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How to Safely Use a Backup Generator


Sadly, most people don't discover how beneficial a home backup generator can be until they're sitting in their dark house during a storm. Whether you've already learned this valuable lesson and own a backup generator or are planning to have one installed, here's everything you need to know about safely using it when the lights go out.

The Benefits of a Generator 

Often your first line of defense against power loss during a storm or other accident, it doesn't take long to realize what a great investment a backup generator can be.

  • Power is quickly and automatically delivered to your home during a blackout.
  • HVAC systems, TVs, computers, refrigerators, and other appliances can still be used.
  • Comfort and safety levels are maintained during emergencies.

While the initial cost of installing a backup generator is not inexpensive, it's easy to see how much it can save you, even in one storm.

Different Types of Generators 

There are three basic models of generators. Ranging in size and budget, they're a popular choice for Jacksonville homeowners who understand all too well how severe our weather can get.

  • Whole-house generators are installed outside the home, just like an A/C unit. They come on automatically when the power to the house is disrupted. How large a unit you need depends on the size of your home and how many devices and appliances you want to keep running.
  • Standby generators are electrical systems operated with an automatic transfer switch which signals the generator to come on during a power loss. They operate on liquid propane or natural gas and constantly monitor utility power.
  • Portable generators are similar to standby generators but aren't considered as safe, efficient, and reliable as standby or whole-house generators. They're powered by gas or diesel fuel and provide temporary power sufficient to run a TV, freezer, and refrigerator.

How to Use Generators Safely 

Rule #1: Never use a generator indoors, including the garage! A backup generator could save the day when the power goes out, but not if you bring one indoors. More than 50 people died from carbon monoxide poisoning during Hurricane Katrina due to indoor generators.

  • Portable generator safety tips include making sure it's covered, periodically checking the oil, and topping off the tank. Never fuel the generator when it's hot and don't keep gas containers nearby. And never "backfeed" the unit by making an extension cord with prongs at both ends. Finally, make sure that your portable generator meets the safety standards recommended by Consumer Reports.
  • Standby generator safety tips include using properly rated extension cords and making sure the generator is properly vented to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • To keep your whole-home generator running safely, be sure to read the entire manual before a storm hits, and get an annual inspection. Be on alert for propane leaks; installing a detector can be a lifesaving investment. CO detectors installed throughout the home are also recommended.

Permanent whole-house generators should always be professionally installed by a qualified contractor. David Gray Electric specializes in installing Generac home backup generators, the #1 selling brand that now comes with remote monitoring capabilities. To learn more about whole-house generators and how to safely use them, give us a call at (904) 605-8190or contact us online today.