Intense winter weather can cause sudden power outages in the midst of chilling temperatures and other difficult circumstances. In these situations, portable generators are often used as short-term solutions to help deliver electricity and heat to homes. However, sometimes normal protocols are skipped or forgotten as you're rushing to resolve power outage issues, sometimes hindering safety and causing damage to your generator.
Avoid these common portable generator mistakes so that you're able to keep your home running as best as it can during winter power outages.
Running the Generator Too Close to Your Home
A portable generator can be a lifesaver during winter power outages, but the risk from fumes must be taken into consideration. Portable generators should be set up outside, at least 15 feet away from any doors and windows to help prevent carbon monoxide from being pulled indoors. Never run your portable generator in the garage, even with the doors open. It's also important to only operate your generator on a dry surface and under an open, covered structure because rain and moisture can damage the machine. If these conditions are unavoidable, it's best to use a wooden surface and a portable canopy to prevent damage.
Connecting Directly to the Service Panel
Household appliances, like ovens and refrigerators, are often hardwired to your service panel and have no plugs to connect to the generator. While you may be tempted to connect the generator directly to the service panel, it is strongly recommended not to do so. When the power comes back on, the excess electricity could damage the service panel, or flow up the line and endanger utility workers fixing the outage.
Ignoring Fuel Requirements
Whether your portable generator uses gasoline, diesel fuel or propane, you'll want to have plenty on hand during winter. The gas-powered 7000 Watt XP Series' Portable Generator offers an 8.5-gallon tank and provides up to 11 hours of continuous runtime. Before refueling a gasoline-powered portable generator, it's best to turn it off and let it cool - splashing gas on the hot exhaust, near the spark plug or elsewhere on a running generator could pose a risk of fire.
Overloading Extension Cords
If you're operating a new generator, do not hook up to or use old cords, as they could be unsafe for the kind of wattage you're operating with. To avoid overloading your extension cord, be sure your cord is rated to carry the total load of all connected devices. Refer to your operator's manual for recommended use.
Both the 6250 Watt Portable Generator and 7000 Watt XP Series Portable Generator include standard LCD screen displays, which show power level, as well as other in-use maintenance reminders like oil and fuel levels. These features help take some of the guesswork out of your maintenance. If your generator uses gasoline, mix in stabilizer before fueling and avoid long-term storage of fuel, as it can become stale. If you have gasoline that's more than six months old, it can still be used in your automobile so it doesn't have to go to waste. Skipping routine maintenance probably won't ruin your portable generator, but the lack of attention could lead to starting issues or reduced run-times.