Standby electric generators can provide you with an extra sense of security in our unpredictable weather and occasional outages. We understand a generator can be a convenient source of power around your home or business. We ask that for the safety of you and our personnel, the generator is installed and used safely.
To protect yourself and your family, read and follow the safety instructions provided by the manufacturer. Before purchasing a generator, please consider how you’ll be using it. That will help you buy a generator that is sized correctly for the application you need. Then, you’ll need to know how and where to install it properly. Please notify the MEC office at 406-541-4433 or 1-800-352-5200 if you have a generator installed on your premises. This will be noted on your account for the safety of our lineman in outage situations.
Portable gas or diesel driven generators are designed to be used for appliances with cord connected to them. They can be quite convenient to use in remote locations, such as camping sites or construction areas. Typically, these are not designed to be connected to your home or any building wiring. DO NOT attempt to connect these devices to your electrical panel. Download a safety sheet for portable generators from the Portable Generator Manufacturers’ Association.
Large, fixed generators generally are directly connected to building wiring to provide standby power during emergencies or power outages. However, the wiring needs to be properly installed by a qualified electrical contractor. Properly installing a permanent generator is extremely dangerous, and not a do-it-yourself job. If not done properly, this could be fatal! You may also need an electrical permit for an installation of this sort. Your licensed electrical contractor will know if a permit needs to be applied for.
Backfeeding – A Dangerous Condition
Improperly connecting a generator or installing without the proper switch can produce “backfeed”. This will produce a dangerous current which can critically injure you or others. Backfeed into a power line from a generator can produce enough current to create “hot” power lines. This could severely injure or kill a lineman who expects the lines to be de-energized in an outage situation.
Dangers of Carbon Monoxide
When using a generator, be sure to locate the generator outside so poisonous carbon monoxide gas is exhausted. Never operate a generator in an enclosed building, especially a building which is attached or part of the home. Make sure it is properly vented and the generator has enough air to operate properly.
Water and Generators
Do not operate a generator in a flooded basement. Make sure your hands are dry, that you are standing on a dry surface, and the generator is properly grounded before you start it.
Make sure the generator fuel is stored properly. If gasoline or diesel, make sure it is stored in approved containers, out of reach of children. Do not refuel when a generator is hot or running.
Other Safety Reminders
- Always check the unit thoroughly each season before you fire it up.
- Never attempt to repair a generator, only a qualified serviceman should perform repairs.
- Don’t remove or tamper with safety devices; they are there to protect you and your property.
- Many engine parts get very hot during operation, severe burns may result if touched.
- Keep children away from generators at all times.
- Always properly disconnect from your utility service before starting your backup generator.