Power Outage Prep: Using Portable Generators

Have you ever experienced a power outage? It’s a frustrating and sometimes scary situation to be in, especially if it lasts for an extended period. Some people think that power outages only happen during severe weather, but the truth is that they can occur at any time and for a variety of reasons.

That’s why my team and I have been exploring the theory of using portable generators as a way to prepare for power outages. We wanted to see if it’s a practical and effective solution, and we’re excited to share our findings with you.

As we delved into this topic, we discovered that portable generators can be a game-changer during a power outage. Not only can they keep essential appliances and electronics running, but they can also provide a sense of comfort and security during a stressful time.

However, we also learned that there are some important factors to consider before purchasing and using a portable generator. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of assessing your power needs, choosing the right fuel type, purchasing and installing a generator, operating it safely, and maintaining it for long-term use.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie to power outage prep, we hope our insights and tips will help you feel more confident and prepared for the next time the lights go out.

Generators &Amp; Power Outages

Key Takeaways

  • Assess power needs and choose the right fuel type before purchasing and installing a portable generator.
  • Choose a reliable brand and high-quality generator, and read reviews and compare prices to select the best generator for specific needs.
  • Operate the generator safely, using proper extension cords and keeping it away from flammable materials. Never operate the generator indoors due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Maintain the generator for long-term use and to prevent failure when needed most. Safety should always be the top priority when using a portable generator.

Assess Your Power Needs

You don’t want to be caught in the dark when the power goes out, so take a few minutes to assess your power needs and make sure you have the right portable generator to keep your home running smoothly.

The first step in assessing your power needs is to determine what appliances and electronics you will need to power during an outage. Make a list of the essential items, such as the refrigerator, lights, and heating system, that you cannot do without.

Next, consider the power requirements of each item on your list. Look for the label on each appliance or device that indicates its power usage in watts or amps. Add up the total wattage or amperage to determine the minimum power output you will need from your portable generator. Keep in mind that some appliances, such as refrigerators and air conditioners, require a surge of power when they first start up, so you’ll need a generator with a higher wattage output to handle these surges.

Now that you have determined your power needs, it’s time to choose the right fuel type for your portable generator. Whether you opt for gasoline, propane, or diesel, each fuel type has its advantages and disadvantages. By considering your needs and preferences, you can choose the fuel type that will work best for you.

Choose the Right Fuel Type

Imagine walking through the aisles of the gas station, searching for the perfect fuel to power your generator during a blackout. It’s important to choose the right fuel type to ensure your generator runs efficiently and effectively.

Here are three fuel options to consider:

  1. Gasoline: This is the most common type of fuel used for generators. It’s easily accessible and can be found at most gas stations. However, gasoline has a short shelf life and can be dangerous to store. It’s recommended to only store enough gasoline for a few days’ use.
  2. Propane: This is a cleaner burning fuel that is also readily available. Propane is stored in tanks and can be safely stored for longer periods of time. It’s also less flammable than gasoline and can be used in colder temperatures.
  3. Diesel: Diesel fuel is less flammable than gasoline and can be more efficient for larger generators. It has a longer shelf life than gasoline and can be stored for long periods of time. However, diesel generators can be more expensive and require more maintenance.

Choosing the right fuel type for your generator is crucial in ensuring it will be able to power your home during a blackout. Once you’ve decided on the best fuel type for your needs, it’s time to purchase your generator.

Purchase Your Generator

When purchasing a generator, we should consider the brand and quality of the product we’re buying. It’s important to read reviews and compare prices to ensure we’re getting the best value for our money.

By doing so, we can make an informed decision and select a generator that will meet our needs during a power outage.

Consider Brand and Quality

Choosing a reliable brand and high-quality generator is like investing in a sturdy umbrella before a storm – it may cost more upfront, but it will provide better protection and last longer in the long run. When considering which brand and quality to choose, it’s important to do your research and compare different options. To help with this process, we’ve created a table below comparing some popular brands and their features.

HondaQuiet operation, fuel-efficient, high-quality components
GeneracAffordable, easy to use, reliable performance
ChampionPortable, versatile, good value for money
WestinghouseDurable, fuel-efficient, easy maintenance
Briggs & StrattonPowerful, easy to start, long-lasting

It’s important to note that this table is not exhaustive, and there are many other brands and models available on the market. However, it can serve as a starting point for your research and give you an idea of what features to look for when choosing a generator that fits your needs. In the next section, we’ll discuss the importance of reading reviews and comparing prices to ensure you get the best deal on your chosen generator.

Read Reviews and Compare Prices

Don’t miss out on finding the best generator for your needs – take the time to read reviews and compare prices before making your purchase. With so many brands and models on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one.

Here are a few tips to help you along the way:

  • Check online reviews from customers who’ve already purchased the product. This’ll give you an idea of the generator’s performance, reliability, and ease of use.
  • Compare prices from different retailers to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Keep in mind that the cheapest option may not always be the best quality, so weigh your options carefully.
  • Look for generators with features that match your specific needs, such as fuel efficiency, noise level, and portability. This’ll ensure that you get the most out of your investment.

Once you’ve found the perfect generator for your needs, it’s time to install and set it up for use.

Install and Set Up Your Generator

Now that we’ve purchased our generator, it’s time to install and set it up properly. The first step is to carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure safe and efficient operation.

We also need to choose a safe and secure location for the generator, away from any flammable materials and with proper ventilation.

Follow the Manufacturer’s Instructions

To ensure the safe and efficient use of your portable generator during a power outage, it’s essential that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely. Each generator is unique, and the manufacturer’s instructions provide specific information on how to use your generator properly. Here are some examples of what the instructions might cover:

Fuel typeThe type of fuel your generator uses and how to safely store it
Starting procedureHow to start the generator safely
Wattage and power outputThe maximum power output of your generator and how it correlates to the appliances you want to use
MaintenanceHow to maintain your generator to keep it running properly
Safety precautionsSpecific safety instructions to follow when using your generator

By following the manufacturer’s instructions, you can avoid potential hazards and ensure that your portable generator will function properly during a power outage. Taking the time to read through the instructions and understand them thoroughly will give you the confidence to use your generator effectively.

Now that you understand the importance of following the manufacturer’s instructions, it’s time to choose a safe and secure location for your generator.

Choose a Safe and Secure Location

You need to make sure you pick the safest and most secure spot for your generator to avoid potential danger to yourself and others. When choosing a spot, ensure it is at least 20 feet away from your home and not located near any windows or doors. If the generator is too close, its carbon monoxide emissions could harm you and your loved ones.

Also, consider weather conditions when picking a spot. Ensure it is placed on a flat, dry surface away from puddles and areas that could flood during a storm. A safe and secure location for your generator will not only protect your family but will also keep your generator running smoothly and efficiently.

Now, let’s move on to how to operate your generator safely.

Operate Your Generator Safely

Let’s talk about operating your generator safely. It’s important to use proper extension cords that can handle the wattage of your generator and are designed for outdoor use.

Also, keep the generator away from flammable materials, such as dry leaves or gasoline, to prevent fires.

Lastly, never operate the generator indoors as it can produce carbon monoxide, which is a deadly gas that can build up quickly in enclosed spaces.

Use Proper Extension Cords

Make sure your extension cords are heavy-duty and in good condition before plugging them into your portable generator. Using the wrong type of extension cord can cause overheating, damage to your generator, and even start a fire.

Here are three things to keep in mind when using extension cords with your generator:

  1. Choose a cord that is rated for the wattage of your generator. Overloading an extension cord can cause it to overheat and melt the insulation, which can lead to electrocution or fire.
  2. Use a cord that is long enough for your needs. If your cord is too short, you may be tempted to use an additional cord or to stretch it beyond its capacity, which can cause it to overheat.
  3. Inspect your cords for damage before each use. Cracked or frayed cords can cause a short circuit, which can damage your generator or start a fire.

Now that you know how to choose and use an extension cord safely, it’s time to talk about keeping your generator away from flammable materials.

Keep the Generator Away from Flammable Materials

It’s important to keep in mind that generators should be placed away from flammable materials like gasoline or propane tanks, as they can easily catch fire. Did you know that according to the National Fire Protection Association, portable generators were responsible for an average of 9000 house fires and 100 deaths each year between 2004 and 2013? This is a serious concern that should not be taken lightly.

To ensure the safety of yourself and those around you, keep your generator at least 20 feet away from any flammable materials. This includes not only fuel sources but also combustible items like wood, paper, and plastic. By doing so, you’ll greatly reduce the risk of a fire breaking out.

Remember, safety should always be your top priority when using a portable generator. With that in mind, let’s move on to the next important topic: never operate the generator indoors.

Never Operate the Generator Indoors

You should never operate your generator indoors, as this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning and other serious health risks. Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that is produced by the combustion of fuel. When generators are operated indoors, the gas can build up and become deadly within minutes. It is important to always use your generator in a well-ventilated area, such as outdoors or in a garage with the door open.

To help you understand the dangers of operating a generator indoors, here is a table that compares the amount of carbon monoxide produced by different sources:

SourceCarbon Monoxide Produced
Generator400-700 parts per million
Idling Car100-200 parts per million
Gas Stove30-50 parts per million
Cigarette Smoke10-40 parts per million

As you can see, generators produce a much higher level of carbon monoxide than other common sources. This is why it is crucial to never operate them indoors. By taking this precaution, you can ensure the safety of yourself and those around you.

Transitioning to the next section, it is important to not only keep your generator safe during operation, but also to maintain it properly to ensure it continues to work efficiently.

Maintain Your Generator

Now that we know how to operate our portable generators safely during power outages, it’s also important to maintain them properly. As homeowners, we need to be prepared for power outages and having a functioning generator is crucial.

However, neglecting maintenance on our generators can lead to them failing when we need them most.

Be Prepared for Power Outages

When preparing for power outages, remember to pack portable generators. These little machines can be a lifesaver when the lights go out, but they can also be dangerous if not handled correctly. That’s why it’s important to be prepared and follow some simple safety guidelines.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Always read the owner’s manual before using a generator.
  • Keep the generator outside in a well-ventilated area, away from windows and doors.
  • Never plug the generator directly into your home’s electrical system. Instead, use a heavy-duty extension cord to connect appliances directly to the generator.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your portable generator will keep you and your family safe and comfortable during an outage.

But it’s important to remember that responsibility doesn’t end with preparation. In the next section, we’ll discuss how to use portable generators responsibly to avoid accidents and ensure the safety of everyone around us.

Use Portable Generators Responsibly

It’s crucial to keep in mind the safety precautions and guidelines when utilizing portable generators. These devices can be incredibly convenient during power outages, but they can also be dangerous if not used properly.

To start, make sure to only use generators outdoors in a well-ventilated area. Carbon monoxide, a toxic gas, can build up quickly in enclosed spaces and can lead to serious health problems or even death.

Additionally, it’s important to never plug a generator directly into a wall outlet. This can cause what’s known as ‘backfeeding,’ which can send electricity back into the power lines and potentially injure or kill utility workers. Instead, use a heavy-duty extension cord to connect appliances directly to the generator.

Lastly, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific generator and never overload it with too many appliances or devices. By following these guidelines, you can safely and responsibly use a portable generator to power your home during a power outage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I connect my portable generator directly to my home’s electrical system?

Oh sure, let’s just connect our portable generator directly to our home’s electrical system. What could possibly go wrong? Unless you’re an electrician or enjoy playing with fire, just don’t do it. Stick to using extension cords and power strips. Safety first, folks.

How long can I run my portable generator continuously?

We can run our portable generator continuously for as long as it has fuel and oil. However, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance and to take breaks to avoid overheating.

Can I use my portable generator indoors?

Warning: Using a portable generator indoors can be deadly. In fact, carbon monoxide poisoning from improper generator use kills over 70 people each year in the United States. Always use generators outside and away from windows and doors.

How do I properly store my portable generator when not in use?

To properly store our portable generator, we make sure to drain any remaining fuel, clean its parts, and store it in a cool, dry place. We also perform regular maintenance to ensure it’s ready for the next power outage.

What safety precautions should I take when refueling my portable generator?

When refueling our portable generator, we always turn it off and let it cool for at least 15 minutes. We use a funnel to avoid spills and never smoke or use a flame nearby. We also store the fuel in a safe, properly labeled container away from flames.


Overall, using a portable generator for power outage prep can be a lifesaver. It’s important to assess your power needs, choose the right fuel type, purchase and install your generator, and operate it safely.

With proper maintenance, your generator can provide reliable power for years to come.

Think of your generator as a trusty companion during a stormy night. It’s there to provide light and warmth, to keep your family safe and comfortable. Just like any companion, it requires care and attention to function at its best.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your generator is always ready to stand by your side when you need it the most.

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Skyler is an outdoor adventurist and avid RV-Fan. He loves to explore the world and all its beauty, but he's just as happy relaxing at home with his family. His favorite pastime is taking weekend trips in his RV with his wife and kids, where they can get away from it all and enjoy nature. He’s also a self-proclaimed expert on all things portable generators and can often be found reviewing the latest models on our website.

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