Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

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How to Use a Portable Generator Safely


Portable generators are a great way to provide power during outages, but there are some important safety considerations, including carbon monoxide poisoning and electrical overloads that can damage appliances.  ...More




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How to Use a Portable Generator Safely

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Portable backup generators are less expensive that whole house generators but require set up and fueling by the homeowner each time they are used. They also raise safety concerns, including carbon monoxide poisoning, electrocution, fire, and damage to appliances and other electrical equipment.

Here are some important safety guidelines for operating a portable generator:

  • Only operate a generator in the open and at a safe distance from your home.
  • Don’t use a generator in an enclosed storage building, garage, carport, basement, crawlspace, or near an open window or door.
  • Never attach a portable generator directly to the wiring in your home.
  • Instead, plug electrical devices into a heavy duty extension cord that is attached to the generator.
  • Be sure the combined wattage of all the devices that are plugged into the generator does not exceed the rated capacity of either the generator or extension cord.
  • Turn the generator off and allow it to cool before filling it with fuel.

Watch this video to find out more.



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6 Comments on “How to Use a Portable Generator Safely”

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  1. Kapua Says:
    June 20th, 2009 at 1:06 am

    Aloha,
    Mahalo for sharing your experience and wisdom.

  2. Anita Says:
    September 5th, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    I am having trouble finding out about what is a safe distance from the house to operate a portable electric generator. All the information I find is how to hook one up to the house. Could you also tell me the best way to protect the generator from the weather. Information you could give me would be nice. Thank you

    Anita Mcgrew

  3. Official Comment:

    Ben Erickson Says:
    September 8th, 2009 at 8:12 am

    Hi Anita,
    The general recommendation for preventing carbon monoxide poisoning when using a portable generator is that they be positioned in an open area outside your home that is away from windows and doors. That means not to put them in a shed, carport, or garage while running. As far as a specific distance from your home, I don’t know of a specific government safety guideline, but Consumer Reports recommends generators be located at least 15’ away from your home when running.

  4. laq Says:
    December 26th, 2009 at 10:22 am

    how do i cover my generator during use?

  5. Rob Says:
    January 23rd, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    For covering during use, you might try a waterproof canopy with adjustable height – found at Walmart or sporting goods store in the tent and screenhouse section. I picked up an inexpensive 10′x10′ nylon canopy on ebay for $20. Not as nice as nice as the $100 ones at Sports Authority, and bigger than I needed, but it does the trick. Be sure to tie down the canopy during use!

  6. joe Says:
    January 13th, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    my generator is seven feet from house .how do i try it out with power still on.

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