Using a Generator Safely
Independence Power & Light provides safe, reliable electricity to the homes
and businesses in the City of Independence. Sometimes circumstances beyond our control,
such as storms, interrupt the electric supply, resulting in outages. Most outages
are short in duration, but if you have equipment or appliances in your home that
you feel must have a back up power source, and you are considering the purchase
of a generator, please take a few moments to consider the following issues.
Before Purchasing a Generator
- Inventory the appliances or equipment you want powered by the generator. Determine the total wattage required to power that equipment.
- Choose a generator that outputs more than your total wattage requirement.
- Find a safe place outdoors to run the generator. It is very important that you provide proper ventilation for the generator.
- Determine how you will safely store fuel for the generator.
Distributing electricity safely is a complicated process. Electric utility companies have detailed operating procedures that protect against electricity surging or backfeeding into the distribution system.
Warning: If not properly installed, generators can backfeed electricity into the utility distribution system, causing equipment damage and endangering the lives of utility line crews, who are working on power lines.
Before installing a generator, you will need to decide how the electricity will be distributed to the equipment in your home.
There are two choices:
Equipment connected to the generator.
IPL recommends that you unplug the appliance from the outlet in the house and plug it directly into a power cord that runs to the generator, which should be located outside. This way you can more easily control overloading the generator and eliminate the possibility of backfeeding into the utility's distribution system.
Generator connected to the electric panel.
Connecting a generator to your home's electrical panel is not a do-it-yourself job. It requires a certified electrician to install a manual transfer switch between the house breaker panel and the point that electricity is delivered to the home. This requires coordination with IPL, who will disconnect electric service during the installation of the transfer switch.
It is neither safe nor acceptable under IPL's Service Policy to simply throw the main breaker when using a generator connected to the panel. For a more detailed explanation, please review the IPL Service Policy regarding the installation of generators.
Click here to go to IPL's Service Policy
Important Generator Safety Tips
- Never plug a generator directly into an electrical panel without a properly installed transfer switch.
- Hire a certified electrician to install the transfer switch.
- Always disconnect from the utility system before starting a generator connected to an electrical panel.
- Follow all of the manufacturer's instructions for operating your generator.
- Store fuel in approved containers, in a safe place, out of the reach of children.
- Never run a generator inside a building. Always make sure there is proper ventilation for the generator.
- Follow all national, state, county and city fire and electric codes.
- Do not remove any safety devices from the generator.
- Replace any power cord that is frayed or has exposed wires.
- Keep a fire extinguisher near the generator.
For more information about the safe use and installation of generators, contact IPL at (816) 325-7495 or contact us by email.