As time has gone on, it has become expected that homes in high end areas all have central AC. In the Westchester Real Estate market, I don’t think I can recall seeing a home listed for over 1.5 million dollars that did not have central air conditioning.

In recent years that trend appears to be starting once again. However, it is not Air Conditioning that several of my buyers are looking for, this time it is Whole Home Generators, or “Standby Generators”. It is getting to be such a hot-button question that when I view the current crop of Chappaqua Homes for Sale or Scarsdale Homes for Sale, almost all listings of homes that include them, mention them prominently.

So here is some Q & A that will help you answer the question about whether or not you feel a standby generator is necessary.

What does a standby generator do?

Standby generators turn on when local utility power shuts off (a blackout) and powers all or some of your home. With exposed overhead powerlines and thick tree coverage, blackouts are not rare in Westchester County.

How Much power will the generator provide?

It depends on the size. You can install a standby generator that will run several outlets, your sump pump, a few lights and a TV, or you can buy a larger unit that will power every single item in your home, including air conditioners, ovens, dryers, etc., simultaneously.

What kind of fuel does a standby generator run on?

If the home you are buying has access to natural gas, your generator will run on that. If not, you can have propane tanks installed and the generator will run on that. Natural Gas is preferred since it is an “endless” power supply. If your burn through all of your propane during an outage, you will need a delivery to keep operating your generator

How Does the generator connect to the house?

To connect the generator to the house, it would be necessary for a licensed electrician to install a “Transfer Switch”. Most transfer switches are now automatic, meaning that if the transfer switch detects a blackout, the generator will start automatically. When the blackout ends, the transfer switch will automatically shut the generator down.

Who definitely needs a generator?

If your home has Sump Pumps or Well Water, a generator is pretty much mandatory to keep your house dry (Sump Pumps) or water flowing (to operate the well pump).

How much does a generator and installation cost?

For a typical 3500 Square foot house, an “Air Cooled” generator that will power “some” of your house but likely not air conditioners or ovens, can be had for 12k to 15k installed. For a liquid cooled generator that would run everything in the house simultaneously, you would be looking to spend around 25k including installation.

Are there alternatives if I don’t want to spend 15k, but want to protect my home?

Absolutely. Manual starting portable generators and a transfer switch for your well pump and sump pumps can probably be had for 3k installed. Keep in mind, these run on gasoline, which is sometimes hard to come by in a storm.

Buyers now generally place value on generators because many will look to install one themselves. For a homeowner considering installing a standby generator, you will certainly get some of that money back when you sell your home. Buyers of homes without generators should factor that into their budgets if it is something needed or wanted for a new property.