|THE IN'S & OUT'S
OF A GENERATOR
How to Use a Generator During a Power Outage
By an eHow Contributor
Having a portable home generator can be a big help when the electricity goes out. Most portable
home generators are not large enough to power everything in your house, but they can be used
to keep a few important things running. If you want to safely use a generator during a power
outage, follow these steps.
1 ) Determine the amount of power that is needed for each item you would like to plug into the
generator during an outage. Compare that to the wattage that the generator can produce. Do not
overload the generator by plugging in more than the generator can handle.
2) Place the generator outside in an open area away from windows, door and vents. Never use a
generator inside a house or a closed garage. Generators produce carbon monoxide. If used in an
enclosed area, they can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
3) Keep the generator dry. Set it on dry ground. If it's raining or snowing outside, keep it under an
4) Check the oil in the generator before starting it. Add oil as necessary.
5) Use a heavy-duty outdoor extension cord for plugging appliances and other items into the
generator. You can also plug the items directly into the generator, but since the generator has to
be kept outside that is not usually possible.
6) Turn the generator off and let it cool for 10 minutes before adding fuel to it. Only use the fuel
that is recommended on the label on your generator. This information is also available in the
7) Store the fuel for your generator in a tightly closed container outside of your home in a secure
area. There could be state and town laws governing the use and storage of generator fuel. Check
with your local fire department for information.
Tips & Warnings
Never connect a generator to a house's electrical system to power the
whole house. This could electrocute utility workers or any neighbors
whose homes are on the same transformer
Tips for Generator Usage During Extended Power Outages
By Samuel Sohlden, eHow Contribitor
Proper use of a generator is essential during an extended power outage
Generators are the lifeline for electricity during an extended power outage. Proper maintenance
and usage of a generator is essential to keep it running during a power outage. Mistreatment or
overuse of a generator can cause it to malfunction or break, leaving your home in the dark. A
generator will last the duration of an outage if you follow simple procedures and use some
Prevent Generator Overload,
A generator can only support a limited amount of electrical devices. According to the Florida Light
and Power Company,"A small generator of about 3,000 watts can run a few lights, fans and a
refrigerator." Overloading a generator can cause its fuse to blow or damage the electrical
devices its connected to. Prevent overload by only using electronics that are essential during
the blackout, like a refrigerator.
Place the generator outside at least 10 feet away from any windows or doors to prevent carbon
monoxide buildup. If available, place it underneath a canopy-like structure. Its essential that the
generator is not operated in wet conditions as it could short circuit or cause electrocution.
Plug the appliances directly into the generator or use a heavy duty extension cord approved for
outdoor use. Never attempt to wire a generator into your main power supply unless you have a
transfer switch, as it could cause a fire or electrocution. When refilling the generator with fuel
turn off all connected appliances, turn off the generator and wait for it to cool. Refilling the
generator while its still hot could cause a fire. Make sure the electrical appliances are off when
restarting the generator.
A generator must be properly maintained for it to work properly during a power outage. Run the
generator at least twice a month for at least 15 minutes. Make sure to connect it to electrical
appliances which will take up 50 percent of its capacity. After each storm season change the
generator's oil, empty its carburetor float bowl and fill the tank with new gasoline.