Thinking about installing a home generator for backup power? You’re not the only one. Home generator sales have increased exponentially in recent years as extreme weather, energy grid failures and climate change have become growing concerns for many Americans. Having a back up generator for your home can offer peace of mind, especially at a time when the future of energy usage is in question. You never have to worry about losing power during a blackout and it can potentially increase the value of your home.

However, home generators also have downsides. They can be expensive, loud and require regular maintenance. And because home back-up generators release carbon monoxide, you need to take certain measures to keep your family safe.

Before you decide to get a backup generator, check with your home insurance company about what coverage options you can get. For example, you might be able to add equipment breakdown coverage to your policy, which would cover the cost of generator repairs. You might also qualify for a discount on your premium by installing a generator, which can help you get cheaper homeowners insurance. It’s a good idea to get a few quotes to see if you get a lower rate for installing a generator.

Home generator and backup power statistics

Home generators have become increasingly popular over the last several years, with sales skyrocketing in many markets. Here are some recent statistics on generators for home use:

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  • As of 2021, the global portable generator market was valued at $4.6 billion, and experts are forecasting even bigger gains in the next decade. (Research and Markets)
  • Sales figures show that portable diesel generators are more popular than natural gas generators, due to their reliability, efficiency and sturdy construction. (Research and Markets)
  • U.S. generator sales were down 6.7% in 2020, which was fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the market is expected to reach $6.94 billion in 2028. (Fortune Business Insights)
  • Following recent climate laws, generator manufacturers are starting to adopt bi-fuel and hybrid generators, which use natural gas and diesel to improve efficiency and reliability. (Fortune Business Insights)
  • The demand for residential generators in the U.S. is driven by the increased frequency of power outages caused by the country’s aging electrical infrastructure, as well as harsh winter weather and the shift toward renewable energy sources. (Transparency Market Research)
  • On an annual basis, power outages cost $18 to $33 billion in the U.S. alone. (Transparency Market Research)
  • In 2015, The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) reported more than 3,500 power outages lasting 49 minutes on average. (Transparency Market Research)
  • Portable generators cost between $300 and $1,200, whereas whole-home generators can cost between $2,000 and $15,000 for the generator unit, plus another $400 to $11,000 for installation. (Angi)
  • On average, portable generators kill 70 people each year in the U.S. and injure thousands of people. It’s been shown that portable generators can emit as much carbon monoxide as 450 cars. (NBC News)

Types of home generators and fuel options

There are two types of generators—full house generators and portable generators. Not only do these generators differ in terms of their size, but they also use different fuel types and emit different levels of power. Here’s what you need to know about each type of generator and how you can stay safe using either one in your home.

Full house generator

A full house generator, also known as a standby generator, is designed to power your entire house in the event of a blackout. These generators are permanently installed, usually outside your home, and are made with weather-resistant materials. Most full house generators have a power output of 8 kilowatts to 100 kilowatts or more, and run off diesel, propane or natural gas.

One of the biggest benefits of a full house generator is the reliability. If the power goes out, you just need to flip a switch and the generator will restore power to your entire home. However, whole-house generators can be incredibly expensive to purchase and install. They also need regular maintenance in order to continue working.

Generally, standby generators are safe to use. However, there are some things to be aware of. Here’s how you can stay safe while using a full house generator:

  • Always install your backup generator outside to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Keep the area around the generator clear of gas tanks or propane grills.
  • Avoid touching the generator when it’s wet.
  • Be cautious of overloading the generator, which can cause it to burn out.

Portable generator

Portable generators are the opposite of whole home generators. Due to their small size, they can be moved around and only have enough output to power single appliances. Portable generators are a popular option because they are cheaper than whole house generators. Most portable generators run on diesel, gasoline, propane or natural gas, and can put out roughly 1,000 to 25,000 watts.

Portable generators are also incredibly versatile. They can be used to power appliances, lights, sump pumps or AC units if the power goes out. You can also use them if you are camping or doing an outside activity. Depending on the type of portable generator you have, they can weigh between 50lbs and 150lbs, and are typically on large wheels for easy transport.

If you are using a portable generator as your home backup power supply, it’s important to be aware of the risks. In general, portable generators are much riskier than standby generators. If you are going to use a portable generator, review these safety tips first:

  • Never operate your portable generator inside your home, due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Don’t use the generator in wet conditions. Most portable units are not weatherproof like a standby generator is.
  • Store generator fuel in a safety-approved container and keep it away from the generator.

States with the most frequent power outages

The frequency of power outages is different in each state, due to a variety of factors. For example, southern states often experience more power outages than western states because of high average temperatures and strong tropical storms.

In the table below, you can see the top 10 states with the most power outages between 2015 and 2019, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Annual Electric Power Industry Report.

State Avg. number of outages per year (2015-2019)
Maine 3.9
West Virginia 2.8
Louisiana 2.3
Alaska 2.2
Tennessee 2.2
Florida 2.2
Montana 2.1
Mississippi 2.1
Georgia 2.1
Oklahoma 2.0

Frequently asked questions

    • Standard home generators do not use a battery. Instead, they run off a fuel source, like diesel, gasoline or natural gas from your local gas company. However, you can purchase a battery-powered home backup, which relies on a rechargeable battery, rather than fuel. Solar is just one example of a battery backup system that can be used to power your home in the event of an outage.
    • Yes, installing a whole home generator can potentially increase the value of your home. Some experts estimate that a properly-installed generator could improve the value by as much as 5%. However, the generator must be installed by a professional. Generators that are not installed by a professional, or are installed incorrectly by the homeowner, can pose a risk to home buyers and may not add any value when you try to sell.
    • To keep your home generator operating efficiently, it’s recommended to run your generator at least once per month for 30 minutes at a time. Testing your generator regularly ensures that it will start up in the event of an emergency. You don’t want to find out that your generator is not working in the middle of a blackout.
    • In most cases, home generators are not tax-deductible. However, there are a few exceptions. If you install a solar-powered backup generator, you may qualify for a tax deduction, as long as it’s your primary residence and not a vacation home. In addition, you can get a tax credit if you install a generator due to a medical need. For instance, if you rely on a dialysis machine or chairlift to get around the house, you can write off the cost of a generator on your taxes, if you have confirmation from a doctor. You may want to speak with your financial advisor or tax accountant to see if your circumstances qualify you for a tax deduction.
    • Home generators are worth the cost for some people, but it ultimately depends on your needs. If you want the convenience of having a backup electricity source in the event of an outage, a generator might be a good investment. And if you have a medical need, a sump pump or a well pump, a generator is more essential. However, generators can be incredibly expensive. When you consider that the average blackout time is only two hours, most people are able to deal without electricity for that long.