Knowing how to operate a generator is an important part of owning one of these incredibly useful tools. While it’s crucial to keep your instruction manual with you, the steps below can help you before you get started. These are basic yet useful instructions that lay out the steps it takes to properly operate a generator so you can use it for as long as you need it. Whether you live in an area with bad weather or you have one of these for outdoor expeditions, you’ll never regret learning operation techniques that you’ll eventually use.
How to Operating a Generator
Before Getting Started:
- Make sure the generator is located as far away from your home as possible. The vent should also be facing away from any doors or windows, as generators release high levels of dangerous carbon monoxide.
- Never place a generator indoors or in partially uncovered spaces.
- Double-check that carbon monoxide alarms are installed in your home before using your generator.
Step 1. Read Instructions
As stated earlier, it’s important to have the instructions from the manufacturer of your generator with the generator at all times. This will tell you specific details about operating the unit safely and effectively.
If you cannot locate your instructions, call the manufacturer and ask for a copy. You may also be able to find a copy you can download and print online. By having a paper copy, you’ll be able to access the information even if your internet isn’t working.
Step 2. Check Oil and Fuel
You should situate the generator 15 – 20 feet away from your home before you turn it on. Make sure this spot is dry and clean and not located next to areas where people will be walking around. Next, look at the fuel gauge that will be located on the front or side of the generator.
It should be nearly full or over half full in order to operate safely. If you notice that it’s low, fill it up before operating. You will also need to check the oil level of the unit in order to make sure it can run safely. If your oil is low, fill this up before turning the machine on.
Step 3. Check the Air Filter
A dirty air filter can mean your generator won’t work as it should. To avoid this, check the air filter to make sure it’s in good shape. If it’s particularly dirty or even clogged, then you’ll want to replace it as soon as possible. You can learn which air filters are fit for your machine by reading through the instruction manual.
Step 4. Prepare to Turn on
Before you actually turn the generator on, make sure that the switch is lowered into the “off” position. If it is not, then switch it to this before you get started. However, before flipping it on, you’ll want to turn on the fuel valve in order to allow the generator to begin producing power.
Only do this when you’re ready to turn on the unit as a whole. Once you do this, turn the generator on by switching into the “start” position or inserting a key. Allow it to warm up for around 5 minutes before continuing to the next step.
Tip: Check the instructions in your manual to be sure how long the generator should warm-up for.
Step 5. Turn On
Locate the circuit breaker for your generator and flip it to the “on” position. After this, test a plug to make sure you’re receiving adequate power.
Step 6. Plug in Your Devices
Whether you need to power a small fridge or a heater, you can begin plugging those devices into the generator accordingly. If you’re powering your whole home, then you should be able to keep your devices plugged into their normal outlets. However, you should unplug electronics that you’re not using to save electricity for other things.
Step 7. Turn Off
When your generator is no longer needed, it’s important that you turn it off properly. To do so, first turn the circuit breaker off by switching it into the appropriate position. From here, turn the machine off using a key or a switch (depending on what your unit has). Then, you’ll want to go to the fuel valve and turn it into the “off” position as well. From here, let the generator cool off for 30 minutes and then store it in a safe and dry area.
Tips for Safely Operating a Generator:
1. Always have fuel and oil available to keep your generator running. However, keep in mind that the amount of fuel that you can store varies by state and sometimes county.
2. Only use the type of oil, fuel, and filters that are recommended by your manufacturer. Failure to do so could put you at risk of failure or cause your generator to fail completely.
3. Refuel only after allowing the generator to cool off. If you fill while the generator is running or still hot, you could spark a fire.
4. Run your generator once a month to keep the machine properly oiled. Although this is time out of your schedule, it’s worth it for a unit you can rely on when you need it the most.
5. Don’t plug the generator directly into a wall outlet. While this might seem like the easy way to go, this can harm your home and cause extreme damage. If you don’t know how to properly set one up, it’s always best to hire a professional so you can learn directly from someone who knows the proper way to do things.
Using Your Generator the Right Way
When it comes to using a generator, it’s never a bad idea to be prepared. Fortunately, with these instructions, doing so is a little bit easier. However, if you have any questions on how to operate a generator, always reach out to the manufacturer that makes yours.
In most situations, they’ll have professionals available who can answer your questions and make sure you’re operating the unit in the safest way possible. Even if this is a machine you plan to use casually, preparation is key to using it the right way.