There are two ways to use a generator. It can be permanently
installed or it can be operated temporarily during a power outage. Emergencies
and maintenance work by utility companies are some of the reasons why using
temporary power (generators) is necessary. By using generators during a power
outage, you can stay comfortable and secure in your home.
Comparing Permanent and Temporary
People who depend on life support and other types of critical
care devices will definitely need a permanently-installed power generator since
this equipment will turn out in a matter of seconds following a power outage.
A transfer switch is required by all generators that are
permanently installed. The switch enables the generator to be isolated from the
electrical utility supply when there is a power outage. A licensed contractor
is the one who does the permanent installation of the generator in a home. Such
installations call for an inspection of the house’s electrical system to ensure
your family’s safety and the safety of the utility employees.
On the other hand, temporary generators are used only during
power outages that last longer than anyone would like. These units are not
designed to power up all of the appliances in your home. Temporary power should
be used for a short amount of time, for instance, when cooking or to keep the
food in the fridge from going bad during an extended outage.
When you use a temporary generator, you will connect your
appliances to an electrical extension cord in order to run them. You must never
directly plug a temporary generator into any of the outlets on your home
because, then, it will enter the utility’s electrical supply and cause
accidents. Set the unit outside of the house and connect an extension cord to
it and from that cord, you can run your household appliances.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT SIZE
When buying a temporary generator,
it is important that you choose the proper size in order to operate the
appliances and devices that you want to run on it. When choosing the size of
the generator, you must consider what starting power do motors and motor-driven
appliances require. An electric motor may be a heavy load for generators since
this type of motor usually needs up to six times its operating power in order
to start up.
To get a good estimate of the
generator size that you need, you should identify first all the appliances that
will be run using the generator in the event of a power outage. Take note that
the bigger the generator is, the more expensive it gets so you may want to
operate just the essential household appliances during an outage. In addition,
the larger generator with greater electrical load will naturally use more fuel.
Next, you should list down and
calculate the wattages of all appliances that do not use a motor. Check the
nameplate of the appliance because it is usually where the wattage is listed.
Sometimes, only the amperage will be listed. To calculate the wattage, multiply
the volts with the amperage. For small appliances like microwave oven, use 120
volts and use 240 volts for larger household appliances like an oven range.
Do the same steps with appliances
that use a motor or driven by a motor. The same formula given above can be used
to find out the operating wattage of these types of appliances. Once you have
the number, multiply it by three to get the maximum wattage at startup. If you
are in doubt, consult the manufacturer of the appliance.
Then, add up all the wattages of
the non-motor and motor appliances that you intend to operate simultaneously
using the temporary generator. The sum of the wattages will determine the
proper size of generator that you need.
HIRING TEMPORARY POWER SERVICE
There are companies that will rent
you temporary generators. The good thing about this option is you have a
professional who is knowledgeable in the proper and safe use of the unit.
Typically, the units will be placed in a case that serves to absorb noise so
the operation is as quiet as it can be. There may be a need for the technicians
to access the generator for refueling purposed or to fix any problem so you may
be asked for your contact number if the unit is placed on your property.
When operating generators, whether permanent or temporary, you
should make safety a priority. You can ensure generator safety by installing or
using the equipment properly. Proper installation and use of generators,
whether permanent or temporary, are essential to keep not only electrical
workers from harm but also protect your property and, most importantly, your
It is very important to install temporary generators properly
for the following reasons:
The generator might backfeed into the home’s electrical utility
system. When this happens, dead power lines will become energized and will
cause grave injury to utility workers who may be fixing those lines. Any body
in the neighborhood would also be in danger of accidentally getting in contact
with a fallen line that has become live.
If not installed properly, temporary generators may lead to
wiring hazards as well as produce hazardous exhaust fumes that can harm you and
Improper installation and use will also lead to the equipment
getting damaged. Electrical workers have a grounding technique that they use to
protect themselves and this system will damage a generator if it is not
installed right. In addition, when power has been restored to the system, it
will enter the home causing the generator to burn out possibly beyond repair.
When you purchase a temporary generator, it will come with
instructions on the proper installation of the equipment. Make sure to read the
user manual carefully before starting your generator.
There are several things to consider in operating temporary
generators safely. The following safety guidelines, however, should not be
deemed as a substitute for reading the product’s manual which has instructions
specific to the generator you bought.
1.) Check Connections. Do not run an electrical cord under a rug
where it is hard to notice if there is any damage to the cord. Also, there is a
tendency for heat to build up under a rug so it is not safe to have electrical
cords running under it. Moreover, keep all cords away from passage ways or foot
traffic areas, especially dimly-lit areas, so they don’t create tripping
If the generator’s GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) is
faulty, do not attempt to operate it because you will only risk getting an
electric shock. Check the generator’s total electrical power load and make sure
that it does not go over the rated power load of the manufacturer.
2.) Check where you place the generator. Location is very
important in the safe use of temporary generators. Never use them inside the
house. The gas fumes that come out of it contain toxic carbon monoxide. It is
necessary that you operate the generator in an area that gets good
Do not place the equipment in a damp area or an area that may
get wet or is near a source of water. Above all, do not use a generator where
it is directly exposed to rainfall or snow because doing so can lead to fatal
accidents or serious injuries.
Position the temporary generator away from the home and far from
other equipment while you are using it. Also, keep it away from combustible
materials. Do not house the equipment in an enclosed structure. Make sure it is
standing on a compact and even surface.
3.) Check the fuel. Make sure to use only clean fuel that has
never been used. Before your refuel the generator, switch its engine off.
Refuel the equipment in an area where there is adequate air circulation. Never
smoke while refueling or allow even a flame or a spark near the generator while
it is being refueled. Keep in mind that the vapors of fuel are flammable and
may spark up after you start the generator’s engine. So, make sure to cleanup
any fuel that may have been spilled before you operate the generator. Also,
check that there is no fuel leakage throughout the operation, including before
and after use.
Other safety considerations and reminders:
You must read the product’s manual before using the generator. Remember,
this equipment is capable of delivering electrical power that is strong enough
to cause not only serious bodily injury but even death if it is not used
Stay away from the muffler because
it heats up while the generator is running and stays hot for a while after the
unit has already shut down. Also, many other components of the unit get hot
while it is running so keep kids away from it.
Make sure that you are not
overloading the generator. Check the unit’s output ration and use this to
determine just how many appliances and devices you should be operating all at
once using the generator.
The sides of the generator unit
will contain safety labels. Always check that they stay affixed to the unit. In
an emergency, you must know how to quickly shut down your generator. Make sure
you and other grownups in the household know the unit’s emergency shutdown