Select and safely install a home generator

Select and safely install a home generator
1233 02/14
Puget Sound Energy
P.O. Box 97034
Bellevue, WA 98009-9734
pse.com/generatorsforhomes
Select and safely install
a home generator
For your home
Standby or back-up generators
We work hard to keep the power on, but there are times
when power outages occur. A standby or back-up generator
can limit the interruption caused by an outage, and provide
your home with an alternate source of electric power.
Consider purchasing a standby generator if:
In this guide
3 Standby or back-up generators
4 Premenantly installed generators
6 Portable generators
7 Independent unit/small portable generator
8 Integrated systems and large portable generators
• You want the safety and security of knowing you will not
have to be without power in an outage.
• You have a home business that requires power (Internet,
phone connection).
• You have a sump pump, well or septic system.
• You have medical needs that require power (medication
that requires refrigeration, respirator, oxygen).
• You live in a remote area where power outages are
more common.
• You are building a new home or business
9 Manual Transfer Switch (MTS)
Ask yourself “What electric needs do I have?”
10 Generator safety checklist — do’s and don’ts
Consider the following:
• Heat
• Medical equipment
• Septic system
• Well or sump pumps
• Cooking
• Hot water
• Refrigerator
• Freezer
• Lights
• A/V needs
• Computer
• Powered phone system
• Garage door opener
• TV
Once your needs are determined, you must choose
between a permanent or portable generator system.
About Puget Sound Energy
Puget Sound Energy is Washington state’s oldest
local energy company. We serve 1.1 million electric
customers and more than 760,000 natural gas
customers in 10 counties. For more information, visit
pse.com. Also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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Permanently installed generators
This type of generator starts and operates without any
input or action by you, and is typically fueled by natural gas
or propane. Most customers who use our services select
this type of installation.
If you have medical needs that require power, run a homebased business or have a well or septic system, you’ll be
best served with this type of generator. It is “automatic” and
typically starts and operates without additional assistance.
It is more expensive than a portable generator, but offers
greater peace of mind to those who absolutely cannot be
without power. Whether you are home or not, the generator
starts and provides power to meet your needs.
your existing gas load for the gas equipment you currently
have, please contact our Customer Construction Services
Department at 1-888-321-7779 to determine the supply
available from your current meter and service sizing.
Potential Benefits:
• Operates automatically during an outage – you do nothing!
• Able to power the majority of circuits in your home
or business.
• Quieter operation than portable generators.
• Operates if you are home or away.
• Self-tests regularly to ensure that it’s always ready.
NOTE: Before purchasing a natural gas-fueled generator:
• Weatherproof, locked enclosure.
Have an evaluation of your natural gas service prior to the
installation of any generator system – this ensures that the
gas service size and meter are able to meet the additional
needs of the generator.
• Transfer switch prevents generator from backfeeding into
utility lines.
• Typically a 30 second or less delay between utility outage
and return of power from the generator to your home.
If you have not determined the generator type, size,
installation details, or you have additional questions that
you need assistance with, please call a PSE Energy Advisor
at 1-800-562-1482. They will provide additional assistance
or direct you to PSE staff who can assist you.
• Uses clean, safe natural gas or propane.
If you are installing a permanently installed generator
and have determined the gas pressure and volume
requirements for the generator you will be adding and
• Verify you have a contractor that is experienced in this
type of installation and will follow all applicable codes,
regulations and laws.
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• Significant manufacturer’s warranty.
Considerations:
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Portable generators
If you have a smaller budget, limited needs, and the ability to
manually start and operate a generator during an outage, a
portable generator can be a good option.
Potential Benefits:
• Available at many retail outlets.
• Least expensive of standby generator equipment.
• Typically gasoline powered.
• Sized for 2,000 to 4,000 Watts for direct extension
cord connection.
• Sized for 4,000 to 12,000 Watts for home transfer
switch power applications.
• Many Web sites offer assistance in generator sizing.
Considerations:
• Heavy, must be moved outside to use.
• Fuel must be safely stored for use (in a metal container
that meets fuel storage standards) and filled often if
generator is in use.
• A manual transfer switch must be properly installed to
provide direct connection to selected circuits in the home.
Independent unit/small
portable generator
• Calculate the wattage of items you want to power and
be sure the unit will do the job.
• A properly sized and grounded extension cord is
connected directly between the generator and the
appliance or device that requires power.
• Check the cord for the Underwriters Laboratories (UL)
rating for the capacity.
• Cords must be rated for outdoor use.
• Do not overload the cords or generator by connecting
too large a load or too many items to the cord.
• Be sure to route any cords where they will not be at risk
for damage.
• DO NOT plug any cords from the generator into any
outlets or wall connections. This could cause fire or
electrocution to you or others nearby as well as those
working on power lines.
• Have a fire extinguisher nearby.
• Be sure to follow all instructions that come with the
generator and contact a licensed contractor if you have
any additional questions.
• Most start with pull cord.
• Must manually connect cords when an emergency exists.
• Can be easily stolen when not in use.
• Significant noise when operating.
Portable generators are used either as an Independent Unit
or as an Integrated System.
When a power outage occurs, follow
the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Caution
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Move the portable generator outside,
away from any living space to a safe,
properly vented area, fuel as necessary,
make proper electrical connections
from the generator either to previously
installed transfer equipment, or directly
to the appliance using an approved
extension cord. Check unit for safe and
proper operation often.
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Integrated systems and large
portable generators
Same as small portable generator plus:
• May be connected to existing wiring using a properly
installed and approved transfer switch or mechanism,
protecting against dangerous electrical back feed.
• Can safely power larger items and more circuits in
the residence or home business when designed and
installed correctly.
• Always have a licensed electrical contractor install
equipment to ensure proper installation.
• All permits must be secured from appropriate
jurisdiction and approved prior to installation or use of
any transfer equipment.
• Have a fire extinguisher nearby.
Manual Transfer Switch (MTS)
• Used most often with a larger portable generator to
connect the generator power supply to the home circuits.
• Must have all permits, approvals and inspections as
required by local jurisdictions.
• Wired permanently to the home and requires properly
sized connection cord between generator and MTS.
• Allows you to power select circuits in your service panel
to the limit of your panel or generator.
Information contained in this brochure is not intended to
address the National Electrical Code (NEC) requirements
for the installation of standby or back-up emergency
electrical systems required by law. (Consult with a PSE
generator contractor or a licensed professional for all NEC
requirements for these and other back-up power system
installations.)
Considerations:
• Large, heavy and difficult to move.
• Requires home owner to move, connect, fuel, secure
against theft and store when not in use.
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Generator safety checklist —
do’s and don’ts
Do’s
Don’ts
• Do install and use your generator in absolute
compliance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Don’t connect a back-up generator to the wiring system
of a residence or home business without an approved
and inspected permanently installed, transfer switch.
The transfer switch keeps your generator from sending
power back through the utility grid and endangering
the lives of electrical workers repairing power lines
or citizens who may accidentally contact fallen lines.
Also, the transfer switch protects your generator from
damage when power is restored. Consult a licensed
contractor for assistance.
• Do verify codes, standards and requirements with the
appropriate jurisdictions and assure that your generator
and installation are in compliance. If you are unsure
of complete compliance, use a PSE pre-screened
contractor or a licensed contractor who will meet all the
proper requirements.
• Do follow NEC requirements for installing your generator
and transfer switch.
• Do operate a generator in a safe, open air environment
defined by the product manufacturer. Burning fuels
produce carbon monoxide (CO) gas, which is odorless,
colorless and deadly.
• Do install battery-operated or plug-in (with battery
back-up) CO alarms in your home, following
manufacturer’s instructions.
• Do test CO alarms often and replace batteries
when needed.
• Do store liquid fuel in proper containers and in a manner
that meets fuel storage standards.
• Do keep your generator dry. Operating the generator in
snow or rain, or near water, can lead to death or serious
injury.
• Don’t refuel a hot engine if your generator burns
gasoline or diesel. Spilled fuel on a hot muffler can be
disastrous. Let the generator cool while not operating
for at least 15 minutes to minimize the danger of fire.
• Don’t use an undersized extension cord with a
generator. An extension cord that is not heavy enough
can damage the equipment you are operating and
cause a fire hazard. Both the length and diameter of
wire affect its ability to carry an electrical load. The
longer the extension cord and the larger the electrical
load, the larger the diameter of the wire must be. If you
have any questions, get help from a licensed electrician
or qualified supplier who can size the cord to match the
equipment you want to operate.
• Do have your generator serviced regularly in
accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Do call 1-800-562-1482 and speak to a PSE Energy
Advisor for more information.
For more information about standby or back-up generators,
visit pse.com or contact a PSE Energy Advisor at
1-800-562-1482, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For further information in determining if the contractor you
are selecting is licensed and bonded in Washington state,
visit lni.wa.gov/tradeslicensing/contractors/hirecon.
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