The Homeowner’s Generator Safety Checklist

by John Rieselman | May 28, 2021 11:35:07 AM

While running a generator for the first time may seem self-explanatory, it’s not as simple as plugging it in and hitting “start.” 

Without proper caution, generators can lead to shock or electrocution, house fire, or costly damages to your property and equipment. That’s why it’s so important to follow electrical safety measures every time you use your generator.

Here are 10 generator safety tips to help you stay protected and comfortable when you need to use your generator:

1. Select the Right Generator Size for Your Needs

Generators are rated by their wattage or the amount of power they can supply at once. Some first-time generator owners underestimate their current electrical needs and get a much lower wattage than they need to power their electronics and home appliances. This can cause your generator to overwork and overheat, and lead to damage to connected devices or the unit itself. On the other hand, a generator that’s overkill for your needs ends up being a more costly investment than necessary. 

There’s also an important difference between portable generators and permanently installed home standby units. The Red Cross Emergency Preparedness Guide provides information on how to choose the right size generator for your home, and we highly recommend giving it a read. 

2. Position Your Portable Generator Outdoors, Away from Structures

Portable generators should always be used in open areas, away from your house or other buildings. Don't put them directly against the side of the house, under the carport, in the garage, or anywhere that vapors may accumulate or where the generator could get too warm. Additionally, running a portable generator in an enclosed space like a garage could lead to deathly carbon monoxide poisoning.

3. Keep Your Portable Generator Dry

Portable generators aren't designed to be used in wet conditions, and they're not made to withstand the elements at that level. If it's raining, turn your generator off until things dry out. That way, you'll be protecting yourself and your home.

Permanently installed standby generators, however, are enclosed in a protective casing to protect them against the elements— and are safe to run while raining. 

4. Ensure Your Generator is Properly Grounded

Proper grounding on a generator is vital for safety. Without the right grounding, your generator could end up causing more harm than good. Not only could you or someone else get shocked, but the generator could cause a fire in your home.

5. Never Plug Your Generator into an Outlet

Plugging a portable generator into an outlet to try to operate more items from it is called back-feeding, and it's very dangerous. Plug the generator into your home's circuit correctly, using a transfer switch.

6. Always Plug Equipment Directly into Your Generator

Generators and extension cords aren't a good mix. Your generator has plugs for a reason, and you'll want to plug anything you're using directly into the generator for safety. 

7. Uncoil Cords and Lay Them in Flat, Open Locations

Coiled cords get hot, and that can cause a fire or other problems. Uncoiling the cords and laying them flat and out in the open gives them a chance to stay at a safe temperature.

8. Use Fresh Gasoline in Your Generator

If you don't plan to use your generator for 30 days or more, you'll want to use a gasoline additive to stabilize the gas in it. Generators operate much better on fresh (or properly stabilized) gasoline.

9. Let the Engine Cool Before Refueling

Don't immediately start to pour more gasoline into your generator when you've just shut the engine off. That engine is hot, and gasoline vapors are very flammable. Wait a couple of minutes, for safety.

10. Maintain Your Generator

Proper generator maintenance is very important. A generator that isn't maintained the right way might not work when you need it. Improper maintenance (or a lack of maintenance) could also cause dangerous conditions.

An Electrical Services Contractor Can Help

Are you considering installing a standby generator? If you're thinking about getting a generator for your home, or you have other residential electrical service needs, our team at Brittania Electric can help. 

We offer expert electricians who can restore lost power, add circuits, upgrade panels, add outlets, install generators, and much more. 

Contact us and let us lend a hand, today! 

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