There is a lot of debate in engineering circles about who invented the electric generator and when. The prevailing theory is that Michael Faraday invented it in 1831. However, there are some who believe an Italian physicist named Aloisio Galvani conceived of it 41 years prior. Be that as it may, there’s little to argue about the leaps and bounds the technology has taken since 1790 or at the very latest 1831. The technology has become far more portable, far more accessible and much safer since its inception. However, while it certainly has become safer over the centuries, electric generators can still be a source of hazard. According to the Associated Press, five people were killed and dozens more were made seriously ill due to the misuse of electric generator during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina back in 2005. There are several precautions consumers need to take when using one.

The first thing any engineer will say about placing a generator is to never place it indoors. That is because a standard electric generator emits a large amount of carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas which can be deadly. So it is best to do what can be done to prevent the poisonous gas from being trapped in enclosed spaces. The best place to operate a generator is outdoors in a well-ventilated and dry area, far away from your home’s air intakes. Keep it in a place where rain and snow can’t get to it as well, as moisture will cause a generator to become a source of electrical shock. Don’t attach a generator to your home’s wiring either. This could prove to be fatal not only for you, but even for electrical workers miles away as well. The volts can “backfeed” into your home, thereby increasing the lower electrical volts into the thousands. Anyone working on a power line even outside of your neighborhood can be affected by this adversely. This is also why you should not plug a portable generator into an electrical outlet in your house or garage.

Every generator comes with a power rating. This rating is determined by the maximum power the machine is able to provide. Even if a generator comes with a high rating, it should only be used to power a limited amount of appliances and equipment. If you overload the generator, there is potential for serious harm to whatever it is being powered. Not only that, but a generator that has exceeded its power capacity can cause a fire in the power cord.

Just like how a generator should not be kept in indoor, enclosed spaces, neither should the gasoline needed for that generator. Gasoline should always be stored in approved, non-glass safety containers. Don’t store the gasoline in your garage if there is a water heater or any other kind of fuel burning appliance in the garage. The vapors from gasoline are actually heavier than the air, and can therefore travel invisibly on the ground. These vapors can be ignited by any source of flame. When using the gasoline for your generator, make sure that the generator is turned off during the fueling process.

There are an abundance of other measures consumers need to be wary of when operating their electric generators. As handy as the technology can be, it has also demonstrated its hazards over the years. Each machine will have its own little quirks, so be sure to check the owner’s manual. But these are a few of the general tips that will make sure that your generator stays a resourceful machine, as opposed to a fatal one. If you’re interested in diesel generators or gas generators, check these out.

Author's Bio: 

Max Stanford is a freelance writer for Worldwide Power Products.