Portable Generators

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Portable Generator Safety

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Portable Generator Safety Tips

Be Safe Around Generators

When using generators, always thoroughly read instructions provided by the manufacturer and seek assistance from licensed electricians where appropriate. In addition to electrical safety, you should keep in mind that generators can produce carbon monoxide. This deadly gas is invisible and odorless, and you cannot trust your senses for protection from carbon monoxide. When buying a generator, also buy a battery-operated carbon-monoxide alarm. It works like a smoke alarm, sounding an alert if carbon monoxide levels become dangerous.

A portable generator provides electricity to specific equipment, such as appliances, during utility power outages. This equipment typically plugs directly into the generator.

Portable Generator Safety Tips

Portable generators can be useful when temporary or remote electric power is needed, but also can be hazardous if they aren't isolated properly. To properly isolate portable generators, be careful you never connect it to an electrical outlet. Instead, appliances should be connected directly to the generator.

The easiest way to use a generator is to simply plug the equipment to be operated directly into the proper outlet on the generator.

  • Never connect the generator's electrical output to any live home or building electrical circuits
  • Never plug a generator into a wall outlet
  • Avoid contact with bare wires and terminals
  • Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) in any damp or highly conductive area
  • If you choose to have a transfer switch (permanent connection) installed for a portable generator, contact a licensed electrician
  • Consult a licensed electrician to choose a generator. This will help ensure proper installation, prevent backfeeding onto the electric system, and make certain it meets national and local electrical code requirements

Gasoline-powered generators can produce deadly carbon monoxide fumes.

  • Never use a generator in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. Never run generators in a garage or inside a home
  • Keep generators well away from open windows - - including neighbors' windows - - so deadly exhaust does not enter the home.

A permanently installed generating system is permanently connected to the home or business. It involves standby generators that supply backup power to a building during a power outage.

A permanently installed generator:

  • Is wired to a building's existing wiring system to provide a backup electricity source during a power outage
  • Can be sized to provide electricity to specific pieces of equipment or all electrical equipment
  • Is connected to the building's existing wiring via a transfer switch.

Permanently Installed Generator Safety

Make sure a qualified electrician installs your standby generator so that its circuits and Southwestern Electric Power Company's circuits are not connected. That is, be sure they are "isolated." Otherwise, customer-generated power can flow back to the power line, electrocuting an Southwestern Electric Power Company worker attempting to restore power and power distributed from Southwestern Electric Power Company can overheat the generator, causing an electrical fire at your home. The most common isolation method is to install a double-throw double-pole transfer switch.