When using a portable generator, it’s important to safeguard yourself and your family from potential dangers.
- Carbon Monoxide: This invisible, odorless gas from gasoline powered generators is deadly, so never run a generator indoors or even a partially enclosed space like a garage. Only operate generators outdoors away from windows, doors, crawl spaces, and vents.
- Fuel: Gasoline used to power portable generators is extremely flammable. Never refuel a generator when it’s running or still hot, since spilled fuel could cause a fire or explosion. When you do fill the tank, leave room for the fuel to expand.
- Wiring: Never connect a portable generator directly to your home’s wiring, as it can backfeed through power lines and injure utility workers. A professionally installed manual transfer switch is the only safe way to connect a portable generator directly to your home’s electrical system. Otherwise, use heavy duty extension cords to connect appliances to the generator, and be sure to unplug them before stopping or starting the generator.
- Load: Be sure not to overload your generator. Prioritize your needs to make sure the equipment you operate doesn’t exceed the generator’s output rating.
- Electrical Shock: We all know water and electricity don’t mix, so don’t operate a generator in the rain or snow. Choose a flat, level spot with several feet of clearance on all sides and be sure the unit is properly grounded to avoid the risk of electrocution.
I understand the dangers of operating a generator in an enclosed space and the warnings of proximity to water. My question is this-if we’re not supposed to run it in the garage or outside in the rain or snow (when we’re most likely to need a generator) where exactly are we supposed to use it?
You can use a simple wattage chart to estimate how many devices you can hook up to your generator at any given time. They are only estimates but can be a good starting point.