When the power goes out, you want a backup plan. Plenty of us have learned that over the past week or so. Having a generator on hand can definitely help ease the pain of a prolonged power outage, but it's not quite the same has just having normal, interrupted power. You can make it a little closer to the norm, however, by hooking up an uninterruptable power supply.
While a generator tends to operate sort of in fits and starts; it's on when it's on, but it's off when it's off. A UPS on the other hand is designed to give you a smoother experience, evening out surges and gaps for your electronic equipment, specifically your computers. By using a generator to power a UPS and then using that to power your tech gear while hooking lights and such up directly to the generator, you can effectively smooth out some of the wrinkles of a generator existence.
Sounds great, right? Well there is one little catch. UPSs and generators aren't exactly the best of friends. Many UPSs-spefically off-line and line-interactive ones-don't have everything it takes to massage a generator's power into what they need. Often these USPs can handle the voltage variations a generator will throw at them, but not the frequency variations.
This problem can be solved, however, so long as you pick the right UPS and make sure it will play nice with your generator ahead of time. An on-line UPS will generally do the trick. It's also important to make sure your generator and UPS are sized correctly to pair up nice, specifically that the generator has a kVA that's roughly 75 percent higher than that of the UPS.
So long as you do your research beforehand to make sure that the two gadgets will get along nicely, the pairing can seriously improve the usable quality of power you're getting from your generator. It's not a solution you can whip up on the spot, exactly, but if you're getting ready for that inevitable next time, it's worth considering.