Generator Safety

Standby Generators
  • Read and follow all the manufacturer's operating instructions to install and properly ground the generator – Be sure you understand all instructions before starting the generator – Look for the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM) safety designations
  • Standby generators should be installed by a professional and sized for your home's electrical requirements
  • Standby generators are generally fueled from existing natural has service lines when present – if not, they require large-capacity propane or diesel fuel tanks to allow long term operation
  • Installations require that the homeowner or installer file for an electrical permit with the Union County Engineers office (937) 645-3018
  • Upon the electrical inspection approval the homeowner needs to notify their electric utility provider that they have a standby generator
  • Standby generators have power transfer switches which disconnect your home from the electrical company service and feed power to your home from the generator – These switches also protect electric utility workers from accidental generator backfeed into the power lines
  • Power transfer switches come in two types: automatic and manual – An automatic transfer switch will start the generator and transfer your home to the generator power when is senses the loss of utility power – Manual transfer switches require the homeowner to start the generator, first disconnect the home from the utility service and then switch the home to generator power
Portable Generators

As consumer reliance on electricity has increased, tolerance for power outages has declined. To combat the havoc wreaked by ice storms, thunderstorms, and high winds, many homeowners turn to portable electric generators.

According to The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) portable electric generators are a good source of power for heat, light, refrigeration, and cooking during electrical outages. But, if used improperly, they can kill both you and the people who are restoring power to your building. People die needlessly every year in accidents that involve portable electric generators. Safety awareness can prevent those deaths.

You can use a portable generator to supply electricity to your appliances if an emergency exists during a power outage.

Home emergency generators are usually powered by gasoline, which must be properly handled, as well.

Generator sizes vary. Common units can be from 8 to 14 horsepower and capable of handling from 4,000 to 8,400 watts (including starting surge requirements).

Prices may range from $800 to $3,000. Connecting a generator to the main electrical supply for your house requires a transfer switch and the services of a qualified, licensed electrician.

For everyone's safety, notify your electric cooperative if you own a generator.

  • Read and follow all the manufacturer's operating instructions to install and properly ground the generator – Be sure you understand all instructions before starting the generator
  • Portable generators should never be operated indoors or in a confined space like a garage – It's best to have them under an open canopy area where rainwater will not pool or drain around it
  • Make sure the generator is properly grounded – Look for the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM) safety designations
  • Never touch a portable generator with wet hands or clothing
  • Always refuel the generator when the motor has cooled down to prevent a possible fire if fuel is spilled – Keep pets and children away from hot generators
  • Always start the portable generator first before plugging in electric appliances with extension cords – Failure to do so may result in damaged appliances – Always use three-wire extension cords
  • Make sure your generator and extension cords are sized for the electrical load you are trying to service – Check to see the starting wattage and running wattage of your appliances – Use this information to avoid overloading your portable generator
  • Turn all appliances being powered by a portable generator off before shutting down the generator
  • Connecting a portable generator directly to your home's electrical system will require the proper transfer switches and electrical permit with the Union County Engineers Office – The work would need to be performed by a qualified electrical contractor
  • The alternative to plugging appliances directly into the generator or using transfer switches installed in the home would be a "GenerLink Transfer Switch" – This product allows the generator to be plugged into an automatic transfer switch when the utility power is out and power critical appliances in the home – GenerLink products are available and installed by Union Rural Electric Cooperative for our members
Stay Connected Safely

Complacency around portable electric generators is deadly. Following these safety precautions can help keep you and your family safe while you wait for the power to come back on.

  • Never operate a generator in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces, including homes, garages and basements. Generators produce high levels of carbon monoxide – a colorless, odorless, deadly gas – very quickly. It’s a good idea to install carbon monoxide detectors in your home. That way, if carbon monoxide enters your home and poses a health risk, the alarm will sound a warning to you. Adequate ventilation is necessary and proper refueling practices as described in your owner's manual must be followed. Make sure fuel for the generator is stored safely, away from living areas, in properly labeled containers, and away from fuel-burning appliances. Before refueling, always turn the generator off and let it cool down.
  • Keep the generator dry. To protect it from moisture, operate it on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure.
  • Plug appliances directly into the generator. Or, use a heavy-duty outdoor-rated extension cord that is rated in watts or amps at least equal to the sum of the connected appliance loads.
  • When using an appliance or tool at a considerable distance from the generator, a 3-wire extension cord that has a 3-blade grounding plug and a 3-slot receptacle that accepts the tools plug should be used.
  • Under no circumstances should an extension cord be run from one house to another to help out a neighbor in a storm situation.
  • Do not connect your generator directly to your household wiring, as this can backfeed along the power lines and electrocute or kill anyone coming in contact with the lines, including neighbors, yourself, and lineworkers making repairs. If you must connect your generator in this manner, contact URE for the installation of a transfer switch.
  • Make sure your generator is properly grounded.
  • Never exceed the rated capacity of your generator. Overloading can cause serious damage to your generator or appliances. A portable generator should be used only to power essential equipment or appliances. Before purchasing a generator, list all of the appliances that are going to operate at the same time. Then determine the starting wattage requirements and the running wattage requirements. It’s very important that a properly sized generator be used and not calculating the load before purchase can lead to undersizing. Wattage requirements vary with different brands of appliances. Be sure to check the nameplate on the appliances you plan to use. Always start your largest electric motor first, then plug in other items one at a time.
  • Make sure any generator you purchase is listed with Underwriters Laboratory (UL) and/or Factory Mutual (FM).
  • Turn off all appliances powered by the generator before shutting down the generator.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation and maintenance.
  • Keep children away from portable generators at all times.