How Much Does It Cost to Install a Portable Generator?

Low
$200
Average Cost
$750
High
$5,000
(5,500-watt gas-powered portable generator)

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How Much Does It Cost to Install a Portable Generator?

Low
$200
Average Cost
$750
High
$5,000
(5,500-watt gas-powered portable generator)

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Reviewed by Laura Madrigal. Written by Fixr.com.

Portable generators can prove useful in many situations, providing the power you need in emergencies when the regular supply goes out. They also offer energy and electricity for all your devices during camping trips and outdoor events.
There are many types of portable generators available, ranging in size, voltage, and fuel source, and their prices vary. The national average for portable generators is between $500 to $2,000, with most homeowners paying about $750 for a 5,500-watt gas-powered generator.

Portable Generator Costs

Portable generator installation costs
National average cost$750
Average range$500-$2,000
Minimum cost$200
Maximum cost$5,000


Portable Generator Cost by Project Range

Low
$200
2,000-watt gas-powered portable generator
Average Cost
$750
5,500-watt gas-powered portable generator
High
$5,000
10,000-watt diesel-powered portable generator on wheels

Portable Generators Cost by Type

Portable generators are divided into categories based on the fuel they use. They most commonly use gasoline, but you can also find portable generators that use liquid propane, natural gas, and diesel fuel.


Portable generators cost by type

Portable Generator Cost


Type of Portable GeneratorAverage Price
Gasoline$200 - $2,000
Natural Gas$500 - $4,000
Liquid Propane$500 - $5,000
Diesel$2,000 - $6,000

Gasoline Portable Generators Cost

Gasoline-powered portable generators are the most common type used in America and are popular with many due to their affordability and easy access to gas in most regions. On the downside, gas can be difficult to store for long periods of time, especially during the winter or in cold conditions. A gasoline-powered portable generator costs between $200 and $2,000 on average.

Natural Gas Portable Generators Cost

Natural gas portable generators are an interesting choice for many users because they can be hooked up directly to the gas cables on the utility grid. This means you do not need to store the fuel and always have an accessible supply. This added convenience comes at a cost, however, because natural gas portable generators can be much more expensive than regular gasoline generators, costing between $500 and $4,000.

Liquid Propane Portable Generators Cost

Liquid propane portable generators are also a convenient option for many people because propane is readily accessible and affordable in many areas. Liquid propane can be stored for many years without worries, but the size and weight of the canisters make it difficult. And, liquid propane portable generators are less durable overall. Expect to pay between $500 and $5,000 for these generators.

Diesel Portable Generators Cost

Diesel portable generators are typically the most expensive, but they are often more powerful and efficient than those using other fuel sources. But if you need a portable generator with high-power output, diesel might be the right choice for you. These generators average between $2,000 and $6,000.


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Portable Generator Power Production

Portable generators vary enormously in how much power they produce and the efficiency rating they get from their fuel source. Some are much stronger and more efficient than others, able to power multiple large appliances or be used at worksites to power construction equipment. Others are much smaller, designed for use at a campsite to power an electric grill or TV. Homeowners should consider how much power they will need and then find a portable generator that fits the requirements.

It can be complicated, but it is possible to roughly estimate how much power you will need from your portable generator. If you plan to use it as a backup emergency power source for your home, you need to identify all the lights, appliances, and devices you want to keep running in a power failure. Calculate the wattage for each, using the formula volts x amps = watts. From there, add up the watts for all the devices and find a suitable generator. For example, if you discover that all your devices require about 4,500 watts of power, look for a 5,000-watt generator or higher.

Portable generators can be found in a huge range of power ratings. They start with simple 2-3kW (2,000 - 3,000 watt) generators that are usually small enough to be carried around and cost around $200 to $500. These are best used for campsites and powering just one or two things.

The larger 5-8kW (5,000 - 8,000 watt) portable generators usually come in larger cart models and cost between $500 and $2,000. These can be used as emergency backups for running a few lights, a water heater, and an appliance or two.

For those who need big boosts of power, opt for 10kW+ (10,000 watts) models, which are much larger and usually need wheels on the base to be moved easily. They cost $2,500 to $5,000 and can be used as a whole-house backup.


Portable Generators Power

Portable Generators Power


WattageCost
2,000 - 3,000 watt$200 to $500
5,000 - 8,000 watt$500 to $2,000
10,000+ watt$2,500 to $5,000


Portable Generator Size

Anyone considering buying a portable generator should take size into account. Generators come in a range of sizes, from small, handheld models that are easy to carry on your own to much larger and bulkier generators that require multiple people to move around. Naturally, the larger generators have higher power outputs, while the smaller ones are usually limited to about 3kW.

Think about how and why you are buying the generator when choosing a model that works for you. If it is only for camping and simple outdoor events, a smaller model should suffice. But if you have a vehicle capable of transporting a larger unit and require something with more power, you may want to opt for a larger portable generator.

You will also need to buy accessories to connect your generator to your devices, and this is true no matter which size model you buy. Most people use extension cords, costing between $10 to $60, to connect the appliances. Or you can buy a transfer switch, which costs between $500 and $800 on average, to connect the generator to your home’s main circuit board.

Cost to Install a Portable Generator

One of the best things about buying a portable generator is that it requires little installation. Set up the generator in the right spot, add the fuel, connect it to your devices with an extension cord or transfer switch, and then switch it on. However, if you buy a large generator, you may need help carrying it to the right location. And if you are not sure how portable generators work, hire a professional to show you the basics and set up the generator for the first time. This should only take an hour and cost about $50 to $75 in most cases.


Powerful portable generator on grass


Portable Generators Safety

Portable generators are designed to be as safe as possible, but there are instructions you should follow to ensure that you do not encounter any unnecessary risks when using your generator. For starters, generators should never be operated indoors. They should always be located at least 20 feet away from the home, and the exhaust should be aimed away from the property. Ensure that there is plenty of space around the generator and that the exhaust is not close to any windows, doors, or other structures.

Portable Generators vs Standby Generators

Many people hesitate between getting a portable generator and a standby generator. There are key differences between these options, and each one has advantages and disadvantages. For example, portable generators are more versatile in terms of their usage since they can usually be carried around easily and used at places like worksites and campgrounds. They are also cheaper and more compact overall, with minimal maintenance required.

Standby generators require more maintenance and are more expensive overall but are much stronger and can power the entire home if the power goes out. They run automatically without the need for manual operation or fuel storage, and they can increase your property value. On the downside, they can be noisy, take up a lot of space, and require regular inspections.


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Enhancement and Improvement Costs

  • Extension Cords: One of the simplest ways to connect your portable generator to different devices and appliances is with extension cords. They cost around $10 to $60, depending on the length.
  • Wheels: If your portable generator is large and difficult to lift, installing wheels could make it easier to move the generator from place to place. Many generators come with wheels included or offer separate wheel kits you can install yourself for about $25 to $50.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • Portable generators can pose real risks to human life. This is why it is important to practice safe-use when working with a portable generator. Consider a model with an automatic shutoff feature that shuts down the generator if it detects too much carbon monoxide in the surrounding area.
  • While permits are required for large standby generators, most states do not require permits for portable generators. Check the rules and laws in your state to learn more. If you need a permit, expect to pay between $50 and $200.
  • Always use portable generators outdoors. They can be stored indoors in a place like a garage or shed when not in use, however. Store all fuel for the generator, such as propane or gas, separately in specialized containers.
  • In general, portable generators do not require much maintenance work, aside from filling up the fuel tank. Inspect it occasionally for signs of corrosion or wear and tear.

FAQs

  • How much does it cost to hook up a portable generator?

This depends on the method you use. Hooking up a generator with a transfer switch costs between $500 and $800, but using extension cords makes it much cheaper. They cost $10 to $60 per cord.

  • Can a portable generator run a house?

A portable generator can run most of the essential appliances and services in your house, including water heaters, refrigerators, and lights. Buy one with enough power and have a sufficient supply of fuel for your situation.

  • Are portable generators worth it?

If you live somewhere with frequent power outages or storms, having a portable generator can be life-changing. It keeps your household running even when the power goes down. They can also be worth it for frequent campers, outdoor adventurers, and those working in construction.

Cost to install a portable generator varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

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The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources
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Cost to install a portable generator varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources