|Urge Caution When Using Back-Up Generators||| Print ||
Urge Caution When Using Back-Up Generators
During long-term power outages many rely on portable generators for emergency power. The growing popularity of portable electric generators has resulted in millions being placed in homes and small businesses across the nation. But it’s estimated only a small percentage are hooked up correctly. Safe Electricity urges consumers to understand the proper safety steps that must be taken.
If installed and operated correctly, use of standby or portable electric generators poses little danger, but improper installation or use could be dangerous to you and threaten the lives of your family, friends, neighbors and electric utility crews trying to restore service.
“Consult and discuss your purchase options with a reliable vendor, your electric supplier and contractors,” advises Jay Solomon, University of Illinois Extension Engineering Educator. “A qualified vendor or electric professional will know existing safety codes and the utility’s safety requirements, and can help you select the best equipment for your needs and situation.”
Properly connecting the generator into the system is a critical step for safe and effective use. A licensed professional should install a permanent, standby electric generator and can help with proper equipment for safely using a portable generator.
Have a qualified electrician install a transfer switch. The transfer switch breaks the path of electricity between the power lines and your main electrical panel. This is the best way to protect you, your neighbors and repair crews from ‘back feed.’ Back feed occurs when an improperly connected generator begins feeding electricity “back” through the power lines. This can seriously injure anyone near lines, especially crews working to restore power.
“Safety for the operators and users of a generating system in the home and utility crews cannot be over-emphasized,” says Solomon. “A qualified electrician should be consulted to ensure proper installation and electrical grounding requirements, circuit overload protections and local codes are met.”
Some homeowners choose smaller, portable generators to power essential electrical equipment during outages. Safe Electricity offers these tips for the safe operation and use of portable generators:
Safe Electricity suggests that these safety guidelines and basic operating instructions be posted in the home and with the generator.