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Last Updated on July 21, 2022 by Manager Access
When the power goes out during a disaster or an emergency, you’ll be glad to have a portable generator in the house to come to the rescue. A portable generator is very useful to keep your lights, refrigerators, heaters, and other essential appliances running during a power outage.
But before using a portable generator, you should know some essential generator safety tips to keep you and your family safe.
Did you know that portable generators produce poisonous and odorless carbon monoxide? You wouldn’t be able to notice it until you feel its effects. If you are exposed to carbon monoxide for a long time, you would need serious medical attention.
According to a report, more than 900 people have died of carbon monoxide poisoning coming out of portable generators from 2005 to 2017. To avoid dangerous situations like this, we have compiled a list of safety rules to follow when installing and using a portable generator for your home.
Portable Generator Safety Tips for Indoors
When you are using a portable generator to power the electrical appliances in your house, follow these tips to ensure safety:
1. Keep Your Generator Outdoors
You should never keep generators confined in enclosed areas like your house or garage. Make sure the generator is at least 20 feet away from your house.
Because there’s no sufficient ventilation in confined areas (like inside your house), the CO will accumulate to dangerous levels.
Portable generators should be kept on the side of the house where there are no open windows or doorways. Doing so will keep the poisonous exhaust from seeping inside your home.
2. Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector
Since you can’t detect carbon monoxide until it is too late, it’s a good idea to install a detector. Carbon Monoxide detectors have an average price of $25, which is a good investment when you consider the safety and peace of mind you’ll get after installing it.
3. Don’t Run a Generator when it is raining
Keep the generator dry at all times. Set up a small tent over it to keep it dry as well as well-ventilated during rainy seasons.
Never touch the generator with wet hands to avoid being electrocuted.
4. Let it Cool Down Before Refueling
Generators run on gasoline which is highly flammable. Before you refuel the generator, you should turn it off and let it cool down for 3-4 minutes. If you don’t, the hot engine can ignite gasoline and cause serious damage.
5. Keep Additional Stock of Fuel supply
If you plan to use the portable generator for an extended period of time, you’ll need to keep an extra supply of gasoline or diesel on hand. When it comes to storing fuel, there are a few things to keep in mind.
You can learn more by reading this blog if you need to run a portable generator continuously for a longer duration of time.
- Keep the fuel in an ANSI-approved container.
- Add chemicals or stabilizers if you need to store them for a longer time.
- Keep the gasoline stock in a cool and dry place.
- Keep it away from any heat source in the house.
6. Avoid Back Feeding
Backfeeding is when the generator is plugged into a wall outlet or the main electrical panel to power the house. People who use electricity from the same utility transformer are at risk of electrocution as a result. It could also fry your electrical appliances and potentially cause a fire.
A licensed professional can connect the generator to the main electrical panel according to the proper codes. Make sure to install a transfer switch. A transfer switch eliminates the risk of using extension cords when disconnecting your home wiring.
7. Portable Generator Maintenance
This generator safety tips list would be incomplete without including some basic yet essential maintenance pointers that you should keep in mind.
- Read the instructions in the user manual properly.
- Store the generator in a safe area when you are not using it.
- Keep the generator clean by removing gas, oil, snow, or grease.
- Inspect for leaks regularly on pipes, valves, and storage tanks.
- Hire a licensed professional to perform annual maintenance on your unit.
Portable Generator Safety Tips for the Go
For travelers who are always on the go, the same rules apply. However, there are a few things you need to be more careful of:
8.Check the Generator Exhaust
Before each use, double-check that your generator’s exhaust isn’t leaking. Keep an ear out for any unusual exhaust noises. And make sure the exhaust is facing away from where you’re camping.
If you’re suddenly feeling dizzy, shut off the portable generator and step outside to get some fresh air. Before sleeping, turn off the generator and keep the windows open to allow fresh air to come in.
9. Install Alarms
Install a carbon monoxide and fire alarm in your RV. Check that they are in working order and replace the batteries if necessary. Install the smoke alarm near where you sleep in the RV.
Make sure to replace the batteries before your trip. You might need to install more than one alarm depending on the size of your RV.
10. Use Heaters inside RV Safely
If you’re going to use portable heaters, barbecues, stoves, or even kerosene lamps, make sure you do so outside the RV. Keep windows open even if you’re using the stove to ensure proper ventilation.
When using electrical appliances inside the RV, keep an eye on them. If you become dizzy, turn off the appliances and exit the RV immediately, leaving the windows and doors open to allow carbon monoxide to escape.
Generator Safety Tips Checklist: Setting Up Your Portable Generator
When installing and using a portable generator, there’s a lot of safety guidelines that you need to keep in mind. So we’ve created a portable generator safety checklist to make things easier for you.
Note: Download our printable generator safety checklist for a better experience, and use it before every trip or installation.
Before you start using the generator, make sure you check as many boxes as possible. When it comes to your and your family’s safety, it’s always best to go the extra mile.
Safe Portable Generators to Choose From
Finding a generator that can provide the best performance while also being safe can prove to be a challenge. So we’ve done the legwork for you and compiled a list of three powerful and safe portable generators for you to choose from.
All the 3 generators that we listed are both EPA Certified and CARB compliant. EPA certified means the United States Environmental Protection Agency has approved the generators. CARB stands for California Air Resource board which is a government agency assuring that the generators meet their current emission standards.
Before reading our top 3 picks you can check out this blog to calculate how much power you’ll need to back up your appliances.
1. Duromax XP12000EH
You can power it up with both gas and propane. It has a total capacity of 12000 watts and is powered by a 457cc OHV engine. It is a heavy-duty generator that you can use to power up refrigerators, AC, and other heavy electrical appliances.
The Duromax is rated 5-star by 78% and 4-star by 12% of people on Amazon at the time of writing this blog. It is approved to be used in 50 states making it a very safe and dependable generator.
- Can be powered by both Propane and Gas
- Has heavy-duty capabilities useful for emergencies
- Have a run time of 10-20 hours depending on the type of fuel used
- It has a shut-off mechanism saving the engine from damage
- It is heavy and takes up more space to store
- Has a limited warranty period
2. WEN DF475T Dual Fuel
WEN DF475T is the generator for you if you are looking for durability and dependability. The best part is that it won’t cost you a fortune as it comes with a price tag under $500. It is a perfect choice for travelers or occasional campers. It has a run time of 11 hours with half load and an additional 7 hours when switched to propane.
This generator comes with a switch that allows changing voltage from 120V to 240V instantly. It has the ability to run multiple heavy-duty appliances simultaneously. It also has multiple outlets which can be used to power various kinds of electrical devices.
- Very affordable
- Durable and reliable
- Low maintenance and comes with a kit
- Operates very quietly
- Manufactured in China
- Problems reported where the generator doesn’t start after a few uses
3. Champion 5000W
The Champion 5000W is built with only one thing in mind; safety. It has incredible built-in safety features and is very lightweight, making it very easy to move around. The 4-stroke V-Twin enables it to produce a runtime of 9 hours at 50%load and has running 5000.
The generator shuts low automatically when it is running low in fuel, saving the motor from any damages. The volt guard installed in the generator protects it from voltage overload.
- Packed with safety features
- Lifetime Support
- Lower runtime than others
If you are looking for a list of portable generators of 10,000 watts you can check out this blog. These generators are easy to move around while having sufficient power to run the house during a crisis.
At the end of the day, it is up to you to educate yourself on generator safety and purchase the appropriate generator to power your home.
I hope this list of generator safety tips keeps you and your family safe. You can download the PDF safety checklist to help you keep track of everything.
Do you have any experience with portable generators? What kinds of safety concerns did you have?
If you know anyone who owns or wants to buy a portable generator, share this article with them so they can stay safe!
Scott Krager purchased generatorgrid.com in the summer of 2020 and quickly began to buy every generator under the sun! He currently has over a dozen generators and the number is growing quickly. He lives in Portland, OR near his family and friends.