A backup generator typically has a transfer switch installed right next to your current electrical box, and when the power goes out, it automatically transfers the power to the backup generator, even if you aren’t home. The generator is connected to your home’s main natural gas or propane line, and is much quieter than a portable generator.

Mike Brachter at Brachter Electric, (734) 722-0037, www.bratcherelectric.com installs lots of backup power systems and says most people refer to them as “whole house” backup generator. However, customers don’t always need to pay for a whole house system, he said.

“I like to discuss exactly what people want this backup system to do, and while they do have the capability to power everything in their home, many people only want to provide power for the critical necessities,” Mike said.

Many of the systems that Brachter installs are partial backup systems that may power 10 or more items, and he doesn’t recommend paying for more than you need. Kohler, (800) 544-2444, one of the largest manufacturers of backup generator systems, has a sizing calculator at www.kohlerpower.com to help you determine the proper kilowatt backup generator you need based on the appliances you want to power.

The size of backup generators is based on watts or kilowatts. A portable generator with 4800 watts/4.8 kilowatts with a 12-hour run gas tank can be found for under $600 these days. The good news is that larger backup systems for most homes in the 1,500 to 2,000 square foot range can be installed for between $4,000 and $7,500. A backup generator system also adds to your home’s resale value, or you can take it with you to your new home.

These backup systems do need annual maintenance, and I recommend that you find an electrical contractor that will install it and perform the yearly maintenance. That way, if there ever is a problem, you are dealing with someone that knows your system well because they also installed it.

With the stormy weather we experience in Michigan in both the summer and winter months, having a backup generator can provide the ultimate peace of mind and comfort to weather any extended power outage.