How to Use a Generator Safely

Portable generators are an incredibly useful piece of kit; they offer portable power as well as provide you with electricity when you most need it, such as during an emergency.

When using these useful tools, you do need to bear in mind that you will need to use them safely, as well as maintain them, whether generators are used professionally or at home.

This guide is a quick overview that will point out the main safety factors that you should be aware of before using your generator. We have created it to prevent potential hazards and minimise the risks that can be involved when handling a generator.

If you require any generator servicing and maintenance in the UK, you can contact our team of experts here, at Edge Technology, where we’d be happy to help!

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Due to some generators being used incorrectly, every year people die from CO poisoning. It’s one of the most serious risks involved with using a generator, which is why it’s incredibly important not to use the generator in enclosed spaces, even if it is only partially enclosed.

Carbon monoxide isn’t visible and it’s completely odourless, which means that even though you can’t smell or see the fumes, you are still being exposed to them as generators produce a lot of carbon monoxide very quickly.

If you start to feel unwell while using a generator you should immediately seek an open space with plenty of fresh air. CO poisoning symptoms include feeling dizzy, sick or weak, which can quickly escalate to incapacitation and then death.

Always Use the Generator Outdoors

To protect yourself and others, a generator should never be used indoors, this includes your home, garage, cellar, shed or tent. Even if the space is only partially enclosed with open windows, doors and a running fan it can still have deadly consequences.

Ensure that you read the instructions that come with the generator, and when running the generator outside make sure that you are well away from any open windows, doors or vents.

Even though you should only a generator outdoors, you should still invest in a CO alarm with a battery backup. Make sure that the alarm is tested regularly and change the batteries when required.

How to Use a Generator Safely

Electrical Hazards

It’s always important to remember that you’re handling a piece of machinery that is designed for outputting a large amount of power. If you find that your generator has been damaged or it is used incorrectly, the electrical output might not be delivered to the desired location.

Avoid Any Moisture or Rain

Only operate your generator on a dry surface and away from the rain. You may need to use a protective canopy to do this. Ensure that your hands are also dry before using your generator.

Only Use Rated Cables and Extensions

If you need to use an extension cord, ensure that it is a heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cord.

It is highly recommended to regularly visually inspect any cord you use for tears and cuts. You should also check that the three pins in the plugs aren’t damaged either. When inspecting the cord, you should make sure that the cord is rated in amps and watts to more than the total connected load.

Do Not Backfeed the Generator

Backfeeding is when the flow of electric power is in the reverse direction of the typical or expected flow of power. For example, if you plug your generator directly into a wall outlet, the wiring in the house will no longer be protected by a circuit breaker or fuse power panel. The wiring could become overloaded and overheat, which could evolve into a fire.

This can not only affect you, your family and your home, but it can also put everyone else who is served by the same utility transformer at risk and can make all of your own and your neighbours plugs live.

Use an Electrician

If you would like your generator to be connected to your home wiring, then you should hire a qualified electrician for the installation. This will require a transfer switch that will meet the requirements of local electrical codes – this is not something that should be attempted as a DIY job.

Contact a member of our team here at Edge Technology if you would like your generator to be safely connected to your home wiring.

How to Use a Generator Safely

Fire Hazards

Although this can be an unlikely incident, there is still a potential for fire hazards.

When fuel is spilt or is left out in the open it increases its chances of catching fire. Even minor spillages can lead to a much larger problem in the wrong circumstance. Ensure that any spills are cleaned up quickly, and effectively.

If the generator is still warm, you should wait until the entire generator has cooled down. This may mean that you have to turn the generator off for at least an hour to accomplish this. This is incredibly important because any spilt fuel on a hot engine can ignite.

Fuel should be stored safely, it doesn’t matter if your generator runs off of petrol, diesel or LPG, it should never be stored in the home. Any flammable fuels should be left outside of any living spaces.

You should ensure that your fuel is properly labelled and sealed in safety containers, which should be stored away and separated from any fuel-burning appliances.

It’s important for the fuel to be properly sealed not only so it doesn’t spill, but also due to the vapours that can slowly escape and accumulate, which can then be ignited by pilot lights or electrical arcs.

We hope you have found this guide helpful; if you require any more information about using your generator safely you can contact our team, we also offer services which include repairs and maintenance. For more generator-related tips and tricks, you can also refer to our team of experts or our blog.