Generator Safety

PUD 3 engineering staff is available to answer your questions about generator safety. Call Service Engineering at (360) 426-0888.

We have all grown accustomed to a life style which requires electricity. Seasonal storms in the Pacific Northwest make a generator very appealing as a back-up system.

However, it is important to know the do's and don'ts when using your home generator.


  • Notify PUD 3 that you have a generator.
  • Install and use your generator in compliance with the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Follow the National Electrical Code requirements for installing your generator and transfer switch.
  • Operate a generator outside or provide a means for removing exhaust gases. Burning fuels produce carbon monoxide gas, which is odorless, colorless and deadly.
  • If possible, purchase a "dry fuel" generator, which burns propane or natural gas.
  • Store liquid fuel in proper containers in a metal, vented locker that meets fuel storage standards -- not in a garage.


  • Don't connect a back-up generator to the main system of a home or business without a UL-listed, permanently installed, double throw transfer switch. The transfer switch keeps your generator from sending power back through the utility grid and endangering the lives of those repairing power lines. Also, the transfer switch protects your generator from damage when power is restored.
  • Don't refuel a hot engine if your generator burns gasoline or diesel oil. Spilled fuel on a hot muffler can be disastrous. Let the generator cool for at least 10 minutes to minimize the danger of fire.
  • Don't use an undersized extension cord with a generator. An extension cord that is not heavy enough can damage the equipment you are operating and cause a fire hazard. Both the length and diameter of wire affect its ability to carry an electrical load. The longer the extension cord and the larger the electrical load, the larger the diameter of the wire must be. If you have any questions, get professional help from an electrician or qualified supplier who can size the cord to match the equipment you want to operate.

Tips on generator size

How big of a generator do you need? That depends on how many lights and accessories you want to keep running when the lights go out.

Generators are rated in watts. Begin by adding up the number of watts you need to feed and then factor in at least 50 percent more.

The wattage is listed on just about every electrical appliance in your house, although you may have to look behind the refrigerator or under the microwave to find it.

Here's what most people would consider a minimum survival package.

Three 75-watt bulbs
225 watts
Furnace fan motor
1,000 watts
Refrigerator motor
850 watts
Freezer motor
1,000 watts
Color TV
115 watts
Coffee maker
850 watts
4,040 watts

Note: Double the wattage listed on motors to accommodate the power draw during start up.

What are the reasons to purchase a generator?

Medical problems
Someone in your household relies on electrically powered medical support equipment located in your home, such as a respirator or kidney dialysis machine.

Private wells and sump pumps
Your water comes from a private system. Without electricity, you have no water or your sewer or septic system requires a pump to operate.

Computer Systems
You want to ensure that you won't lose any data if electrical power is interrupted. Your business has a complex system that takes a long time to bring up after a power interruption.

Your phone system requires electricity or your business requires 24-hour-a-day fax machine availability for receiving orders or communicating with clients.

Cash registers
You own a store which has no way to check out customers unless the electronic cash registers are working.

Disaster preparedness
You're preparing your household for severe storms or earthquakes and would like to have electricity available in an emergency.

Farming & ranching
Your farm or ranch requires electricity to operate critical fans, pumps or milking machines.


© 2016 Mason County Public Utility District No. 3