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How to Prevent Emergency Generators from Becoming a Danger

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Having a reliable backup generator can be invaluable during a power outage. From powering a refrigerator, the lights, or heating or cooling during an emergency power outage, an emergency generator can be a real asset and provide many of the essentials that your family would otherwise be without during an outage. That said, generators shouldn't be used haphazardly. If safety regulations aren't followed, a generator can become more of a danger than an asset.

Determine what size generator you'll need. The size of a generator will be based on the items you'd like to power during a power outage. For example, those in colder climates will want to power the furnace to keep the home warm and help prevent pipes from freezing and breaking. A well pump, refrigerator, freezer, and electrical in-home medical equipment should also be considerations. Keep in mind that the generator's size and cost will increase with the more you need the generator to support.

Once you've figured out what size generator you need, you will have two main types of generators to choose from - portable or permanent standby. Understanding the workings and what's required for each can help you determine which type best suits your need.

Once you've figured out what size generator you need, you will have two main types of generators to choose from - portable or permanent standby. Understanding the workings and what's required for each can help you determine which type best suits your need.

On the other hand, a licensed professional electrician should be used to install a permanent standby generator since it's connected to the home's wiring system, the installation should meet local building codes, and must be installed with several key safety features. Special equipment must be installed to prevent the generator from backfeeding into the electrical system within the home. Backfeed can result in a fire or equipment damage. It must have a transfer switch installed so that power crews won't be in danger from live electrical currents if they need to make repairs to lines. You'll also need to notify the power company when you install a permanent standby generator.

A generator will only be an asset to help you safely and comfortably make it through a crisis when it's used appropriately. Otherwise, it can create more problems than it solves.

Click here to return to Amity Insurance E-Newsletter December 4, 2012.