It’s storm season and several have already caused outages in Cincinnati and across the state.
Portable power generators can be a practical solution during these outages. Generators typically run on gas, propane, or both. Some can be powered by solar energy.
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If you think you need to use your power generator, make sure you have enough fuel on hand. If you have a solar generator, make sure it’s charged.
The first step in setting up your generator is estimating how much electricity you need to draw. Most people want to keep their fridges and lights on and be able to charge their devices.
Pay attention to how much power you need to avoid overloading the power generator.
Where should I place my generator?
Gas or propane powered generators should be located outside, at least 20 feet from the house. It should be on a flat, stable surface and the exhaust fumes should be directed away from the windows and doors of the house.
Solar generators do not emit carbon monoxide, which means they can be placed indoors as long as it is a dry area with no high temperatures. Consult your generator manual for more information.
How do I connect my generator?
Generators require specially made heavy-duty extension cords, so make sure you use these. For gas powered generators, run the cords through a window or door, but do not connect them to the generator yet.
Plugging the generator into an outlet will not power your home. Follow the steps below to restore power. An electrician can tell you more about how to power your home in these scenarios.
How do I turn on my generator?
Solar generators turn on with a button or switch, but fuel-powered generators are a bit more complex.
For fuel-powered generators:
- Make sure the fuel tank is full and no wires are connected to the generator.
- Turn on the fuel cock.
- Turn on the power switch.
- Find the choke, which usually looks like a lever. Pull it to the choke position about a quarter or half way to let in minimal air.
- Hold down the start button until the generator starts.
- Slowly move the choke lever to the run (fully open) position. Let the generator run for a few minutes before connecting anything to it.
How do I connect items to my generator?
You may need to connect items to your generator in order of most needed to least needed power. For example, you may need to plug in your fridge first and let it run for a while before plugging in anything else. Check your manual for specific details for your generator.
Each item should be connected to the generator extension cord, then you can plug the cord into the generator.
How do I fuel my generator?
To refuel a generator, turn off all electronics and devices connected to it. Let it run for a while before turning off the power button. Turn off the fuel switch and unplug the extension cords.
Finally, you should allow the generator to cool before adding fuel.
For solar generators, connect solar panels and place them in a place with plenty of sunlight. Depending on your generator, you may be able to leave devices plugged in while charging.