Power outages are always inconvenient, but sometimes they can become downright problematic. Long hours (or days) without power can cause perishable food stuffs to go bad and indoor temperatures to swell or plummet at extreme temperatures. Nobody wants to be stuck sweating in a dark basement, worrying about the well-being of fragile relatives while waiting for the air conditioning to come back on.
Fortunately, technological advances have made standby generators a legitimate solution to this problem. But standby generators can be expensive, which may lead some people to try to power through an outage using a portable generator instead. If that’s something you’re considering, there are a few drawbacks that you should be aware of.
Portable generators typically will not provide enough electricity to power an entire home (especially one with central air conditioning), they make lots of noise, and they have to be emplaced and set up for each usage.
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What’s more, using a portable generator in or near your home can be dangerous. Most portable generators run on gasoline or diesel fuel and emit carbon monoxide, just like a motor vehicle does. The difference is that a car is usually outdoors and constantly moving, not stationary or directly next to your home.
To be clear, a portable generator should never be run inside your home (including your garage), nor too close to it. Professionals who work with generators typically recommend keeping at least 20 feet of distance between your generator and your house, with the exhaust directed away from the building, to prevent carbon monoxide from accumulating indoors and endangering unsuspecting family members.
If you’re considering a standby generator, you’re probably wondering if carbon monoxide would also be a concern for you. Here’s a quick explanation of why standby generators are usually a much safer option.
Standby Generators and Carbon Monoxide Production
Like portable generators, standby generators use an internal combustion engine, which means some carbon monoxide is produced as a byproduct of the fuel burned. But standby generators are much less likely to pose the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning, for several reasons.
One of these is the fuel that the generator uses. Standby generators usually use either natural gas or propane, which release lower quantities ofd carbon monoxide when burned than the gasoline or diesel fuel used by portable generators.
Another reason that standby generators are less of a threat to the inhabitants of the home is that standby generators are installed by trained professionals benefitting from plenty of knowledge and experience regarding generator set up. They will carefully position the standby generator to ensure that it is not too close to the house or fuel lines and that the exhaust is carried away from the home.
Professional installation assures that you won’t make the mistakes that less knowledgeable people typically do, like running the generator in their garage, convinced that they’ll be fine because the exhaust is pointed towards the door or window. Even positioning a portable generator too close to the house can be dangerous, as wind blowing in the wrong direction may cause it to accumulate in your living room and endanger anyone who enters.
While standby generators do produce some carbon monoxide, professional installation will give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing that yours has been carefully positioned so as not to pose a safety hazard.
Portable generators can get you through a power outage with a few appliances in a pinch, but if set up incorrectly, they can lead to a serious danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. Every home should have carbon monoxide detectors installed to safeguard against accumulation of poisonous gas. This article is meant for informational purposes, and not as a set up guide.
Take the proper precautions, and you too can benefit from a safe and reliable back up power source that will get you and your family through any power outage without putting anybody at risk.