I am sure, like some of you, being stuck in a cold house with my wife, children and mother-in-law in the middle of February 2021 was the turning point for us. It was time to get a generator. Like many of you, as a result of the pandemic, we were in the midst of reassessing our housing choices and space needs at around the same time. It wasn’t until the summer of 2021 that we decided to move to West U and started exploring a generator for our new home.
Much like Eric did for his generator, and with his blessing, we used a portion of Reliant’s annual sponsorship money to have a whole house generator installed in the Lanza household. Reliant is, of course, the perennial sponsor of Space City Weather. As in Eric’s case, my experience will reflect that of any consumer in my situation. We laughed, we cried, and it wasn’t always nice. But it’s over.
Obviously buying a generator is an investment. An average installation will likely cost you between $10,000 and $15,000 depending on your home and needs, and that may have gone up a bit due to inflation. That being said, I think what we’ve learned from recent disasters here in Texas and along the Gulf Coast is that if you’re able to buy a whole house generator, it’ll likely be a worthwhile investment. This is something I really never thought I would do, but an infant and toddler walking around a powerless home can change minds. My goal in this post is to detail the process of installing a whole house generator in a 2022 world and share how my experience differs from Eric’s, which he wrote about last year.
Reliant works with a Houston-based company called Quality Home Products of Texas. To begin this effort, Quality sent a technician to my home back in November 2021. Joey was our technician and he was extremely informative and knowledgeable about the process. We live in an older house (1940’s) that has been modernized so there were a few quirks in terms of wiring, logistics etc. These became an issue during the installation process but overall Joey’s plan worked on paper. They were good at finding workable, minimally invasive solutions to a home’s unique situation.
The first physical element of the process was installing a pad.
We sketched where the generator would go in our yard, put some stakes in the ground, signed a contract, and paid 25 percent of the total up front. Here, for the first time, my situation differs somewhat from Eric’s experience. Eric’s home needed a stand, but in our case a pad worked well. To this end, workers made two visits to create the “outline” of the block and then pour concrete. Both visits were quick, easy and required little effort on our part.
The second difference to Eric’s experience was the Great Supply Chain Crisis in late 2021 and 2022. When we signed the contract in November we were told that the process would be slightly delayed due to supplies. Apparently a lot of people want generators! The tentative schedule was that installation would likely occur in February or March. Being quite connected to the news, I expected this, and it was just an inevitable outcome that was understandable. I appreciated that Joey was honest up front.
Our gas meter upgrade was one of the most delicate parts of the process. It took a bit of diplomatic navigating between CenterPoint and Quality Home Products, but once it was done it worked well.
Then, as it turns out, our permitting process in West U was delayed. As a result, my installation at City Hall was delayed by a month or two. Finally, we got the ball rolling in April, poured the slab in May and did the installation in June. Why am I writing this in September? A number of things: my schedule and a Covid outbreak at our house, then a number of smaller issues that resulted in delays of five to seven days each time. We had trouble upgrading our gas meter with some back and forth between Quality and CenterPoint. The regulator required for the home’s gas supply was installed a week before CenterPoint could upgrade the meter, causing problems with the hot water supply. We also had issues with how our HVAC system connected to the generator. We had a few parts that needed replacing. My conclusion here: things inevitably happen, so just be prepared to deal with them in the process. There were difficult moments, but Quality fully cooperated with us to solve the problems and they got the job done.
Ultimately the generator was installed in June and we achieved commissioning at the end of August.
The process of installing a generator was a headache in its own right, but hearing it self-test on Mondays offers a peace of mind that’s hard to quantify.
The installation process itself was about a half-day effort, with your power cut off for a couple of hours during that time. Consider this in your planning if you are working from home or want to avoid excessively hot or cold days. But overall rather unremarkable. The starting process was also uncomplicated. It includes a brief power outage to test the generator. I’ve seen first hand what would happen if we lost power and admittedly it’s pretty cool. The electricity is shut off and within about 10 seconds the generator comes on and life in the house can return to some degree of normality. To make sure things stay up and running the generator tests itself once a week and if anything shows up they come out to see what’s up.
All in all, the installation process itself isn’t that bad. But it’s been a long road, and certainly not without a few points of legitimate frustration. Despite a few outages, Quality does a good job overall and also offers fairly comprehensive maintenance and monitoring services. All of my interactions with their staff have been positive. And to their credit, they apologized and explained the issues when things got stuck.
When choosing a generator, plan ahead and prepare to be patient. Another tip? Pay attention when they explain certain elements of the process. There may come a point when you need to explain to someone why something was done a certain way (like I’m trying to resolve problems between a plumber and CenterPoint). This can be exhausting, but it will save you from frustration. You don’t have to be an electrician or plumber to understand the whole process, but ask questions and pay attention to the installers.
Suppose you don’t see a generator in sight. There are alternatives to keep your home’s critical functions running in the event of a power outage. Reliant also understands these solutions and will work with you to find the right product for your lifestyle.
- Reliant’s sister company, Goal Zero, offers a variety of affordable and flexible energy solutions, including portable power stations that can be charged via solar panels, power banks for smaller devices, lanterns and more – all perfect for when storms are blowing through or heading outdoors.
- These devices can power everything from refrigerators and internet modems to phones, laptops and even critical medical equipment. They can also be integrated directly into your home’s circuitry for a seamless experience.
- In the event of a major storm or grid-related issues, portable backup power solutions give you the peace of mind that you have enough power to keep important devices charged and connected to family and friends.
- • To learn more about backup power options, visit Reliant.com/backuppower. (Reliable customers receive a 15 percent discount on Goal Zero products!)
Overall, I am grateful and relieved that this process is finally complete. But like I said, while frustrating, the peace of mind we have now is hard to replicate. So was it worth it? I think so. I’m also confident that I can help Eric out in the event of an energy-crushing storm! And that’s good for everyone.