Use Backup Power Safely
Did you know you are legally responsible for safety incidents that occur from improperly installed power generators? Here's how to avoid trouble.
If you have a power generator, be sure to keep the following instructions in mind:
- Always operate your generator according to the directions in the owner's manual. If you no longer have the manual, you may be able to find it online be searching for the make and model number of your generator.
- Be aware that backfeed occurs when an improperly connected generator begins feeding electricity back into the power lines. This condition can cause a deadly a fire or explosion at your home, a neighbor's, or at any location on the electrical line. By law, you are responsible for making sure your generator’s electricity doesn’t feed back into PSEG's power lines.
- If you purchase a generator, have a qualified electrician properly size and install it. If you install the generator yourself, have a local electrical inspector check the installation for compliance with safety codes. A permit may be required for installation.
- If you're renting a generator for temporary use, choose equipment that is properly sized for your needs and that comes with complete operating instructions.
- Never use a generator or other fuel-powered machines inside. Generators can produce 100 times more carbon monoxide (CO) than a car. Hazardous CO fumes are odorless and can quickly overwhelm you in minutes if a generator is used indoors, even with doors and windows open. This includes outbuildings like sheds or garages.
- Keep the generator at least 20 feet away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air RIGHT AWAY - DO NOT DELAY.
- Install CO alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.
- It's important to make first responders aware that you have a power generator before they enter your home or business to investigate a gas leak. Some power generators are automatically triggered to turn on when the electric service is disconnected. In the presence of a gas leak, the generator could provide a source of ignition and cause a fire or explosion. As an extra precaution, place a label indicating that you have a generator near where the electric line enters your home.
- Generators should never be plugged into a wall outlet to power an entire house - this will cause a "backfeed" which puts utility workers, your neighbors and your household at risk of electrocution. In most cases, generators should be connected directly to an appliance or piece of equipment by a properly rated, outdoor extension cord.
- Be sure your generator is Underwriters Laboratory (UL)-approved.