Staff Report

The primary hazards to avoid when using a generator are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust, electric shock or electrocution, and fire.

Fixed, installed generators

• Hire a licensed electrician to connect the generator to your house wiring using a transfer switch to prevent your generator from backfeeding utility lines and causing possible damage to your generator when utility power is restored

Portable, gasoline-powered generators

• Thoroughly read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid dangerous shortcuts and ensure the safe operation of your generator

• Set it up outside, away from all open windows, including neighbors’ windows, to prevent deadly exhaust from entering a home or business

• Use a heavy-duty extension cord rated for outdoor use to keep the generator safely outdoors. If the appliance has a three-prong plug, always use a three-prong extension cord

• Consider using a battery-operated carbon monoxide alarm to be alerted if carbon monoxide levels become dangerous

• Connect appliances directly to it. Do not wire your generator directly to your breaker or fuse box, because the power you generate may flow back into power lines and cause severe injuries, or even kill a neighbor or utility crew working to restore power

• Turn off all connected appliances before starting your generator

• Turn connected appliances on one at a time, never exceeding the generator’s rated wattage

• Don’t touch a generator if you are wet or are standing in water or on damp ground

• Never refuel a hot generator or one that is running – hot engine parts or exhaust can ignite gasoline

• Ensure you have plenty of gas for operation stored safely in gas containers

• Don’t leave a running generator unattended; turn it off at night and when away from home

Tip: Refrigerators may only need to run a few hours a day to preserve food. Try to maintain 40 degrees in the refrigerator compartment and zero degrees in the freezer.

Private Rooftop Solar System Safety If your home or business has a private solar system (such as rooftop solar panels), it may be possible to operate your system during a power outage as long as it is equipped with supplemental equipment.

Tip: Refrigerators may only need to run a few hours a day to preserve food. Try to maintain 40 degrees in the refrigerator compartment and zero degrees in the freezer.

Private solar systems are designed to automatically disconnect from the grid in the event of a power outage.

This nationally recognized safety standard protects crews restoring the grid from being electrocuted. However, a private solar system that is not connected to the grid can still operate with the right equipment – such as a battery.

While Floridians are not mandated by law to connect solar panels to the power grid, many customers choose to do so as a way to sell excess power generated by their systems back to the electric company – a program known as net metering. Connecting to the grid also enables a customer to purchase power from the FPL grid during times when they need more electricity than their solar panels are producing, such as on cloudy days or at night. In a sense, the grid serves as a “backup” for the private solar system.

FPL works closely with customers and their solar installers to ensure safe grid interconnections for private generation systems.

For additional information, visit energy/net-metering/guidelines.html and consult with your solar installer or electrician to determine your system’s capabilities.