How Do You Use A Portable Generator In A Power Outage?

  • By: Umer.A
  • Date: January 2, 2022
Affiliate Disclaimer

As an affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

You can conveniently use a portable generator during a power outage. But you have to keep it in a dry but adequately ventilated place. For example, place it away from doors and windows, and vents to prevent carbon monoxide gas.

The placement of your portable generator is very important. While running, this unit can produce carbon monoxide gas that doesn’t taste or smell. But inside a space, any gas buildups can cause risks. So, you need to keep your genny outside in open areas.

Let’s find out what we need to keep in mind when using these portable generators during power outages.

Use Caution When Using Back-Up Power Generators

Portable generators emit carbon monoxide gas. It’s an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas produced when any fuel is burnt, charcoal, prone, wood or gasoline. Therefore, you need to place it in an area that is adequately ventilated. The best practice is to put them at least 20 feet away from any building.

This poisonous gas binds to hemoglobin very strongly. You can be poisoned by it even if you are exposed to lower concertation of this gas. Concentrations of this gas as low as 20 to 30 parts per million on PPM can be harmful if you are exposed to it for several hours.

How Long Can You Run a Generator Continuously?

It entirely depends upon your standby generator and what it is designed to achieve. Limit your generator up to 500 hours of use at maximum. It means that you can continuously use your generator for three weeks.

You can also leave a generator running all night, mainly if it is powered by gas. But for the propane gas generators with tanks, refill the tanks and do other maintenance to keep them running for long.

Based on the quality of the engine that a portable generator features, it can last around 1000 hours to 2000 hours (but only with refills and maintenance).

But if you are running a portable petrol generator, you can’t run it for that long as you will have to refuel. So, you might find it pretty tempting to pour the fuel into the tank while it is running.

But it’s hazardous, and you should never do that because the gasoline can ignite if you pour it on a hot engine. So, therefore, you will have to shift it down and allow it to cool before you start to refuel it. You will only be able to run a generator for up to 12 hours at maximum, and then you will have to refuel it.

How Much Load Can You Put on A Generator?

This will entirely depend upon the size of the generator and its wattage rating. Many people are of the view that you can use a smaller unit for standby electric power. This is because most of the time, the generator is not even running.

But this is not true because generator under-sizing is one of the most common mistakes people make, and it can damage your unit. Apart from that, it can also damage the applications that you have connected with it.

You have to make a list of items that you are going to put on a generator. First, you will have to note down their surge wattage and their running wattage. After that, you will have to calculate the overall powers required in kilowatt or kilovolt-ampere and then go for a generator capable of achieving that.

If the wattage of these items is not available, you can take volts and amperes of each of these units and multiply to get the wattage. The user manuals give the number of volts and amperes of those items connected to the generator.

For home use, you can go for a generator that may range from 2000W (2kW) for running only a few appliances or a couple of rooms to a 50000W (50kW) generator unit that is good enough to power your entire house.

What Appliances Can You Run on A Generator?

A 2kW generator is good enough to power most small appliances like blenders, juicers, lighting fixtures, fans, etc. Still, if you are looking to run fridges, heaters, TVs, and ACs, you will need a bigger genny, and for that, a 6kW generator would be a good choice at minimum.

So basically, you can run anything on your generator as long as it has the right surge watt rating and running watt rating. You will have to do the math and do the power distribution properly.

Otherwise, you will end up overloading your generator. This is not good for your generator unit and those appliances that you are connecting to it.

Placement of a Generator

Regardless of the type of generator, you have to make sure that you place your generator properly in a dry and well-ventilated area. In addition, it needs to be at least 20 feet away from your house or any other building. This is because these generators burn fuel and emit carbon monoxide, which is a very poisonous gas.

It doesn’t have any taste, smell, or color, so you won’t even notice its presence until you start feeling dizzy as it can build up in confined spaces. To prevent any changes of electrocution, you also need to palace it in a dry place away from any moisture or rain.

Use and Storage of Generator Fuel

You never know when you are going to use your generator fuel. You might not have to use it for the entire week. But all of a sudden, a power outage occurs, and you have to get the fuel to put into your unit and start running it.

Of course, if you do a lot of RVing, you might use up that fuel, but still, for the unit you have at your home, you will need to store and readily use it upon need.

Most people who store fuel to use it later prefer to go for those old plastic cans, and some people have started or, more accurately, buried in their backyard. And of course, you are going to need a gooseneck dispenser because that allows you to put the fuel into a small hole pretty conveniently.

You also need to make sure that you store it in an airtight container to prevent any leakages. Finally, ensure that you store it outside your home, preferably under a shed, for minimal damage.

To keep it ready for use, you can add some additives to it. Fuel stabilizers can serve this purpose pretty well. A quality stabilizer can double and even triple the overall lifespan of your fuel. So, you can conveniently keep your fuel for over a year and that too without any additives in them.

But that is only going to last for a year if the temperature stays at around 70 degrees. With more heat, the lifespan of that fuel is going to decrease significantly. So, therefore, you need to use additives here.

Connecting the Generator

If you want to power any items placed outside your home outdoors, you need to go for the right extension cord. On the other hand, to connect anything inside your home, you will need a transfer switch.

Before you start the generator, you need to connect the extension cord or the transfer switch, and after that, you will begin to do it. You also have to make sure that you turn the circuits on one by one and don’t turn them on simultaneously.

Shutting Down the Generator

To shut down the generator, you need to ensure you carry out all the above steps when oppositely connecting your generators and shut it down in the end. Make sure no fuel flow or steam is coming out of your genny.

How does a portable electric generator use at home during a power failure operate?

You will only have to connect the items to your generators to power up and start the generator. When shutting down, you need to disconnect the items and then shut them down.

How often should I run my generator during a power outage?

You can run a unit as many times as you need during a power outage. But you will have to do the maintenance and refills, and for that, you will have to shut it down and allow it to cool down. This is mandatory for you to keep it running smoothly during power outages.

Is it safe to use a portable electric generator at home during a power failure?

Yes, it is perfectly safe to use an electric generator at home during a power outage. Just make sure that it is placed outside your home in a dry and ventilated place.

Does a portable generator turn off automatically when power is restored?

No, a standby generator can turn off automatically. You will have to shut down a portable generator on your own when the power is restored.


Using a portable generator during power outages can be risky if you don’t take proper precautions. You have to make sure that you don’t palace it inside your home. You have to keep it outside in a dry and ventilated area.

Also, keep in mind to connect the items first and then turn the genny on. Likewise, when shutting down, disconnect the items and then turn them off.