Having a generator on hand in case of an extended power outage is a convenient way to maintain access to electricity, but they also pose serious safety risks if not used properly.
Be Safe: Let CTEC Know About Your Generator
Why We Need to Know
If hooked up incorrectly, generators can cause dangerous backfeed onto power lines. Not only can this be dangerous for you and your neighbors, but it also poses a threat to our linemen working to restore outages.
For this reason, it’s important for CTEC to be made aware of locations that may use generators in the event of a power outage. If you have a back-up generator, please be sure to contact us to let us know!
Using a Generator Safely
Portable generators are not designed for powering your homes electrical system. Never try to power your house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet, a dangerous practice known as backfeeding. It sends power from your house back through electric lines. Backfeeding could ruin appliances, cause a fire, or even injure or kill a co-op employee who might be working on nearby lines.
Energizing your home wiring without proper disconnects in place can energize the line creating a major hazard for line workers and for the general public who might be exposed to downed power lines.
Any connection for a generator to power you home should be made by a licensed electrician to ensure that the wiring and connections are correct and that proper safety disconnects are in place.
- Never use a generator indoors or in an enclosed space like a garage, crawl space or basement.
- Make sure the generator has at least three feet of clear space on all sides, including above it to ensure adequate ventilation.
- Never use a generator near a door, window or vent that could allow carbon monoxide to enter and build up indoors.
- Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and get to fresh air immediately and seek medical attention if you suspect poisoning.
- Generators can become hot while running and remain hot for a long period of time after they are turned off.
- Generator fuels like gasoline or kerosene can ignite if spilled on hot engine parts. Before refueling, shut down the engine and allow the generator to cool.
- Keep fuel containers away from flame or heat producing items like water heaters, space heaters or open flames.
Types of Generators
Portable generators provide electricity by running a fuel-powered engine that turns an on-board alternator to generate electrical power. Power outlets on the unit allow you to plug extension cords, electric-powered tools and appliances into it. Portable generators are not permanently installed and can be moved from place-to-place. Different types of portable generators are better suited for certain tasks and range in size, weight and capability. Contact Central Texas Electric Co-op, a qualified vendor or electrician to help you determine what generator is best suited to your needs.
A standby generator, often called a backup generator or whole house generator, are the most powerful and safest for home use. They range greatly in power and price. The more watts they produce the more you can power in your home at the same time. A standby generator is an automatic, permanently connected appliance like a water heater or central air conditioner.
These generators need to be installed by a licensed, qualified electrician and the member should notify Central Texas Electric Co-op of the installation.
Inverter generators can produce about the same amount of power as portable generators but they are usually lighter and less noisy than portable generators because they automatically throttle down to provide power only when it is needed. These fuel-powered inverters need to be operated outdoors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.