How to Safely Use and Store a Generator
When storms threaten your power, do you have a generator to keep you comfortable and save your food from spoiling? I’ve contemplated buying a generator before each major storm threat, but they are usually sold out by the time I make it to the store. When Briggs & Stratton asked if I wanted to test out their new Briggs & Stratton Q6500 QuietPower™ Series Inverter Generator, I said “YES!” But, between us, I was a little nervous about using one. I didn’t have the faintest idea How to Safely Use and Store a Generator. Luckily, my friend Scott offered to give me a few tips. Plus, the Briggs & Stratton Q6500 came with a fantastic manual that made me feel more at ease using it for the first time.
Why You Might Need a Generator:
Our town has been hit by a few hurricanes, ice storms and a tornado over the past few years. Several of these events left us without power for multiple days. It was that first ice storm that introduced me to what a generator can provide.
As my husband and I suffered in silence, several neighbors had their generators humming outside. The homeowners that had a generator were able to keep their food cold in the refrigerator while the rest of us had to throw away all the food that had spoiled. (If your ice has melted in the freezer it is no longer safe to consume that food.) Our neighbors with a generator were able to keep their families warm with electric heaters. We tried to burn a fire in our wood burning fireplace, but most of the heat went up the chimney. Plus, we couldn’t stay up all night adding wood to the fire. In the morning, we woke up to a house that was 45F. Even our dog (who was not a snuggler) decided to curl up with us on our makeshift bed in the living room. The homes with generators had electricity to run lamps and radios. We had to use candles, flashlights, and a battery-powered radio until they ran low. The hardest part of living without the assistance of a generator was having our communication cut off. We couldn’t call our families and the power company because our cell phone batteries died by the end of the first day. Sadly our land line phones were cordless and lost their charge too.
Some other things you can power with a generator*:
- Individual water well pump
- Sump pump
- Medical device that needs power (portable generators are not intended for life support, a standby generator is required)
- Power for contractors for temporary outages for small projects
*If connecting a portable generator into your home electrical system, have a licensed electrician install an Emergency Manual Power Transfer System.
Finally, in addition to providing backup power for essential home appliances, the Briggs & Stratton Q6500 QuietPower generator Quiet Power Series can also run power to your campsite or picnic. The noise is 60% quieter† than standard generators (†As tested per ISO2744 sound power standard when compared to standard generator 30607.)
How to Check and Fill Your Generator with Oil:
Locate the oil dipstick on your generator. The Briggs & Stratton Q6500’s oil dipstick is located behind the side panel. Remove the screws holding the side panel in place (place screws in a bowl to prevent from losing them.)
Remove the panel and set aside.
Locate the side of the engine and remove the yellow-capped dipstick.
Wipe off the dipstick with a clean dry rag or paper towel. Reinsert it into the oil tank. Remove the dipstick and check the oil level. The tank is full when the oil level is between the two indicators or even with the top indicator (small hole in the dipstick on the Briggs & Stratton Q6500.)
To add oil, insert the funnel into oil fill opening.
Carefully empty engine oil into the funnel (most generators use small engine oil, but check your manual to be certain.)
Continue to check the oil level by inserting the wiped clean dipstick into the engine. When the engine is full, replace the dipstick and replace the panel you removed from the side of the generator.
What Type of Gas Does a Generator Use?
Most generators require low or ethanol free gasoline. Check your generator’s manual for specifics. The Briggs & Stratton manual stated that gas with an ethanol content of 10% or lower was acceptable. Our friend recommended I use ethanol-free gasoline to avoid damaging the generator after storage. (Ethanol gas separates during storage and can put the engine at risk when starting up.)
He also recommended I purchase a fuel stabilizer like this Briggs & Stratton Advanced Formula Fuel Treatment & Stabilizer (affiliate link) and add it with the fuel (following the amounts suggested on the stabilizer bottle.)
To fill the generator with fuel, unscrew the gas cap from the top of the generator.
Pour gasoline into the tank.
You can view the fuel gauge for approximation, but best practice is to fill the tank to the bottom lip.
Be sure not to overfill your generator. The fuel needs some room for expansion. Wipe up any spilled gas from around the tank opening. Firmly twist the gas cap back onto the generator.
How to Safely Use a Generator:
Make sure to locate your generator on a flat level surface far away from your house (especially away from doors, windows and vents.) The Briggs & Stratton Q6500 has a telescoping handle that makes it easy to roll around. The generator weighs 128 pounds, so lifting it is much easier when you have a helper (look for grips on the bottom of the unit for convenient hand hold locations.)
The generator must be located outside the home. Never use a generator inside your home, garage or basement. Turn the generator so the muffler is pointed away from dwellings. Make sure you have Carbon Monoxide Detectors (affiliate link) installed inside your home. Keep combustibles at least 5 feet from the generator. Overhanging trees and structures also need to be at least 5 feet away from the generator. (This diagram from the Briggs & Stratton manual is a good visual to show you proper placement.)
To start the Briggs & Stratton Q6500 generator, make sure the QuietPower Technology switch is turned off.
Pull the choke out on the generator.
Turn the engine switch to the on position.
Firmly pull on the starter handle. You may need to pull a few times for the fuel pump to initially fill the carburetor. Luckily, the Briggs & Stratton Q6500 started right up for me on the first pull! (This was a huge relief because normally I have to fight with the lawn mower.)
Once the generator has started, press the choke back in.
To begin using the outlets on the generator, you must turn on the main breaker.
The Briggs & Stratton Q6500 QuietPower™ Series Inverter Generator has four standard 120 volt AC, 20 amp outlets, plus two USB ports for charging USB devices (per the manual, Apple devices are recommended to use the bottom USB port.)
In addition, the Briggs & Stratton Q6500 generator has one 120/240 AC, 30 Amp, locking receptacle. If powering indoor items such as an air conditioner, heater, lights or sump pump, the recommended way to do so is by installing a transfer switch (must be installed by a licensed electrician.)
Connect extension cords to your generator and run them into your home to supply power to several appliances.
Be sure to shut doors and windows behind you and seal any cracks to prevent any exhaust fumes from entering the home.
Use the following chart to gauge the capacity your generator can handle. This will allow you to calculate how many and which appliances you can safely run with your generator. The Briggs & Stratton Q6500 can provide 6,500 watts of starting power and 5,000 watts of running power.
For added convenience, the Briggs & Stratton Q6500 will show the percentage of power usage on the panel as you connect appliances. Keep an eye on these indicators and remove an appliance if you reach 100% capacity.
To reduce the noise on this Briggs & Stratton generator, you can switch the Quiet Power Technology on after your devices are powered.
How to Safely Store a Generator:
First remove all extension cords and powered devices. Let the generator run for one minute. Shut down the generator by turning the switch to the off position. Turn off the QuietPower Technology switch so you won’t forget to next time you start up the generator.
When you are finished using your generator, check the oil level and add more as needed. Before storing the generator, it is a good idea to run the gas to empty in the generator. Alternatively, using a fuel stabilizer will allow you to store the generator with gasoline in it.
Check the hoses, fuel tank, spark plug, and spark arrest (screen over muffler) on your generator and replace any parts that show signs of wear and tear. Otherwise, change the air filter and spark plug yearly. Wipe off any debris or dirt from the generator.
Refer to your generator’s manual to determine the maintenance schedule. The Briggs & Stratton Q6500 generator needs its first oil change after the first 5 hours of use. Consecutive changes are yearly or after 100 hours of use (whichever comes first.) Other generators may need oil changes more frequently. Family Handyman has a great article on maintaining and storing your generator.
Be sure to store excess gasoline in an approved gas container (affiliate link.) The gasoline will keep best if the container is filled and a fuel stabilizer is added. Your generator and excess fuel should be stored in a well ventilated area away from your home. A shed or detached garage are the safest options. If neither of those are available, you can build a small generator “dog house” to cover the engine when not in use.
I hope this guide for How to Safely Use and Store a Generator helps you take the plunge to buy a generator or maintain the one you already own. Stay safe!
Briggs & Stratton wants to give one lucky winner a $500 Home Depot Gift Card! You could use it toward the purchase of a Briggs & Stratton Q6500 QuietPower™ Series Inverter Generator on HomeDepot.com or toward any home improvement project you’re wanting to take on. Here’s how to enter:
Terms & Conditions: Winners will be selected at random using Rafflecopter. Briggs & Stratton and Pretty Handy Girl do not personally select winners. Entries must be received by Monday, July 24th, 2017 at 11:59pm EST. Contest open to adults aged 18 and older living within the Continental US. Winner will be notified by Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 via email. Winner must reply to email within 2 days of receiving the notice or an alternate winner will be selected. Please be sure you have [email protected] as an acceptable email address.
Prize will be fulfilled by Briggs & Stratton. Pretty Handy Girl cannot be held responsible for prizes that are not fulfilled by third party companies.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Briggs & Stratton. I was not told what to write or what to say. All opinions are my own. I am very particular about the brands that I partner with. If I don’t love them, I don’t promote them. I will also always disclose when you are reading a sponsored post.
It got me when you said that having no generator will make you have problems with the communication. With that in mind, I will be buying one since we might experience a power outage soon. It is because there has been a news that a hurricane will hit our area in the weekends, and it is stronger than the normal storm that we experienced before.
I live on Long Island so most definitely during Hurricane Sandy!
We get an ice storm at least once/year that would be super useful to have a generator!
With all this crazy Texas weather we could use the generator when there’s a storm.
we live in the sticks and the electric gets knocked out a lot, well in 2014 i had just had my daughter in June & it was horribly hot out, well needless to say it was out for 1 full week so we def could have used one then
This week is the 10 anniversary of the 2007 San Diego fire that took 1500 homes. Mine was spared, but we had no power for a week. I sure could have used this nice generator then.