Generators are incredibly helpful. Letting you get power wherever you need it to get the job done or protect your home from power cuts – we’re obviously big advocates for their usefulness. But running at high wattage levels and needing fuel to run, generators come with risks that you need to be aware of!
Helping you to use your generator safely and responsibly, we’ve compiled the most important safety tips and rules to follow, as well as advice for protecting yourself and your electricals.
Generator safety is extremely important. When working with electricity, fuel and motors, there are a lot of risks related. Ensuring you’re protecting yourself as well as your electricals, equipment, home and others, make sure you’re aware of the safety rules and tips before you power up.
While most of it is common sense, making sure you’re handling the fuel safely and keeping water away from electricity, there are some specific rules to be followed relating to generators and their usage.
Are Generators Safe?
Yes! Generators are safe and have been an essential part of construction, camping, home protection and garden work for a long time. If they weren’t safe, millions wouldn’t own one and we wouldn’t be selling them.
But just like your car, other construction equipment and really any major appliance, they come with risks that you need to be aware of and simple rules that need to be followed.
Can You Leave A Generator Running Unattended?
No! You would’ve leave a car or a motorbike running unattended, or walk away from a lit stove – so your generator should be the same. As it uses flammable fuel and features a working motor, generators should always be monitored.
So if you have to leave the area for any reason, you should power off your generator and ideally wait a moment for it to cool down before leaving it unattended.
The two main dangers associated with generators are; fire and carbon monoxide omissions. Using petrol and diesel, generators require highly flammable substances to run that pose a risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Amongst other risks such as overloading and causing a blow out of your electricals, as well as the dangers associated with motors and wires – there are several dangers to be considered when choosing your generator and setting it up.
Generator Safety Tips
With those dangers in mind, there are some safety rules and tips that should be followed. Letting you run your generator with confidence, protecting yourself and your equipment, keep reading for the essential information.
Portable Generator Safety Tips
- Always secure your generator – While portable generators are handy, they always need to be secured before use. Whether that’s sorted by an anti-vibration frame or a durable cage, locking the wheels, or if you need to ensure the surface it’s on is sturdy and flat – excessive movement can damage the generator and pose risk to others.
- Empty the fuel tank – before moving your generator, make sure to empty the fuel tank. Not only is this good practice for cleaning your generator, but it ensures you’re not risking leaking highly flammable fuel.
Petrol & Diesel Generator Safety Tips
- Never keep in an enclosed space – Using highly flammable fuels that omit chemicals and a smell, petrol and diesel generators must be used outdoors in a well-ventilated space to protect you and the people around you and reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Keep away from water – Water and power do not mix. Make sure to protect your generator with a waterproof cover, keep it covered in the rain and ensure your hands are dry before handling it at all.
- Careful when refuelling – When refilling your fuel tank, you must make sure it is fully cooled down. Never attempt to refuel immediately after turning the generator off as it poses a fire risk.
- Ensure easy access – you should always be able to get to your generator to turn it off quickly and easily in case of an emergency, so make sure wherever you store your generator is an easy-to-reach spot and isn’t surrounded.
Can You Run a Petrol Generator Indoors?
No! Petrol generators require a well-ventilated space as they pose the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. They should never be used inside to make sure your home is protected from CO, and any fire risk is kept well away from you, your family and your belongings. Even if you’re using a generator to protect your home from power outages, it needs to be kept outside.
The perfect place for a generator should be:
- Easy to get to
To protect your generator, yourself and your electricals, placement is very important. Any excessive movement can cause damage so a flat, sturdy surface is essential. The perfect spot also needs to be weatherproof and away from water. As generators pose a fire threat, they should always be in a well-ventilated, easy to get to spot where you can easily and safely turn them off and keep them far away from your home. You also need to consider the hazard posed by any cables and wires.
Grounding is a term that mimics the path taken by mains electrical systems. In traditional systems, there is a backup path leading directly to the ground. This means that if anything happens to the normal circuit, electricity will safely follow this path rather than searching for other routes.
Depending on your generator and its usage, it might need grounding! Portable generators especially often need grounding to ensure it is safe and electricity is only flowing where it should be. Grounding your generator ensures that if anything goes wrong, that power will find a way to the ground through a backup path of least resistance rather than through wires or features it shouldn’t be, risking electrocution, fire or sparking.
Most modern generators are designed so the metal frame around the generator acts as a grounding rod, but you should always check if your model needs grounding and follow the instructions if so to hammer a suitable grounding rod into the ground.
There are a few main risks associated with generators that you should be aware of. As with anything that uses fuel generator power, safety tips need to be followed to protect you, your electricals and others.
Rain poses a real threat to your generator as well as your safety. Water and electricity don’t mix well, creating a risk of fire, sparking or as least breaking your generator. Even when not using your generator, you should ensure it’s covered and protected by a weatherproof cover to secure it against the elements and make storage easy.
When using your generator, be cautious of the weather and ideally run it under some kind of protective canopy in case of any unexpected downpours.
Overheating is the biggest fire risk with your generator. This safety rule starts long before you turn your generator on, as you need to ensure your generator has a big enough wattage to power all your electricals. Overloading your generator will cause other heating and can cause it to blow, damaging your electricals and risking sparks and fire.
To protect against overheating, you also need to ensure your generator is only running in well-ventilated spaces and isn’t crowded.
Generator Safety Checklist
- Check the wattage to protect against overheating.
- Ensure proper installation, including grounding if necessary.
- Take care with petrol, diesel or other flammable fuels.
- Never leave your generator unattended.
- Allow your generator to fully cool before refuelling.
- Only use in suitable and safe places – well-ventilated, dry, and sturdy.
- Never use a petrol or diesel generator indoors.
- Make sure you have easy access and can quickly, and safely turn the generator off.