Knowing how to use a generator is an important skill set.
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How To Use A Generator: What Power Outage?

Climate change seems to be all over the news as of late. Is it real? Is it fake? Should we be concerned? Are the coastlines going to be flooded? Certain billionaires and former presidents with million-dollar beach-front properties may prove otherwise. Are we going to have rolling blackouts due to weather, climate change, or human errors? Maybe? Or maybe not. I don’t know, and we all have our opinions, but those are for another time. So I will spare you mine. But whatever you believe, we like to stay ready here at Skillset. Because you never know when a tree will fall and take out your power. So we are going to walk through how to use a generator. That way, if for some reason you find yourself in a power outage, you are ready.

First Step, Get A Generator

That seems obvious, right? But we like to cover all of the bases. If you have never purchased a generator before, you want to make sure that you do your research and find the best option to fit your needs. Also, if you think you don’t need to know how to use a generator, you would be wrong. According to consumer reports, the typical American endures an average of 8 hours without power each year due to unplanned outages. You may be able to withstand power for that long, but if you are in a very cold or hot climate, your family may not. Not to mention the spoiled food. So better safe than sorry.

A back up home generator is a great option for people who live in frequent storm areas.
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Generator Type

Buy the smallest generator that meets your power needs when looking for a generator. This will minimize the amount of fuel needed to be on hand to run it. When trying to identify your power needs, you also need to consider the possible use cases:

Frequent Power Outages

If you live in an area where power outages are frequent, you will want to look into these types of generators:

● Home Standby

● Large Inverter

● Portable

Each of the above should be able to connect directly to your home’s circuit breaker panel and have enough power to keep your household up and running. One thing to ensure is that you have a transfer switch installed at your breaker box. Definitely have a licensed electrician handle the installation.

Occasional Power Outages

Home standby generators are pricey, so in order not have to spend thousands more than you need. You may want to look into the below options if you are in an area that does not have typical frequent power outages:

● Large Inverter

● Portable

For the above, you won’t overspend, but it will require you to drag it out of the garage or shed when needed. You will still need the transfer switch installed. One thing to look for if you go the portable route is that it has a built-in sensor that triggers an automatic shutoff if CO levels reach dangerous levels in an enclosed space. Another best practice is to install CO alarms in your home.

Rare Power Outages

If you live in an area where power outages are rare and you want peace of mind. Then you will be perfectly dialed in with either of these options:

● Mid-Sized Inverter

● Recreational Inverter

Both of these will be able to power your fridge as well as a window AC or space heater. They are also small enough to throw in the back of your truck for use at a tailgate or camping.

There are many different types of generators and power inverters on the market.
(Photo by iStock Photo)

Generator Placement

The key to safety with generators is proper installation. If installed properly, they pose little to no danger. So make sure you follow the tips below and read any documentation that comes with your generator.

Never use a portable generator indoors; place all generators outdoors in a dry location. Place it under a canopy or pop-up if available to keep it dry. Try to place them at least 20 feet away from any home or building. Also, ensure your hands and body are dry before touching the generator.

Generator Fuel

Ensure your fuel is stored in a proper gas can for safety. If you are refueling your generator, turn off the generator before refueling and give it time to cool off. If you spill gas on a hot engine, there is a chance that it could ignite. Even if it is cooled down, be careful not to spill any gas when filling. If you do, make sure you clean it up before starting the generator. Only use the recommended fuel per the generator label or instructions.

Generator Connection

You will want to ensure you protect the items you are powering. So turn them off or even unplug them until the generator is up and running. Then turn on each appliance or light one at a time to avoid overloading the generator.

Make sure that you use proper outdoor, heavy extension cords. Don’t skimp on these. A bad cord, especially outside, could cause a fire or other damage.

Never try to power your house by plugging the generator into a wall outlet. This is not only stupid but very dangerous as it could electrocute anyone else on the same utility transformer as you. Again, the only safe way to connect your generator to your house is to have a qualified electrician install the power transfer switch. Once connected and up and running, if you feel sick or dizzy while using one, get fresh air immediately, then check your CO levels.

Generator Shut Off

Before shutting down your generator, make sure to unplug and turn off all appliances and any lights being powered by the generator. Ensure you drain all fuel from the generator while it is being stored.

Lastly, regular maintenance is always a good idea, like a car engine, to ensure your generator stays in good running order.

Like we said, stay ready.

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