Using Portable Generators Safely


Portable generators can be life-saving machines. During power outages, they provide essential energy to keep your home or business warm and power important devices.

But what do you need to consider when owning and operating one?

Whether you’re a utility worker, a homeowner, or a business owner, this guide will teach you how to safely use a portable generator.

How Do You Hook Up A Portable Generator?

The first thing to decide when installing a portable generator is what you want to power when it is running. Most models do not supply enough energy to run an entire household so choosing the essentials is a good starting point.

These could be lighting, TV, fridge/freezer, or computers. You should do some research into which generator will meet your specific needs.

Once you’ve determined the power requirements of your essentials and made sure they won’t be too much for your generator to handle, it’s time to wire the system.

The safest way to do this is to install a manual transfer switch. This isolates your generator from the mains system. Getting the help of a professional electrician is a good idea here.

Next, place your generator away from your house. It’s recommended to situate it as far away as you can. This is a safety measure to limit exposure to exhaust gases and protect your house from fire if something were to go wrong.

All that’s left to do now is to plug your generator into the hookup, fill it with the appropriate fuel, and test the system.

What Should You Not Do?

You should never run your generator indoors or in a partially enclosed space. A byproduct of burning fuels like petrol/diesel is carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide poisoning can happen within just a few minutes and is fatal.

This is why it’s recommended to place your generator as far away from your house as possible, with the exhaust port facing away from open windows or doors.

It is extremely dangerous to plug your generator into a wall outlet. This poses a huge risk of electrocution to neighbours and utility workers.

You shouldn’t use damaged or underrated extension leads.

You shouldn’t store any flammable liquids in the home or near living areas. It is important to store fuel in a safe place away from heat sources and make sure it is labelled appropriately.

Can I Leave My Generator Running All Night?

Yes, you can. However, most generators will run out of fuel within 8 hours. It is never advised to refuel a generator when it is running. You’ll need to shut it down and wait for it to cool before adding fuel. If spilt on hot engine parts, flammable liquids can ignite.

Should I Cover My Generator When It Rains?

Generators should not be used when wet. Water is a conductor, so it presents the opportunity for electric discharge. Yet, during storms or other extreme weather, is the most likely time to experience power outages.

A good solution to this problem is to build a generator enclosure.

Ideally, an enclosure will shield the generator from moisture from all angles, allow sufficient ventilation of exhaust gases, and will be made from fire-resistant materials.

A non-permanent solution, for use in motorhome or camping situations, would be a rain cover. These tent-like covers will protect your generator from the weather but they are not able to withstand extreme weather.

Find Out More About Using Generators Safely

Hopefully, you found this guide on how to safely use a portable generator useful.

If you are interested in buying a portable generator or want to learn more about them, check out our frequently asked questions.

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