How Do Backup Generators Work?- A Complete Process

How do backup generators work? A backup generator is a vital piece of equipment for any business. However, most people don’t know how they work. This article provides an overview of the basics of what backup generators are and how they function.

A backup generator is a device that automatically switches on when there’s a power outage or other emergency to keep critical systems running. It generates electricity by burning fuel such as natural gas, diesel, propane, coal, or oil in order to produce electric power which keeps your mission-critical operations functioning during a power outage event.

This article will give you our findings on a backup generator and the way it works. Let’s find out!

Backup Generator Overview

What Is A Backup Generator?

How Do Backup Generators Work

A backup generator is a device that is usually installed outside of a building and is used to provide continuous power in case of a short outage. Backup generators are also referred to as standby generators.

The main purpose of a backup generator is to provide backup power to the building in the event that the primary electricity supply is lost for an extended period of time, such as when utility power goes out during a storm.

There are many different types of backup generators available, but most have one or two common features: fuel storage tanks and an automatic transfer switch. The automatic transfer switch activates the backup generator so it starts up as soon as utility power from the grid fails.

In some cases, these devices only activate when electricity from the grid fails to reach the building. Other generators are equipped with their own power meter so they will function as a standby generator without initiating any type of backup reaction on the part of utility providers.

Most generators have remote start switches that can be used to activate the device so it starts up automatically at any time, even when utility power is still active. Backup generators are frequently used for emergency power during blackouts, but they can also be installed for less critical applications.

For example, commercial properties may have backup generators so the property will still have electricity even if the local utility fails to provide service or a residential customer with remote or expensive equipment that needs continuous service may choose to install a backup generator as well.

Backup generators typically provide 1 – 10 kW of power; this is enough to provide electrical service to the lighting and heating/cooling systems in a typical house.

Larger buildings like a small office or apartment complexes may need larger standby generators, but it’s also possible for multiple standby generators to be wired together if the building has complex requirements for emergency power. A backup generator can provide security and peace of mind when they are installed correctly.

However, there are some limitations to these devices. Standby generators only power the items that are plugged directly into their electrical outlets; older appliances or equipment that is not designed for use with backup power supplies will still be inoperative even when the backup generator is installed and functioning properly.

Types Of Backup Generators

There are many types of backup generators. These include diesel generators, natural gas generators, and wind generators. They all use the same basic starting and operating principles.

How Do Backup Generators Work

Diesel generators

The majority of backup generators on the market currently are diesel-powered tiny house or property generators. They make use of a small diesel engine like those found in cars, boats, and other forms of transportation. Diesel engines can run for many hours without stopping as long as the fuel doesn’t run out.

A small, diesel engine running for several hours will exhaust all of the heat in the cylinder. To avoid this, a diesel generator contains multiple cylinders with each one powering its own crankshaft in an alternating pattern. This makes it easy to produce continuous power that’s needed in emergencies. This is also why diesel generators are the most common type of backup power supply.

Natural gas generators

These can be useful if your tiny house is in an area where natural gas is available. Natural gas, however, isn’t readily available in much of the country so it’s not often used to make backup generators.

If you do use a natural gas generator, make sure that your gas line is properly vented and contains a regulator because natural gas can be hazardous if it isn’t handled correctly.

Wind generators

This type of generator works by harnessing the power from the wind to move a crankshaft, which produces alternating current (AC). These types of generators are expensive and their effectiveness depends largely on how strong the wind is and where they’re placed.

Standby generators

Standby generators work as a power source as long as the primary power grid is up and running. In the event that the grid goes down, standby generators switch on to keep the basic operation going. They operate at a much lower capacity than primary generators because they’re designed to power one or two critical pieces of equipment.

Line-interactive generators

Line-interactive generators also require a primary power source in order to run, but unlike standby generators, they draw their energy from a variety of places. This type can use dirty energy sources such as solar panels and wind turbines to charge itself, which means less reliance on fossil fuels.

This has significant implications for the environment, especially if you choose high-capacity solar panels or wind turbines. Line-interactive generators can also use a battery to store energy for later when the sun isn’t shining or the wind is nonexistent.

On-site power generators

On-site power generators are much smaller than other backup generator types and require no exterior power grid in order to work. These portable generators run on diesel, gasoline, propane, or natural gas and provide enough power for critical house functions like heating, cooling, lighting, or cooking.

How Do Backup Generators Work?

How Do Backup Generators Work

A backup generator is an electrical device that produces electricity to a certain location if it is disconnected from an electric company’s electricity grid. Typically, backup generators are fueled by gasoline, diesel fuel, or natural gas. Backup generators are typically used for businesses to have power in the event of a power outage. They are also used for homes in the event of an outage.

In order to operate when there is a blackout, backup generators require electricity from the grid that powers its startup. This initial current flow also enables it to provide power when necessary. In most cases, this means that a building will have two separate electrical service feeds – one from the local utility and another from a portable generator.

All backup generator units have two basic parts – a generator, which converts mechanical energy to electrical energy, and an electric switch. The generator produces electricity in the same way as power stations do.

There are three components of any generator: magnets, wire coils, and moving parts with alternating poles. Alternating currents are produced by connections to the wire coils, where they are sent through an electric switch.

Backup generators are very similar to any other backup system. The difference between them is that backup generators use fuel while others use batteries or flywheels for example. It’s important to note that backups usually don’t provide full power 100 percent of the time, but they can provide a backup in case of emergencies.

When your main power goes out, backup generators provide electricity to your home with four main steps:

1. The generator automatically starts up when it senses a power outage.

2. Once the power is out, the generator’s electric starter motor turns over the engine and lights the pilot light.

3. When the engine is running, an automatic transfer switch starts sending power from household circuits to the backup generator.

4. Exhaust from the generator is vented to the outside through a pipe or, if the unit has an electrical connection, there may be a power cord that can be plugged into your home’s electrical system and vents it to the outside, like an appliance.

How Do Backup Generators Work

The process for operating a standby generator is fairly straightforward. Most units plug directly into the electrical service panel in the building, and they are connected to the main utility power grid via an automatic transfer switch.

This device monitors both primary and secondary power lines continuously, and it immediately switches to the backup power supply as soon as utility power fails.

Once primary power is lost, the standby generator starts up and begins powering all of the electrical units that were previously connected to the now-dead mainline.

For example, if a residential building has a refrigerator that’s plugged into the wall and it uses 1 kW, once utility power fails the standby generator will activate and start providing 1 kW of power to that appliance.

As long as standby power is available, it provides continuous service to all appliances attached to the electrical system. When utility power returns, the automatic transfer switch immediately transfers back to primary power; this switches off the standby generator so it doesn’t continue powering appliances once the mainline is restored.

Backup generators are also referred to as automatic, or transfer switch, standby generators because they use an automatic transfer switch that responds without the need for manual intervention of any kind. This differs from a portable generator that must be manually started and stopped each time it’s used.

A tiny house generator works in a very similar way to your car’s engine. When both engines start, a flywheel and pulley system is turned by the crankshaft via compressed air or an electric motor. Once the flywheel is rotating at high speeds, an electrical switch sends power to the crankshaft and it starts generating alternating current (AC) electricity.

To do this, each system has a battery that helps start the engine and get it rotating. Once generator rotation speeds up, you can use that energy to power appliances via your circuit breaker panel. Additionally, many modern generators will also have a battery charger and/or inverter that can be used to power your electronic devices.

Newer generators come with LED readouts that help you monitor how much energy they’re using and the amount of energy stored in the unit’s battery. This screen might also feature an area where you can see how many watts (the unit used to measure electricity) are being used at any given moment.

A generator’s gas gauge is also very important. It tells you the amount of fuel left in the tank so that you can plan accordingly and not run out while using it. If your generator runs on diesel fuel, it will have a separate compartment for what you’re putting into it. This compartment typically contains a fuel level indicator that lets you know how much of the liquid remains.

Tips For Using Backup Generators

Before using any type of backup generator, make sure that you read and understand all of the manuals that come with it. They will explain battery life, how long your generator can be expected to run once it’s started, and how it should be maintained.

Generators are very loud and produce carbon monoxide (CO) during operation. This can make them dangerous if not used properly. Since they need to be outside, keep them away from your tiny house’s doors and windows. Additionally, make sure they’re never operating inside the structure.

Here are some basic steps for using your generator once you’ve got it started:

1. Turn on appliances one at a time so that you can monitor the power demands more easily.

2. Once everything is running, switch off your main breaker to ensure that all energy usage goes through the generator. 3. Monitor the number of watts being used by each appliance and how frequently you’re using them so that you can plan accordingly.

4. When the generator’s running low on power, turn off appliances in reverse order until they are all switched off.

5. Turn your main breaker back on when everything is shut down to save energy and prevent overworking your generators

Things To Keep In Mind When Using Backup Generators

How Do Backup Generators Work

Some key things to keep in mind when using backup generators:

-It takes about one hour for a generator to start up so they’re best used when you have plenty of time to wait for them to kick in.

– Be careful when fueling the generator, don’t spill fuel on hot parts of the unit or allow it to build up in low areas. Before refueling, stop and let the generator cool down completely. Gasoline spilled on a hot engine can ignite, causing serious injury or death.

– Never run a generator inside a home, basement, or garage. Generators need plenty of fresh air to operate efficiently and safely. If you must use a generator indoors, shut all doors and windows and install an air-conditioning unit with ductwork leading outdoors.

– Keep generators in well-ventilated areas away from open windows where exhaust can vent.

– Do not hook up generators to your electrical system until the power is completely shut off at the main breaker or fuse box.

– Generators should never be used as a substitute for normal household maintenance, such as fixing loose wiring or replacing fuses.

– A generator engine may stall if overloaded, so you must calculate your total electrical requirements and size the generator accordingly.

– Use a grounding rod to earth generator housings properly, or install a three-wire, 4-prong plug on the generator for proper grounding. Be sure to follow all local codes and ordinances when doing this.

– Connect appliances directly to the generator by plugging them into wall receptacles and never use generators as a power supply for permanent wiring.

– Never overload the generator; it should be sized to handle all electrical requirements, including starting loads. Overloading can damage equipment and cause fire or other serious dangers.

– Do not attempt to service or repair a generator that is running. Shut down the engine and wait until it has cooled before attempting any repairs.

– When testing your generator, avoid touching metal with your bare skin and wear safety glasses and gloves to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning.

– To prevent carbon monoxide buildup, do not connect the generator to inside electrical devices or power cords. For safe operation, connect appliances directly to the generator using heavy-duty outdoor extension cords.

– If you use a gasoline-powered backup power generator, understand these risks:

Carbon monoxide poisoning — Remember that you can’t see, smell or taste this deadly gas and that generator exhaust contains poisonous carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, and extremely poisonous. Never use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, or basements even if windows are open.

Fuel spills — Fuel spilled on clothing or skin can cause illness or death by exposure to the gasoline additive methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), an extremely poisonous solvent. Before refueling, shut off the engine and let it cool down. Do so in a well-ventilated area away from sparks or open flames. Never fill the tank indoors; gasoline spilled on hot engine parts can ignite causing serious injuries or death.

Fuel storage — Never store gasoline inside homes, garages, basements, or crawlspaces. Always purchase gasoline from reputable suppliers and promptly dispose of empty cans and bottles according to local ordinances.


How do I know if my home needs a backup generator?

Backup generators are used to provide power in an outage. The first thing you should do is check the duration of the power outage. If it’s predicted to be more than 3 hours, your home may need a backup generator.

What size of generator do I need for my home?

You would need a 60 or 120-kilowatt generator for the first 3-hour outage, but after that point, it can be as big as 10 kilowatts. The size of generator you need will depend on your usage needs, available space at your location, and how much money you want to spend installing one.

You should also consider whether or not you are relying on power to feed machines that require electricity, such as medical devices, heating systems, or computers. If this is the case, then it may be worth considering purchasing a portable generator rather than opting for an installed backup generator.

For example, if your house uses two air conditioners during 8 hours of an average day running 5 hrs each at different times lasting only 2 hours each, you would only need a 10kw generator.

How do I connect my generator to the house?

You must install a transfer switch that activates when the power goes out and then powers your house directly through your home’s electrical panel box. It will be connected between your home’s breaker panel and the electrical meter.

The transfer switch allows you to connect both the home’s electrical panel box and the generator. You can also make sure that your generator is supplying power to your appliances by reading the voltmeter on the transfer switch, which will tell you how much electricity you are getting from your generator.

Which fuel type should I use with my portable emergency generators?

A portable emergency generator is powered by fuel. Emergency generators are made to run on gasoline, diesel, propane, natural gas, or liquid fuels. What kind of generator you need will depend on your needs and preferences related to the fuel you want to use.

Depending on the type of emergency generators that you have available for your home, you can also purchase or install an external storage tank that would allow for easier access to the fuel with just a simple flick of a switch.

For most applications, it is recommended that you use either liquid fuels or propane because these types of fuels are more readily available than other types in most parts of the world. Liquid fuels include gasoline and diesel; they can be used more readily in generators of all sizes, including portable models.


Backup generators are a critical piece of any home or business that relies on electricity for its day-to-day operations. This article will cover how backup generators work, what they do and why you need one if your power goes out. We’ll also briefly touch on the safety considerations to keep in mind when buying a generator from an OEM like Generac.

In short, it is important to get educated about this topic so you can make sure your family’s needs are met during emergencies or other times where electric service might be compromised. We hope you will understand our topic of “how do backup generators work?”.

Leave a Comment