Generators Provide Safety Net, Differentiation for High-Value Homes

New homes in hurricane-prone areas increasingly feature backup generators

Back in 2005, high-end communities were going up in Southwest Florida at a brisk clip. Golf courses, clubhouse spas, and nature preserves were so standard that they almost couldn't be called amenities. While new homes were spending little time on the market, builders and developers still had to find ways to differentiate their stucco palaces from the next guy's stucco mansion.

At Coastal Breeze Homes in Naples, Fla., that difference came down to meeting a demand that was as important as custom finishes and luxury amenities: protecting that investment with built-in, propane backup generators.

Luxury homes by Coastal Breeze Homes of Naples, Fla. Photos courtesy of the builder.
Photos courtesy of Coastal Breeze Homes

"Since Hurricane Charley in 2004 and Hurricane Wilma in 2005 an increasing number of our clients inquired about the possibility of installing gas-operated power generators outside of their new homes which were in various stages of completion," company president Greg Schmidt told the Naples Daily News in 2006. "With the rise in demand for generators we have found it much easier and less expensive to allow for the proper electrical wiring and gas lines to be installed as the home is being built rather than retrofitting an existing home."

During the building boom years, Coastal Breeze offered two sizes of generators: a smaller Briggs & Stratton system for essential systems and a larger Kohler Power system that could handle the whole house.

The construction business in Southwest Florida has slowed considerably in recent years, but Coastal Breeze continues to get requests for generators, says sales manager Bryan Kieffer.

"The generator is still something we price out for everybody," says Kieffer. "If we don't put in a generator then we'll often include a gas connection and run a separate junction box."

Coastal Breeze recently completed a 3,500-square-foot home with an 18 kW Kohler Power generator that will power all the appliances, the air conditioning system, and lighting in the main areas of the home. "The key is to have it big enough to power the AC," says Kieffer. "Then it doesn't seem like emergency power."

Most of the time homes built by Coastal Breeze are connected to propane. "We run propane to the indoor kitchen, appliances, the dryer, pool heater, outdoor kitchen, and outdoor fireplace," says Kieffer. "A buried propane tank is almost always there so adding a generator is easy."

In Mandeville, La., Integrity Builders puts generators into most of the custom homes it builds. "Before Katrina, we often put in generators that would only power half the house," says Kenny Adams, Jr., president of Integrity. "After Katrina everyone told me they were sorry that they had done that. Now, 95 percent of the generators we install are for the full house."

Just to be doubly sure the generators will power up in an emergency, the builder goes for all propane or, for those homes that use natural gas, includes a 500-gallon propane tank for backup.

When you're in the middle of Hurricane Alley, there's just no room for half-measures.

To learn how to incorporate propane products such as generators into your next project, be sure to check out our free online CEU courses, available at the Propane Training Academy. The topics mentioned in this article are discussed in the following training courses:

Specifying Propane Standby Generators: Installation and Value Considerations 

Community Propane Systems: Economic, Environmentally Responsible Energy Solutions

Propane Gas Underground Systems: Residential Infrastructure Requirements and Energy Benefits

Go Green with Propane: An Overview of Propane Gas Systems for Green Residential Construction


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