Generators are a practical source of backup power in the event of a power outage and they are available in a variety of sizes and types. Generators commonly used for backup power are standby generators, portable generators and inverter generators. All require attention to safety and awareness of the potential hazards.

A standby generator must be grounded and connected to your home, barn or other application through a professionally installed transfer switch. It may be connected to a permanent natural gas fuel source, eliminating the need for storing fuel. It turns on automatically if the power goes out and shuts itself off when power returns. The transfer switch isolates the generator from utility power and prevents backfeeding into the electricity grid. Backfeed is electricity from the generator going into utility lines, and it can be deadly to Powerline Technicians making repairs. Transfer switches also protect from fire by preventing short circuits.

Portable generators are temporary power sources and should never be used as a primary electricity source. Use them outdoors only, and keep them away from windows and doors due to the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Choose one that has the capacity to handle essential power in an emergency and do not exceed manufacturer’s load specifications. If an extension cord is required it must have a rating compatible with the load.

An inverter generator is a more sophisticated and often more expensive portable type. It throttles up or down on demand, making it more energy efficient and quieter, and it produces fewer emissions. Follow the same safety precautions as you would for portable generators, listed above.

Whatever type of generator you use, be sure to store fuel safely in accordance with the National Fire Code. Turn off a gas-powered generator and allow it to cool before refueling, eliminating the possibility of fuel splashing on a hot engine and causing injury or fire.

To check on the safety of your present generator or to install a new one, you will need the services of a qualified electrician. Battle River Power Coop members have convenient access to electrician services including transfer switch installation. Call 1.877.428.3972.