Whole House Generators
With no lights, no heat, and no appliances, homeowners in a blackout are plunged into the Dark Ages. Power outages can cause frozen pipes, mold growth, spoiled food, and loss of heat or running water. So in storm zones, where vicious weather knocks out power with grim regularity, the comfort of a standby power system is worth the price. Permanent backup generators are increasingly common in coastal states from the Carolinas to Florida and in New England where powerful storms and shared power grids can threaten local power throughout the year.
Portable generators can replace part of a household load during an electrical outage, but these devices are typically loud, hard to move, run on gasoline, and limit the number of appliances that can run at any one time.
A permanent backup power system can run off the home's propane or natural gas supply and can be directly wired into the household circuit panel. These systems provide a seamless switch from utility service to backup power.
Some companies market fully integrated systems that feature switching devices and distribution panels have a transfer switch "brain" that monitors the home's utility power for interruption. If one is detected, the switch automatically fires up the generator and transfers the electrical loads, bringing power back to the house. The same process, in reverse, brings normal utility power back on line when service resumes.
Permanent generators are preferred in neighborhoods with noise restrictions because they are housed in sound deadening material to minimize sound output.