Average Cost to Install a Backup Generator

$3,000 - $20,000+ Materials & labor Find out how much your project will cost
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How Much Does it Cost to Install a Backup Generator?

Are you thinking of installing a backup electric generator in anticipation of storm season?

A generator can be a tremendous boon if your power is knocked out for hours or days, but it doesn't come cheap. The cost to install a backup generator starts at about $3,000 and can go up to over $20,000 for materials and labor.

The biggest factors affecting cost to install your backup generator are size and quality. Consult an experienced electrical contractor to determine how large a generator you will realistically need.

Backup Generator Sizes




Approximate Cost incl. Installation



Powers a few basic appliances. Usually manually operated.




Powers home heating system plus a few appliances.




Powers whole house.



A generator will provide a reliable alternative source of electric power during an outage. Depending on the size of backup generator you install and the amount of energy your household consumes, you will be able to continue to power certain important appliances like your electric furnace and your refrigerator, or possibly your home's entire electrical system, even in an emergency.

Today's backup generators come equipped with an automatic transfer switch, which triggers the device to take over the task of supplying electrical energy as soon as the power fails and turn itself off when power is restored.

Your electric appliances can remain plugged in to the wall sockets.


A backup generator is not suitable for powering delicate electronic devices, such as a computer or plasma television, because it provides a somewhat different type of electric power from the grid, which will produce harmonic distortion.

You will most probably have to upgrade to a higher volume gas meter and a high-pressure line to supply the generator if it will be powered by natural gas. These will be installed by your local utility company upon request, at your expense. Other possible fuel sources -- liquid propane and diesel -- will require installation of a storage tank, which must be replenished occasionally.

Cost Breakdown

  • Materials and Supplies -- Materials normally include the generator and any incidental supplies needed to install it.
  • Fuel -- Cost of fuel to power the generator is not included in the installation fee.
  • Labor -- Labor includes building a concrete pad of the correct size for the generator as well as installing the unit. Electrical wiring and lighting may be required to bring the installation up to code, adding to the expense.

Get the Most for Your Money

It is literally vital to install a backup generator when someone in your family is dependent on electrically powered medical equipment. It is also extremely important in any household which includes small children or elderly members.

Before ordering generator installation, check your local building code regarding placement of the main unit and its fuel tank, as well as ordinances which may limit the amount of noise it is allowed to produce.

When buying a midsize backup generator, look for a load-shedding device, which will automatically switch off non-essential appliances in case of emergency.

Have your generator serviced, including changing the oil and filter, after any period of prolonged use. Replace any worn or damaged motor brushes promptly.

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