Were you one of the thousands of Houstonians without power for several days during the record-breaking cold spell in February 2021 – or most recently, December 2022? Do you ever notice that the lights flicker, and energy to your major appliances gets cut off during even the mildest storms or any time a stiff wind blows? What will work best is installing a home generator, which involves a gas line installation.
If so, you may have done some research on what you can do to keep that from ever happening again. Fortunately, there are many options available to avoid the inconvenience of having no electricity during the next bout of inclement weather, or the danger of a gas leak.
There is little doubt that we will face another situation where power goes out across the state. Texas runs on its own electrical grid, isolated from the rest of the country – meaning we can’t bring in energy from other states when facing a shortage.
According to several news stories, Texas was only four minutes away from a complete shut-down of the state-wide electrical grid, which would have taken weeks to recover from.
With that being said, it’s important to know how to prepare for and get through these conditions, and prepare for it before it happens. One way you can do so is by installing a gas line and a gas-powered home generator.
What Can I Do to Be Prepared for the Next Power Outage?
Even though we knew the frigid weather was on its way, most of us were focused on protecting our pipes from freezing or bursting. No one was expecting the lights to go out across much of the state – especially not the power companies.
While the occurrences are rare, this isn’t the first time we’ve experienced long-term area-wide power outages in Houston. Shut down power plants have caused significant power failures in 1989, 2003, and 2011. Much of Houston was without power for almost a month following Hurricane Ike in 2008.
Aside from stocking essentials and having a flashlight handy, you can go a few steps further to prepare yourself for an unprecedented power outage – no matter the weather or the time of year. The best way to be prepared is to get a generator gas line installation done – this will keep your home powered through the storm.
Install a Standby Generator for Your Home
You probably think a generator that’s large enough to power your entire home must be a giant, noisy, foul-smelling, diesel-powered monstrosity. Well, that’s not quite the case anymore. Standby generators these days are quieter, safer, and more efficient than ever.
Take a look at these advantages to installing a standby generator for your home.
They Are Quiet
As little as ten years ago, it would have been true to say that generators are extremely loud. However, whole-house power generators have significantly evolved in recent years. Today’s standby generators are much quieter, more efficient, and most importantly, safer appliances than they’ve ever been.
It Will Power Your Entire Home
Usually, a portable generator is good for keeping your refrigerator and a TV or two powered up but doesn’t produce enough energy to run HVAC systems. Plus, portable generators must run outdoors, as they emit toxic fumes, so you must connect any items you intend to power with it via long extension cords.
With a standby generator installed, you can rest assured knowing your home will be heated, that you’ll have warm water available, and the power will remain on during an emergency.
Multiple Options Are Available
For decades, the standard for permanent-installation residential generators has been to run them on diesel fuel or gasoline. Most portable generators also run on diesel or gasoline, but they rarely can provide enough energy to power an entire house.
Your new standby generator can run on natural gas, liquid propane – and yes, you can even get diesel units for total “off-the-grid” power independence! The best part about installing a standby generator for your home is the comfort of knowing your electricity service won’t be interrupted next time there’s a blackout.
It Can Be Used as a Tax Deductible
There are two situations when you can write off some or all of the cost of a whole house power generator: as a medical expense, and as a capital gains tax.
To claim a standby generator as a tax deduction for medical purposes, the generator would need to be used to power a dialysis machine, CPAP machine, chair lifts for patients with limited mobility, or those who require the use of specialized wheelchairs that require charging.
If the cost of a residential generator boosts the value of your home, you can recoup some of the capital gains losses when you sell by claiming it on your taxes.
How is a Gas Line Home Generator Installed?
To install your new natural gas-powered generator, a licensed plumbing company will need to add a gas line for the generator to your home. It won’t take long – an hour or two at most – and will probably prove to be the least expensive part of the generator installation process. Once the new gas line is connected to the meter and tested, you’ll be able to fire up your generator and take it for a test drive.
The upside to a professionally installed gas-powered standby generator is the convenience they bring when the power goes out. Whether you’re at home or away, when a power failure occurs, your generator will power itself up and switch your home’s electric panel to receive its power from the generator instead of the power company connection.
We’re sure you’re asking yourself how you could have been better prepared? How could you have kept your family warm and prevented the pipes from bursting in the attic? At Nick’s Plumbing & AC, one of the answers we can provide is installing a standby generator. There has been a high demand for them since last year’s storm.
However, before you run out and purchase the first standby generator you can find, let’s answer some basic questions.
Do I Need a Standby Generator?
Whether or not you need a standby generator is a decision only you can make. For some, avoiding the inconvenience of being without power for a couple of hours is worth investing in a generator. Even if we never see another weather event like the 2021 Winter Storm in our lifetimes, there will always be smaller storms that bring power outages along with them.
Connecting a standby generator to your home will allow you to continue normal day-to-day life in your home during a blackout. You may not even know there was a power failure with a standby generator.
Types of Generators Available
There are three main types of residential generators:
- natural gas
- liquid propane
While solar often gets a cursory mention in many articles about generators, the technology has not yet evolved to the point that it is financially beneficial to install a solar-powered generator.
Below, we’ve broken down the three main types of generators, and their pros and cons.
Natural Gas Generators
One of the most popular variations of the standby generator is a natural gas-powered one. As of 2019, natural gas generators accounted for the largest share of overall generation capacity (43% in the United States).
Compared to propane or diesel generators, natural gas is more cost-effective, efficient to operate, and better for the environment.
When choosing a natural gas generator, the standby version is the most common in residential situations as it is permanently installed. A natural gas line will be connected to the main supply line provided by your local gas service provider.
Liquid Propane Generators
These types of generators require propane to operate, meaning you’ll need a fuel tank that connects to your generator. This initial setup can be more costly than other types of generators, but propane has a long shelf-life, so you won’t need to worry about checking when the last time the tank was swapped in case of an emergency.
What’s great about propane is that it’s a clean-burning fuel, making it an environmentally friendly and reliable option. However, ensuring you have a large enough tank for this quick-burning fuel type will be important. While the propane can last a long time, it can be used up more quickly than other generator types.
Contrary to the liquid propane generators, diesel-fueled generators have a better fuel efficiency, meaning you’ll get more thermal energy out of what you’re putting into it. These generators also tend to be more durable (less maintenance means more money in your pocket), and tend to have a lower purchase price.
The downside to diesel-fueled generators is that they are often larger and heavier, making them less convenient for installation and placing them around your property. They can also be noisier than their counterparts, and are more complex to install. However, you should call in a licensed gas plumber to install your generator anyways.
What Size Generator Do I Need?
One of the most common mistakes customers make is buying the largest natural gas generator available. While that is one solution, there’s a more sensible and affordable one: buy a generator sized to your home’s most essential electrical circuits.
Doing this includes circuits connected to kitchen appliances, the furnace, well pump, water heater, security system, garage-door opener, and a few lights and outlets. These installations are known as partial house generators.
Generators are sized by kW (Kilowatts) — the greater the kW rating, the more items you can power. A generator manufacturer will indicate how many circuits you can power with a specific generator in the product information.
By reviewing this information, you’re able to strategically purchase a generator that will power only the items you want. For example, a 7.5kW home standby generator may power eight circuits, while an 11kW generator might power 16 circuits. If your home has less than 16 circuits, you’ll have a real whole house power generator.
How Much Will it Cost to Install a Gas Generator?
One of the most significant advantages of a standby generator fueled by natural gas is that it is cheaper to run than a gasoline or diesel unit. However, running new gas lines will mean a higher installation cost.
On its own, the generator’s price can range from $200-$20,000 depending on the size of the unit needed. The average installation cost of a natural gas generator can range anywhere from $5,000-$12,000, which includes pouring the concrete slab it must sit atop, running a gas line, and connecting it to your home’s electrical breaker box.
While it may be tempting to cut costs and look up how to install a natural gas line to a generator on your own, it can be incredibly dangerous. Make sure to leave this one to the pros.
I’ve Chosen and Installed My Generator. What’s the Next Step?
After your generator has been installed, the first step is to have a licensed plumber make the fuel connection, such as a professional from Nick’s Plumbing & AC.
The natural gas will be brought in using pipes buried underground. All pipes used for installing your natural gas line plumbing must be approved by the AGA (American Gas Association). This ensures that they are durable and made of the highest quality.
The pipe sizing, construction, and layout must adhere to NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) and City of Houston fire codes. At least one manual shut-off valve must be installed in the gas fuel supply line.
After having the gas line installed for your home generator, make sure to have a regular inspection done! Getting a professional gas line inspection done is an important part of having a home generator. If something is found, the gas line technicians will perform a gas leak detection, and a gas line repair if needed.
This will ensure you have a safe and functioning generator at your service, whenever you need it.
This Season, Rely on Nick’s Plumbing & AC
As the temperatures slowly warm and Houstonians begin to forget about the storm’s power outages, don’t lose sight of the importance of investing in a standby generator. Sure, we may not experience that type of extreme cold again in our lifetimes, but when we do have inclement weather, you can be confident that your family’s routine won’t be disrupted.
Let last year’s freeze remind you that now is the time to research and invest in a natural gas generator, and be sure to call Nick’s Plumbing & AC for help with the gas line installation for your home generator. Call Nick’s today!