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Emergency Power Generators
Emergency power generators are the number one choice of disaster
equipment... when preparing for the possibility of a power outage.
majority of us want the peace of mind that comes with having a reliable,
back-up emergency power source.
Learn a few basics before purchasing a generator - Know what size
generator you need, how to use it, how to be safe, and how to watch out
for carbon monoxide poisoning when using the generator.
USING EMERGENCY POWER GENERATORS:
Read the following information BEFORE a power outage, or emergency.
These precautions can help keep you and your family safe when using
portable emergency power generators.
- Contact a licensed electrician to install your generator to make sure it meets local codes.
- Do not connect generators directly to household wiring without an appropriate transfer switch installed.
- Power from generators connected directly to household wiring
can back-feed along power lines and electrocute anyone coming in contact
with them, including lineworkers making repairs.
- Make sure your generator is properly grounded.
- Keep the generator dry.
- Make sure extension cords used with generators are rated for
the load, and are free of cuts, worn insulation, and have three-pronged
- Do not overload the generator. A portable generator should be
used only when necessary, and only to power essential equipment or
- Never operate the generator in enclosed or partially enclosed
spaces. Use carbon monoxide detectors in nearby enclosed spaces to
- Generators can produce high levels of carbon monoxide very quickly, which can be deadly.
- Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to help prevent electrocutions and electrical shock injuries.
- Make sure fuel for the generator is stored safely, away from
living areas, in properly labeled containers, and away from fuel-burning
- Before re-fueling, always turn the generator off and let it cool down.
- Turn off all appliances powered by the generator before shutting down the generator.
- Keep children away from portable generators at all times.
Statistics from the Northeastern Ice Storm of January/February
1997 show that as many as 100 people were killed and 5,000 people
injured by misuse of a generator at home.
HOW MUCH POWER DO I NEED?
Look at the labels on lighting, appliances and equipment you plan to
connect to your emergency power generator to determine the amount of
power that will be needed to operate the equipment.
- For lighting, the wattage of the light bulb indicates the power needed.
- Appliances and equipment usually have labels indicating power requirements on them.
- Choose a generator that produces more power than will be
drawn by the combination of lighting, appliances and equipment you plan
to connect to the generator including the initial surge when it is
If your generator does not produce adequate power for all your needs, plan to stagger the operating times for various equipment.
If you can not determine the amount of power that will be needed, ask an
electrician to determine that for you. (If your equipment draws more
power than the generator can produce, then you may blow a fuse on the
generator or damage the connected equipment).
VENTILATION AND CARBON MONOXIDE:
NEVER operate emergency power generators in enclosed or partially
enclosed spaces. Use carbon monoxide detectors in nearby enclosed spaces
to monitor levels. Generators can produce high levels of carbon
monoxide very quickly, which can be deadly.
It is a good idea to install one or more Carbon Monoxide (CO)
alarms inside your home (following manufacturer’s installation
directions). If CO gas from the generator enters your home and poses a
health risk, the alarm will sound to warn you. Many home fires and
deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning have occurred from using a
- Be sure to let the generator cool down before refueling.
- Store fuel for the generator in an approved safety can.
- Use the type of fuel recommended in the instructions or on the label on the generator.
- Local laws may restrict the amount of fuel you may store, or
the storage location. Ask your local fire department for additional
information about local regulations.
- Store fuel for the generator out of doors in a locked shed or other protected area.
- Do not store fuel in a garage, basement or anywhere inside a
home, as vapors can be released that may cause illness and are a
potential fire or explosion hazard.
HOOKING UP A GENERATOR:
- DO NOT hook up a generator directly to your home’s wiring.
- The safest thing to do is connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.
There are several reasons why hooking up a generator to your home’s electrical service is not a wise idea.
- Home-use (non-industrial) generators do not supply enough amperage
to supply sufficient power for today’s homes (that is, to run a furnace,
lighting, appliances and other electronic equipment).
- Simply connecting a cord from the generator to a
point on the permanent wiring system and back-feeding power is an unsafe
method to supply a building during a power outage.
- Unless your home’s power supply was installed with a
disconnect to the main power feeding lines, power you put into your
home from a generator could back-feed into the main line and cause
problems for the electrical utility company, your neighbors or yourself.
- Back-feeding is supplying electrical power from a
generator at the residence back into the incoming utility lines. This
occurs when the necessary equipment used to isolate the generator from
the incoming power lines is not installed.
The product must be installed according to the NEC®, all
applicable state and local codes, and the manufacturer’s instructions.
Homeowners should only attempt to install such products if they have a
thorough knowledge of safe electrical
installation practices for this type of equipment. Otherwise a qualified
electrician should be contacted.
The NEC® does permit an interface between the normal power source
(generally the electric utility) and an alternate power source (such as
a standby or portable generator), provided proper transfer equipment
that prevents back-feeding is used.
There are a number of products available that will provide either
an automatic or manual transfer between two power sources in a manner
prescribed by the NEC®.
When selecting a product for this function, it should be one that
has been evaluated for safe performance by a nationally recognized
testing organization such as Underwriters Laboratories.
If you have additional questions, please consult a licensed electrician, your local fire department or your community’s building safety or engineering department.
PURCHASING AN EMERGENCY POWER GENERATOR:
- If you choose to buy an emergency power generator, make sure you get one that is listed with:
the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL)
or Factory Mutual (FM).
Determine the correct engine size (wattage) for your needs.
Determine the desired fuel type:
Gas emergency power generator,
Diesel emergency power generator,
Propane emergency power generator.
Make your purchase from a reputable dealer.
Compact, fuel efficient generator models provide smooth, clean power for emergencies, home, recreation, and construction use.
Interested in a Light Weight, Quiet & Clean generator option?
click on the picture below to check it out.
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The Electrical Safety Foundation International
National Fire Protection Association (publisher of the National Electric Code®).