generator safety

Generator Safety


Standby generators, when used properly, can provide an alternative power source. However, they can create electrical shock and fire hazards if improperly connected or incorrectly used. Before incorporating any type of back up powers source, whether it is automatic or manual, it is important to understand the safety requirements.

Buying a Standby Generator

  • Check the generator and all component parts to ensure they have the mark of a recognized certification agency. It shows that the product has been independently assessed for safety. View all the marks here.
  • Clearly understand your electricity requirements to ensure the unit is the correct size and voltage for your use.
  • Purchase appropriate generator accessories, including an approved transfer device or switch and a properly sized connector cord and plugs.

Using Your Generator Safely

  • Never operate a generator inside your home or garage, as it 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.
  • Never connect portable generators to electrical appliances or wiring components that have been affected/damaged by water.
  • If you have to use extension cords, make sure they are the grounded type with three prongs and rated for your use. 
  • 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.

The video below explains how to stay safe when using your portable generator:


Permanent Installment

Standby generators permanently connected to your electrical wiring must have a transfer device to protect your home and the utility system. A transfer device prevents the generator power from flowing back into the utility system. You must file a notification of work with ESA to connect a generator permanently to your home’s electrical system. 

ESA strongly recommends hiring a Licensed Electrical Contractor to ensure your generator is correctly installed. You can find a Licensed Electrical Contractor near you using the ESA’s contractor lookup tool here.