Running a generator is not as easy as you think! Several mishaps are waiting to happen if you are not careful.
A portable generator provides a simple fix for a power outage. Even during a hurricane or ice storm, you won’t be left in the dark if you have a portable or inverter generator.
You’re not alone if you’ve considered whether you should install a generator on a porch.
However, there are a few elements to weigh before making a choice.
Are Generators The Enemy?
It is known that house electric generators release harmful fumes like a vehicle engine does. These fumes result from combustion in the engine system and require regular release.
Therefore it’s best to avoid using one in your home, basement, closed garage, screened porch, or building, but more on this later.
How Does a Generator Work?
An electric generator produces electricity by converting mechanical energy into electrical power.
Below we’ll look at important aspects of dealing with generators:
The Basic Requirements:
Buying a generator requires your maximum effort. You need to make several decisions before considering purchasing the device, and some of them are more technical than others.
We decided to make it simple for you!
1. The Ideal Generator Size
There’s a misconception that smaller generators can be used for standby electric power since they aren’t always running.
While there’s no replacement for hiring an expert to perform the inspection and calculate everything, there are a few guidelines that can give you a good idea of where to start.
Identifying Your Needs
It’s not a good idea to go to a dealer and buy the cheapest generator available. If you want to make the right choice, dig deep into your electrical requirements.
Here are some ways to do it:
- Appliances Count: List everything that your generator needs to sustain
- The Wattages: Note down the starting and running wattage of each item
- Do The Math: Total both the wattages individually
You should size the generator appropriately to match the electrical demands you wish to power while providing some extra capacity. If undersized, the result is virtually the same as a utility “browning out” due to inadequate power.
Warning: Browning out can cause harm to all essential devices, from a good pump to a computer.
2. A Safe And Secure Connection
Connecting your generator to a building’s circuit panel is not a simple task, and it’s not a laptop charger you just insert in an outlet, and you will need a more secure and advanced method.
A transfer switch is an electrical switch that switches a load between two sources. A lengthy, heavy-duty wire called a “genset cord” links the generator to the transfer switch and is linked into an electric outlet outside the home.
You need this device to allow a continuous and safe current flow between the power source and appliances.
3. Using Heavy-Duty Cords
It is possible to hook up appliances securely to the generator. Extending long extension cords to the generator may power your refrigerator, power tools, and computers.
To handle the current flowing through the cables, they should be heavy-duty and have a thick outer covering. Mostly, there’ll be a warning on the package about the maximum load the cord can handle.
The cables should be approved for outer use. If you are supporting a heavy appliance, it is best to run your cords in a way where they are not vulnerable to extensive damage.
For example, coiled extension cables might melt if they get too hot.
4. What Is A Ground Rod? How Do You Use It?
A ground rod connects the electrical grids to the grounding system in the earth’s surface.
Electricity runs through them with ease, and any danger flows directly to the ground, so you and the electrical panel aren’t at risk.
How do I know if my house has a ground rod?
If you have a ground rod, typically, it would be in the vicinity of the meter socket. Look for a bare #6 copper wire inside the house or from the meter socket that travels down the wall and possibly disappears into the earth.
Never connect the generator directly to a ground rod when using extension cords.
In other words, you do not need a ground rod if you are using high-quality and high-durability cords to connect a generator to your devices.
Risks You Face While Using Generators
How Carbon Monoxide Can Kill You?
Like other small-engine equipment, generators emit carbon monoxide (CO). Unfortunately, excessive levels of the gas lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
You should never use your generator in a room, even if it has a lot of space and has a window cracked up. If there is a chance of a gas build-up, you should avoid the location at all costs as it is hazardous.
Additionally, direct the exhaust from the generator away from home. If practicable, position the generator downwind of the house concerning the prevailing wind.
Fuel Quality And Safety – Better Safe Than Sorry
Refueling a hot generator or near heated appliances such as an electric heater or operating near stored fuels are all recipes for disasters.
Heat could warm the flammable liquid enough to ignite and start a fire. This could result in an explosion and disaster, costing you the lives of your loved ones.
Maintain a steady supply of fuel. For example, you might want to utilize a fuel stabilizer if you wish to increase the lifespan of the liquid by a few months.
This is beneficial for users living at a distance from the available fuel who do not want to travel regularly for fuel purchases.
It is best to have a spare volume of the liquid rather than running out of it during times of crisis. Generator fuels hit demand once the country suffers from disasters.
Weather Safety – Because Nature Is Cruel
People have invented many shelters to protect their generators from various harsh weather conditions, such as snowstorms or rainstorms.
You can customize these shelters to meet your needs and desires. Moreover, you can get them for your home standby generators and portable versions.
A massive industry for these enclosures requires an in-depth analysis to pick the one best suited for your generator.
To learn more about generator protection, refer to our guide “How To Use a Generator In Rain“.
Where Shouldn’t You Place Your Generator?
Enclosed Space Or Indoors
Statistics claim that poisoning for CO is one of the leading causes of generator-related injuries and death. This results from running your devices in enclosed spaces or indoor areas.
This includes areas such as the basement or garage, which may trap dangerous quantities of carbon monoxide.
CO detectors are a preferred safety gadget that protects you from these vicious fumes. They tend to alert the users about unsafe gas levels and help you make decisions accordingly.
Under The Rain
If it’s raining, don’t use your portable generator. Generator tents are available online, in-home centers, and in hardware stores, and they keep generators protected but properly ventilated.
Furthermore, if your generator is immobile, it’s best to cover it up using an enclosure of steel or plastic to make the machinery water-resistant.
The Right Tips For A Better Experience
While following instructions is obligatory, it is not the only guidelines required to make your experience with a generator as safe and comfortable as possible. You need to pay the price of time and effort in exchange for a happy blackout.
1. A Necessary Cool Down
You should let your gas generator cool down before refueling it, and it can catch fire if gasoline spills on hot engine parts. Let the engine chill while filling to reduce potential burns.
2. Prepare In Advance
Purchase more fuel and store it safely. You’ll want additional energy on hand if you anticipate you’ll be using the generator for a prolonged period. Ensure your liquid is stored in ANSI-approved containers placed in a thoroughly ventilated room.
3. Avoid Electrical Hazards.
You can consider using the generator’s outlets directly if you do not have access to a transfer switch. However, there are specific preventive measures you need to take:
- The cable should not have a cut and the plug should be tri-pronged as it helps prevent a shock if there is moisture within the generator’s structure.
- While using a cord, ensure it is heavy-duty to allow outdoor use and is rated very high.
It is okay to be overwhelmed when making a significant change in your life. However, it is even more okay to have questions regarding the choice.
Running a generator safely on your porch is not a feasible option on its own, and however, it is manageable with a few tweaks and steps. These precautions ensure the safety of the people you care about and yourself while allowing a peaceful electrical outage.
It would be best to keep your generators outdoors and as far from the house as possible. We do not want to scare you, however…
We Need You To Be A Little Careful!
Frequently Asked Questions/FAQS:
There are several queries you must have unanswered regarding the usage of a generator in your houses or offices, which is why we decided to address the concerns of the public.
Can you run an unattended generator?
If you want to run your generator efficiently in your absence, make sure it is placed on a flat surface. This prevents any damage by rolling and sliding, thus resulting in an unfortunate mishap.
How do you ventilate a generator?
Distance is key! Locate your generator as far away from your residence as you can. Next, ensure there is room for air to pass through the machine from all sides. Moreover, it should have a large area to allow exhaustion of toxic fumes to prevent suffocation or overheating.
How do you refuel a generator?
It mainly depends on your storage tanks. If you can afford it, go for a container that can store up to 72 hours’ worth of fuel. If you wish to have an inexhaustible supply of gas, rely on those provided by utilities as they are less likely to run out.
Do I need a permit to install a generator switch?
Yes, you need a legal permit to install a generator into your house and require a transfer switch in many states.