Generators are both useful and dangerous units, and should be used correctly. Whatever application you have in mind, you should follow these guidelines to ensure that you keep yourself, others and the machine safe.
- Always use generators outdoors; as with most heavy machinery, they are not suitable for use indoors, especially as the gases they produce can be dangerous if not properly ventilated.
- Make sure that any area in which a generator is being used has a carbon monoxide detector, which is battery powered and cannot fail. This gas can be lethal, so never take the risk, even if the area seems to be well ventilated.
- Never use the generator around water, and similarly, ensure that your hands are dry if you touch the unit. Water could damage the unit, or worse, cause injury.
- It’s always better to plug units straight into the generator, but if you need to use an extension cable, ensure that it is rated to cope with whatever load you’re going to be putting on it, and that is in no way defective. In particular, make sure that it is properly earthed.
- Do not plug too many appliances into the generator; follow any guidelines that the machine gives.
- Backfeeding is one of the most dangerous things you can do when using a generator; it is when you attempt to power a property by plugging it directly into the wall. Various safety systems are bypassed, and this will put others at risk. There are units specifically designed to allow you to power a building with a generator.
- Remember that the fuel you use to power the generator is in itself a hazard. Fuel is flammable and should be both treated and stored with care. Don’t keep it in the vicinity of a running generator.
- Make sure that the generator is cool whenever you store or refuel it, as it could be very hot, causing a fire hazard.
- Changeover switches are useful when connecting the generator to electrical systems, as they ensure that electricity only moves from one source at any given time. There are a variety of types, and you can see more at www.expert-electrical.co.uk. Be aware that these switches should only be fitted by a professional.