In the past, we have talked about using a generator for electricity in an “off-the-grid” log home. Increasingly, many people are opting to install generators as backup power for when the grid power fails. Like most home remodeling projects, a generator will not likely make you money back in terms of resale value. Nationally, a generator only recoups 68 percent of its roughly $11,000 cost when a home is sold, but regions with unreliable or expensive power can see higher paybacks. For example, generators in Hawaii see nearly 100 percent payback, since utility power there is very expensive and also generated with petroleum. To help you decide whether a generator is worth it for your home, here are some essential items that can benefit from backup power during emergencies.
In the winter months, having a reliable source of heat is of paramount importance. You can heat your house with a wood stove or some other source that doesn’t require power, but someone must be present to stoke the fire. If you rely on natural gas, fuel oil or propane heat, then you still need to provide electricity for the furnace to function. This electricity will power items like blowers, igniters and fuel pumps. Since a long-term loss of heat can damage pipes and lead to large repair expenses, providing power to heat your home should be a high priority.
While the rest of your house needs to be kept warm enough not to freeze, a power outage can thaw the foods in your freezer and cause your refrigerated goods to spoil. If weather forces you to stay home during a power outage, you will appreciate the convenience of fresh produce and dairy while you are homebound. Also, if your generator system has an automatic transfer switch it can switch the generator on even when you are away from the house, so you won’t return from vacation to find a refrigerator full of rotten food.
An electric stove can draw up to 50 amps of current, making it impractical for use on a generator. A gas stove will continue to work during a power outage, but electric items like the igniters and oven controls will not work. If you do not wish to forgo your oven and manually light the stove, consider backup power for your stove as well.
Lighting and Communications
It is not advisable to back up all the lights in your house, but you should consider providing some lighting to important rooms. Backup the lights in enclosed spaces like bathrooms, as well as to the main living spaces. If you rely on cordless phones, you should provide those with backup power, as well as internet routers and modems. These devices consume very little power but help keep you connected in case of emergencies.
Even if you decide not to install a generator when building a new home, you may want to consider installing a transfer switch when the home is initially wired. An automatic transfer switch only costs around $600 and is easily installed when a home is first wired for electricity. It costs much more for an electrician to pull permits, cut your main, and install the switch at a later date. By installing the switch at the beginning, it is very easy to add a generator later date if you so desire. This way, you can decide over time if a generator is right for you and be prepared for that decision.
Have you had to make use of a generator this winter or recent winters? Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts. And, if you’re interested in building a log home of your own, please call Real Log Homes today or fill out the form below for more information.