Portable Generators – FAQ

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A portable generator is a useful device to have for industrial or residential use. It is a device that provides temporary electrical power measurable in hours rather than the days a regular electrical generator can provide. Using gas or diesel for power, a portable generator engine creates expendable electricity by turning a small turbine.

This produces a certain level of wattage depending on the device’s size. Portable generators have many uses. For example, a lot of construction workers use portable generators for electrical use at remote sites.

Depending on its size, the portable generator can turn on power tools or provide electrical power for nighttime lighting. Portable generators can also be seen in homes, offices, hospitals, and sometimes during an emergency.

Here are some information you need to know regarding the operation of portable generators:

  1. Will a portable generator be useful during a power outage?

A portable generator can provide power to typical household appliances during a power outage. However, depending on the size of the generator, only a few appliances may be plugged in at the same time. In addition, when operating a portable generator, make sure there is enough clearance on all sides. Recommended clearance is at least five feet.

  1. Why does the portable generator need to be grounded?

You can easily run the risk of electrocution if your generator is not properly grounded. There are regulations that relate to grounding that you should familiarize yourself with.

  1. How does weather affect a portable generator?

The weather can cause shorting and rusting on your generator causing it to malfunction. Also, operating the generator in wet conditions will cause damage to the unit and even electrocution.

  1. Can I plug my generator directly into my household wiring?

Never plug your portable generator directly into an outlet inside your home or office. Doing this can be really dangerous and even deadly. You don’t want the generator to “back-feed” onto the power lines in your home. You can connect a portable generator into your home’s wiring system, but you should have a certified electrician install a manual power transfer switch. This will diminish the possibility of back-feed while you connect your generator to your home’s system.

  1. What is a back-feed?

A back-feed is a lethal risk caused by plugging a generator into an electrical outlet. The generator ends up feeding power back onto utility lines, which is very dangerous.

  1. How dangerous is a portable generator?

The dangers associated with improper use of a portable generator are plenty. These devices function primarily through the use of gasoline, something that is extremely flammable. Make sure the fuel tank will not overflow because any time fuel overflows onto a hot engine, a fire or explosion can occur. Also, make sure to add fuel only when the engine is cooled entirely. Smoking near the generator also poses a danger. A hot generator can cause severe burns when touched.

  1. What do I need to know about wattage?

Size matters when it comes to the capacity of your portable generator, and the number to look for is the amount of total wattage your generator has. There are two types of wattage units that depict your generator’s capacity: rated watts and maximum watts. The rated watt value is the amount of power your generator produces on a continuous basis. The maximum watt value is the amount of power the generator can produce on short increments. One factor that applies the use of maximum wattage is motor starting. All types of electrical motors require more power to start up than to run continuously. Your generator will ultimately need to produce and equal or higher amount of power wattage in order to function properly and safely. Bigger generators with higher wattage capacities have more power to supply higher wattage appliances and tools.

  1. Can I operate a portable generator indoors?

Portable generators are also meant to be used outdoors. Don’t run a generator indoors. The generator exhaust contains a lethal poison gas commonly known as carbon monoxide. Make sure you operate the generator where there is enough ventilation, and for added caution, you can even get a carbon monoxide detector indoors to guarantee that no poisonous gas enters your home.

  1. What cords should I use for my generator?

When using portable generators, make sure you utilize heavy-duty and outdoor-rated cords to plug in individual appliances. Make sure that these cords also have a wire gauge that is sufficient for the electrical load. Cords that are overloaded can quickly cause damage to the equipment or even fires. Make sure that your extension cords do not have wires that are exposed or damaged shielding.

  1. Where should I place my portable generator while in use?

Leveled surfaces are ideal to place the generator on while being used. Also make sure that your generator will not be exposed to dirt and dust, excessive moisture, or any corrosive vapors. Make sure that the generator is far from reach of any children.

  1. Where is the best place to store my generator after use?

A portable generator should be stored in a dry and clean location. You have to make sure that this location has good ventilation and is away from any objects that might cause any flames or sparks. If you choose to keep your portable generator in the basement, make sure that all the gasoline from the engine is drained.

  1. What should I do if my generator is malfunctioning?

Never try to repair your generator on your own. Always contact the manufacturer for assistance. If you are missing some parts, it is better to acquire the original parts from the manufacturer as well. Anything that is misplaced with your generator parts can easily cause a malfunction that may lead to a fire or explosion. If your portable generator is not working properly, make sure you have a professional take a look at it.

As with anything that involves machinery, electricity, and gasoline, proper precaution should be observed. You should always be careful when operating a portable generator as the risks involved can be deadly. If you have any questions about using your device, make sure you consult your manual or ask a professional.

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