If you need power while we maintain or fix our electricity network then you can use a generator to provide a temporary supply of power.
We can't guarantee uninterrupted supply of power on our network so it's important that our customers know what to do if they need to use generators to provide themselves with a temporary source of power. This page provides information for our customers on how best to safely do that.
Power outages can happen for a number of reasons:
- planned power outages are scheduled so that work can be safely completed to maintain or improve our network
- unplanned power outages can be caused by anything from cars hitting our power poles, things flying into our overhead lines or people hitting our underground lines with digging equipment
Making sure that our crews and customers are safe is our number one priority, so sometimes we may have to delay making repairs to our network until it’s safe for our crews to start work.
Types of Generators
Portable Generators can be moved from site-to-site and are intended to be used to directly supply appliances. A portable generator should NOT be connected directly to a home's mains electrical system because it could feed electricity back into our network and risk the lives of field crew. Care should be taken to ensure that the generator selected is suitable for the expected electricity load. For example, an electric jug can use 2,400VA so a 650kVA generator would be too small. We recommend that you seek professional advice.
Standby Generators are designed to provide large amounts of power and are typically used in a business or commercial operation. Stand-by generators are connected directly to the businesses' electrical system.
You are always best to seek advice from a registered electrician or generator supply specialist on the use of generators. W They can provide you with advice on what type of generator best suits your needs and may be able to help with the safe use or installation of a generator.
For portable generators you:
- should never use a generator indoors. You risk carbon monoxide poisoning from the fumes and also risk causing a fire
- should never add fuel to the generator while it is running
- should never use damaged leads or appliances. You should also use a safety switch designed especially for generators
- should never connect all appliances at the same time; start with the largest and progressively add successive ones up to the generator's maximum output
- should never 'piggy back' cords - always use a multiple-outlet box with built in load limiters.
For standby generators we strongly recommend you seek advice from either a registered electrician or generator supply specialist.
Did you know?
- A small generator that generates a maximum of 2,500 Watts of power is able to provide power for up to 25 one hundred watt light bulbs at the same time.
- Powering a freezer might only require 700 watts but when it starts it could need as much as 2,200 watts. It pays to check with your electrician what you can safely supply power for.
- Food in a freezer will usually remain frozen for 24 hours if the door is kept closed. Avoid the temptation to open it to check.
- If you use medical equipment that relies on electricity, inform your power retailer and have a plan in case of power disruption. If there is an immediate health threat, contact your health provider or call 111
- A generator should never be operated at its MAXIMUM power output for more than 30 minutes. Most generators have a maximum rating in watts, for example 2000 watts (two kilowatts)
- Where you want to run a generator may have noise restrictions that restrict impact generator usage, particularly at night