Whether a natural disaster has already struck, or you just want to be prepared, it is a good idea to know how to use a generator in an apartment. For better or worse, much of our daily lives rely on electricity, so it is important to know how to properly use your generator.
For starters, I must call out that you should never run a gas generator inside an apartment or any enclosed area.
How to Use a Generator in an Apartment?
Using a gas generator indoors can have deadly consequences, so you should only use a gas generator on an apartment porch or balcony.
You should NEVER use a gas generator inside an apartment because it emits carbon monoxide. This is dangerous for two reasons:
- Carbon monoxide is very deadly if inhaled. It is dangerous because it is an odorless gas, so you might not know you are inhaling it until it is too late.
- Carbon monoxide and the gas inside your generator is very flammable, so even a small spark can set your whole apartment on fire.
Technically, you are supposed to run a generator at least 10 feet away from your house to prevent carbon monoxide from entering your home. However, desperate times calls for desperate measures, and if you desperately need to use your generator, you can put it outside on your porch or balcony. However, there are a couple tips you should keep in mind.
Close all windows and doors: When the generator is running, it is important that you keep all windows and doors closed to prevent any carbon monoxide from seeping into your apartment. To be extra careful, you should put down your window shades.
This will also help reduce some of the noise from the generator. You will probably need to keep either a window or door open just a crack in order to run cords from your generator into your home.
Put generator far from door: While you might not have too much room to work with, it is important that you put it as far away from doors/window as possible. You should also try to point the exhaust away from your building to reduce carbon monoxide seeping and noise.
Use cushion pads: You should put some sort of cushions underneath your generator. This will help reduce noise by preventing the generator from shaking on your porch floor. Your downstairs neighbor will appreciate this.
Keep area dry: This is often overlooked, but it is very important that your generator stays dry at all times. Even a small amount of water can cause your generator to malfunction and it can be a fire hazard. If it is raining or snowing, try covering the generator with an umbrella. You can also use a tarp to make a canopy, but make sure the tarp doesn’t touch the generator.
Avoid extreme heat/cold: Most generators can only handle outdoor temperatures between -4 degrees fahrenheight and 120 degrees fahrenheight. If the weather is below or above this range, it can stall your generator or even cause an explosion.
Don’t overload: It is important that you don’t overload your generator. You should research the appliances that you plan to connect to your generator to make sure they don’t exceed your generator’s watt capacity.
Extension cords: If you plan on powering high wattage appliances, it is important that you use appropriate extension cords that can handle the power that is being transferred. To learn more, check out the best extension cords for a generator.
Watch for pets/kids: It is important that you don’t let any pets or little kids near the generator while it is running.
Use a shed: While this isn’t mandatory, putting your generator inside of a shed on your porch will help keep the noise level down and will help prevent carbon monoxide from entering your apartment. A great option is this storage shed.
Check with landlord: Many apartment buildings have rules that limit the size of generators. Some apartments prohibit their use altogether. You should be mindful of your apartment rules before you run the generator.
If you are looking for places to store your generator when it’s not in use, you should check out my guide on storing portable generators outside.
Other options besides a porch
If you don’t have an apartment porch and you desperately need to run your generator, you can try putting it on your apartment roof if you are on the top floor. This is pretty dangerous, and should only be used as a last resort.
You should never run a generator inside of a garage. However, if you have no other options, you can run the generator in the garage if you keep the garage door open. However, you should not do this for more than a couple hours.
Battery powered generator for apartment
Battery powered generators can be run inside your apartment, because they are powered by lithium batteries and do not emit gas into the air.
However, you should keep in mind that most battery powered/electric generators can only produce up to 1000-2000 watts.
My favorite battery powered generator is the Westinghouse iGen1000s.
This generator produces 3000 starting watts and 1500 running watts. This is enough to power multiple small appliances (lights, phone/computer chargers, televisions, wifi routers) at once.
It also has the power to run a refrigerator/freezer for at least a day or two. It can also power a microwave.
Tips for using an electric generator in your apartment
If you plan on using an electric generator in your apartment, you should fully discharge and charge it every couple of months to keep it fresh. An electric generator that hasn’t been used in months will lose its power over time, which means it might not be ready to run unless it has a decent charge.
There are many electric generators that are less than 1000 watts, so you should keep in mind that they can’t power big appliances like refrigerators or heaters.