Generator sales on the rise

More affordable and above all more flexible in terms of use, portable generators are popular with Quebecers. (Photo: 123RF)

Strong winds, winter and summer, ice storms and other vagaries of Mother Nature mean our cottages are likely to experience more power outages. As a result, sales of generators of all sizes are soaring.

According to the latest Fortune Business Insights report, published last January, generator sales in North America are expected to reach nearly $9 billion by 2030. A jump of 55% compared to the total sales recorded in 2022.’s marketing director, Gabryel Laflèche, is not at all surprised by these increases. “During the past 12 months, and particularly during the most recent ice episode that occurred last April in the Montreal metropolitan area, our reference site for renovation and construction experts received up to eight times more requests than usual for generator panel installation quotes than is usual. he said. Others also wanted to know the cost of different emergency equipment options on the market.”

A portable option

More affordable and, above all, more flexible in terms of use, portable generators are popular with Quebecers, reports Gabryel Laflèche. These emergency devices, usually equipped with a fuel tank with a capacity of between three and ten hours depending on use, produce enough energy to preserve food stored in the fridge-freezer. It is also suitable for powering the television and computer, while not forgetting the necessary router for Internet operation. Unless otherwise recommended by the manufacturer, these small models are not recommended for powering a supplemental heating system.

Practical for the home – including camping – generator with less than 2200 watts is the most affordable in the category of portable troubleshooting tools. These devices, rated at no more than 15 amps, sell for between $400 and $1,000 at most hardware stores in the province. However, you can easily count between $1,200 and $1,500 if you prefer to opt for one of the entry-level models from certain big brands like Cummins, Generac, Yamaha, and Honda.

“Since these big-name generators are normally sold at machine centers, their slightly higher selling price will include a preparation service and sharing valuable advice to facilitate the operation of the equipment,” advises Pierre Harvey, owner of Génératrice Experts, a Quebec company that distributes Cummins products.

Thanks to their compact dimensions and weight not exceeding twenty kilograms, these small generators can help the inhabitants of a flat or apartment, provided that the distance standards issued by the public health department are respected.

Heating please!

For a little more power and especially for the possibility of connecting an additional heating device, it is better to opt for a generator that produces at least 4,500 watts, recommends Gabryel Laflèche. These devices sell for between $1,500 and $1,700 and power the freezer, lighting system, and electronic devices. “These models are generally very popular because of their dual-fuel system that can run on gasoline and propane,” notes Pierre Harvey.

If you want the most powerful portable generator, models with more than 7500 watts will answer the call. These devices, which run on gasoline or propane, cost around $2,000 ($4,000 if it’s a major brand). With a power capacity of at least 39 amps, these behemoths on wheels (weighing more than sixty kilos) can power refrigeration appliances, a stove, an artesian well pump, a heater and even charge an electric car, according to our experts. The only downside is the noise. These robust models produce 70 to 90 decibels and are the loudest among portable generators. Therefore, these facilities are more likely to be found in the countryside.

Semi-solid variant

Note that many consumers now want to maximize connectivity between their portable generator and the electrical appliances under their roof. “Many of them have a hand generator panel installed in their house,” notes Gabryel Laflèche. This panel, he says, which should not be confused with an electrical panel, allows emergency equipment to be directly connected and activated if necessary. You should budget between $500 and $1200 for this accessory. An amount to which must be added the services of a certified electrician, the cost of which can range from $500 to $1,000 depending on the hourly rate, travel time and duration of the job.

“Generator panel installation time generally depends on the condition of the main electrical panel. A professional will need an average of three to five hours to complete the job,” according to a spokesperson. He warns that the older a home’s electrical system is, the longer the task will take. As for the electrician, he is able to design the types of generators and above all the energy capacity needed to power the main accessories of the house. Helpful opinion before investing in any emergency system.

Carefree option

Even the most expensive of the repair options, the fixed option, is gaining supporters. Since it kicks in as soon as there is a power outage, this generator ensures comfort and peace of mind for the occupants of the house. “It’s a worry-free solution for those who work outdoors or travel,” say our experts. According to American manufacturer Generac, 20 years ago, less than one in 100 North American households had a fixed generator in their yard (0.63). Today, more than one in 20 households opt for this type of installation, notes the manufacturer.

This turnkey device easily requires an investment of $10,000 to $20,000 from its owner. The first factor that increases the price of this fixed and automatic option: the capacity of the device, which can generate between 7.5 and 20 kilowatts. A fixed generator costs between $3,000 and $10,000, depending on the energy required by its user in the event of a malfunction, says Pierre Harvey. To this is added the cost of installing a concrete slab for the location of the generator (around one hundred dollars), the purchase of an automatic panel, as well as the cost of its installation (from $ 2,500 to $ 4,000).

The fixed formula also includes installation of a natural gas or propane line ($2,000 to $4,000) to ensure the unit starts automatically. Annual maintenance costs of around $500 are also to be expected for the system to function properly.

Other benefits

These autonomous generators have the advantage of performing weekly self-tests to be ready for any eventuality. “Some models (Cummins, Kohler, Generac, etc.) even have mobile apps that allow you to manage the emergency system and consult maintenance alerts,” reports Gabryel Laflèche. These machines are also characterized by being less noisy than their portable counterparts. Most produce a noise level of around 60 decibels, the equivalent of an air conditioner or a washing machine, he points out.

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