Portable generators may come in handy during long-term power outages, but recent studies show that an overwhelming percentage may be installed incorrectly. Take heed of these precautions:
- Read and follow all manufacturer operating instructions to properly ground the generator. Be sure you understand them before hooking up the generator.
- Maintain adequate ventilation. Generators emit carbon monoxide. It's against fire code to operate a generator in your home, garage or other enclosed building. Place it in a dry location outdoors.
- Never plug a portable electric generator into a wall outlet or connect directly to a home’s wiring. This can energize utility power lines and injure you or others working nearby. Electrical back feed can also damage the generator and home electrical equipment.
- Turn off the generator and allow cooling before refueling. Gasoline and its vapors may ignite if they come in contact with hot components or an electrical spark. Store fuel in a properly designed container in a secure location away from the generator or other fuel burning appliances, such as water heaters. Always have a fully charged, approved fire extinguisher located nearby.
- Protect your appliances. Turn off or disconnect all appliances and lights before you begin operating the portable generator. Once the generator is running, turn your appliances and lights on one at a time to avoid overloading the unit. Remember, generators are for temporary usage, prioritize your needs.
- Generators pose electrical risks especially when operated in wet conditions. Use a generator only when necessary when the weather creates wet or moist conditions. Make sure your hands are dry before touching the generator.
- Keep children and pets away from portable generators at all times. Many generator components are hot enough to burn you during operation.
- Use proper extension cords. Use only safety-tested, shop-type electrical cords designed and rated for heavier, outdoor use to connect appliances. Many generators are equipped with twist-lock connects to reduce the chance of accidental disconnections due to vibrations.
- Shut down the generator properly. Before shutting down a generator, turn off and unplug all appliances and equipment being powered by the generator.
- Remember maintenance between uses. Drain the gasoline from the generator while it is being stored. It’s also a good idea to inspect the fuel and oil filters, spark plug, oil level and fuel quality and start the generator on a regular basis before an emergency situation happens.
Many members utilize standby generators during power outages, but are unaware of potential hazards if they are not installed properly:
To ensure the safety of your family and the safety of our linemen, you are required to install and use a double-throw switch to keep your generator power from feeding back onto the power lines. Contact a qualified electrician to ensure proper installation.
Connect the energy supplied by your stand-by generator through a double-throw switch to eliminate any possibility of connecting the stand-by power to the EnerStar electric distribution system. Should you accidentally connect your generator to our service lines, your generator will energize our distribution system through the transformer at your location. When this happens, your standby generator could pick up load beyond your property and become damaged. But even worse, the resulting primary voltage could fatally injure unsuspecting linemen working on our facilities.
Questions about Generators
If you are considering the purchase of a new generator or have questions about installation, contact EnerStar's Mike Clark(link sends e-mail) at 800-635-4145, extension 118.