Whether you have a portable or a standby generator, you’ll want to consider having a professional install a transfer switch. These switches allow the generator to connect directly to your home’s electrical circuit board during a power outage. Do not, however, attempt a do-it-yourself approach on this. It’s absolutely something you need a professional to install not only for your personal safety, but also for the well-being of nearby utility workers who might inadvertently get zapped.
See Honda’s website for a more in-depth guide on how to properly connect your generator.
If you opt not to professionally install a transfer switch, you’ll need to connect your portable generator directly to your appliances via a heavy-duty extension cord. Stock up on extension cords and have some handy that can handle the wattage and go the distance.
One final, very important note about using your generator: Portables run on gas, and gas gives off carbon monoxide fumes that can be fatal. Never use your portable generator indoors. You need to run the unit at least 15 feet from your home, away from windows and doors, and in the open air where it can be properly ventilated. For more information about how to safely use your generator, see the Red Cross’s guide to operating a generator in an emergency.
Red Cross’s Guide to Safe Generator Use
We’d also recommend installing a carbon monoxide detector regardless, but especially if you plan to operate a generator. See which detectors hit SafeWise’s recommended list.
Top Carbon Monoxide Detectors
To keep your portable running in tip-top condition and ready to power up during the next outage, follow the basic maintenance and safety tips below. And always consult the manufacturer’s detailed instructions and safety warnings before connecting and operating your generator.
- Keep ample fuel on hand.
- Change oil every 100 hours of use.
- Use fuel stabilizer.
- Run the lines dry seasonally.
- Use it at least once a month for twenty minutes.
- Wash or replace filters when visibly dirty.
- Store it out of the elements.
NEVER, NEVER run it indoors. Not even in your garage. Place it 15 feet away from your home and clear of any windows or doors before powering up.
Often, you don’t discover that you need a generator until it’s already too late. Plan ahead and invest now in a model that’ll provide all the safety and comfort of a functional home during the next emergency or power outage.