Transfer Switches

Attempting to connect a generator directly to the electrical system of any building is dangerous. This can cause electricity to backfeed onto the power company’s lines and kill the employee working to restore service. Backfeeding can also cause serious damage to your building, or a fire could result if the power company attempts to restore power while the generator is in operation. Have a double-pole, double-throw transfer switch installed between the generator and the power company’s power supply by a qualified electrician before using a generator.


If not properly grounded, a generator could become electrically charged and cause electrocution. Make sure the unit is grounded by following the manufacturer’s instructions supplied with the generator.


Gas-powered units must be properly ventilated to prevent the buildup of deadly carbon monoxide fumes. Obstructed ventilation could also cause overheating and possibly a fire. Do not operate a generator in a confined area such as a garage, shed, basement etc. Do not operate a generator in an area occupied by humans or animals.

Wet Locations

Water in all forms conducts electricity, so keeping the generator and any feeder lines out of wet, icy, rainy or flooded conditions is a must. Operate a generator only in a clean, dry, well ventilated area and make sure your hands and feet are dry when making contact with the generator.


Gasoline and its vapors can ignite by coming in contact with hot engine parts, engine exhaust gases, or from an electrical spark. Turn the engine off and allow it to cool before attempting to refuel. Keep an A-B-C type fire extinguisher nearby when the generator is in operation.

Extension Cords

If you are using extension cords to power just a few appliances or tools, a heavy-duty (at least 14 gauge wire) three-wire grounded cord should be used. Appliances and tools used should have three-blade grounding plugs. Never use an extension cord that has worn or damaged insulation.

Approximate Wattage Requirements

  • Four 60-watt light bulbs: 240 running watts
  • Microwave: 750 to 1000 running watts
  • Furnace Fan: 500 running watts; 2000 starting watts
  • Clothes washer: 1000 running watts; 3500 starting watts
  • Refrigerator: 1200 running watts; 2100 starting watts
  • Well pump (1.75 HP): 500 running watts; 3300 starting watts
  • Air Conditioner (20,000 Btu): 3400 running watts; 7600 starting watts
  • Television: 400 to 500 running watts
  • Toaster oven: 1500 running watts
  • Water heater: 4500 running watts