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Backup Generator - Standby Generator

Backup Generators for your Home or Business

During a power outage, a portable generator, when properly used, may be able to provide enough power for lights, heat or critical business processes and can be a valuable part of an emergency plan. However, there are many pros and cons associated with purchasing portable generators. Research your purchase carefully and be sure to consult a licensed and knowledgeable electrical contractor if you are not sure of the requirements for your home or business.

If You Are Considering Buying a Portable Standby Generator...

Before purchasing or installing any type of standby or distributed generation, whether it is stand-alone or connected to the grid, it is important to understand the safety requirements.

  • Clearly understand your electricity requirements to ensure the unit is the correct size and voltage for your application
  • Purchase the appropriate generator accessories, including: an approved transfer device or switch and a properly sized connector cord and plugs
  • Ensure all components of the generators carry approval labels
  • Retain the services of a licensed and knowledgeable electrical contractor to install your unit
  • Ask about measures you should take to ensure proper grounding and bonding of the unit
  • Read and follow the instructions in your owner's manual
  • Contact the Electrical Safety Authority to arrange for an inspection of the installation
  • Remember the generator is a fuel-driven device that requires proper ventilation to guard against carbon monoxide poisoning

Source: Electrical Safety Authority

Helpful Articles


Backup generators can pose a dangerous safety hazard so be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions and review the following safety information.

  • Generators must only be used in accordance with the manufacturer's guidelines and instructions

  • A back-up generator may only be connected to your electrical system through an approved transfer panel and switch that has been installed by a qualified electrician. Never plug a generator into a wall outlet as serious injury can result when the current produced by the home generator is fed back into the electrical lines, and transformed to a higher voltage. This can endanger the lives of utility employees working to restore the power.
  • Ensure that the generator operates outdoors in well-ventilated conditions, well away from doors or windows, to prevent exhaust gases from entering the house

Operating a portable generator

  • Only use generators outside. The carbon monoxide fumes they emit could be deadly indoors.
  • Operate generators on a firm, level surface. Running on an incline could cause the piston to seize
  • Check extension cords frequently to make sure they have not become hot
  • Don't use generators under conditions that are dusty, sandy or wet

Guidelines for Connecting a Portable Generato

  • Read and follow all instructions
  • Connect appliances to the generator one at a time, starting with those that draw the largest load
  • Prioritize your needs. Use the lowest wattage lightbulbs that provide a safe level of light, reserving power for additional lighting elsewhere or for a small appliance
  • The greater the load, the more fuel your generator will use
  • Only use three-pronged extension cords of adequately heavy gauge
  • Make sure appliances plugged into the generator have over-current protection provided at the generator

Maintaining a portable generator

  • Run the generator under load monthly
  • Trickle-charge the battery every month
  • Keep the tank filled with fresh fuel
  • Use fuel conditioner to keep the fuel from breaking down
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