During a power outage, a gasoline-powered generator can provide enough juice to keep your lights, your purchases from spoiling, and your fans spinning. Set up a portable unit outside your home, and connect appliances indoors to their many outlets via extension cords. (Exactly how many devices will run simultaneously, of course, depends on the unit you choose and the wattage it can handle.)
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While a portable generator may cost several hundreds or even thousands of dollars depending on the size and model, it is bound to be less expensive than a permanently installed standby generator, which will automatically start to power your home. Additionally, you may not need a professional electrician to install a portable generator, and you can easily take the unit with you if you move. All that said, the proper operation of the device is critical to ensuring the safety of your family and community. Read on to learn how to use the generator carefully and correctly.
Two vital caveats
Before you start using a portable generator, keep these two basic considerations in mind:
- an act Read and understand your unit owner’s manual carefully and completely. You need to familiarize yourself with any special procedures or precautions for your specific model.
- no “Feedback” your mobile generator under any circumstances. Feed back refers to connecting a mobile device to an outlet in your home using a special extension cord to feed electricity from the generator to the entire home. This illegal practice can be deadly. It causes an electrical fire hazard not only to your home but also Which The house is served by the same transformer; Additionally, it can kill utility workers working on power lines. If you want to connect a generator to your home, you need a licensed electrician to install a transfer switch according to local codes.
How to use the portable generator
Step 1: Locate the generator at a safe distance from your home.
Portable generators run on gasoline and emit carbon monoxide during operation and for a period of time after use. Carbon monoxide poisoning is fatal, so it is important to:
- Locate a portable generator outside, at least 20 feet from your home (and your neighbor’s homes).
- Allow at least five feet of space in each direction, including above the unit.
- Do not place a portable generator in any enclosed or partially enclosed area, such as a garage, basement, attic, shed, or crawlspace.
- Don’t leave generators near open windows, doors, or vents, which may allow carbon monoxide into your home.
- You have carbon monoxide detectors located throughout your home, on every floor, and outside of sleeping areas and other central spaces.
- Direct the exhaust away from occupied areas and into a position where it blows downwind, away from your home or your neighbor’s homes.
Step 2: Check the fuel and oil levels.
Make sure you have a full fuel tank before you start. Your portable generator should have a fuel gauge to make checking easier, but the unit should be on a flat surface to get accurate results. If you need to add fuel, consult your owner’s manual for fuel recommendations.
Next, check the oil level, which will likely be similar to checking the oil in your car. Locate the oil dipstick (mostly under the removable maintenance panel). Pull out the dipstick, erase it, and then reinsert it. Carefully pull the dipstick straight out again, then look to see if the oil on the stick falls between the lower and upper limit marks printed on the dipstick. Add or change the oil if necessary, referring to your owner’s manual for how to add, what type of use and how often a change is needed.
Step 3: Calculate the wattage requirement.
Before connecting, make sure you are not overloading the alternator by plugging in more appliances and lights than rated to handle it. Add the starting and running wattage of the devices you want to power on simultaneously; Refer to their user manuals or check the backs or sides of the devices to find this information. The total number should not exceed your generator’s wattage limitations – see your user manual if you are unsure how many watts of power your generator can handle. Arrange the use of devices if necessary to prevent generator overload.
Step 4: Turn on the device and connect the devices.
Follow your user manual for instructions on operating the device. You will usually need to turn off the circuit breaker and turn on the fuel valve before you start it. Give the device a few minutes to warm up, then flip the circuit breaker.
Use long, heavy-duty extension cords designed for outdoor use to connect appliances to the generator one at a time so as not to overload them. Check wires before use to make sure they are in good condition without rips or tears. The wattage rating of the wire should be greater than the wattage of what you connected it to.
Step 5: Unplug the devices and turn off the generator.
To turn off the generator, turn off or disconnect the devices connected to it. Then refer to your user manual to turn off the alternator – you will usually need to turn the circuit breaker, engine switch and fuel valve to the “off” position.
Wait for the alternator to cool completely before storing it once power is restored. If you don’t expect to need it again for more than a month, drain the fuel and carburetor – letting in old fuel can damage the internal parts of the alternator. Refer to your owner’s manual for storage instructions.
A few more notes on safety
When using a portable generator, safety is the name of the game. Keep these things in mind before, during, and after use.
- Generators must be kept dry during use to avoid electrocution, so as tempting as it may be to power up and run when a storm cuts it, wait until the weather has settled. Do not use your portable generator in rainy or wet conditions and do not touch the unit with wet hands.
- If a carbon monoxide alarm goes off, immediately go outdoors or through an open window and call emergency personnel for assistance. Do not try to turn off the generator.
- If you need to add more gasoline to the generator tank, turn it off and let it cool completely before refueling. Gasoline can catch fire if it is accidentally spilled on the engine while it is still hot.