You bought a generator during the recent power outage. The power is back on, so now what do you do with it?
"It's mainly with first-time generator owners," says Steve Wirt, a technician at Outdoor Power Equipment in Roanoke, Virginia. "If you make the mistake once, you won't do it again."
Here's a few tips that will keep your generator running when you need it the most.
MISTAKE #1 | NOT ENOUGH POWER
When looking to purchase a generator, most will make a decision based on the wallet, rather than what they need to run.
A small generator of about 3,000 watts can run a few lights, fans and a refrigerator. If used to start and run only one item at a time, it can run a half-horsepower pump, or a small window air conditioner of about 5,000 BTUs.
Each generator has a rated wattage, which provides a limit on the appliances it will safely power.
You MUST look at the "surge watts" as well. For example, a Refrigerator has a rated wattage of 500, but when it starts up, the "surge watts" is 2000, more than tripple the wattage.
HOW MUCH ELECTRICITY DO YOU NEED TO PRODUCE? CLICK HERE FOR A CALCULATOR
Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for proper use and capacity. Overloading the generator can result in damage to appliances it is powering.
Tip: You don't need to run everything at the same time; rotating larger items allows the use of a smaller generator, which costs less to buy and is easier to move.
MISTAKE #2 | IMPROPER USAGE
There are several things first-time generator owners need to know. The first will assure that you are safely running the generator at your home and business.
-Generator engines emit carbon monoxide. Never use a generator inside your home, garage, crawl space, or other enclosed areas. Fatal fumes can build up, that neither a fan nor open doors and windows can provide enough fresh air.
-Only use your generator outdoors, away from open windows, vents, or doors.
-Use a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector in the area you’re running a generator.
-Gasoline and its vapors are extremely flammable. Allow the generator engine to cool at least 2 minutes before refueling and always use fresh gasoline.
-Never operate the generator near combustible materials.
-If you have to use extension cords, be sure they are of the grounded type and are rated for the application. Coiled cords can get extremely hot; always uncoil cords and lay them in flat open locations.
MISTAKE #3 | IMPROPER STORAGE
The biggest problem, especially first-time owners find, is the generator worked after they bought it, but now they need to use it again and it won't run. Chances are, old gasoline is the culprit.
"A lot of owners will simply unplug the extension cords, turn it off and shove it to the back of a garage or outbuilding for a few months, or even years until needed again," says Wirt.
The problem is if you store the generator for over 30 days with gasoline in it, the gasoline starts turning into a different compound. It chemically changes its composition.
The main thing is to store your generator without fuel in the carburetor, the the tank or anything. Store it dry.
Check the oil in it, and wipe it down with a towel or cloth to get rid of any dust or dirt.