So you think you need a portable generator

If you live somewhere where storms and severe weather cause frequent power outages, you may be considering purchasing a generator to hold you over during outages. Safe Electricity wants you to understand the benefits, limitations, and safety considerations of generators before you even enter a store.

Before anything else, you need to know where you will put a generator. Never use a generator in your home or garage. They give off deadly carbon monoxide. You should operate your generator outdoors on a dry, level surface. Your generator should be under a canopy. Remember, water and a generator is a dangerous combination.

After you know where you will run a generator, you should decide what electronics the generator will power. A portable generator cannot meet all your electric needs. You must decide what electronics would be most important during a power outage. Add up the wattage of these appliances. Your generator should have more output than the wattage of your require electronics. This way, the generator will be able to create the extra electricity it takes to start up some appliances.

An alternative to the portable generator is a permanent generator. These generators are wired directly into your home by a qualified electrician. The electrician should also install a transfer switch. A transfer switch prevents energy from leaving your generator and getting into power lines where it could injure a line man. This is known as “back feed".