A good generator on standby is a good safety net for when the power cuts off unexpectedly. They’re great to have especially when there’s possible power interruption that might take hours or even days to restore. But generators are not made using one specific design; each one has operation requirements that could be different from another model or brand. Here are some general tips you can follow for the safe operation of a generator. Remember, always read the manual thoroughly before running the generator.
1.Keep it away from the House
When an unexpected blackout happens, a generator is the best thing to have on hand. But it can also cause a lot of harm. Back in 2005 when news that hurricane Katrina will make landfall, there were a lot of people who went to buy a generator to use during the expected blackout. It also led to about 50 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning due to people running the generator inside the house. A generator is still an engine that runs on fuel which means it produces carbon monoxide gas, odorless gas that, in small doses, will give you a headache, but if large amounts can kill. Make sure that when you run your generator, it is outside, not less than 10 feet away. Also, running it inside the garage is also highly discouraged as the gas might enter the house through an open door or window. Best is to keep running out in the open air.
2.Get a Standby Generator
If your budget permits, get a standby generator. Unlike a portable one, a standby generator is permanently hooked up to your home’s electrical system. The moment power cuts off, it will automatically turn on. A standby generator can also run on natural gas or propane which means there’s no need to monitor the fuel level like on portable generators. One huge advantage of a standby generator is the noise level. Most models run a lot quieter than a portable one and it has enough power to run almost the entire house. One drawback is the price. Most standby generators’ cost starts at around $1800 and you’ll have to pay a professional to install it. Weigh your options when considering buying a generator. A portable one might be cheaper upfront but you’ll have to buy expensive extension cords while a standby generator runs on less costly natural gas which can save you a ton of money in the long run.
3.Propane vs Gas
If you are looking for an easy to use portable generator, one that runs on propane is far more convenient than one that runs on gasoline. Gasoline might be handy but it has a lot of problems. In the event of an expected blackout that might last for days, storing gasoline for that long a duration is going to bring problems on its own. You’ll need to buy the recommended container and store the gas in a safe place. You’ll also have to add a stabilizer because gasoline degrades. Gas stored for several months will have to be replaced as well. Generators that run on propane doesn’t have this many issues. It’s possible to store liquid propane indefinitely and still use it without any problems. Refueling is straightforward and safe; all you have to do is replace the empty tank with a full one.
4.Get one that’s Easy to Service
A generator is almost like a mini car, it needs regular servicing in order to run properly. There are certainly generators you can find online with great deals but the problem comes when you’ll have to get it serviced. Parts won’t be available readily; you’ll have to have it shipped to you and if the brand is foreign, not many local technicians will know how to get it fixed. Sometimes, investing the money on a generator from a local dealer is worth it. When you have to get it serviced, the dealer will know how to do it or know someone who does. So before you decide on buying one, make sure there is someone close by who can service it and provide the needed parts.
As mentioned previously, you should never run a generator inside the house. But what if the weather is bad, which is usually the case when you’ll need to get the generator up and running? It’s true that water and electricity is never a good combination. Also, there’s hardly any model out there that is waterproof. The best thing you can do is get a specially designed tent that’s made to fit your generator to protect it from the elements. If you have an outside shed, that will work too. Remember to follow all the safety rules from the manual before running the generator.
Backfeeding could be very dangerous and result in serious damage to your generator or harm to those nearby. Backfeeding is when you use a generator power cord and connect it into an outlet with an appliance connected to it. A portable generator was not made to handle that type of load. Power from the generator enters the main panel via the branch circuit breaker of the outlet. Then it is distributed to the rest of the house. Power will also go through the main breaker and into the transformer where that power is converted back into thousands of volts and will try to power the whole neighborhood. First, this is illegal and second, any worker that’s attempting to restore power back into the neighborhood may encounter the high voltage and suffer from a fatal shock. The only remedy is to shut the main breaker when doing this but not everyone remembers to do this.
Generators are really handy especially in situations where power outage is expected to happen and may last for a few days. But it is important to remember that generators are not merely furniture or appliances. These are equipment. They run on hazardous fuel and they provide electricity that could be dangerous when mishandled. Generators should be treated with care and precaution, especially when it is running.