Following a major storm, power interruptions are typical.

When the power goes out and you don’t have access to an automated standby generator, a portable generator may supply power until the power is restored.

Continue reading to discover how to utilize a portable generator properly.

Note: Product prices, availability, and item numbers may vary by market or online.

Using a Generator on the Go

A portable generator, unlike a home standby generator, which is permanently connected and automatically turns on when required, can be carried with you and is simple to replace.

Preparation is essential when utilizing a tiny generator.

It’s preferable to have a generator well in advance of a storm.

Once you understand why you should buy a generator, make sure you choose one that meets your power-supply requirements.

Find the best emergency generator for your location by reading our Portable Generator Buying Guide and How to Choose a Solar Generator.

You’ll also discover how to assess your power demands and how to maintain it ready to use by reading our Portable Generator Buying Guide and How to Choose a Solar Generator.

Don’t put off learning how to run your little portable generator until the next power outage.

Make sure you have enough of fuel on hand for generators that operate on gasoline, propane, or a combination of the two.

Because solar generators need time to charge, either via solar panels or, in certain cases, through a domestic power outlet, it’s a good idea to have them charged and ready to use.

Make sure your generator is in good operating order by testing it on a regular basis.

The following are general directions for utilizing a gas-powered or solar generator, but always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for usage and power.


When using a portable generator, safety is paramount.

Before turning it on, read and understand the manufacturer’s instructions completely.


Step 1: Determine Your Home’s Power Requirements.

Make a list of the objects you’d want to use a portable generator to power.

Take into account the refrigerator, lighting, media gadgets, and essential charges.

Determine the running/rated wattage or how much it takes to operate each gadget by consulting the owner’s handbook or the data plate connected to the device.

You’ll also need to know the starting/surge wattage, or how much electricity it needs to start the engine, for bigger appliances like your refrigerator.

To establish the amount of watts you need the portable generator to power, add the watts required to start the biggest appliance motor and the total operating wattage for all required devices.

Compare this information to the generator’s starting and operating wattage.


Make sure the overall wattage of the appliances and other gadgets you’ll be using doesn’t put too much strain on the generator or your extension cables.

Overloading a generator might cause long-term or expensive harm to the devices it’s temporarily powering.

Step 2: Place The Portable Generator In The Second Step.

Place a gasoline, propane, or natural-gas-powered generator outside at least 20 feet from the home on a level, sturdy surface, with the exhaust venting away from windows and entrances.

If you’re using the generator in inclement weather, it may need to be covered or protected.

A solar generator may normally be used inside since it produces no carbon monoxide (CO).

Placement instructions may be found in the handbook.

For example, you’ll need to keep it dry and away from extreme temperatures – away from a fireplace or other heating source, for example.


CO is a hazardous, odorless gas produced by fuel-powered generators.

Installing one of these generators inside or in any other confined place, such as a garage or crawlspace, is not recommended.

If your house doesn’t have CO detectors on every level, don’t use one of these generators.

Step 3: Connect The Generator To The Power Source

Make sure you’re using heavy-duty external extension cables made for generators.

If you’re using a gas-powered generator, run the cables outside through a window or door, but don’t connect them to the generator yet.

Have an electrician install a power transfer switch in advance if you plan to operate a hard-wired item like a well pump or furnace.

You may use this technology to power devices directly from your circuit breaker panel.

Tip: Read Power Cord Safety Tips for additional information on power cord safety.


Never use a wall outlet to power a generator.

The electricity from the emergency generator may reach the utility line, posing a serious risk to people attempting to restore power.

Storms might result in gas leaks.

Before you turn anything on if you smell gas, contact a professional to fix the lines.

Step 4: Turn on the Generator

Make sure there are no cables hooked into the generator and that the fuel tank is full before turning it on.

Before you add fuel to a gasoline-powered model for the first time, read more about fuelling outdoor power equipment.

Turn the fuel valve to the On position, then the on/off switch to the On position, to start a fuel-powered generator.

Pull the choke handle all the way out to Choke.

Place the start switch in the Start position and keep it there until the generator begins.

Push the choke lever all the way to the Run position and let the engine run for a few minutes before connecting anything in.

The touch of a button or the flip of a switch begins a solar generator, but there may be settings you need to modify to enable different outlets.


For safety’s sake, keep gasoline away from the generator.

Refueling a generator before it has cooled down is not a good idea.

Step 5: Connect the Electronics and Appliances

Check the handbook for any special instructions on how to connect your generator’s equipment and appliances.

For example, you may want to start with the most power-hungry equipment, such as a refrigerator, and let it run for a while before attaching anything else.

Each item should be connected to the generator extension chord, which should then be plugged into the generator housing.

With a solar model, you may be able to directly connect goods into the device.

Step 6: Refuel the Portable Generator

Turn off appliances and devices and allow the generator to run a bit longer when you need to add extra gasoline to it.

Then turn off the generator, disconnect the extension cables, and turn off the fuel switch.

Before refilling, let the unit cool down.

Connect solar panels to a solar generator and install them in a region where they will get several hours of sunshine each day to recharge it.

You may be able to keep gadgets connected while charging, depending on your generator and solar panel placement.

The amount of time it takes to charge a solar panel depends on the generator, the quantity and kind of solar panels, and other elements like temperature and available sunshine.


See How to Prepare for a Hurricane and How to Clean Up for further safety tips at home.

Tornadoes, floods, and hurricanes are all examples of natural disasters.

Check your generator for damage or other problems on a regular basis.

How To Use A Generator Videos Suggestions From Youtube

How to use a generator – First Coast News
Power your HOUSE with a Portable Generator – Matt Risinger
How to safely use a generator – Georgia Power
Preparing for Power Outages with Portable Generators – Mike Holmes Jr. – Champion Power Equipment

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Written by Bob Matsuoka
Bob Matsuoka is a blogger and founder of RVing Beginner blog. He has been blogging for over five years, writing about his own family’s RV adventures, tips for people who are interested in buying an RV or taking their family on an adventure by RV.