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The right connection: generator safety tips

December 23, 2020

Our mission at South Central Power Company is to provide reliable power, but outages do happen. Extended outages can be inconvenient or uncomfortable, depending on the weather.

For many homeowners, including those with security or medical issues, reliable backup power is more than just a luxury. These concerns, combined with a growing dependence on electronic gadgets, has increased interest in backup generators. However, proper generator selection and operation is critical for the safety of your home and family.

Small portable gasoline electric generator

There are two basic types of generators available: portable and standby. Portable generators are fueled by gasoline, diesel, or propane. Portable units are easy to use and mobile. However, they provide limited power and must be refueled periodically. Whichever way you go, safety is key.

Portable generator safety
• Before starting your generator, carefully read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Generator fuel exhaust can be dangerous. Always locate your generator outside and away from windows; never run a generator inside a garage or an enclosed space.
• Handle fuel carefully. Turn the generator off before refueling and store fuel in a safe location.
• Make sure the total electrical load on your generator doesn’t exceed the
generator’s rating.
• Never attempt to plug portable generators directly into an outlet or your circuit panel.
• Use only outdoor-rated, grounded extension cords sized to handle the current draw.
• Keep cords out of the way so they don’t present a tripping hazard. Never run cords underneath rugs or carpet.

Standby generator safety
• Make sure the unit is installed by a qualified contractor according to the National Electric Code and local building code standards.
• Don’t attempt to permanently connect your generator to the electrical system in your home or any building. The electricity generated will backfeed to outdoor power lines, where it can kill or injure service personnel attempting to restore power. An automatic transfer switch (ATS) prevents this from happening.

If you have a portable generator, consider purchasing a GenerLink device. It’s installed behind your electric meter and allows you to easily and safely connect a portable generator to your home without rewiring. When you
connect and start a portable generator, GenerLink automatically disconnects your house from the electric utility grid, preventing power backfeeds which can potentially damage equipment and harm utility
personnel. For more information about GenerLink, visit the GenerLink page on our website.

From the January issue of Ohio Cooperative Living.