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Generator Safety



Don't take chances with Electric Generators


Electric generators can provide a convenient source of power when and where you need it. Don't take chances with your safety...and don't put others in danger! If used improperly, electric generators - even small, portable models - can threaten your safety and the safety of everyone around you, including our employees working on the electrical system.


Portable Generators


Portable, gasoline-driven generators are designed to be used with cord-connected equipment. They can be used to bring the convenience of electrical service to remote locations, such as construction sites and recreational areas.
Small appliances, lights and
pumps can be plugged directly into outlets on these portable generators.
Portable generators are not designed to be connected to your house or any building wiring. Doing so can feed power back onto our electric lines. This is life-threatening for utility crews working to restore an outage and curious children seeing a power line on the ground. Improper installations also can do serious damage to the generator itself, as well as equipment and appliances you use with it.


Transfer Switches

The only safe way to connect a generator to your existing wiring is to have a licensed electrician install a transfer switch. A transfer switch isolates your circuits from our system and prevents dangerous "backfeed". The transfer switch transfers power from the utility line to the power coming in from the generator. The electricity from your generator takes a safe path directly to the circuits in your home.
Transfer switches also are convenient. They allow you to power appliances you normally couldn't with a portable generator including furnaces and well pumps. And you don't need extension cords. Just start the generator and you're back in action.

Avoid Generator Overload

Be sure the number and size of appliances you plug into your generator is within it's wattage and amperage limits. Use the following table as a guide, or check your owner's manuals. And remember: starting an appliance with a motor inside requires more power. Your generator must be sized to handle not only the running wattages of your appliances, but also the starting wattage of any motor(s).



Running Wattage

Refrigerator or Freezer 1,000
Air Conditioning Unit (Central Air) Check Nameplate
Air Conditioning Unit (Windows Unit) Check Nameplate
Furnace Fan (Gas Furnace) See "Motors Info"
Motor: 1/4 HP 600
Motor: 1/3 HP 800
Motor: 1/2 HP 1000
Motor: 3/4 HP 1400
Television 350
Microwave Oven 800


*For motorized equipment, multiply the running wattages by 2-1/2 (for most items, such as furnace fans), or by 7 for pumps (such as well pumps, air compressors and air conditioners).

Other electrically powered equipment such as emergency medical devices, computers and sophisticated electronics equipment may require special backup or power conditioning equipment. Check your manual or with the manufacturer directly for more information.


Other Generator Safety Reminders

Use only UL-listed, three-wire extension cords with generators. (Be sure the extension cord is adequate to handle the electrical load.) Plug the appliance into the extension cord first...then plug the extension cord into the generator's outlet. And remember...water and electricity are a dangerous combination. Make sure your hands are dry and that you're standing in a dry place whenever you operate your generator. Do not use a portable generator in a flooded basement or inside buildings.

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