Generators for home use can be noisy and obnoxious.
And if you’re not careful, they can hurt ya. Either with the fumes they spew, or with accidental fires.
But when the power goes out, you’re going to be glad you have one as part of your emergency preparedness plan, especially if the kids start getting cabin fever.
If you are like most people, you probably won’t think of owning a generator for home use until you’ve had to go without power for days. Oh, sure, you’ll try to cope as best you can without one.
Until you get desperate.
Then, you go out to a store to try to buy one, but find that your neighbors have already cleared out the available supply. Or, you get fleeced and pay a lot more than you usually would have.
Do yourself a favor and get a generator now, before you need it. Then make sure you set it up to get the biggest bag for your buck.
The dummies guide to using a generator … really, this is how dummies do it
For many people, using a generator means running an extension cord from the unit into the house, connecting a power strip, and plugging a bunch of appliances and devices to it. Maybe even another power strip.
But that’s the “easy” (code for “dumb”) way to do it, because there is little thought involved until the generator is needed.
But there are many reasons why this is actually a pretty dumb way to proceed.
- It is a safety hazard: Want a side of carbon monoxide poisoning with your emergency power? How about an extra order of smoking hot fire? Perhaps a tumble or two for dessert? Sorry to be flippant about it, but lots of things can go wrong here, especially if you have:
- Maxed out power strips.
- Power cords running every which way, snaking in through an open door or window.
- A power cord that is not long enough to keep generator fumes from getting into the living space.
- You lose money: When you hook up a generator this way, odds are, not all the power being created will be fully used by the appliances and devices that you have plugged into the power strip. Those just go “missing”.
Getting the biggest bang for your generator buck
During a power outage, things are going to be stressful enough.
Minimize that stress by connecting your generator to your home ahead of time. Do it safely and legally, though, or you risk a severe electric shock or an electrical fire.
You can get it done by licensed electricians, or if you wish to do it yourself, here is a video that shows you how:
By connecting your generator to your house, you can now have power running out of the wall outlets of your choice.
That way, with a flip of a switch, you can power the key appliances that you choose to in your house.
You can also plug in battery banks and auto jumpstart batteries to capture any power not being used and store it for later, when you decide to give the generator a break.
To make sure your generator is ready for when you need it, here are a few other things to do to:
- Ensure that you use ethanol-free fuel or used a fuel stabilizer. Ethanol attracts water which can clog up your carburetor over time.
- Rotate your fuel every six months. This can be done by running the fuel in your spare gas cans through your car.
- Obtain a cord that allows the generator to be at least 7-10 feet away from your home. Generators have been known to malfunction and the last thing you want to do in powering your home is to catch it on fire.