Whether through a natural disaster or local incident, you have suddenly found yourself without power. It could be hours or days before electricity is restored. This could mean the loss of warmth or cooling, spoiled food, stagnant productivity, or just general discomfort. It’s moments like these when having a standby home generator is incredibly important.
While traditional electricity flows through high-voltage power lines to be distributed throughout your neighborhood, generators themselves do not rely on distributed power from the grid — they replace it. When your utility power is shut off, transfer switches kick on the generator and it takes over to power your home.
This is possible because the generator uses a fuel source (i.e. natural gas or liquid propane) to create electrical energy by driving an electromagnetic armature. Similar to how a dam uses the power of water and converts it into electricity, the generator uses fuel to power a motor and converts it into electricity to power your homes’ needs. Just like with any electrical power source, when working with generators, there are several important safety tips to keep in mind.
1. Protect against whole house surges.
The updated 2020 National Electrical Code (NEC) requires surge protectors on all home dwelling generators. Power outages can cause surges in the electrical grid, which put your electronics at risk of damage and possible failure. Similar to a typical household surge protector, having a surge protector as a middle source between direct utility power and your generator prevents surges and protects your electronics. These can be installed with your generator or retrofitted to an existing installation.
2. Never run a generator in an enclosed space.
One of the biggest dangers from gasoline-powered portable generators is the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Where portable generators can only be operated safely outdoors, standby generators are professionally installed with safe operation in mind, and because they’re installed outside your home a required distance from your homes inlets such as windows so they pose no risk from carbon monoxide.
Standby generators are placed at least five feet away from an opening in the home with the engine exhaust facing away from windows or doors. This eliminates the possibility of carbon monoxide sickness.
3. Provide regular home generator maintenance.
Like most machines, generators do require maintenance and care. A good rule of thumb is to get your generator serviced either every two years or after 200 hours of use. Establishing a preventative maintenance routine is essential to ensure that your generator will run smoothly in an emergency.
Regularly check the engine oil and coolant levels. Standby generators will run automatic test cycles each week to confirm that all systems are functioning properly. Check your specific generator model to learn the timing and details of this feature. Depending on the season, be sure to clear your generator of foliage or snow. These simple steps can save you time and money on larger maintenance issues down the road.
Generators give you peace of mind that no matter the circumstance, your home will remain powered and operating. By following these generator safety tips, you can also rest assured that your lifestyle and items that matter to you most will be protected. Explore Briggs & Stratton standby generator options today.
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