generator safety

Generator Safety


Before 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.

Standby Generator

Portable standby generators, when used properly, can provide an alternative power source. However, they can create electrical shock and fire hazards if connected or used incorrectly. In addition, you should never operate a generator inside your home or garage. Generators produce carbon monoxide, and if used indoors will cause a build-up of fatal fumes - fans or open windows and doors won't provide enough fresh air to keep you and your family safe.

If You Are Considering Buying a Portable Standby Generator

  • 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.
    • a properly sized connector cord and plugs.

More information on the use of temporary portable generators can be found in the Flash Notice 19-27-FL.

Note: some manufacturers offer complete generator packages.

Follow these tips to ensure you're using your generator safely:

  • Never use a generator indoors; use it in a dry area outdoors and away from open doors, windows and vents;
  • Check the generator and all component parts to ensure that they have been approved by a recognized certification agency. View approved marks
  • Never connect portable generators to electrical appliances or wiring components that have been affected by flood water;
  • If you have to use extension cords, make sure they are the grounded type with three prongs and rated for how you’re planning to use them. Coiled cords can get extremely hot; always uncoil cords and lay them flat; 
  • Gasoline and its vapors are extremely flammable. Allow the generator engine to cool at least 2 minutes before refueling and always use fresh gasoline; and

In the event of a blackout or power disruption, portable generators can help maintain your flow of electricity. They do, however, come with inherent risks. The video below explains how to stay safe when using your portable generator.

Standby generators that are permanently installed into your electrical wiring must have a transfer device to protect your home and the utility system by preventing generator power from flowing back into the utility system. You must file a notification of work with ESA to permanently connect a generator to your home’s electrical system. ESA strongly recommends hiring a Licensed Electrical Contractor to ensure your generator is installed correctly. You can find a Licensed Electrical Contractor near you using the ESA’s contractor lookup tool here.