Every preparedness guru knows that you need a generator. Unless you are prepared to live without power, a sound generator is essential to your emergency plans. However, buying one isn’t enough. If you’re anything like me, then operating your first generator safely can be a challenge. Fortunately, I’ve had them for years now, and I’ve learned more than a little about using them correctly. I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about overnight and continuous generator power.
Is it okay to leave a generator running all night? You can run the right generator all night, or longer. It’s essential to choose a generator that is rated for long term use. Moreover, you need to make sure you have it set up correctly, and shielded from wet conditions.
How Long Can You Run a Generator
Running your generator overnight can save your life in extreme weather. However, not all generators are created equal. Some are only designed for a few hours of use. Meanwhile, others require solar power, which means they won’t work in a storm.
How can you tell what your generator is capable of when you need it? Well, unless you bought secondhand, you should have a box and instructions with your equipment. These will indicate the fuel and duration of the generator. Always check the specs.
I suggest picking up a Westinghouse WGen 7500 from Amazon. It lasts up to sixteen hours on a 6.6-gallon tank of gas. That’s more than enough to keep you and your loved ones in light, heat, cooling, and refrigeration. Plus, you can use this generator continuously as long as you have fuel and proper ventilation. It’s vital to choose a high-quality generator like the WGen 7500, so you don’t end up stuck in the dark. You can find more information about this outstanding option when you click here.
As long as your generator is capable of running for at least eight hours, you can run it all night. It’s better to choose a generator designed to run twice that long. Keep in mind that ‘up to’ eight hours doesn’t always mean that the real-world application will run for a full eight hours. Fuel, weather, and wear and tear on your machine will affect how long your power source works.
What Kind of Generator Do You Need
Running a generator overnight is fine, but it won’t do you much good if you don’t have the right kind of generator for your needs. You don’t want to run out of power at a critical moment.
I always suggest portable generators to newbie preppers. You can pick them up if you need to evacuate, which is the best reason to choose a mobile unit. However, as I mentioned before, not all portables are the same. There are different fuel sources and power outputs. So how do you know what you need? I’ll help you sort it out quickly so you can get the right generator.
To decide what type of generator you need, you must first consider where the power will come from. To make power, you have to have fuel. Typically generators come in three varieties. You can find combo-generators that have more than one type of power source as well.
A solar-powered generator isn’t always the most efficient option, but the sun isn’t going out anytime soon. If it does, your generator won’t save you. That said, you do need to live somewhere with a lot of sun for this style to be practical for you.
A battery-powered generator needs to plug into an electrical power source o work. You can store extra batteries as long as your generator allows you to swap out the batteries. However, a generator with an integrated battery can’t be changed. If your power source will plug into a car or car battery, that’s another way to store extra power by keeping additional car batteries.
Gas (or Propane Gas)-powered portable generators are relatively self-explanatory. You need gasoline or propane to run them. Storing gas isn’t difficult, though, like batteries, you need to make sure it has a cool, dry place sealed off from any inclement weather.
My top choice for a portable gas or propane generator is the Champion Dual Fuel. Any generator with multiple options for fuel is a bonus. The Champion lives up to its mighty name with automatic low oil cut off, and 3400 watts of output. Better yet, it’s quiet. Pick up a Champion for your home when you click here.
Whatever the fuel source for your portable generator, you need to make sure you have plenty of access to spare fuel. Moreover, all types of generators require regular inspection, cleaning, and maintenance. Ideally, you should inspect all your supplies and equipment monthly or bi-monthly. However, you can push that to a quarterly review so long as your safety practices are top-notch.
How Much Power Do You Need
Everyone has different needs in terms of power. A typical household needs 3000 to 7000 watts of electricity. If you’re a minimalist, you might get by on less, but you should always overestimate when preparing for an emergency.
Unless you have a water pump, a large furnace, and other major power needs, 3000-5000 watts should suffice for your home. If you’re concerned about it or have a large house with lots of electrical equipment, shoot for 5000-7500 watts instead.
Where Should You Put a Portable Generator
Before you can run your generator all night, you need to install it. Don’t make the rookie mistake of setting it the first place you see some flat ground. Moreover, you shouldn’t place a generator indoors. So, where do you put it?
A generator should be located near the fuse box, if at all possible. When you can’t place it nearby, make sure you have appropriate cords to connect it to your home. However, I suggest building a small, open-sided shelter on the side of your home. Place it besides, but never in front of your fuse box.
Generators need a flat surface. Never place your generator on its side. Likewise, you shouldn’t put it on a slope. Angling your power source could cause all sorts of problems. Especially alarming is the fuel register. You don’t want to burn up a generator because a tilted fuel tank is registering as full when it’s not. Similarly, you want to avoid overfilling a container that says it’s not filled up.
Make sure you check local ordinances. Local laws can affect where you place your portable generator. If society collapses, all bets are off. However, until then, you don’t need to pay tickets for something you could easily avoid by using google, or your phone to check local laws.
Weather & Your Generator
Whether you’re looking for all-night power from your generator, or years of continuous use, there are times when you need to turn it off. You shouldn’t run most generators in extreme weather.
High winds that could tear out your generator or collapse a building on top of it spell danger. Don’t risk a fire or power surge if your emergency is gale-force winds. However, there are occasions when you need to use your candles and emergency food coolers instead.
Wait until the danger has passed before turning on your generator after extreme weather. Furthermore, you need to be aware of other weather issues like fuel source availability. For example, if you have no stored gas, and a blizzard hits, it’s useless. When you can’t get fresh supplies, you need to have them stored. (You should be doing this anyhow)
Solar and battery-operated generators are always an option. However, they come with the same necessary restrictions as other generators. Without fuel, they don’t work. Keeping backup batteries charged is essential when you use a battery-operated generator.
Solar generators can work anywhere. However, a solar generator is more useful in Phoenix, Arizona than Seattle, Washington. Inclement weather is one issue, but standard weather patterns are also a significant consideration before you choose a generator. Any emergency supplies are better than none. Unfortunately, it’s only an emergency supply if you can use it. Otherwise, it’s a fancy paperweight.
Water is the Enemy of Generators
Similarly, floodwaters, leaks, and little drips can cause a big disruption to your power supply. Striking a balance between the need to shield your generator, and giving it good airflow can be tough. Still, it’s worth the effort if you plan to survive. Emergency preparedness doesn’t work if you’re not motivated to use and store your equipment correctly.
If you live somewhere that is exceptionally moist, like Louisiana, for example, then you should check on your generator more often. Moisture buildup, mold, and other damp environment issues can contribute to premature generator loss or damage.
Don’t Take Risks With Generators
No power source is worth your life. Make sure your generator is somewhere that water won’t leak into it. Whether it’s rain, snow, sleet, hail or floodwaters, liquid and electricity don’t mix.
Place your generator somewhere on the ground. Additionally, it should be shielded from the elements, yet have excellent airflow around it. Secure the wheels and the generator so they won’t roll or walk away.
Always Use the proper fuel and heed all safety warnings. Playing fast and loose with your generator is a risk to your health and life. Being prepared for an emergency means not causing one through negligence.
How To Secure Your Generator
Generators that run all night need the same safety precautions as other generators. Primarily they need to be secure, out of the way, supplied with fuel, maintained, and monitored. You can easily accomplish all of these goals.
- Secure- Your generator is a target for thieves, yet it must be accessible for you. Choose a quiet generator and locking it to something with a secure cut-proof chain and high-quality padlock. Additionally, generators with wheels should be locked or blocked in place.
- Out of the Way- Do not place your power supply in the middle of walking paths. Make sure your generator has clearance and airflow around it. You may be tempted to put it in a shed or basement, but generators need to be outdoors.
- Power Cord Placement- In addition to keeping the unit out of your path, make sure you keep the power cords securely out of your way. They can be a tripping hazard. I suggest running wires through an insulated pipe that is buried underground if you plan to install your portable away from the side of your home.
- Fuel & Maintenance- So long as society is functional, you can have your generator serviced on time. However, I suggest getting familiar with the tools and parts. Moreover, keep a supply of all the fuel and oil you need in safely stored containers.
- Monitoring- You’ll need a Carbon Monoxide monitor for safety with your generator. Skipping this step could kill you. Also, it’s a good idea to have surveillance. Generators are high-value targets. Thieves will take them if you allow it. Spare a wireless camera from your home security to get a view of your generator.
An important feature that all generators should have is an emergency cutoff. If the fuel or oil gets too low, it can destroy your power source. Hence, you need to check that your generator has emergency shutdowns in place. If you purchase a generator that can’t shut itself down, then you need to make sure you check on it every few hours at most.
When you don’t plan to run a whole house, you can always opt for a great battery or solar-powered portable generator. The advantage of battery or solar power is that you don’t need to worry about fuel issues burning out your motor. I keep a battery-solar backup portable generator in addition to my regular fuel-powered option in case of theft.
I like the PRYMAX Portable Power Station from Amazon because it has a battery backup. You can charge it from a car battery or home outlet in addition to the solar panels. Plus, the emergency light option is incredibly useful. Check prices and availability by clicking right here.
Additional Generator Safety
Whether you run a generator all night or just for a few hours when the power is out in summer, it’s important to remember the little things. Like all emergency equipment, you should check your generators once a season when not in use. There are other primary safety considerations for all-night generators as well.
Don’t overload an outlet. Not only do you need to check your wiring for a generator that’s in use, but you need to make sure you can charge it properly. Electric generators can blow a fuse if you plug them into an outlet that can’t handle the power draw. Then you’ll be without power, and you’d have no useable generator.
For gas-powered generators, you need to fill them safely. There’s more to it than making sure you have gas. Never fill a generator while it’s running. You should always turn the generator off completely and unplug it before you add oil, service it, or fuel up.
Running a generator isn’t rocket science, but it does take some preparation. The crucial information I’ve given you here will help you to run your generator safely. Proper research could save you a nasty shock, or worse.
No one wants to throw away money. Running your generator poorly is like throwing cash in a vat of acid. Rather than wasting your money, and going without power, follow these safety guidelines. You can run your generator safely, and do more than merely survive. You can thrive, even in an emergency.
Make sure you always read the instructions on a new generator. Take your time and set it up correctly, so you’ll have the power you need when the SHTF.