Standby Power Generators: Shouldn’t I Just Rent?

Posted by on Sep 20, 2014 in Blogs, Generators | Comments Off on Standby Power Generators: Shouldn’t I Just Rent?

Standby Power Generators: Shouldn’t I Just Rent?

By the time the middle of summer approaches, most Florida residents are thinking about what they need to top off their hurricane supplies. Every year, residents on the Atlantic coast prepare for hurricanes, tropical storms, and the resulting power outages that threaten the area. Most emergency supplies are relatively inexpensive, and can even be used up if the hurricane season passes without a major storm, but one major item is neither: standby power generators.

If you live in an area that’s subject to regular, sustained power outages, it makes sense to keep a standby power supply around, or at least to know where to get one if the lights go out. You might look at the relative costs of buying a standby generator vs. renting one, and decide to take a chance at not needing it often enough to make it worth the expense of purchasing your own. Unfortunately, when the power goes out for more than a few hours, your options will be limited when it comes to getting electricity back into your home.

Cost Comparison

Costs vary depending on brands and your part of the country, but the average rental cost of a medium-sized portable generator runs between 5 and 10 percent of the cost of buying one. If you can find a generator on sale, as they usually are after hurricane season is over, you can close that gap considerably. The bottom line is that when you buy standby power generators, you have the option of waiting around to find the best deal. If you wait until the power goes out to rent one, you’re a captive audience, forced to pay whatever the dealer is charging during an emergency. And it’s doubtful that there will be discounts that week.


Hardware stores and big box retailers can only stock a certain number of rental generators, in order to make the space cost-effective. If you’re lucky enough to get to the store right after the power goes out, you may be able to rent one of the few samples they keep around. When their supply is gone, they won’t open cases to convert sales models to rental units. They’ll simply switch to a sales-only model, at the full, non-discounted price. Depending on where you live, you may not even have much of a chance of finding a rental generator in the case of a long-term power outage. Even if you do, the chances that it will be the right size for your needs and budget are very small.


When you buy your own standby generator, you take responsibility to keep up the maintenance each season, making sure it’s in top condition so that it works well when it’s needed. After all, an emergency generator has to be a reliable last resort for keeping your home and belongings safe and comfortable. Reputable dealers may service their generators, but there are no guarantees. One lazy employee or busy week where things got forgotten, and you can have a broken generator on your hands with no way to replace it with a working model. You don’t know how the last renter treated it, and you don’t know if the maintenance schedule was followed correctly. With your own model, however, you know you’ve got the best possible chance of having power on all through the outage.

The Right Size

Even if you find an available standby generator at your local store during a power outage, it may not beĀ  big enough to power all the equipment you want to keep running. Most emergency rentals are powerful enough to run your refrigerator/freezer, a few lights, and some fans. If you’d like your life during the blackout to be more than simply camping out in your house, you probably want a larger standby generator. The only way to guarantee this is to buy your own before the power goes out. You can find generators that run your computers and television all the way up to whole-house models that let you forget that anything’s wrong in your neighborhood. When you buy your own standby generator, you decide the level of comfort you need when the lights go out.