Backup generators

During a power outage, electricity can be restored within minutes with a manual-start (portable) generator, or in seconds with an automatic-start (standby or stationary) unit. But a generator that isn’t installed or used correctly can put your family and our crews at risk – its voltage can cause serious injuries or death.

Have a licensed electrician install a surge protector at the essential loads panel to help prevent damage to sensitive equipment (e.g. TV, computer).

Portable generator

The size of a portable generator depends on how many electrical devices you want to run at the same time. Contact a supplier for advice about your needs.

Never plug a generator into a regular household electrical outlet.

  • You can connect your generator to each appliance with extension cords, or install a transfer switch and connect the generator to an outlet that is permanently wired to the outside of your home or building.
  • A transfer switch stops your generator from pushing electricity back into power lines, and protects our crews working on the lines from risk of serious injury or death.
  • Also, if you plug your generator directly into a regular wall outlet, the wiring in your home is no longer protected by a circuit breaker or fuse in the power panel. The wiring may become overloaded, overheat, and start a fire in your house.
  • The transfer switch should be installed by a licensed electrician who must obtain an electrical permit before work starts, meet all local codes, and have the installation inspected by a Manitoba Hydro electrical inspector.

Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • Never operate the generator in a house, garage, or other enclosed building.
  • Keep the generator at least 3 metres from windows, doors, and fresh air intake areas.

Know how to use your portable generator and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • When the power goes out, wait up to 10 minutes before starting up the generator.
  • If using a transfer switch, ensure the transfer switch and essential loads panel breakers are correctly positioned before you start up the generator.
  • Wait up to 20 minutes after power is restored before shutting down the generator.
  • Keep the generator dry, and protect it from rain or snow.
  • Operate the generator in a well-ventilated area.
  • Ensure your hands are dry and you are standing in a dry place when operating the generator.
  • Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) extension cord when using electrical tools outdoors.

Standby generator

A standby (or stationary) generator is powered by natural gas or propane. Most are powerful enough to run a central air conditioner, kitchen appliances, pumps, and other large items at the same time.

A standby generator, the transfer switch, and the essential loads panel must be installed by a licensed electrician.

Know how your standby generator works and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.