GENERATORS: OPERATION TIPS

Loadshedding has left a lot of us in the dark and for those that don’t like the monsters in the pitch black darkness, this has left you with no option but to buy a generator. After purchase, you likely do not know how to operate your new machine even after reading the manual. This has left a lot of people with questions that we have decided to compile and answer below. We hope you find these helpful. Enjoy the read.

What grade of gasoline should I use?

Check with your manual to be sure, but most gas models should use unleaded gasoline (at least 87 octanes). Turn the engine off and let it cool before refueling. Never refuel while the engine is running.

Do I need to check the oil for a new generator before starting it?

It is always a good idea to check the engine oil before starting your generator. Some generators may be shipped dry, some may have a small amount of oil that was used to perform a bench test on the unit, and some may have a full oil tank. Running an engine on a dry oil tank will cause it to seize up and you will end up with a 50-pound brick instead of an engine and it won’t be good for much besides a paperweight for the world’s largest desk. Checking and changing your oil should become a regular facet of your generator maintenance.

Can I have my generator installed in my house?

Yes. You can have generators installed with generator transfer switches if you plan on using it as a back-up power source in the case of a power outage. A licensed electrician should do the installation to make sure that the generator is installed properly and up-to-code.

Back feeding electricity is extremely hazardous. Always trip your service disconnect at your outside meter box to prevent back feeding. If you do not have a service disconnect, you should contact an electrician to add one and the proper receptacle for hooking up a portable generator. Do not plug your generator into your home through a dryer outlet.

What type of extension cord should I use with my portable generator?

For Emergency power, to appliances, it is recommended to use a 12 ga. outdoor extension cord and a multi-outlet power strip with a minimum of 100 joules rating.

Is it safe to operate my generator indoors?

No. Engines using fuels such as gas and diesel produce a deadly gas called carbon monoxide. This gas is odorless and colorless, as well as deadly, so it is highly dangerous.

Can my generator handle a load as soon as it is turned on?

No. You should have the generator running before a load is applied. Similarly, you should not shut the generator down while it is still pulling a load. The RPM (Rotations Per Minute) are set in the factory, so you should not change the engine speed.

How long will my generator run on a full tank of gas?

This will vary greatly depending on your generator, its capacity, the size of its fuel tank, and the size of the load you are placing on it. Check with the manufacturer to learn more about your generator.

To learn more about generator maintenance please read more articles on

1. Generators and Cold Weather

2. What To Consider When Buying A Standby Generator

3. WHAT IS GENERATOR MAINTENANCE?