Operating Your Portable Generator Safely

A portable generator can supply electricity to important appliances in your home in the event of a power outage, but using a generator safely is vital. Improper use of a generator can result in serious injury and even death to you or utility workers who are working to restore power. Your appliances, when connected, can also be damaged from improper use of a generator.

First, make sure you install a transfer switch. Howell-Oregon Electric Cooperative can install a transfer switch at your meter base where the main power supply comes into your home. This switch, called a double-throw transfer switch, enables you to run your generator to power your appliances, without sending electricity back onto the power lines which can electrocute utility workers working to restore power.

You may purchase a double-throw transfer switch from the cooperative and a HOEC service lineman will install it for you. At HOEC, we are very concerned for your safety and the safety of utility workers, so your total cost of installing a double-throw transfer switch is only the cost of the switch itself.

Never operate a portable generator indoors or in an attached garage in order to be certain that toxic fumes do not get into the living area of your home.

Do not overload a generator. A generator is sized by wattage. For example, if your generator is rated at 4,500 watts, make sure to calculate the total wattage of each appliance, combined, that you plan to energize. Some appliances have a starting wattage which is higher than its running wattage. In this case, calculate the starting wattage to be certain you do not overload your generator. The graph below shows the starting wattage and running wattage of a few home appliances.

Generators can be a big help in the case of an extended power outage; just be sure safety is your top priority while using one.

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