Portable Power Generator Safety

July 8, 2014 by Valerie Griffiths

Portable power generators provide on-the-go electrical power. They usually run on gasoline, and can fuel an important appliance or two when the power goes out in your home. Portable generators are also handy for “glamping”—a term coined for that “glamorous” form of camping that involves electricity, by those who prefer to rough it! However you use your portable generator, make safety a priority. Here are our top 5 safety tips:

1. For outdoor use only. Here’s the golden rule of portable generators: NEVER run them in enclosed spaces, or you run the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. They are designed for outdoor use, and require lots of ventilation. It’s also crucial to keep them away from windows and doors.

2. Avoid extension cords. Whenever possible, plug appliances directly into your generator. When you need an extension cord to connect your generator, choose wisely. Do not use old, frayed or taped extension cords. Choose heavy-duty, grounded extension cords designed for outdoor use.

3. Install it correctly. Do not hook your portable generator up to your home’s electrical system under any circumstance. A licensed electrician can install the appropriate type of generator with a transfer switch to kick on automatically when your power goes off, if that’s something you’re interested in.

4. Beware of backfeeding. This occurs when you plug your generator directly into a wall outlet. It’s a code violation that presents great risk of electrocution to utility workers. Backfeeding feeds power back to the transformer, magnifies it within utility lines, and creates dangerously high voltage. Your portable generator must be connected directly to the appliances you want to power, or through the appropriate extension cord.

5. Stay dry. Keep your hands dry when you’re handling the generator, and protect the generator from the elements with a ventilated canopy or tent. Precipitation can put you at risk of electrocution. If you don’t feel like scrambling when a storm hits, consider a product like the GenTent – made just for this purpose!

Stick to these portable generator guidelines, and you’ll be up and running in no time!