Q: I enjoy your column, and over the summer I found your story on standby generators interesting. But I did not follow through on your recommendation to look into them further, especially if your house has a sump pump to control basement water.

Q: I enjoy your column, and over the summer I found your story on standby generators interesting. But I did not follow through on your recommendation to look into them further, especially if your house has a sump pump to control basement water.

Well, now my tune has changed, since I've gone through a long-term power outage and dealt with a flooded finished basement. I'm ready to invest in my home and would like some ballpark information.

Could you tell me what kind of price tag goes along with installing a standby-generator system? -- Bill, New England.

A: Sorry to hear about your recent experience, but if it makes you feel better, you're not alone. I speak about standby power systems at many home shows, and the most interested people are those who have a story like yours. They all tell me "never again," and they ask how much they can expect to spend for a complete standby-generator power system.

Now, this can be a tricky question, so let's start at the beginning.

A "standby" generator is not a "portable" generator. Standby systems are natural- or propane-gas fired, and they are permanently installed into your home's electrical system. This makes them an "automatic" system that has to be added to your home by a licensed and insured standby-generator contractor.

Since these systems include landscaping, gas pipefitting, electrical work and proper sizing of the generator, prices can vary greatly. I don't want to avoid your question, so here's what I've experienced.

Usually, for an average-size home, the system could be installed for under $10,000. Roughly half of that would be for the generator itself, and the other half would be for permits, system materials and sub-contractor labor.

Bottom line: Standby generators can be a big investment, but what they can save may be priceless!
    
Master Contractor/Plumber Ed Del Grande is known internationally as the author of the book "Ed Del Grande's House Call," and for hosting TV shows on Scripps Networks and HGTVPro.com. For information, visit eddelgrande.com or write eddelgrande@hgtvpro.com. Always consult local contractors and codes.