Home Generators Provide Emergency Relief

Updated January 4, 2012
backup home generator
Hiring an electrical contractor as opposed to someone who deals solely in generators can help you avoid frustrating mistakes during installation, says Angeloszek. (Photo courtesy of CT Electrical Services)

Learn how a home backup generator can provide relief when the power goes out.

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

Homes in areas where electric power lines are strung usually have to deal with power outages caused by natural forces. Most people resort to flashlights and candles to get through an outage, but longer periods without electricity can have serious consequences on the home and its residents.

When a home loses power, a lot more is at stake than the loss of light. Refrigerators, heating and cooling systems and even medical devices stop working. If a power outage occurs over a long period of time, a home may become uncomfortable or even uninhabitable due to temperature conditions. A home without electricity in the dead of winter is subject to pipe bursting, while extremely hot homes can create unsafe living conditions.

One way to protect your home and family from an extended power outage is to purchase a home generator, which can be turned on to power the home when the electricity shuts off. There are two kinds of generators: portable and standby. They run on a variety of fuels including gasoline, diesel and natural gas.

When choosing a home generator, it is important to realize that the less expensive, portable generators are designed to run for short periods of time and will need frequent refueling. If your generator runs on gasoline and the power outage spans several days, obtaining additional fuel may become difficult.

In the result of an outage, portable generators will need to be moved into position and manually hooked into your home's electrical system.

Standby generators, also referred to as automatic generators, however, are fixed in place and attached directly to a fuel supply like natural gas, gasoline or diesel fuel. They may turn on manually or automatically, and can supply electricity to the entire home. Standby generators need to be installed on a concrete pad and close to a fuel source.

“Automatic generators detect power outages and start themselves within about 30 seconds,” says Paul Hampton, owner of highly rated A-1 Electric Co. Inc. in Warren, N.J. “The important circuits are powered as soon as the generator is ready. Once the power company restores power, the unit shuts itself off again.”

You should talk with a licensed electrician if you are thinking about purchasing a home generator. An electrician can help you determine the right generator for your home's specific needs, and teach you how to properly operate the unit.

Log into Angie's List today to find a highly rated, licensed electrician in your area. 

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.