Power outages are especially common when the weather is bad. If you live in an area prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, or severe thunderstorms, you know the importance of having a backup plan for when the power goes out.
A generator can keep your lights on and your refrigerator running until the power comes back on. It’s a real lifesaver when the power goes out. However, one thing most people struggle with is where to put the generator.
Placing it in the garage seems a perfect idea. After all, you won’t suffer from much noise when it’s there, and it will be out of the way. But is it safe to run a generator in the garage? That’s what we’re here to find out.
Can You Run a Portable Generator in a Garage?
Don’t run a portable generator in a garage. A generator produces carbon monoxide (CO), and if there’s not enough ventilation, the CO can build up and make you sick or even kill you. That’s why it’s so important to never use a generator inside an enclosed space, even in the garage.
To begin with, we appreciate the role generators play when our primary source of power supply fails us. In fact, generators are a basic necessity for most households, especially those in areas where power outages are prevalent.
Even so, we have to acknowledge that generators have their shortcomings. For one, running one means spending more on gas and maintenance costs to keep it working perfectly.
In addition, you have to know where to position your generator. Wrong placement, for instance, placing it too close to your home, such as in the garage, can cause serious irreversible effects.
So, if you have to run a generator, ensure that you don’t place it in your garage. The garage usually doesn’t provide enough ventilation, so the dangerous fumes from the generator can soon saturate the place, which can be harmful, especially if you’re planning to spend some time there.
Instead, find a better place where there’s plenty of ventilation. As long as you take the necessary precautions when running your portable generator, it’s possible to reap all the benefits and avoid potential dangers.
Reasons Why You Should Not Run a Generator in The Garage
You shouldn’t run a generator in the garage simply because it can be dangerous. Placing a generator in a poorly-ventilated area can lead to a buildup of carbon monoxide, and this can be lethal.
Let’s take a more detailed look at why you shouldn’t run a generator in your garage.
1. The Garage Is Not Well Ventilated
The garage is not a well-ventilated area, which can be dangerous when using a generator. The generator produces carbon monoxide, and without proper ventilation, this gas can quickly build up and reach harmful levels.
The bad thing about carbon monoxide is that you can’t smell, see, or taste it. So, you might not even realize that there’s a problem until it’s too late. That’s why it’s so important to never use a generator in an enclosed space, such as a garage.
2. High Risk of Fire Starting
The garage tends to be where we want to store all sorts of things, including the ones that can easily catch on fire. If you have flammable materials such as gasoline, chemicals, and paint cans, then there’s a high risk of fire starting if you use a generator in the garage.
There’s still a fire risk even if you don’t have any flammable materials stored in the garage. That’s because the heat from the generator can easily ignite any combustible materials, such as wood.
3. Noise Pollution
Noise pollution is another problem you’ll face if you use a generator in the garage. That’s especially true if you have your garage close to your house or your neighbor’s. The last thing you want is to cause a disturbance and get into an argument with your neighbor.
Sometimes the noise can worsen, especially if running it at night when there’s less background noise. That can cause sleep disruption, and that’s the last thing you want when trying to get some rest.
Can You Run a Portable Generator in a Detached Garage?
No, it’s also not safe to run a generator in a detached garage. There’s a risk of carbon monoxide buildup, and the noise can also be a problem. The same risks apply as with an attached garage.
One advantage of having a detached garage is that it’s not easy for the carbon monoxide to sneak into your house. But again, it’s still not a good idea to use a generator in there.
If you have to run your generator in your detached garage, ensure that you connect it with an exhaust extension that will lead the fumes outside. That way, you will keep the fumes from floating in your space.
Again, ensure that you don’t direct the exhaust to your neighbor’s house, as it will amount to air pollution.
But generally, running a generator in your garage is not a good idea, and it’s something you should avoid if at all possible.
Can You Run a Propane Generator in a Garage?
No, don’t run a propane generator in a garage. Propane generator also emits dangerous carbon monoxide (CO) fumes, which can cause lethal repercussions when inhaled in an enclosed space like a garage.
According to Consumer Product Safety Commission, carbon monoxide poisoning from generators caused 900 deaths between 2005 and 2017. Thousands of people also developed injuries from CO poisoning from generators during this time.
But other than CO poisoning, running a propane generator in your garage can put you and your family at the risk of asphyxiation and fire. That’s because the heat from the generator can easily ignite any flammable materials stored in your garage.
So, avoid using a propane generator in your garage to be on the safe side. If you need to use one, do so outdoors and as far away from your house as possible.
Can You Run a Generator in an Open Garage?
Yes, you can run a generator in an open garage under conditions. The garage should be away from your house and have a good ventilation system. If you have a garage close to your house, don’t use the generator there. The fumes might enter your house and put your family at risk.
An open garage can be safe for placing a generator but only when there’s plenty of ventilation. And when we say “plenty,” it has to be more than what most garages can offer.
As long as where you want to place your generator has adequate ventilation, then it should be fine to use it for the purpose. However, if in the garage, ensure that you also pay attention to other factors likely to cause problems.
For instance, ensure that you remove all the flammable liquids and objects from the area. Also, make sure that the generator is placed on a firm and level surface to avoid tipping over.
Can You Run a Generator in a Shed?
You shouldn’t run a generator in a shed either. Sheds lack enough ventilation and air quality control, so running your generator there can lead to the same problems as running it in an attached or detached garage.
Now that keeping your generator in the garage isn’t safe, it’s only natural to think that maybe a shed would be a better option. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Sheds are just as dangerous as garages when it comes to running a generator in them. The main reason is that they don’t have proper ventilation, which can lead to the buildup of carbon monoxide.
Additionally, sheds, like garages, are also susceptible to fires. Even worse, most sheds are made of wood. Hence, any fire breakout can lead to significant damage if you’re not careful. So, to be on the safe side, avoid using a generator in a shed.
And with that said, you could be wondering, “Where can I put my generator, then?” Let’s get to that.
Safe Places For You To Run Your Generator
You should place your generator outside about 20 feet away from your house. If it’s possible to have it put even further, that would even be greater. Just ensure that the fumes don’t seep into your indoor space.
The best place for your generator, whether standby or portable, needs to meet the following criteria:
- Away from any flammable materials
- Dry and level surface
- In an open space (avoid placing it under a canopy or tarp)
- Well away from your house (at least 20 feet)
- With a good ventilation system
With that said, let’s look at the best place for your portable generator;
1. Outdoors, Of course!
When running a generator, the best place to put it is outdoors. Outside space usually provides plenty of ventilation, which helps prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide.
Additionally, being outdoors also reduces the risk of fire. However, even when placed outdoors, you still need to be careful about where you put it. Keep it away from wet surfaces to avoid electrocution.
2. Use Generator Tents
If you don’t have an open space outdoors or live in an area where the weather isn’t ideal, you can use a generator tent.
A generator tent is a specially designed tent that provides proper ventilation for your generator. It also has other features, such as being weatherproof and fire-resistant.
3. Maybe Detached Garage
The word “maybe” here means this option won’t work for everyone, but you can put your generator there if you have a detached garage that has really some good ventilation.
However, before you do, make sure that the garage is clean and free of any flammable materials. Additionally, the generator should be placed on a dry and level surface to avoid tipping over.
Safety Tips For When You’re Using a Generator
Some safety tips when using your generator include;
1. Use the right size of extension cord
2. Don’t overload the generator
3. Keep the generator dry
4. Follow the instructions in the owner’s manual
5. Don’t use a damaged generator
6. Don’t run the generator in an enclosed space
7. Make sure the generator is grounded
8. Keep the generator away from flammable materials
9. Don’t refuel the generator while it’s running
10. Let the generator cool down before storing it
In a nutshell, avoid storing your generator in an enclosed space, whether that of your garage, shed, basement, or house. The best place for it is outdoors in an open space, away from any flammable materials.
In addition, always consider safety first when using a generator by following the tips mentioned above. Doing so will help to prevent any accidents from happening.