Late autumn, winter, and early spring are times when the threat
of inclement weather and other unexpected interruptions cause
extended power outages.
Many of us, including our friends, family and neighbors, have
considered purchasing or borrowing For the safety of you and your
family, along with our field personnel we encourage you read the
following tips on generator safety and operation.
Follow instructions - Carefully read and follow all
manufacturers instructions, suggestions and safety precautions.
Download our color
brochure on generator safety to use in the event of such a power
Thorough knowledge about residential wiring is a must. The
number one concern is to avoid "backfeeding" which is the result of
improperly installing the generator and endangers the lives of our
line workers and other emergency personnel. A generator
must always be grounded before connecting to the building
load. The safe thing to do is consult with a
qualified electrician and consider installing a transfer
Bangor Hydro strongly encourages all residential
customers to have a properly licensed electrician install the
equipment necessary to connect emergency generators,
whether permanently mounted or portable, to their home's electrical
system. All installations must meet the National Electrical Code.
The Company recommends that following the installation of emergency
generating equipment, the customer contact their local electrical
inspection authority for final approval.
The following information is provided to assist the customer and
their electrician when designing and installing emergency
generating facilities. Generating equipment shall be designed to
operate isolated from the Company's electrical system.
A positive acting, UL listed double-throw switch or
transfer device, which is acceptable to the Company and meets all
of the following requirements, shall be used:
When service is manually transferred, this switch must be so
arranged as to open all ungrounded conductors of the normal supply
from the Company before any connection is made to the emergency
The double-throw switch or transfer device must be so
constructed and connected as to positively prevent any possibility
of power from the customer's emergency source feeding back into the
Company's distribution system.
When it is desired to energize all of the customer's
distribution circuits from the emergency source, the above switch
may be connected on the line side of the regular service
disconnecting means. Where this switch is exposed to the weather,
it must be of a rain-tight construction.
Conductors that may be energized by emergency
generating equipment shall not be located in the same conduit or
raceway as service entrance conductors from the Company's
When the emergency generator is arranged to serve only
specific equipment by use of separate circuits that are not
connected to the normal wiring system, a main transfer switch will
not be required.
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Due to the number of models available on the market, Bangor
Hydro no longer provides generator installation instructions
online. We strongly recommend reading all installation
instructions from your generator's manufacturer before attempting
to install your generator. If your instructions are
missing, try to find your manufacturer on the web, or call your
Know Your Generator Capabilities
Review owners manual for wattage limits and abide by them.
Overloading the generator can be a hazard. Consider emergency
circuits only. There is no need for a full house circuit.
Recommended emergency circuits include heating (gas & oil) or
limited electric heat, well and sump pumps, refrigerator, and
perhaps one lighting circuit.
Most generators can't handle all these circuits at one time.
With the use of a transfer-switch the load can be balanced by
allowing you to manually transfer each circuit or load
What Size Generator? What Size Loads?
These are the typical wattage requirements of average household
appliances to help you determine generator size.
Warning: Protect You and Your Family From Carbon Monoxide Poisoning!
The exhaust fumes from a gas-powered generator contain a deadly
odorless and tasteless gas called carbon monoxide ("CO" for short).
It is important that you not place a generator where carbon
monoxide levels can build up and seep into your home. During the
Ice Storm of January 1998, over 100 people had to be treated in
emergency rooms because of carbon monoxide poisoning; eleven people
had to be admitted to a hospital and one person died. The great
majority (70%) of these cases were due to improper generator
Never Operate a Generator In Your Home! That includes not
operating a generator in the basement. Always operate generator
outdoors and try to locate away from windows, doors, and fresh air
Never operate a gasoline generator in an attached enclosed
space such as your basement bulkhead, garage, or porch.
It is suggested that anyone operating a generator should also
have working carbon monoxide detectors powered by batteries. It is
very important that you have battery powered sensors because in
most instances the generator is running because you have no power
and if that circuit for the sensor is not energized it will not
detect a carbon monoxide problem. Be sure to check the the monitor
has been approved by Underwriters Laboratory.
Interesting Carbon Monoxide (CO) Facts
Carbon Monoxide is colorless, odorless, tasteless and very
deadly gas that is present in the exhaust fumes of an operating
gasoline powered engine.
It only takes a matter of minutes breathing carbon monoxide to
kill you. Carbon Monoxide displaces oxygen molecules which reduces
the amount of oxygen our blood cells can deliver to the heart,
brain, and other tissues.
Breathing lower levels of carbon monoxide can cause fatigue and
increase chest pain in people with chronic heart disease.
Breathing higher levels of carbon monoxide causes flu-like
symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, and weakness. It also
causes sleepiness, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, confusion, and
Breathing very high levels of carbon monoxide causes loss of
consciousness and death. "In the event you experience any of these
symptoms and you have any reason to suspect carbon monoxide
poisoning, you should immediately leave the area and seek fresh
air. You should contact your local fire department (they can test
for carbon monoxide), and obtain medical advice about need for any
Nearly 300 people die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning
and thousands of others become ill or seek medical attention.
Thanks to the Bureau of Health, State Toxicologist Augusta,
Maine for providing information about carbon
For more information about dangers of carbon monoxide
poisoning from gas powered generators, contact
Scd State Toxicologist