Survival Guide: Portable Generators In Power Outages

Hey there, fellow survivalists! Are you ready for the next power outage? When the lights go out and the electricity is out, we need to be prepared. One of the best ways to be ready for a power outage is to have a portable generator on hand.

But, before you rush out to buy one, it’s important to know how to use it safely and effectively. In this article, we will guide you through the process of assessing your power needs, choosing the right generator, setting up and operating it safely, and maintaining it for long-term use.

We’ll also provide tips on how to stay safe during use and be prepared for emergencies.

So, let’s dive in and become experts on portable generators in power outages!

Key Takeaways

  • Assess power needs before choosing the right generator size, power output, and fuel type.
  • Properly maintain the generator for reliable operation and prevent dangerous backfeed of electricity.
  • Place the generator outside, under a canopy or shelter, and away from doors, windows, and standing water or wet spots.
  • Stay safe during generator use by following manufacturer’s instructions, using carbon monoxide detectors, and being prepared with emergency supplies and communication plan.
Generators &Amp; Power Outages

Assess Your Power Needs

Before you go shopping for a generator, it’s crucial to assess what your power needs are and how much power you’ll require during an outage. It’s important to consider the appliances and devices that you’ll need to power during a blackout, such as your refrigerator, heating and cooling systems, and medical equipment.

Make a list of all the items that you’ll need to keep running, and determine their power requirements in watts. This will give you a better idea of how much power you’ll need from your generator. Once you’ve determined your power needs, you’ll want to choose a generator that can provide enough power to meet those needs.

Generators come in a range of sizes and power outputs, so it’s important to choose one that is appropriate for your needs. If you only need to power a few essential appliances, a smaller generator may be sufficient. However, if you need to power your entire home, you’ll need a larger generator with a higher power output.

When shopping for a generator, also consider the fuel type that it uses. Some generators run on gasoline, while others run on propane or natural gas. Gasoline generators are typically less expensive, but they require more maintenance and can be more difficult to store safely. Propane and natural gas generators are more expensive, but they offer a more reliable source of fuel and require less maintenance.

Consider all of these factors when choosing the right generator for your needs.

Choose the Right Generator

When selecting a generator, you’ll want to consider the size and wattage that will meet your needs. The size of a generator refers to its physical dimensions and weight, while the wattage determines the amount of power it can produce. It’s important to choose a generator that is large enough to power the essential appliances and devices in your home, but not so large that it becomes unwieldy or difficult to move.

To help you choose the right generator, we’ve created a table that outlines the most common power needs for different types of appliances and devices. Use this table as a guide to determine how much wattage you’ll need from your generator. Keep in mind that some appliances may have a higher starting wattage than running wattage, so be sure to factor that in when making your calculations.

Appliance/DeviceRunning WattageStarting Wattage
Window AC Unit14002200
Space Heater18000

Now that you have a better idea of how much wattage you’ll need, you can start shopping for a generator that fits your needs. Just remember to consider the physical size and weight of the generator, as well as its power output. Once you’ve chosen the right generator, you can move on to setting it up safely and effectively.

To set up your generator safely, there are a few important steps you’ll need to follow. First and foremost, make sure that you place the generator outside, away from any doors or windows. This will help prevent carbon monoxide from entering your home. You should also use heavy-duty extension cords to connect your appliances to the generator, and be sure to turn off and unplug any appliances before plugging them into the generator. With these safety tips in mind, you can rest assured that your generator will help you weather any power outage.

Set Up Your Generator Safely

Let’s talk about setting up your generator safely. When it comes to choosing a location for your generator, make sure it’s in a safe spot where it won’t be exposed to the elements or children.

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and use, and make sure you’re using proper cords and outlets to avoid any potential hazards.

Choose a Safe Location

Finding a suitable spot for your portable generator is like playing a game of musical chairs – you need to ensure that it’s safe, stable, and well-ventilated. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind when choosing a location:

  • Keep it outside: Never operate your generator indoors or in enclosed spaces, as this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Instead, choose an outdoor location that’s at least 15 feet away from your home, with the exhaust facing away from doors, windows, and vents.
  • Stay dry: Generators should always be kept under a canopy or other shelter to protect them from rain, snow, and other weather conditions. Make sure that the area around the generator is also free from standing water or wet spots.
  • Keep it secure: Portable generators are a prime target for thieves, so it’s important to keep them in a secure location. Consider using a cable lock or other security measures to prevent unauthorized access.

Remember, choosing a safe location for your generator is essential for both your own safety and the proper functioning of the machine. With these tips in mind, you can ensure that your generator is ready to go when you need it most.

When it comes to using your portable generator, following the manufacturer’s instructions is crucial for ensuring safe and effective operation. With the right location in place, the next step is to carefully read through the manual and follow all of the recommended guidelines for setup, use, and maintenance.

Follow Manufacturer’s Instructions

To ensure safe and effective operation, it’s crucial to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using your portable generator. These instructions are specifically designed to guide you on how to operate your generator without harming yourself, others, or your equipment.

They cover all aspects of the generator, from how to start and stop it to how to maintain it properly. By following the manufacturer’s instructions, you can ensure that your generator operates smoothly and efficiently.

Failure to adhere to these instructions may result in damage to the generator, harm to yourself or others, or even cause a fire. So, be sure to read and understand the manufacturer’s instructions before operating your generator.

Using proper cords and outlets is the next step to ensuring safe and effective operation.

Use Proper Cords and Outlets

Now that we know the importance of following the manufacturer’s instructions, let’s talk about the next step in using portable generators during power outages.

It’s crucial to use proper cords and outlets to ensure a safe and efficient operation. Always use heavy-duty extension cords that are specifically designed for outdoor use and have a three-prong grounding plug. The cords should be long enough to reach your appliances but not too long that they become a tripping hazard.

Additionally, make sure to use outlets that are compatible with your generator’s voltage and amperage. Never attempt to plug your generator into a wall outlet as it can cause a dangerous backfeed of electricity. Instead, use a transfer switch or hire a licensed electrician to install one.

By following these guidelines, you can prevent any electrical hazards and make sure your generator is working at its optimal level.

Now that we’ve covered the importance of using proper cords and outlets, let’s move onto the next step: starting and operating your generator.

Start and Operate Your Generator

When you’re in the middle of a power outage, you’ll be grateful you took the time to learn how to start and operate your generator like a pro. With the right knowledge and tools, you can have power back up and running in no time. Here are some steps to follow to get your generator up and running:

First, check the oil and fuel levels to make sure they are at the appropriate levels. Next, connect your generator to your home using the proper cords and outlets, as discussed in the previous subtopic. Finally, turn on your generator and allow it to run for a few minutes before plugging in any appliances to ensure the generator is running smoothly.

To make things easier, here’s a handy table that summarizes the steps to start and operate your generator:

| Steps to Start and Operate Your Generator |
| — | — |
| Check oil and fuel levels |
| Connect generator to home using proper cords and outlets |
| Turn on generator and allow it to run for a few minutes before plugging in appliances |

Remember, safety should always be your top priority when operating a generator. Keep the generator at least 20 feet away from your home to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Additionally, never plug your generator directly into your home’s electrical system as it can cause backfeeding and harm utility workers. With these tips in mind, you can safely and effectively start and operate your generator during a power outage.

To ensure your generator continues to run smoothly, it’s important to maintain it properly. Without proper maintenance, your generator may fail when you need it most.

Maintain Your Generator

Proper maintenance of your generator is crucial in ensuring it runs smoothly and reliably during times of need. Regular upkeep can extend the lifespan of your generator and prevent costly repairs.

One of the most important maintenance tasks is changing the oil. Generators require frequent oil changes, especially during extended use. It’s recommended to change the oil every 50 hours of operation or at least once a year.

In addition to oil changes, it’s important to check and replace air filters, fuel filters, and spark plugs. A dirty air filter can decrease the efficiency of your generator and cause it to consume more fuel. Fuel filters should also be checked and replaced as needed to prevent contamination and ensure proper fuel flow. Spark plugs should be inspected and replaced if they appear dirty or worn.

Maintaining your generator is an important step in ensuring it runs smoothly during power outages. However, it’s also important to stay safe during use. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow all safety precautions. This includes keeping your generator outdoors in a well-ventilated area, away from windows, and never using it in a confined space.

By properly maintaining and safely using your generator, you can ensure that it’s ready to provide power when you need it most.

Stay Safe During Use

We need to stay safe during the use of portable generators.

First, we should keep the generator away from living spaces, including open doors and windows, to avoid inhaling carbon monoxide fumes.

Second, we should never refuel while the generator is running to prevent fires and explosions.

Lastly, it’s important to use carbon monoxide detectors to alert us of dangerous levels of this odorless gas.

Let’s prioritize safety and enjoy the benefits of our portable generators in power outages.

Keep the Generator Away from Living Spaces

Make sure you never place the generator in living spaces, as it can produce harmful carbon monoxide that can harm you and your loved ones. Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that can cause headaches, dizziness, and even death. To avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, always keep the generator at least 20 feet away from your home’s doors, windows, and vents.

One way to ensure that you keep the generator at a safe distance is by using a heavy-duty extension cord. This will allow you to place the generator in a well-ventilated outdoor area while still providing power to your home. Check out the table below for some extension cord recommendations based on the wattage of your generator. Remember to always read the manufacturer’s instructions before using an extension cord and to never overload it.

WattageCord Length (Feet)Wire Gauge
Up to 2,5002512

When it comes to using a portable generator during a power outage, safety should always be your top priority. Never refuel while the generator is running, as this can cause a fire or explosion. Remember to turn off the generator and let it cool down before adding fuel.

Never Refuel While the Generator is Running

Refueling a running generator is like trying to fill up a gas tank while driving – it’s dangerous and can cause serious harm. Not only can it lead to gasoline spills and fires, but it can also cause explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. In fact, many accidents involving generators occur during refueling, which is why it’s important to turn off the generator and let it cool down before adding fuel.

Before refueling, make sure to turn off the generator and let it cool down for at least 15 minutes. This will reduce the risk of fire and allow any hot parts to cool off. Once the generator is cool, remove the gasoline cap and add fuel slowly to avoid spills.

If you do spill gasoline, make sure to clean it up immediately with a rag or absorbent material. And remember, never attempt to refuel the generator while it’s running – it’s not worth the risk.

Now that we know how to refuel a generator safely, let’s talk about the importance of using carbon monoxide detectors to keep yourself and your loved ones safe during power outages.

Use Carbon Monoxide Detectors

You can never be too safe when it comes to protecting yourself and your family from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, which is why using carbon monoxide detectors is crucial. Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that is produced by portable generators, and if it builds up in an enclosed space, it can be deadly. That’s why we recommend using carbon monoxide detectors in your home to keep you and your loved ones safe.

To help you understand the importance of carbon monoxide detectors, we’ve created a table below that shows the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, as well as the corresponding levels of carbon monoxide in the air. As you can see, even low levels of carbon monoxide can cause symptoms such as headaches and nausea, which can quickly escalate to confusion and loss of consciousness. This is why it’s so important to have carbon monoxide detectors in your home, as they can alert you to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide before it’s too late.

As you can see in the table above, even low levels of carbon monoxide can cause symptoms that can quickly escalate to dangerous levels. This is why it’s essential to have carbon monoxide detectors in your home, especially when using a portable generator. But using carbon monoxide detectors is just one step in being prepared for emergencies. In the next section, we’ll discuss other important measures you can take to ensure your safety during power outages.

Be Prepared for Emergencies

Are you ready for unexpected power outages? Being prepared for emergencies is crucial, and a portable generator can provide peace of mind in these situations. However, it’s important to remember that a generator is not a one-stop solution for all emergencies.

You should have a plan in place for different scenarios such as natural disasters, medical emergencies, and home security issues. Firstly, ensure that you have a well-stocked emergency kit with basic supplies such as water, food, first aid supplies, and a flashlight. Make sure your generator is easily accessible and stored in a safe and secure location. It’s also a good idea to practice using the generator before an emergency occurs, so you can quickly and confidently set it up when needed.

Secondly, have a communication plan in place with family members and neighbors. This can include a designated meeting spot, a system for checking in on each other, and a way to communicate without power, such as a hand-cranked radio. Being connected with others can help you stay informed and provide support during emergencies.

While a portable generator can be a valuable tool in power outages, being prepared for emergencies requires more than just having a generator. Create a plan, stock up on emergency supplies, and establish communication with others. With these steps in place, you can feel more confident and in control during unexpected situations.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can a portable generator run continuously?

We can run a portable generator continuously for around 8-12 hours with a full tank of gas. It’s crucial to switch off the generator every few hours for maintenance, refueling, and to avoid overheating.

Can I use a portable generator indoors?

Hold your horses! Portable generators should never be used indoors due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Keep them outside and away from open windows or doors to ensure safe operation.

Can I plug my portable generator directly into my home’s electrical system?

No, we shouldn’t plug portable generators directly into our home’s electrical system. It can cause back-feeding, electrocution, and damage to appliances. Always use a transfer switch installed by a licensed electrician for safe and proper connection.

How much fuel does a portable generator consume per hour?

We all want to be in control of our power supply during outages, right? Well, a portable generator can consume anywhere from 0.5 to 2 gallons per hour, depending on its size and power output.

Can I run my refrigerator and air conditioner simultaneously on a portable generator?

Yes, we can run our refrigerator and air conditioner simultaneously on a portable generator, but it depends on the generator’s capacity. Check the wattage of the appliances and the generator’s output to avoid overloading it.


So there you have it, our survival guide for using portable generators during power outages. With a little bit of preparation and caution, you can ensure that you and your family have the power you need to weather any storm.

But don’t just take our word for it. A recent study found that households that had a generator during a power outage experienced significantly less stress and anxiety than those without one.

It’s like having a lifeguard at a pool – you hope you never need them, but it’s reassuring to know they’re there just in case.

So invest in a good portable generator, follow our guide, and stay safe and comfortable during power outages.

And remember, when the lights go out, your generator can be your lifeguard.

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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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