No one likes losing power for an extended period of time. It’s not only inconvenient, but it can also be destructive – the temperature of your home drops significantly, food in your refrigerator and freezer can go bad, just to name a few. The wrath of a storm is nothing to mess with, so having a backup generator is a popular investment for homeowners that want to stay powered up, no matter what’s happening around them.

A man filling a backup generator with gasoline

What Is a Backup Generator?

A backup generator is a permanent installation in a home that will provide uninterrupted electrical backup for days. They are connected to the home’s electrical panel but powered by external fuel, such as diesel, natural gas, or propane. Large systems can power a whole home with ease.

The generator has an internal switch that disconnects the home from utility services once it detects an interruption, then it will transfer power to the home’s electrical panel. Once the municipal power comes back on, the switch will shut off and the home will be reconnected to the grid.  Generators are popular for families with small children who do not want interrupted service, as well as those who work out of the home and need access to power all the time.

Why Install a Generator?

Generators bring a sense of safety and security to a home or business during natural disasters as well as other situations. In your house, generator power can bring light during a summer storm, and heat if the power is lost during winter. If power is lost in your community for an extended period of time, a home generator can save you the expense of having to relocate, allowing you to continue your day-to-day life in comfort.

Generators are designed for homes, large or small, and to meet the needs of whole-house or partial backup power. Homeowners can choose to use a portable generator or a permanent standby generator. A generator always needs to be wired into your home electrical panel by a certified, licensed electrician. Your local inspector will check the installation to protect not only your safety, but also the lineman’s safety when they are working on the electrical lines during an outage. Improper wiring or installation is very dangerous and can even be fatal.

Proper placement of the generator is also of high importance. Generators of either kind should be 10 feet or further away from the house and have three or four feet of breathing room between it and surrounding objects on all sides.

How Much Do They Cost?

Generators are an investment that vary in price, depending on what size you need. The higher the generator’s capacity, the more circuits it can power at one time. Consulting a professional about what electrical capacity you need should help you determine if you need a small or larger generator. Keep in mind that most homeowners don’t need the entire home powered at once, but instead just want the devices powered that are used most, such as the fridge, air conditioner/heater, oven, or washer/dryer.


A basic generator that includes just the essential circuits will usually start around $3,000 before installation and fuel. Some larger systems that can power the whole home can cost upwards of $20,000.  Generators will add value to your home – especially if you choose one that can provide power for the entire home in the event of an emergency.

Do Backup Generators Require Maintenance?

Generators do require some upkeep, especially those that are bigger. If the generator is used for 24 to 48 hours continuously, it should be serviced. If it’s used for a week or more, have a professional change the filter and oil. If you take great care of your generator, it will last longer and help you through a lifetime of power outages.

Prairie Electric is a proud Kohler backup generator dealer, and is here to answer any and all questions you have! We stand behind all of the products we install and can recommend Kohler models in particular with confidence.