Backup generators or standby generators are available as whole-house units with enough output to power the needs of your entire home, or as lower-output "critical circuit" models which power pre-selected circuits of your choice to keep only the most vital functions powered so the house can remain habitable.

Severe weather is an occasional fact of South Florida's enviable climate. Tropical storms, electrical storms, even hurricanes can interrupt electrical power. Once upon a time, a power failure simply meant breaking out the flash-lights or lighting a few candles until the lights came back on. Today's homes, however, are full of electronics and high-technology devices, all of which require an uninterrupted supply of AC. A modern home deprived of electricity may be not only uncomfortable, it may be literally uninhabitable until the electrical utility restores power. Florida residents may have to find a shelter or temporarily relocate far away until the lines are repaired.

Portable gasoline generators have some limited role in an emergency. However, only the largest have the required output to handle all the really important electrical demands of your home. Moreover, when power fails, they must be taken out of storage, manually started and then connected through extension cords to the devices in your home that need priority power. The rest of the house stays dark. Also, gasoline generators are noisy and must be kept a distance from the home to avoid dangerous carbon monoxide fumes.

Whole-house backup generators are the definitive protection against power outages. Long used in hospitals and emergency facilities like fire stations, a backup generator is permanently installed outside your home by a licensed electrician, usually in a backyard cabinet something like a central air conditioner. The electrician wires the backup generator directly into the circuit box of your home so there are no clumsy extension cords. The generator stays permanently connected to the circuits, monitoring the power off the grid and ready to take over the role of providing electricity in the event of an outage.

Backup generators are powered by gas, diesel or natural gas that's already piped to your home. While gasoline supplies may be scarce during a long power outage, studies show that the flow of natural gas is seldom interrupted. The generator instantly senses any interruption in utility power and automatically starts up in seconds. An automatic transfer switch installed by a licensed electrician shifts the home circuits from grid power over to the backup generator. Electricity immediately flows to circuits in your home, keeping vital components like lights, refrigerators, air conditioning, computers and communications equipment functioning. When electricity is restored by the utility, the transfer switch senses it and automatically switches the house back over to grid power, then shuts off the generator.