How to Use a Generator - Backyard Boss
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How to Use a Generator

Emergencies can happen at any time, and it’s always best to be prepared for that. Having a generator as a backup power supply can help take some of the pressure off during an emergency and keep you and your family safe. Knowing how to use your generator is crucial to get the most out of it and make sure that you have the utilities you need.

In this article, we’ve laid out everything you need to know about using a generator. Having a step-by-step guide can give you confidence when you lose power, and you’ll have to use your generator to get your home back up and running. It can also help you avoid dangerous mistakes that could jeopardize your safety and the usefulness of the generator itself.

How Does a Generator Work

Used Generator at Rest
Image credits: kylemac via

A generator works by using electromagnetic induction. Most generators have an internal combustion engine that is powered by petrol, diesel, or natural gas that has a high-powered armature on it. With this internal combustion engine, the armature spins a conductor coil between the two poles of a powerful magnet. Then, it generates the power you need to run the functions of your home.

It’s the same process that happens at a large power station but on a much smaller scale. A generator takes one form of energy and converts it into another. This ability allows you to generate power from a source that doesn’t rely on your home’s external power grid, such as solar or internal combustion.

What You Need to Run a Generator

Light bulb with plants inside lying on the green grass
Image Credits: Alexas_Fotos on Pixabays

To run a generator, you’ll need a few different items and some crucial information. The first thing you have to know before purchasing a generator is how much power your home needs to stay running. It means finding out the wattage for all the items in your home like refrigerators, lights, and other electronics or appliances. You’ll also need to know the starting wattage for large appliances, which is the amount of power needed to start the motor.

Combine the starting wattage and wattage of the largest appliance, and that is the amount of power you’ll need to create with your generator. Make sure you have plenty of fuel on hand and that it’s stored properly in a cool, dark area. Check if you have enough extension cords to get to all your appliances from the generator and that they’re rated for the amount of wattage you’ll need.

Turning on the Generator


Professional Emergency Generator
Image credits: DuroMax Store via Amazon

Your generator will either have a pull start or an electric starter, depending on the manufacturer and the type of generator you buy. Always keep your generator fueled up and run it often in between uses. This will help to make sure that you aren’t letting the fuel get old in the lines, which can cause deterioration and separation of the gas.

To turn on your generator, you’ll have to pull out the choke and start it up using the ON switch or pull start. It may take several tries with the pull start before the engine catches and starts running. Once it is running, you can push the choke back in. Always do a few test runs with your generator before an emergency happens, so you know the starting procedure and how to get it up and running.

Step-by-Step Guide for First Time Generator Users

Craftsman Generator White Background
Image credits: Craftsman via Amazon

Step 1: Start the generator

Make sure that your generator is fueled up and has enough oil. Check with the manufacturer’s manual to be certain. Once it’s ready, place the generator in a well-ventilated area. Internal combustion engines emit carbon monoxide, so you don’t want to operate a generator indoors. Either switch the generator to ON or pull the pull start to start the engine.

Step 2: Plug in your extension cords

Let the generator warm-up for a few minutes before you start plugging things in. Once you’re sure it has begun creating power, you can start plugging in your extension cords. All of your extension cords should be thickly braided and able to handle at least the amount of wattage that you’re trying to run through them to avoid overheating.

Step 3: Plug in your appliances

Once all your extension cords are plugged in, you can begin plugging in your appliances. Plug them in one by one and check the power output of the generator with each one. Never plug your generator into the wall of your home. This can cause a reverse charge which can set a fire or injure people working on the power lines outside.

Step 4: Shut down the generator

When you no longer need it, unplug your appliances from the generator and turn it off. Let it cool down all the way and then top off the fuel to have it ready for the next time there is an emergency. Store your generator indoors away from any moisture or rain to ensure that it stays safe and in good condition.

Using a Generator for Backup in Emergencies

Having a high-quality generator at your disposal is a great way to feel safe and secure in a power emergency. If it’s powerful enough, you can also use it to help your neighbors keep things running while you all wait for the power to get turned back on. 

The most important thing when operating a generator is to be safe. If you know what you’re doing and have prepared yourself as best as you can, you don’t have anything to worry about. Your generator can keep your home running, and you can focus on the safety of you and your family in an emergency.

Do you have any other tips for running a generator? Let us know in the comment section below!

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