February’s winter storm sent many Texans in search of backup electric power, and many Trinity Valley Electric Cooperative members have contacted us regarding proper usage and connections for using a generator at home.
Portable gasoline- or propane- powered generators offer power for many home appliances and medical devices that can add comfort and safety in times of power outages. However, there are many considerations for choosing a generator and using it safely.
Consider the following recommendations, and visit tvec.net for more information on disconnect switches that must be installed before powering your home with a generator.
Never run a generator indoors or in a garage. Carbon monoxide is odorless, and you can be exposed even if you cannot smell generator exhaust. Position your generator outside and well away from structures.
Make sure your generator is properly grounded. Refer to Occupational Health and Safety Administration guidelines and your generator’s instruction manual for proper grounding information.
Use heavy-duty extension cords to plug directly into the generator. Cords that are too small will reduce the amount of power capacity and can overheat, causing fires.
Never attempt to power your home by plugging a generator into a wall outlet. A licensed electrician should be contacted to install proper connections for adding a generator to your home, including a disconnect switch to prevent sending power back to the electrical grid. Improperly connecting a generator to the grid poses a danger to lineworkers and the general public who may come into contact with downed power lines.
Inspect and maintain your generator regularly. Gasoline engines and generator equipment must be periodically serviced in order to maintain reliable and safe running conditions. See your instruction manual for proper service intervals.
Do not sleep with the generator operating.