Keep the lights on when the power's outImagine this: you’re sitting in the living room, watching TV with your family, enjoying some relaxing time together, when all of a sudden the power goes out. Now you’re scrambling for flashlights, trying to find candles, and your evening has become way less relaxing! Now imagine the same evening – the power goes out at the neighbor’s house, but yours keeps the lights on! Does that sound too good to be true? It’s not, if you have a backup generator in place.

There are different ways to configure a generator – and your needs and budget can determine what kind of generator setup will work best for you. Whether you’re looking for an option that comes on automatically when the power goes out, or an option that you can go turn on when you lose power, a certified electrician can help you to get set up with the appropriate wiring and equipment.

Automatic Backup Generators

These are a pricier option, but they just work. Typically these run on natural gas or propane, and will automatically come on when the power to your home goes out. How? By using an automatic transfer switch – this means that the generator can also sense when the power is restored, and will turn itself off. These types of generators are a great investment if you frequently lose power (especially in rural areas where fewer houses are affected by an outage), and if you’re looking for the convenience this option offers. These cannot be self-installed safely, so make sure that you contact a licensed professional to help you get set up.

Portable Backup Generators

These are a much more economical option – when the power goes out, you roll the generator over, plug it in, and flip a switch to change your home’s wiring to run off the generator instead of the electrical line. These generators usually run on gasoline, and it’s really important that they are out in the open and well-ventilated (don’t run them in your garage, for example). This type of generator can run either your entire home (with a larger generator), or just some essential parts of your home (like your lights, refrigerator, stove, etc) using a smaller unit. A certified electrician can get you set up with the appropriate wiring so that it’s easy and safe to switch to generator power when you need it.

Whatever solution you chose, make sure you have a professional help you with the initial setup. Also use basic safety considerations – never touch a generator when it’s hot, keep children away from a running generator, and always use the generator in open air (to avoid carbon monoxide issues). A little bit of an up-front investment will keep your lights on, even when the power goes out!