Generator Know-How

Superstorm Sandy, which left millions without electricity, turned out to be a real boon for portable generators. But buying a generator is just job one.

Consumer Reports says there are important do's and don'ts-from installation to storage.

Paul Maniscalco services all types of outdoor power equipment. He says when it comes to generators, his customers don't realize they need regular maintenance.

Paul Maniscalco says, "They let it sit for a year or two and then expect a miracle."

Consumer Reports' Dave Trezza agrees. He tests portable generators and says there's a lot to know so you're all set in an emergency.

First, you want to get a larger portable generator.

Consumer Reports recommends buying one that's a least 5,000 to 75-hundred watts, with a 240-volt outlet.

Trezza says, "You can hook it to a standard transfer switch, which an electrician can install for you."

Installing a transfer switch also prevents you from making a big mistake-connecting your generator directly to your circuit box.

Trezza says, "If you hook it up improperly, you could cause an electrical or fire hazard."

When you run your generator, it poses another threat-carbon monoxide poisoning. To prevent that, you need to keep the generator at least 15 feet from your house and point the exhaust away from your home. Also, be sure nearby doors and windows are shut.

Trezza says, "Many people don't realize that portable generators should be covered when it's raining or snowing. Manufacturers do make special covers for this purpose."

To make sure your generator will start when you need it most-you have to use a gas stabilizer. Also, you have to replace the gasoline with fresh fuel every six months.

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