Using a Generator

Using a Generator

A generator can help during emergencies, but its safe use requires care and planning.

Gasoline-powered generators produce deadly carbon-monoxide fumes:

  • Always run portable generators outside the house.
  • Never run generators in a garage.
  • Keep generators well away from open windows—including neighbors' windows—so deadly exhaust does not enter the home.

Never connect a generator directly to your home's wiring. Power from a generator connected to a home's wiring will "back feed" into utility lines, potentially severely injuring or killing a neighbor or utility crew working to restore service.

Either:

  • Plug appliances directly into the generator's outlet.
  • Use a heavy-duty extension cord rated for outdoor use to keep the generator safely outdoors. If the appliance has a three-prong plug, always use a three-prong extension cord.
  • Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for grounding the generator.

Or:

  • Hire a licensed electrician to connect the generator to your house wiring using a UL-listed transfer switch. The transfer switch will safely prevent your generator from back feeding into utility lines, thus avoiding a safety hazard and preventing possible damage when utility power is restored.