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How to Set Up a Portable Generator

Generators are necessities for those who live or work in areas often impacted by storms, blizzards, tornadoes, or hurricanes. When disaster hits, utility companies sometimes are unable to resolve all power outages within a day. It’s easy to become bored of using a flashlight to get around your house, not to mention the cost of potentially replacing groceries or other perishable items that go bad, and the danger of not having essential appliances working.

There are two types of generators: home standby generators and portable generators. Portable generators are much more affordable and can power almost as much as a home standby generator. Due to the price difference, portable generators are a more popular choice. However, you’ll have to plug in a portable generator every time you need it, so setting it up safely is paramount.

Setting up a Portable Generator

Setting up a portable generator is usually a task you can safely perform yourself, as long as you are following all guidelines specified by the manufacturer of your generator. The Butler Electric team is happy to help if you have any questions; contact us at 616-643-8287.

This website has a list of 5 generators with high safety ratings if you need direction on which generator to get.

Quick Safety Tips: Know What You Want to Charge with the Generator

Before you start setting up your portable generator, there are a few things to double check to ensure the safety of your home and yourself. Make sure the total watts required for the appliances you want to run do not go over what your portable generator or extension cords can handle. Overloading the generator or wires risks damaging your appliances. Make sure all extension cords are thick enough for the appliances you hope to power. Thicker cords can handle more current; thinner cords should be used for appliances with less current.

Find a Safe Place for the Portable Generator

Any portable generator should be placed 20+ ft. away from the house on a flat surface. The exhaust should be pointed away from the house to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. It should not be in a car port, basement, crawl space, or anything of the like. Ideal spaces include driveways, stone/concrete pads, and flat grass.

Get the Supplies You Need

Necessities include a breaker interlock kit (make sure it has a UL rating, which indicates that it has been certified to meet safety, quality or security standards, and fits your breaker box), Amp 2 pole (double) breaker (make sure it fits your breaker box), wire, and an extension cord. You can view other potential needed supplies here.

Plug the Generator into the Breaker Panel

Be very careful when using a portable generator. Make sure you have a transfer switch properly installed or an interlock device to the breaker panel; whatever you do, do not engage in the purchase or use of a male-to-male extension cord from Amazon.

Safely Power the Generator On

Make sure the fuel tank is full and no cords are plugged into the generator. Turn the fuel valve to ‘On’ and the on/off switch to ‘On’ as well. Pull the choke handle into the choke position. Push the start switch into the start position and hold it there until the generator turns on. Then, push the choke handle to the ‘Run’ position. Allow the motor to run on its own before plugging cords into the generator.

For a visual guide, click the link below.

There may be a certain order you need to follow when plugging cords into the generator. Connect appliance cords to the generator extension cord. Then, plug the extension cord into the generator. If you need to refuel the generator, turn all connected appliances off. Turn the generator and fuel switch off. Unplug the extension cords. Let the generator cool off before putting more fuel into the generator.

Questions about setting up your generator? Give us a call at 616-643-8287. We are passionate about electrical safety and wired to serve.

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