Consider a generator for your home


As any owner of a generator can attest, being prepared is important. However, keeping your family comfortable and safe during power outages requires more than purchasing a generator and plugging it in. You also need to make sure you are using it safely.

Choose the Location Carefully

The two biggest dangers of operating a gas generator are carbon monoxide poisoning and electrical shock. Fortunately, you can avoid both with a few simple safety measures.

First, under no circumstances should you keep your generator indoors — including in your basement, garage or any other enclosed space. Even a few minutes of exposure to carbon monoxide is deadly, so you need to make sure the exhaust stays outside. To do this, place your generator at least 10 feet away from your home and make sure the exhaust will flow away from your home instead of toward it. If you have neighbors nearby, be careful not to endanger them, either. Keep the generator away from doors, windows and vents.

Second, to prevent electrical shock, keep your generator away from water, including precipitation. Before installing you generator, lay some patio blocks (or something similar) to set it on. The goal is to get the generator off the ground and safely above any standing water. You should also have a canopy (without sides) ready for when you need to use it during rain.

Install a Transfer Switch

When you need to use a generator, chances are good that you would like it to keep your home warm, your refrigerator cold and your lights on. That’s why a transfer switch is important. If your generator is at least 5,000 watts, installing a transfer switch will allow you to power the most important parts of your home without plugging specific items into the generator.

Depending on your electrical system, an interlock kit may prove a cheaper alternative. However, you will need to consult an electrician to know whether an interlock kit will work for you. Also, keep in mind that an interlock kit will need more complex steps on your end each time you use it than a transfer switch would.

Both options will keep your family and utility workers safe from backfeeding, which happens if you try to plug your generator directly to your electrical service panel. These additions protect your generator and appliances from damage.

Winterize Your Generator

If you live in a colder climate, you are most likely to benefit from a gas generator during winter storms. This makes winterizing your generator especially important. Invest in a cold weather kit to make sure your generator will be safe from winter weather and ready when you need it. Key components include a battery warmer and a crankcase heater, both of which can turn on automatically when the temperatures dips below a certain point.

A generator can protect your home and family from the elements, but those benefits come with risks. Without the proper precautions, a gas generator can become counterproductive and even deadly, but the steps above will keep your family safe and your home running.