limited yard space.

6. Safety Risks

Incorrect installation or use of a generator can lead to risks like carbon monoxide poisoning, electrocution, and fire. It’s essential to follow all safety guidelines and consider professional installation.

Points to Consider Before Purchase

  1. Power Needs: Calculate your essential power needs to decide on the generator size.
  2. Fuel Type: Choose a fuel type that is readily available in your area.
  3. Local Regulations: Check local zoning laws and obtain necessary permits before installation.
  4. Professional Installation: For standby generators, always opt for professional installation to ensure safety and compliance with local codes.


Backup generators can be invaluable assets, providing peace of mind and continuity in times of power outages. However, they come with their own set of challenges, including high initial costs, ongoing maintenance, and potential safety risks. By weighing these pros and cons carefully, you can make an informed decision that best suits your needs and lifestyle. Whether you opt for a standby or a portable model, ensuring that it’s adequately sized, professionally installed, and well-maintained will help you get the most out of your investment.

This article is brought to you by Momentum Electrical Contractors

Specializing in installing hybrid systems that offer multiple forms of generation and smart grid management, Oakland-based Momentum Electrical Contractors are at the forefront of these transformational changes. Their expertise ensures that new residential projects not only meet but exceed the sustainability and resilience expectations of East Bay communities. For all your Oakland electrician needs, Momentum Electrical Contractors is happy to speak to you today!

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