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How to Safely Use a Generator

For Pennsylvania homeowners, a portable or standby generator can offer an invaluable way to keep your home and family safe. Storms and outages are not at all uncommon around here, making a generator the ideal way to keep lights on, food preserved, and vital systems like HVAC running in a time of need. But not all of us are privy to exactly how to run and operate a generator.

Understanding How to Operate a Portable Generator

For specifics about your generator, be certain that you’ve read the owner’s manual. While baseline knowledge is important, many generators state specific requirements such as rating for wiring, capacities, and more.

  • Placing a generator. A portable generator should be placed on a dry, level surface outside your home. A generator should never be operated in a closed environment as it creates a considerable and dangerous amount of carbon monoxide as a byproduct. For full safety the generator should be 20 feet from the house, and should preferably have some cover from the weather. (Be sure your house has carbon monoxide detectors with battery backup!)
  • Check fuel. Be sure you’re working with a full tank of gas before you get going, and confirm that your oil levels are adequate as well.
  • Ensure you’re disconnected from any loads. You want to begin plugging in your electrical loads (appliances) after the generator is started. Never before. This is to avoid surges or electrical hazards.
  • Never attempt to backfeed. Backfeeding is a term used for someone attempting to power a home via generator by plugging the connection into an outlet in the home. The idea is to “restore power” by feeding your utility lines. Absolutely never do this. Not only can it lead to serious electrical risks in your home like short-circuiting and potential electrical fires, it also seriously endangers utility workers working on lines nearby. This can very easily result in a fatality. Jack Lehr can provide a cost for a safe connection system that would allow specific circuits to be manually switched to the portable generator (typical cost about $1,500).

What About a Whole-Home Generator?

If you’ve recently installed a whole-home/standby generator system, then your task is an easy one. In almost all situations, barring an error, home generators are installed with automated switches that switch you to generator power hands-free. In the event this process fails many manufacturers offer a simple “manual” button that can clear a fault located under the generator’s hood. If this fails, it’s time to call a generator expert near you.

Generator Services

Are you looking for ideal generator solutions to keep your home safely powered in the face of an outage? The certified electricians at Jack Lehr can help! Contact us at any time online, or call 610-596-9967, for complete generator services in your area.

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