Don’t be in the Dark! Generator Info for your Home

hands-1926414_1920Emergency backup power is a must-have for homeowners. When it comes to backup power for your home, you have two choices, a portable generator or a whole home (standby) generator.

Portable generators are designed more for job sites, camping, tailgating and other mobile activities. They power individual items, such as plug-in appliances and lamps with extension cords. They run on gasoline or diesel and no installation is required. This makes them very convenient, but you must be present to operate and refuel them. Additionally, they must be safely operated away from the home and windows must be open in order to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Whole home (standby) generators, on the other hand, are ideal for backing up your home because they keep your power on during an outage. Whole home (standby) generators are professionally installed outside your house, like an air conditioning unit, and they automatically start and restore power in seconds – whether you’re at home or away. They can power everything in your home, including critical hard-wired systems like air conditioning, heat, HVAC, lights, sump pumps, well pumps, security systems and large appliances. They don’t need refueling as they run on your home’s natural or LP gas and they deliver high-quality power which won’t harm your electronics. For added convenience, some whole home generators can be operated remotely from a smartphone!

How the whole home (standby) generators work is easier than you think! And you won’t need to lift a finger, as everything is automatic. When the power fails or drops below an acceptable level (brownout) the Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS) signals the generator to start. In seconds, the ATS transfers your power from the utility to the generator. If you began reading this when your power went out, by the time you’re reading this line, your generator will have started and restored power to your home. When the utility power is restored, the ATS automatically transfers your power from the generator to the utility.

A whole home generator plus installation typically starts under $6,000. However, the total cost will vary based on your power and installation needs. When shopping standby home generators, your checklist should include generator size, costs, permits and installation.

It is estimated that 87% of power outages in the United States are caused by severe weather and weather-related power outages have doubled since 2003. Power outages cost American households $150 billion annually with weather-related outages accounting for $25 – $80 billion per year. In addition, approximately 500,000 people on average, are affected daily by U.S. power outages. The amount and severity of these outages has spiked dramatically over the past decade, causing physical, emotional and economic hardship for many Americans. Save yourself future frustration by preparing for emergencies now.

Mark Diehl is the owner of Aqua Hills Water, a member of the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association. Blog articles are often submitted by members of the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association. For more information please call 715-835-2526 or email

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