How to Use Portable Generators: Info Guide

Portable generators are excellent machines; you can take them with you on trips in an RV, out to remote areas and plug-in tools to do work, and can plug them into your home’s inlet box during emergencies. However, how simple is it to use a portable generator?

How to Use Portable Generators

The answer is much simpler than you might think. However, there are some things that you should know before plugging in your portable generator to an inlet box. Pay attention to the following tips to safely operate your portable generator.

Safety Tips

1. Read the instructions manual
Nobody knows more about a product than the person/company that produces it. Take some time to study the manual before even filling the tank up with fuel. You should learn about the type of prong the machine accepts and total amperage. Pay special attention to any warnings to special instructions since not all generators are identical in design.

2. Place the machine far away from your home/RV
One of the main reasons for doing this is to prevent any noise pollution from disruption you in your home or RV. However, although some of the newer portable generator models are designed to be whisper quiet, you should still place the machine far away from where it’ll supply power to prevent any damage or injury in the most extreme generator-related disasters (i.e., explosions).

How far away from the house does a generator need to be?

Another reason for keeping the portable generator as far away as possible is to prevent any fumes from entering your domain. As you already know, toxic fumes from generators can do some pretty bad things to our lungs and bodies, especially when exposed to them for prolonged periods of time. You should also position the generator so that the exhaust pipe is pointing away from your home/RV.

To still get power from your portable generator while it’s placed in a safe and far-away spot, you’ll need to get the right power cord. Be sure that the prong fits your generator and has the proper wire gauge to deliver electricity through long cables.

3. Place the generator on a level surface
Many portable generators come with lubrication systems which splash a bit of oil onto every moving component within the machine’s casing. This system works most effectively when the machine is level. A slope as insignificant as 10° could drastically alter the way the lubrication system, allowing some parts to run dry (something you do NOT want to happen).

How do you hook up a portable generator to your house?

4. Prepare your machine beforehand
What we mean is that you need to ensure that the generator is functioning properly before attempting to turn it on. Preparing your machine includes topping off the gas if needed, adding more generator oil if it’s below the recommended amount, and inspect the air generator, so the combustion process goes smoothly. It’s never a bad idea to have some gas, oil, and replacement air filters on hand if needed.

How to use a portable generator: Supplying power to your home or RV

The most common places that need to be supplied power are your home and RV if you’re traveling. The following guide will give you a general idea of how to operate your portable generator. Keep in mind that your experience may differ depending on the make and model of your machine.

1. Turn off the circuit breaker
If the circuit breaker is on the ON position for whatever reason while not in use, be sure that you switch it off.

how to operate a portable generator

2. Open the fuel valve
This valve will supply fuel from the tank into the combustion engine to create electricity. Leave the machine alone for about 30 seconds in order to let a sufficient amount of fuel enter the engine. Be sure that you close the valve every time after you’re done using the machine; this will help save a bit of fuel while your generator is stored away, and it will prevent any damage from occurring on the inside of the engine caused by stagnant gasoline.

3. Start the generator
There are three different ways to get a portable generator started: pulling on the recoil cord, pushing the electric starter button, or pressing the START button on the fob. Whichever way you prefer, now is the time to turn the machine on. Constantly monitor the machine while you let it warm up for a few minutes or as long as the manufacturer recommends (check the manual).

4. Connect the generator power cord into your home’s inlet box or your RV’s generator connector cable into the portable generator
After making sure that you have the right power cord with the appropriate prong shape and amperage, all you need to do to supply power to your home or RV is connect the power cord to the portable generator. Be sure that the opposite end of the cord is already plugged into your home’s inlet box. For RVs, you need to plug in the RV’s power cord directly into the generator to begin transferring electricity from the machine to your traveler.

how to use a gas generator

Great! Now that we have the generator running and supplying power to our home/RV, all we have left to do is learn how to shut the machine off properly.

1. Unplug the power cord from the generator
The first thing to do when turning the machine off is unplugging the power cord from the generator. You should never unplug the cable from the inlet box first since the metal prongs are still carrying a current. Making contact with them could lead to some serious injury. For RVs, all you need to do is unplug your RV’s generator cord from the machine.

2. Turn the switch breaker off and shut the fuel valve
The get the engine to stop running, all you need to do is switch the switch breaker from the ON position to the OFF position. The engine should turn off within a matter of seconds. After doing so, make sure that the fuel valve is closed so no more gasoline can drop into the engine.

3. Let the portable generator cool down
Before placing it back into your RV’s storage space or wheeling/lifting it closer to home, leave the generator where it is for a few minutes or however long the manufacturer recommends.

how to use a generator to power a house

Final Remarks

Operating a portable generator is simple, but it requires knowing a bit of what a generator can do and what it shouldn’t do. In this article, we’ve included a list of general things to pay attention to prior to pulling the recoil cord or pressing the electric starter. Keep in mind that this article on how to use a portable generator is a general guide, and your experience may differ depending on the make and model of your generator.

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