When the power goes out at your home, portable generators can save a freezer full of food, help keep you cool, and supply electricity to a limited number of other appliances.

Before you buy a generator, do some homework:

  1. Choose which devices you want to power at the same time.
  2. Record and add the running watts listed for each device you want to power.
  3. Record the additional starting watt requirements for each device.
  4. Add the starting watts for the highest starting watt device plus the total running watts to determine the total watts requirements.

When you are ready to use the generator, remember that if misused, it can kill you and the people restoring power to your home or business.

Home emergency generators are usually powered by gasoline, which itself is dangerous and must be handled appropriately.

They are meant to be used with approved extension cords and with only essential loads, such as the refrigerator and portable fans, plugged in.

Operate your generator in a clean, dry, well-ventilated area to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning from the exhaust. Confined spaces such as garages, basements, storage sheds, and even covered porches lack a steady exchange of air.

Further, an improperly connected generator can damage or destroy the very appliances you are trying to operate. And there’s a chance your homeowners’ insurance won’t cover the equipment you damaged by not connecting your loads to the generator correctly.

NOTE: If you want to connect a generator to the main electrical supply for your house, you need the services of a licensed electrician to install a transfer switch between the generator and utility power.

Without this switch properly installed, the generator could feed electricity back into our distribution system and electrocute workers repairing electrical lines.