What it's like to install an all-home generator in Houston - Space City Weather

What it’s like to install an all-home generator in Houston – Space City Weather

My wife and I began thinking seriously about an all-home generator last August, as Hurricane Laura plowed into the Gulf of Mexico and threatened Texas. Since we built a new home in League City in 2017, it was the first time a major windstorm had threatened the upper Texas coast, and it brought back the faint memory of an extended power outage during Hurricane Ike. Unfortunately, the process of purchasing and installing a generator requires advanced planning, which is a big decision.

In the end, we decided to go for it. So earlier this year, I reached out to Reliance to inquire about a natural gas powered all-home generator. And as a reminder, Reliant is the multi-year sponsor of Space City weather. For reference, I did not receive this generator for free, and chose to purchase it with a portion of Reliant’s annual sponsorship fee. So, you can rest assured that my experience should be similar to yours.

Buying a generator capable of powering your entire home is great pioneer investment. For the average homeowner in Houston, it will likely cost between $10,000 and $15,000. But for many, it may be a worthwhile investment—especially after a recent winter storm and the annual threat of hurricanes in our region. With this post, I will describe the installation process and what you can expect if you decide to purchase a full home generator.

We needed to put the generator on a rack to meet the local code.

The process begins with a home visit by a generator technician. Reliant works with Houston-based Quality Generators, and they sent Mike to my house in mid-January. Over the course of about an hour, Mike and I discussed my home’s energy needs, existing power and natural gas lines, and potential solutions. I didn’t really know anything about this, so it was great that Mike could help us navigate the process. He explained all costs and fees associated with purchasing and installing the generator.

On February 1, we agreed the contract, and I signed it. I paid half the purchase price up front. Then we put the pegs in the ground, make a diagram of where to build the platform, and where the generator will go outside my house. We initially planned to install later in the month. And then, the Valentine’s Day freeze came to Houston. We lost strength for several days. I remember standing in my darkened office at home, the temperature dropped to teens, looking out the window at those stakes.

After the freeze ended, installation began in March. All this work has been previously reported, with a clear timeline. Anytime I had a question, I’d call Mike. I appreciate having a local service phone number answered by a real person. I received regular updates, by phone, of what to expect, and when to expect it. Then, after each job, someone checks in to make sure I’m satisfied.

First, a team of workers built a platform that took two hours. (Sometimes, a generator is installed on a concrete cushion, instead.) A few days later the installation itself came. This process was more difficult and lasted most of the morning. It involved turning off the power to the house for about 2 hours, which I was told earlier. But then, the generator was ready to go.

Houston, we have a generator.

The whole house generator is a backup plan. When the electricity goes out, for whatever reason, the generator starts working within seconds. The lights are back. Depending on the size of the generator, it can run some or all of your home’s electricity needs. In theory, it should provide sustained power through a blizzard, hurricane, or any other type of disaster. Luckily I haven’t had to test this yet, but it’s comforting to hear the alternator ignite once a week to make sure it’s ready.

This is really perhaps the biggest benefit of owning a generator. You never know when the power will go out, especially in an area prone to severe storms. Every time there is inclement weather in the forecast, there will always be a little bit of anxiety. When you have a whole home generator, it takes the worry out. Reliable strength is especially important considering that during inclement weather, we want to continue to provide you with timely updates on Space City weather!

The bottom line is that buying a generator is an expensive one, and a big decision to make. But if you are considering it, you want to make sure that you are working with an experienced and established company. My referral from Reliant for Quality Generators was a painless process. The people I worked with were friendly, knowledgeable, and happy to answer all my questions. If there is a problem, I am sure they will be there to help.

If you’re considering a whole house generator, certified customers can get a 10 percent discount with the first year of free maintenance. Learn more here.

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