In case of a power outage due to bad weather or an electricity crisis in the country, many people keep standby or portable generators as an alternative source of electricity. Power generators are always supposed to be put in outdoor spaces, especially in the garage. But the question is how to vent a generator in a garage, safely? Because placing these devices inside your home may pose some serious hazards if you don’t use them carefully.
I don’t know whether you are aware or not, the fuel used for running generators including petrol, diesel, propane, or natural gas when burned, produces a highly poisonous gas that is carbon monoxide. This gas can make you breathless within a second and in severe cases can even prove life-threatening. But with every problem, there is always a solution. But before we move to the solutions, here is a short account of dangers that you can have in case you put your generator in the garage.
Hazards of Using Generators in the Garage
1. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that is produced by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. It is commonly called a “silent killer”. When a human is exposed to carbon monoxide, the molecules of carbon monoxide replace the oxygen molecules in the bloodstream and deprive the heart, brain, and other vital organs of the body of oxygen leading to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Large amounts of CO can make you lose consciousness within minutes and cause the person to suffocate leading to death. The generators of portable generators can exhaust carbon monoxide of approximately 450 carrs when the fuel used in them burns. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 400 Americans lost their lives from unintentional CO poisoning every year. CPSC also estimated that 70 people die each year from CO emissions associated with portable generators.
2. Poor Ventilation
In enclosed spaces, there is less room for oxygen flow and a lack of ventilation. Due to inappropriate ventilation, if the generator fails to start, you may have to deal with the loss of power even for a brief time. Since generators are essential for business continuity as they provide the capability of taking on the electrical demand, poor ventilation can totally result in a complete blackout.
Less air allows also causes the machine to overheat and lessen the functional life of the generator. It means you have to spend a huge amount of money for its repair or to replace it if it has become completely inoperable. Lastly, less oxygen means you have more carbon monoxide and other hazards due to which you have to face a life-threatening experience.
3. Electrical and Fire Hazards
There is a high risk of shock and electric shocks, especially when the generators are operated in a wet environment. Also, sometimes the users bypass the safety devices like circuit breakers that are built on electrical systems causing electrocution damages. In garages, there is a great chance of electrical cords getting wet during rain or while cleaning. Plugging the generators directly into the power supply causes the uncontrolled current to pass through the power lines putting your neighbors and utility operators at risk of being electrocuted as well.
Fuels like gasoline, propane, kerosene, and other flame-catching liquids if not stored in non-glass safety containers have a great chance of catching fire. Because the fusion of gasoline and electricity makes them a fire hazard. Moreover, if any of the fuel spills on any hot part of the generator’s engine, it can cause the generators to ignite and your whole house can catch fire within minutes.
How to Safely Run a Generator in a Garage?
1. Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Investing in a carbon monoxide detector is brilliant and cost-effective to protect your family from silently killing carbon monoxide poisoning. These detectors have electro sensors. When the carbon monoxide enters the gas compartment, this causes an electric current to pass through the electrolyte. As the amount by current increases, the detector can measure the concentration of carbon monoxide in ppm in the air. If the amount of CO exceeds 70 ppm, it will trigger the alarm built-in in these detectors.
Google Nest Protect Alarm- smoke Carbon Monoxide Detectors
There are different types of CO detectors available in the market each having a different way to detect carbon monoxide concentrations but “Google Nest Protect Alarm- smoke Carbon Monoxide Detectors” are highly recommended of all.
These detectors use a split-spectrum sensor that can detect slow smoldering fires as well as fast-burning ones. Nest detectors with dual-sensor technology are the combination of three types of detectors, one for carbon monoxide detection and two types for smoke detention.
They are best for faster and more accurate CO detection in dangerous situations. They have circular LED lights that change their color depending upon the concentration of gasses. If it turns yellow it means there is smoke or carbon monoxide. But if it turns red, it means that the situation has gotten worse and you urgently need some energy protection or to leave that place as soon as possible.
These detectors can also be controlled with a mobile Nest app which will alert you about the upcoming hazard even if you are not home. This app can be used on multiple devices by different users without setting up multiple profiles. This app will send you a message when something went wrong or the batteries run low.
2. Allow Maximum Ventilation in the Garage
Proper ventilation is significantly essential in the places where the generators are placed. It keeps the efficiency and safety of the machine in flow by supporting appropriate engine combustion, alternating heat, and protecting the toxic fuels and odors to enter the enclosed generator space. Before installing generators in the garage, always consider ventilation basics. It is important to place all the parts of a venting system like outlet vents, air ducts and fans in place while placing the generators.
As the generator engines require proper air to cause fuels to ignite so if there is no proper air movement, there is a great chance that the machine may catch heat. To protect the generator engine from getting heated up, regulating the temperature of the garage with the ventilation fans is a prerequisite. Different ventilation fans are available in the market depending upon the size of the generator and generator room. Using a high velocity to blow heavy gasses out of the garage, I would personally like to recommend you a fan that is a little expensive yet a game-changer.
Air King 9230 Industrial Grade High-velocity fan
Air King is a top-notch brand offering high-quality floor fans. This indoor industrial-grade indoor pivoting fan with its versatility is highly suitable for houses, restaurants, gyms, hospitals, warehouses, and garages. Its 30-inch power fan blade creates dynamic airflow. Their coated steel, guards, and mounts make them highly durable and long-lasting and give them a corrosion-free finish.
The Air-King 9230 Industrial-Grade Floor Fan has a motor that runs at 1/4 horsepower single phase, is rated for 120 volts, and has three settings. It is 30 inches wide and employs a ball-bearing motor that is completely enclosed for safety. The power cord is an SJT type with 3 conductors and spans at a length of 10 feet coated in black. Its attached wheels promote portability so you can transfer it from place to place with ease. Moreover, with its rear-mounted rotary switch, you can easily control power and speed.
3. Use Proper Extension Cords
To keep your generators safe from the electric exhaust in the garage, you must avoid plugging the generators directly into the main power supply. Because it may cause a complete blackout of your home leading to back feeding. It is an extremely dangerous and illegal practice in some areas. To avoid such circumstances, extension cords are incredibly important to run your generator at full ease. There are a variety of extension cords available. But finding the right chords is a matter that offers a huge commitment.
If you use the traditional extension cords, you may face a lot of issues like some extension cords are not compatible according to your generator in spite of the thickness of the wire inside the cord. Furthermore, the indoor cord extensions can not be used for outdoor machines because they are light-duty and can’t withstand the load of outdoor machines. For getting the right cord for a standby generator, you have to consider various factors like length, cord shape, and gauge an amperage rating.
Amazon Basics 12/3 SJTW Heavy-Duty Lighted Extension Cord
These cords are available in the pack of 2. This is the heavy-duty 12-gauge extension cord having copper wires inside them. This cord with 3 prong extension can be used anywhere like job sites, warehouses, garages, and for general indoor/outdoor use. SJTW lighted extension cords have clear-molded plugs that resist tear making them the most durable and long-lasting extension cord in their class. These cords with Service Junior Vinyl Thermoplastic Weather Approved outer jacket are highly secured in all kinds of weather.
4. Place Generator Inside a Covered Shield
When your portable or standby generator stays in the garage for a very long period of time, there is a great chance that it may catch dust. Mold, moss, and debris can also accumulate on your generator. If these contaminated elements seep through the vital parts of the generator, they seriously affect the working performance of the generator
Also, garages outdoors have to face drastic climatic conditions like rain, hurricanes, or other chances of getting wet while cleaning. To keep your generators safe from contamination and getting wet, there are many tents, canopies, enclosures, or shields available in the market. These shields are inexpensive, lightweight, easy to assemble, and also air to circulate through the generator protecting it from overheating.
Kinying Outdoor Generator shed/cover
There are a lot of shields available in the market but most of the generator owners go for Kinying. This brand offers you some heavy-duty generator shields like Kinying Outdoor Generator shed/cover. This is a multi-function storage shed that can open in many directions with a flip cover supported by a lever that helps to store your generator safely.
These shielded covers have double-wall panels designed for heavy winds. These twin panels won’t bend or deteriorate easily and can bear a lot of weight making them more durable than single-wall paneled cabinet designs. Being multifunctional, it can also be used to store all kinds of tools including sundries and trash cans. These storage sheds also have a roof groove design that helps water to drain easily on rainy days. Most importantly, it can easily be assembled and disassembled.
5. Keep All Kinds of Fuels Away From the Garage
The fuels used to run portable generators like diesel, petrol, kerosene, and propane are highly combustion and they can easily fire in case of an electric shock or a fire flame. Therefore, they need to be at a safe distance from the generator. You should always refill the generator fuel when it is completely cooled as it can cause gasoline to burn from heat making the whole machine explode within a second.
In case of any kind of mishap, install a fire extinguisher at your home for emergency situations. When you work on your generator, always keep the number of the fire brigade, so you can call them immediately in case of fire. In addition to this, make sure that your generator is not overloading. Because an overloaded machine can easily exhaust. So always keep precautionary measures to fix such issues.
In case of a heavy storm, power blackouts are a common issue. In such circumstances, a generator is a highly valuable source of electricity that helps you to begin a normal life routine again. But placing the generators in the garage can result in many kinds of hazards. Therefore, it is necessary to install the generators with a professional electrician. Also, read the manual guide for installation of the device available with the generator in a closed packing. Place your generator at a safe level in your home.
Additionally, try to keep inflammable fuels away from the generator to overcome a fire hazard. Use vending machines to protect the generator from overheating and also the area around the generator free of poisonous gasses. Oil spills should be cleared up immediately after generator service. Standing water should be cleaned up to avoid electrocution. Also, keep your children away from such electric machines to avoid any kind of mishap. I hope these recommendations will help you a lot to know about how to safely run a generator in a garage?