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What to Know Before Purchasing a Backup Generator

Superstorm Sandy of 2011 highlighted the vulnerabilities of our power grid. Leaving 2/3 of New Jersey powerless, sometimes for as long as 13 days, Sandy made it quite obvious that electrical power is essential for modern survival.

recent U.S. storms highlight need for backup generator

Source: Popular Mechanics

Living without electricity, even if just for a day, is not on anyone’s bucket list. We often take for granted the basic necessities of home-life such as a refrigerator, oven or stove, running water, etc., but when the electricity goes out these appliances are no longer available to us. Before you panic, find out how backup generators can keep you from being left in the dark!

What is a generator, you ask?

Backup generators, in the simplest of terms, are what provide you with a continuous flow of electricity in the event of a power outage.  Whether it’s a storm or hurricane, an icepocalypse, or other natural disasters, a backup generator will help keep your routine as normal as possible.

How Do Generators Work?

how a backup generator works

When your municipal power goes out, the backup generator automatically kicks on, with minimal disruption to your power supply. When power is restored, the backup generator turns itself off, returning to standby mode.

how backup generator works

Source: Popular Mechanics

How do I know which one to buy?

You have a couple different options when purchasing a backup generator. The question you must first ask yourself is, “Do I want it to be portable or permanent?” Each have different qualities, so you must decipher which aspects are most important to you. A permanent standby generator remains permanently outside the home and on standby. They run on an existing fuel source – either liquid propane or natural gas. In the event of a power outage, these are great because they provide power within seconds of having lost it. They work in union with a transfer switch to monitor incoming utility voltage.

Scenario: You lose power due to an ice storm, but you aren’t too worried because you had a permanent standby generator installed. The transfer switch gets signal that you’ve lost power, and it disconnects the utility line and connects a new power lines from the generator. Voilà! Power restored in seconds.

Portable generators are what you would want in the event that you only need a few electrical appliances powered. They are relatively smaller than a permanent standby generator, and can be wheeled around. It’s imperative to never bring these inside, as their primary fuel source is gasoline and can emit harmful gases such as carbon monoxide. By running an extension cord that connects to your portable generator, you can power smaller appliances such as refrigerators, hot water heater, TVs, computers, etc.

Scenario: You lose power due to a thunderstorm, and you’re worried about being left in the dark and the food in your refrigerator going bad. Your worries ease though as you walk out to your portable generator, pour in the gasoline, and run an extension cord! Easy as 1, 2, 3.

You might consider a portable generator if:

  • You’re looking for a more affordable solution
  • You need only a few appliances powered

Choosing a backup generator depends upon a variety of factors, including how much power you need to keep your most important appliances running. Quality backup generators start at around $3,000 and go up from there. Take a look at this chart from Popular Mechanics to help determine the proper size of your new backup generator:

size and power of backup generators

Read about our Backup Generator Features and Benefits!


To purchase a generator, call Gold Medal Service for efficient and effective backup generator repairs and installations: 1-800-553-6060.

We’ll be there with our same day service guarantee to assess your home and recommend budget-friendly backup generator options

Give us a call at 1-800-553-6060 or schedule an appointment online!

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Have an emergency? We can handle it! 24/7/365 service at no extra cost to you!

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