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Ask the Expert: Operating your generator

Ask the Expert: Operating your generator

by | May 24, 2018 | 0 comments

Do I need a special plug to hook up a generator after a storm? If so, where would I get one?

Asked by: Angela P., Port Charlotte, FL

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Thanks for your question, Angela. Fortunately for FPL customers, rarely do you have to use a generator. The company has invested more than $3 billion to build a stronger, smarter energy grid since the 2004-2005 hurricane seasons, which has markedly improved day-to-day reliability across our 35-county service territory. Reliability has actually improved by more than 30 percent in the last seven years alone.

With that being said, there is this thing we have to deal with six months out of the year in Florida – hurricane season – which started June 1. You may not realize it, but Florida leads the nation in hurricane landfalls. We’ve had to deal with nearly 120 since records began back in 1851! That’s almost double the state of Texas, which comes in at second on the infamous list with 64.

Though we’ve been tested more than any other state and FPL is more prepared than ever before, we understand a major storm will cause power outages. You can rest assured FPL will be working safely and as quickly as possible to get the lights back on when those outages do occur. You’ll likely be using a portable generator in the meantime to keep life as normal as possible until service is restored. It’s important to follow instructions to ensure safe use and read the owner’s manual to make sure you have all the tools you need to operate your portable generator.

It’s here in the owner’s manual that you will discover if you need any special devices or hook ups. You should be able to find all this at your local home improvement store or on the manufacturer’s website. I advise checking this now and reviewing your rigid storm plan so you’re ready before the next storm hits. If you own a permanent generator, you’ll want to talk to the qualified electrician that installed your equipment.

To help you out a little more, Angela, I’ve also included some safety tips below that you should remember when Mother Nature shows its fury again and you have to pull your portable generator out of storage.

Portable Generator Safety

  1. Read and follow all the manufacturer’s guidelines when using a generator to avoid dangerous shortcuts and ensure safe operation.
  2. DO NOT directly connect your generator to your home’s breaker or fuse box. Power from a generator connected to a home’s wiring will “back feed” into utility lines – which can severely injure or kill a neighbor or utility crew working to restore power.
  3. DO NOT run generators inside your home or garage, as they produce potentially deadly carbon monoxide fumes.
  4. Keep generators away from all open windows, including neighbors’ windows, to prevent the fumes from entering a home or business.
  5. Buy a battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm, which will alert you if carbon monoxide levels become dangerous.
  6. Turn off all connected appliances before starting your generator.
  7. Turn connected appliances on one at a time, never exceeding the generator’s rated wattage.
  8. DO NOT touch a generator if you are wet, standing in water or on damp ground.
  9. NEVER refuel a hot generator or one that is running – hot engine parts or exhaust can ignite gasoline.
  10. Ensure you have plenty of gas safely stored in gas containers to operate your generator.

Additional storm and safety information is available at FPL.com/storm.

About The Author

Jonathan Olivieri

Jonathan is a lineworker based out of Boynton Beach for Florida Power & Light Company. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, he is no rookie to the fury Mother Nature can bring to an area. Prior to joining FPL, Jonathan worked for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority for more than a decade.

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