Has there ever been a time when the power went out in your home and you were left sitting in the dark?

Power outages are frustrating and can happen for any number of reasons - from storms and accidents to demand overload. Rather than being left in a panic next time the lights go out, it's a smart idea to prepare your home with an emergency power system.

Installing a backup generator or solar power setup with an automatic transfer switch ensures the flow of electricity isn't interrupted. You'll have the peace of mind knowing critical appliances and essential items like heating, lighting and medical equipment will continue working even when the main power is down.

There are many options to choose from like portable generators, standby generators and solar power batteries. An electrician can help you determine the right solution for your needs and properly reconfigure your home's electrical system so you're never left powerless again.

Why You Need an Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS)

When designing an emergency power system for your home, an automatic transfer switch (ATS) is essential. An ATS automatically transfers the power source for your electrical circuits from the main utility power to a backup generator when the main power fails. This ensures your generator isn't sending power back into the grid, which could be dangerous for utility workers.

There are a few types of generators you can use as a backup power source. Diesel generators are reliable but can be noisy and require refuelling. Electric start generators are convenient but require a charged battery to start. Solar generators are eco-friendly but dependent on sunlight. The generator you choose depends on your needs and priorities. An ATS works with any type of generator.

Once you have your generator, you'll need an electrician to properly rewire some of your home's circuits to the ATS so that critical loads like lighting, refrigeration, and fans remain powered during an outage. The electrician can also instal a smart metre box which allows you to monitor your backup power system and even automatically test it on schedule.

Having backup power gives you peace of mind that you can maintain a reasonable level of comfort and safety during prolonged power failures. With the right equipment properly installed, you'll be prepared the next time the lights go out. An automatic transfer switch is what makes it all possible, seamlessly switching you over to generator power until main power is restored.

Generator Options: Portable, Standby, and Solar

When it comes to powering your home during an outage, you've got options. Portable generators are popular but limited, standby generators automatically power essential circuits, and solar generators provide renewable backup energy.

Let's explore the pros and cons of each so you can choose what's right for your needs.

Portable generators - These are affordable and can power devices plugged into them, but that's it. You'll have to manually refuel and maintain them, and run extension cords inside which can be a safety hazard. However, they're good in a pinch and for small loads.

Standby generators - Permanently installed, these detect a power outage and automatically start up to provide backup power to selected parts of your home like lighting, refrigerators or heating/cooling.

Though pricey, a standby generator gives peace of mind that critical systems will keep running. Have an electrician instal an automatic transfer switch so power doesn’t flow back to the utility lines, and consider what size generator you need based on the loads you want to power.

Solar generators - Using the sun's energy to generate and store power, these environmentally-friendly units recharge during normal operation and switch on automatically when the power goes out.

They produce no emissions, but the initial cost can be high and backup power depends on the available sunlight and battery storage. However, in an extended outage they can prove invaluable.

When retrofitting a home with backup power, work with an electrician to reconfigure your main service panel so emergency circuits can be isolated and powered by the generator.

They can also instal a smart meterbox to automatically detect an outage, start your generator and transfer critical loads to backup power - that way you won't be left in the dark!

Diesel vs Gas Generators: The Pros and Cons

Diesel and gas generators each have their pros and cons when it comes to providing backup power for your home. Consider these factors when deciding which type of generator is right for your needs:


Diesel generators tend to be more expensive upfront, though they are often more durable and last longer. Gas generators are typically cheaper to buy initially but require more frequent maintenance and replacement. Fuel costs also vary—diesel fuel is usually a bit pricier than natural gas or propane.


Diesel engines can run for extended periods without refuelling, up to 48 hours continuously. Gas generators typically need to be refuelled every 8 to 12 hours to keep running. So if you want backup power for long outages, a diesel generator may be better. For shorter disruptions, a gas generator would work fine and costs less.


Diesel generators require more maintenance like oil changes, tune-ups, and filter replacements to keep them in good working order. Gas generators are lower-maintenance but still need regular service. Either type of generator will need to be run periodically to keep it in working condition for when you need it.

Noise and fumes

Diesel generators tend to be louder and release more noxious fumes than gas generators. If noise and pollution are concerns for you, a gas generator may be preferable. Proper ventilation, mufflers, and placement can help reduce noise and fumes for either type.


In general, diesel generators are more heavy-duty and reliable for emergency backup power. However, for most residential needs, either a diesel or gas generator can provide dependable auxiliary power during an outage. With proper installation and maintenance, either type should work well for powering essential circuits in your home.

In the end, you'll need to weigh all these factors to determine if a diesel or gas generator is the best choice for your emergency power needs and budget. An experienced electrician can also help assess your requirements and recommend a suitable generator and installation.

Reconfiguring Your Electrical Panel and Installing a Smart Meterbox

Reconfiguring your electrical panel and installing a smart meterbox is key to successfully powering your home during an outage. Having an electrician handle this work will ensure it’s done properly and safely.

Electrical Panel Upgrade

Your electrical panel routes power to different parts of your home. To connect a generator, your electrician will instal a manual or automatic transfer switch (ATS) next to the panel.

An ATS is necessary for safety, reliability and compliance with regulations. It prevents ‘backfeed’ to power lines which could electrocute utility workers trying to restore power. The ATS will have multiple circuits to choose from, allowing you to prioritise which parts of your home get backup power.

Smart Meterbox

A smart meterbox monitors your home’s energy usage and can automatically detect when the power goes out. It’s connected to your electrical panel and generator to quickly switch over power sources in the event of an outage. This reduces disruption and ensures your generator turns on right away. Smart metres provide an extra layer of automation for a seamless transition to backup power.

Retrofitting emergency power in an existing home requires reworking circuits and installing new equipment. But with an upgraded electrical panel, ATS and smart metre, you’ll have an efficient system to keep your lights, fridge and fans running during a power outage. An experienced electrician can walk you through options to find the right solution for your needs and budget.

Creating a Resilient Home: Tips for Retrofitting Emergency Power

Creating a resilient home means preparing for power outages. Installing emergency power sources, like generators and solar panels, is key. However, these systems require professional installation to ensure safety and compatibility with your home’s existing electrical setup.

Automatic Transfer Switches

An automatic transfer switch (ATS) automatically transfers power from the utility to the emergency power source during an outage. It prevents backfeeding into the main grid, which could injure utility workers. An ATS is essential for any emergency power system.

Generator Types

For emergency power, you’ll want either a diesel or natural gas generator. Diesel generators typically last longer but require fuel storage and delivery. Natural gas generators connect to your gas utility line. Both produce emissions, so placement is important. Electric start generators are easiest to operate in an emergency.

Solar Power

Solar panels with battery storage are environmentally-friendly options. Batteries provide power when the sun isn’t shining. However, solar systems typically cannot handle a whole home’s power needs during an extended outage. They work best when paired with a generator.

Smart Metres

Smart metres monitor home energy usage to optimise efficiency. However, in an emergency they can shut off power to parts of your home. When installing emergency power, have an electrician reconfigure your home’s circuits so critical loads remain powered at all times. Circuits for heating/cooling, water pumps, medical equipment, and security systems should be top priorities.

Whole House or Essential Loads

Determine if you need to power your entire house or just essential equipment. A smaller generator or solar/battery system is cheaper if you only need critical loads. But for multi-day outages, whole house power is ideal. An electrician can help assess your needs and ensure proper wiring and transfer switch installation.

Preparing your home for power outages provides security and comfort for your family during emergencies. Retrofitting emergency power and reconfiguring your electrical system may require an upfront investment, but the peace of mind is worth it.


Retrofitting emergency power may seem like a hassle, but having a system in place can give you peace of mind and ensure your family's safety during critical events.

Do your research, weigh the options, and find a solution that suits your needs and budget. Once installed, be sure to test and maintain your emergency power equipment regularly. You'll be glad you put in the effort the next time the lights go out and you're the only one in the neighbourhood with the TV still on!

With some planning and preparation, you can design an emergency power system to keep your home powered for as long as needed during an outage.