Power outages seem to be happening more often, whether from wildfires, hurricanes, heat waves, or ice storms. No one wants to be left in the dark. So, it’s no surprise that portable generators are popular items. And as Consumer Reports reminds us, the best generator is one that works when you need it.
A generator can help power the essentials in your home, but only if it starts. It can go months or even years without being used. But keep in mind that the fuel inside can go bad over time. That can clog the engine’s carburetor or fuel lines, so the generator may not start when you need it.
Consumer Reports’ Paul Hope has some easy tips:
Keep the generator’s fuel tank empty to prevent clogged fuel lines. You’ll want to have at least 10 gallons of fresh gasoline on hand in a safety container, and always add a fuel stabilizer to your stored gas to help it last as long as possible.
Store your generator in a clean, dry, and ventilated spot that you can access easily but is not attached to your house. Storing a generator in your home or too close to it is dangerous because vapors can escape from gasoline and gasoline is flammable, so it could start a fire.
And if you deal with power outages often, consider a transfer switch. An electrician will install it alongside your main circuit breaker, making it a safe and easy way to use your portable generator.
A transfer switch lets you power whole circuits on your home’s panel without running individual extension cords to each appliance. It also lets you power things that may not have a plug, such as a furnace or water heater.
Hope had something similar called an interlock device installed in his own house and says it makes facing a power outage a little less stressful.
Never run a generator in an enclosed space or indoors. And always place it at least 20 feet from your house with the engine exhaust directed away from windows and doors.