Using a generator when the power goes out is a great option, but safety should be the top priority for both you and utility workers.
There are two kinds of generators, portable and permanent. Portable generators are intended to provide power to an extension cord which is then plugged directly into an appliance or piece of equipment. Permanent generators are wired directly into the electrical system of your home.
Portable generators can't power your entire home, as most typically generate about 1,500 to 8,000 watts. Plugging the generator into an electrical outlet inside (or outside) your home, or running it through the electrical panel without a professionally installed cut-off switch is extremely dangerous and will put you and our utility crews in life-threatening danger. Instead, you should plug an extension cord directly into an appliance. Use a heavy-duty extension cord rated for the size of your generator.
It is very important to take care when choosing a place for the generator. You don't want deadly carbon monoxide to creep in. The exhaust from a generator, like from any combustion engine, is dangerous. A small generator puts out a hundred times more carbon monoxide than car exhaust.
Be safe and install carbon monoxide detectors in main living and sleeping areas in your home. Locate portable generators at least 10 feet away from your home and never near a door, window or vent. Find a dry location and if need be, you can use a portable canopy to shield it from the rain.
Permanent generators are wired directly into your home's electrical system. They are also referred to as stand-by generators.
Installing these types of generators require the help of a licensed electrician. The installation must be in compliance with the National Electric Code along with local, county and state requirements.
A permanent generator must include a transfer switch. The transfer switch allows power to be fed from only one source at a time, which prevents the generator from feeding back into utility lines.
We regularly receive reports of power outages that are actually a tripped breaker on the customer's circuit panel. Checking your circuit panel before reporting an outage can save you hassle and money.