Generators
Before Event During Event After Event Resources

Before the Event

What Generator Size Is Best For You?

In order to determine the generator capacity for your home, determine the electrical requirements of the items you expect to use when using a generator. Add up the amount of watts needed to power the items. If you want to use items that have a motor, they may require more power to start than they use when running. As an example, a refrigerator that needs 1,200 watts to run, might require up to 3,000 watts to start.

Three typical sizes of generators:

3,550 watt generator
can power:
5,000 watt generator
can power:
8,000 watt generator
can power:
  • Refrigerator
  • Television
  • Air conditioner
    (10,000 BTU)
  • 4 Lights
    (75 watts ea.)
  • Refrigerator
  • Television
  • Microwave
    (1,000 watts)
  • Air conditioner
    (10,000 BTU)
  • 4 Lights
    (75 watts ea.)
  • Deep freezer
  • Refrigerator
  • Television
  • Microwave
    (1,000 watts)
  • ½ HP well pump
  • Security System
  • Air conditioner
    (10,000 BTU)
  • 8 Lights
    (75 Watts ea.)
  • Deep freezer
  • Electric stove
  • Garage door opener

 

Test your generator each year before the start of hurricane season on June 1. Remove your generator from storage, drain the gasoline from the tank and dispose of it properly. Inspect the fuel line for cracks and replace if necessary. Refill the tank with fresh gasoline and run the generator. Add some appliances, e.g., a trouble light, hair dryer, etc., to make sure the generator is operating properly.

After the generator has warmed up (about 15 minutes of running), turn off the fuel valve and run the fuel line dry. After the engine stalls, turn off the run switch, change the oil, add fuel stabilizer to the gasoline, drain the carburetor float bowl (and sediment bowl, if installed) and put the generator back in storage. While you are testing the generator, inspect your extension cords to make sure they’re in good condition. Replace any cord that has damage. If you had any trouble with the generator during this test, take it to a repair shop so that it can be put in good running order before the hurricane rush.

Getting started

  • Purchase several 5-gallon gas cans since fuel is usually scare after a hurricane.
  • Buy a bottle of fuel stabilizer for when the power is restored. Mix the stabilizer with your gas so that it will keep until you are able to use it. Run your generator with the mixture about 10 minutes so the fuel system does not gum up while in storage.
  • Never refuel a hot generator or one that is running; hot engine parts or exhaust can ignite gasoline.
  • Turn off all connected appliances before starting your generator.
  • Turn connected appliances on one at a time, never exceeding the generator’s rated wattage.

Portable generators are useful when temporary or remote electric power is needed, but there are potential hazards. If you plan on using a generator in the event of a power outage, you should take steps before the storm to protect yourself from the dangers of toxic engine exhaust, electrical hazards and fire hazards.

  • To prevent against carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from toxic engine exhaust, install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in alarms with battery back-up in your home, according to the manufacturer's installation instructions. Alarms should be certified to the requirements of the latest safety standards for carbon monoxide (UL 2034, IAS 6-96, or CSA 6.19.01).
  • Test your alarms frequently and replace dead batteries. Remember that you cannot see or smell CO and portable generators can produce high levels of CO very quickly.

Updated May 2013