Using generators for back-up power

A generator can supply electricity to your property if there is a power outage, so you can keep some of your key electrical appliances running.

You must take safety steps when installing and using your generator. If you want to connect a generator as backup power, hire a licensed electrician to install and carry out alterations. Once the works are complete, make sure they issue you with a certificate of compliance.

Carbon monoxide is highly poisonous. It has no colour or smell, so it is difficult to detect. This gas is produced when petrol, natural gas or LPG burns.

Do not use portable generators:

  • inside or any closed-in space
  • near open windows, vents and doors to prevent carbon monoxide gas inside.

Purchasing a generator

The type and size of generator you need will depend on the number and type of electrical appliances you're running. The generator will also need enough output to cover the initial surge of power that appliances draw when they first switch on.

Some electronic equipment, such as TVs, computers and phones are sensitive to fluctuations in power supply. If you are powering these devices with a generator, you might need one that doesn’t cause power to surge or spike. Remember to consider the product warranties and any after-sales-service the supplier could provide.

Installing a generator

A licensed electrician must install a changeover switch so the generator and the normal electricity supply can’t run at the same time. Where needed, the electrician must also:

  • install an inlet to connect to the property’s electrical installation
  • consider the current rating of any flexible connection.

Severe penalties apply if your system doesn’t follow the right electrical safety standards (AS/NZS 3000). Your electrician must give you a certificate of compliance, confirming the work has been carried out correctly and is safe for you to use.

Using a generator

Before using your generator, make sure you read the manufacturer's instructions and understand:

  • how to use the generator
  • how often it needs to be serviced.

Hazards when running a generator include:

  • carbon monoxide poisoning
  • electric shock
  • fire.

Safety tips for using a generator

Connecting appliances

Make sure extension cords are in good condition and protect them from potential damage.

Only use extensions cords that are approved as safe to use in Australia.

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      Page last updated 14 August 2023

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