So what if you do not want the lights to go out when the grid does? That can be done too, the setup gets a little bit more complicated and you will need batteries:
In this setup the power produced by the wind generator is used by a charge controller for charging a set of batteries, or if the batteries are full then power will go straight to the inverter. The charge controller takes care of converting the unregulated wind electricity into something the batteries like, and just as important, it protects the batteries from various conditions such as overcharging and excessive current. The inverter in this configuration is different from the simpler case (without batteries), and a little bit more sophisticated. It takes battery or charge controller power and converts this to grid power that goes towards powering household loads. If there’s more power than needed, the excess will go out to the grid, just as before, spinning the meter backwards in the process. The inverter also takes care of charging the batteries if needed, using grid power. Of course, you want the wind generator to keep the batteries charged, but it is good to know that when needed the inverter can do the job too so battery life will not suffer.
Things get more interesting when grid power goes out. The inverter has a switch build into it, and as soon as it senses the grid is gone it very quickly throws that switch. It will continue to convert battery power to grid power, but now only the second breaker panel with essential household loads will receive power. The main breaker panel will be without power, just as before, so any linemen working down the road will not get electrocuted. Switching over is so fast, in a matter of milliseconds, that you will likely not even notice. Power will now be provided by the batteries and wind turbine. When the inverter senses the grid is alive again, it will sync up its output with the grid, and throw the switch once again, restoring things back to normal.
The loads of your house are separated out into two groups, essential and non-essential loads. Essential loads would be things like your furnace, water pump (if you are on a well), some lights, the home theater (loosing power is one thing, not being able to watch your movie is a whole other thing!) etc. The main breaker panel will contain everything else, including loads that are simply too large to power through the inverter, such as an electric range, air conditioning etc. Only the panel with essential loads will receive power when the grid is not working. Of course, if grid power is available both panels have power. Inverters and battery banks can be made very large, so if you really want to, and do not mind spending the money, it is entirely possible to do away with the main breaker panel, or rather, the panel with essential loads will become your main (and only) breaker panel.
This setup has the substantial advantage that at least some loads in the house will continue to have power, even if the grid does not. The downside is that it is more complicated, with the addition of a charge controller and batteries, and more expensive. In particular, it would be very, very expensive to have sufficient batteries to power the average Canadian house (at around 30 kWh a day) to bridge a few days a year when power is out. That is why you want to split out essential loads, and only power those using battery power, resulting in smaller and cheaper batteries.
The configuration in the previous figure can also be used to power a house or cottage that is completely off-grid. Just leave out the extra panel and grid connection in this setup. Some inverters can be used for both grid-connected and off-grid use, others are specific for one or the other. In any event, with the right inverter it can be done just fine.