Recently, HG&E has seen an influx of natural gas home generator installations. Though the generators may be a convenient way to keep items running during a power outage, caution must be used when installing and operating!
Avoid deadly mistakes with portable generators
- Always operate your generator outside. Since it is gas powered, place it in a well-ventilated area away from doors, windows, and your garage. Otherwise, deadly, odorless carbon monoxide can be drawn into your house and poison your family.
- Don’t get shocked! Use only an outdoor-rated, grounded extension cord — one with a GFCI (Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter) is best. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions for grounding the generator, too.
- Never “back feed.” Some people try to “doctor” an extension cord to plug a generator into a regular household outlet, imagining this will power the whole house. This is extremely dangerous! Connecting a generator with a regular outlet can not only ruin your home’s wiring and start a fire, it can also back feed electricity into the utility system and energize a line thought to be without power. An unsuspecting HG&E lineman could be seriously injured or killed while working on a line. Only connect individual appliances to the receptacle outlet of the generator, following the instructions in your owner’s manual.
- Install a transfer switch. The safest and best way to prevent portable generator back-feed problems is to install a transfer switch. A transfer switch permits the home’s wiring system to be easily and cleanly disconnected from HG&E’s system and allows you to control the flow of electricity to those circuits you need most such as a furnace fan or a refrigerator. Transfer switches are costly and require installation by a licensed electrician, however.
- Gas-powered generators can get very hot during operation. Use extreme caution to avoid burns. Also, let the engine cool before you refuel.
- Keep children and pets away from portable generators at all times.
- Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting down the generator.
- Don’t overload your generator. Read and follow wattage guidelines in your owner’s manual.
Special considerations for permanent auxiliary generators
Permanently installed auxiliary generators must meet electric codes and have a transfer switch to prevent dangerous back-feed of electricity into power lines. Contact a licensed electrician. Also, please notify HG&E if you have a permanent generator or are considering installing one as your gas meter may need to be upgraded (a nominal fee may be required).