Backup Generator – When the Lights Go Out
Hurricane Irene is breathing down our neck here in NH today. As the storm approaches I thought it was a good time to revise an older post here and mention backup generators.
It’s a really good idea to be prepared with a backup generator for power outages. We have a small portable Porter-Cable Generator that I purchased during an awful ice storm several years ago and had it hooked up to our main electrical panel. I wanted to point out a few things you should consider when using backup generators.
Using a backup generator can help keep your family safe from weather elements. However, improper use of a backup generator can lead to serious injury or even death. By following a few simple guidelines you can safely use your generator.
- Keep generators at least 10 feet away from your home. It’s especially important to keep them out of your house or garage to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Never fill your generator with fuel while it’s running or hot.
- Never “backfeed” your house with a generator. “Backfeeding” is the practice of connecting your generator directly to your electric panel without the use of a transfer switch. Typically people do this by connecting the generator to the dryer outlet or directly to the electrical panel. This is a serious code violation and a serious health risk to utility workers.
- Use the proper size wire gauge to connect the generator to your transfer switch.
- Contact a licensed electrician to help you properly connect your generator to your home.
Generator Operating Tips
It’s really important to follow the manufacturers recommendations on proper operation of your generator. Be sure to follow some simple steps to ensure your generator runs properly.
- Check the oil every 8 hours of operation. It seems that most small engines typically burn some oil and it’s important to keep the oil level full.
- Let your generator take a break. Most generator manufacturers recommend letting your generator cool down on a regular basis. Let the generator burn a full load of fuel, then let the generator cool down for an hour. Fill it with fuel and start it up and let it run again until it runs out of fuel.
- Be sure to use clean fuel.
- If the weather is wet try putting a beach umbrella over the generator to keep rain and snow off the unit, but never place the generator inside a garage or house.
Hopefully we’ll only have another day or so waiting for the utility line crews to reach our area and repair the damage.