Generators: What You Need to Think About Before You Build

When the power goes out in Upper Arlington, the hum of generators fills the air.

Established neighborhoods with above-ground power lines tend to experience power outages much more frequently than do newer subdivisions with underground power. In places like Upper Arlington, where outages are frequent and can often last for days, it definitely makes sense to have a backup power system, such as a generator, says Chad Wackler, Vice President of Production at Compass Homes.

“Generators can be costly, but they can be helpful,” Wackler says. “It’s how you can protect your house, how you can make sure your large investment is protected in the case of an outage.”

In the worst-case scenario, a long-term power outage could cause basements to flood and hardwood floors to swell and cup due to humidity.

At Compass, we’re seeing more and more people requesting to install a generator in their homes. However, if the home was not constructed with a generator in mind, it can be quite costly to add one retroactively.

Generators require a gas line volume, big enough to run a gas-powered generator. When the proper line is not installed from the get-go, homeowners often have to pay thousands of extra dollars to rerun the gas line before installing a generator.

When building a home, the right time to think about a generator is at the beginning of the design process. Even if you don’t want to shell out for a generator right away, it’s important to prepare to install one by “roughing in” the properly sized gas line and leaving a concrete pad outside where the generator will eventually sit.

Generators vary in price depending on how much they will be required to back up. A small generator will power the bare minimum—two appliances, such as the furnace and refrigerator—for an average price of about $3,000. If you want a generator that will power the whole house, air conditioner included, you’ll be looking at a heftier figure.

One alternative to a full generator is a portable generator that can be stored in the garage in case of an outage.

“The only problem with a portable generator,” Wackler says, “is if you’re not home it does nothing.”

Compass Homes builds on prime homesites throughout Upper Arlington. Contact us to learn how we can help you design a custom home that reflects your family’s lifestyle, and meets your needs now and in the future.

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