How Do Backup/Standby Generators Work?

As a Florida resident, you know heavy winds and rains knock over trees and power lines all the time— and you admit you could really benefit from a backup generator.

But are backup generators the same thing as a standby generator? Also, do they power your home automatically, without you having to do anything once an outage strikes?

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

What is a Backup/Standby Generator?

A backup or standby generator is an alternative power supply, which automatically turns on and supplies power in the event of an outage. Think of it as your guaranteed power source when a nasty storm causes a neighborhood blackout.

These generators come in various sizes, from units strong enough to power your entire home or business, to those with only enough juice to keep the lights and your refrigerator on. Standby units also run on different fuel sources, such as natural gas, diesel or propane, adding to your list of choices!

How Does a Backup/Standby Generator Work?

Standby generators are not to be confused with portable generators, as unlike portable power sources, these backup units are permanent fixtures.

Standby generators connect to your home’s or business’s wiring, and are always installed with a thing called a transfer switch. This switch sits, quietly monitoring your building’s connection to local utility power.

There’s two types of switches: automatic or manual. Just like it sounds, an automatic switch works on its own, without you having to manually turn it on.

If the transfer switch box senses a disruption in power, AKA power stops flowing due to an outage, your switch activates. Within seconds of a power cut, the switch automatically kicks on your standby generator and transfers your utility electrical circuits to this backup power system.

How Big of a Generator Do I Need to Power My Electronics?

First things first. Decide what you absolutely need power in the event of an outage. Do you simply want to have lights and to keep food in your fridge from expiring until power is restored? Or, do you need to run dozens of computers and two commercial air conditioner units at your office?

Assemble a list of what absolutely needs power and determine the wattage needed to power all these devices. The size of your generator and its level of power will vary based on your watts requirements, but the linked article can help you calculate this.

A certified electrician can also assess your home or business and ensure you have the right standby generator for your needs, instead. 

The Right Generator for SWFL Home & Business Owners

When it comes to generator shopping, there’s almost too many choices. How do you know which is best for its performance and price?

Here at Southwest Florida Electric, we trust two long-standing brands: Kohler & Generac.

Interested in learning more about our generator installation, repair & maintenance? We’ll assess your devices, calculate your wattage requirements and make a recommendation on a backup unit that’s right for you.

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