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How Do Backup Generators Work?

If you live in the high country or the eastern plains, you will know that power outages can take a long time to resolve. And even in urban Colorado, power outages of just one or two hours can cause a big problem, especially if you run a home business or you telecommute. Investing in a backup generator will ensure you have power when the grid goes down. 

But how do backup generators work, and how do you get one? In this article, we’ll examine:

By the end of this article, you should have a better idea of what a backup generator can do and whether your home could benefit from one.

Speak to Our Electrical Team About Backup Power

At Cooper Heating & Cooling, we offer over 40 years of experience in electrical services. Our highly trained electricians can help you to choose a system that suits your electrical needs going forward. Contact us today to arrange an appointment and learn more about our systems.

How Standby Generators Work

Backup generators, as their name suggests, provide backup power when utility power goes down. These systems are designed to switch to generator power automatically and then run until power returns– whether that’s two weeks or two hours. How long your generator provides power depends on your chosen size and capacity.

Whether a storm has taken down power lines or the problem is with your electrical supply, your generator will kick in and ensure a reliable power supply until the primary power source is available again. Let’s take a look at that automatic switching in more detail.

Automatic Transfer Switch

An automatic transfer switch (ATS) is a device that connects to your generator and automatically switches power between two sources. So, in the case of a backup generator, those two sources will be your home electrical supply and your backup generator supply.

Here is how an ATS works:

  • When power is being supplied normally by the primary source, the ATS will sit in standby mode, ready to detect any power break.
  • If the primary power source is interrupted or fails, the ATS detects the power loss and automatically switches to the backup generator.
  • The backup generator will supply all power until the primary source becomes available again.

Fuel Sources

Backup generators run on many different fuels. Which one you choose will depend on the power or fuel you have available and the intended use of your system. Let’s explore the different fuel sources and how they are used:

  • Natural gas: If you have a gas line coming into your home, it makes sense to choose a gas-powered generator. They are a reliable power source for homes and businesses alike.
  • Gasoline: Gasoline-powered generators are typically used for mobile scenarios like outdoor events or camping.
  • Propane: Propane-powered generators are common in more rural areas where access to natural gas may not be possible. They make a good backup power source for the home.
  • Diesel: Generators that run on diesel are often used in commercial and industrial settings due to their durability, efficiency, and competitive operating costs.
  • Biofuels: If you are looking for a generator that runs on an environmentally friendly and renewable energy source, choose a biofuel generator. These offer efficient and dependable backup power and are better for the planet.

Standby vs. Portable Generators

Portable and standby home generators provide the same basic service, but the two types are poles apart regarding convenience and cost. Let’s take a look at them side by side.

Portable Generators

Portable generators can run on a number of different fuels, including gasoline, natural gas, liquid propane, and diesel fuel. Portable generators must be wheeled out of storage when a power outage occurs and connected to your home’s electrical panel. If you haven’t invested in a transfer switch, they must be manually connected to extension cords to provide backup power. Portable systems are also noisier than standby generators and produce less power. However, they are more affordable to buy and install than a home standby generator and are handy for providing power during short spells of inclement weather.

Standby Generators

Home standby generators are the gold standard for backup power. A standby generator is essential if you live in a remote location where power outages are common. They might be more expensive than portable generators, but in a power outage, you’ll be glad you spent the extra dollars. These systems are sized to provide power to your entire home, and they will fire up when a drop in power is detected. If you’re looking for a generator that provides power for days and even weeks without refueling, a standby generator is the type to choose. They are also a lot quieter than portable models.

Why You Need a Trustworthy Generator Installer

If you are ready to go ahead with generator installation, you need the services of a trusted generator installer. Electrical services need to be handled with great care and attention to the latest safety regulations. A generator not installed properly could start a fire and even explode. We’ve seen many incorrectly wired generators over the years. This is an accident waiting to happen.

A professional generator installer will carefully size your generator, considering the energy capacity required to power your entire home. From there, they will arrange installation to the highest standard.

Let Our Electrical Experts Arrange Generator Installation

The installation of a backup generator could be the best thing you do for your home today. At Cooper Heating and Cooling, we’ve been providing our electrical services since 1978, and we’d be delighted to recommend and install the best backup generator for your home. Contact our team today and experience our 100% satisfaction guarantee and honest and professional service.

Luke Cooper