January 25, 2007
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted unanimously (2-0) today to require manufacturers of portable generators to warn consumers of carbon monoxide (CO) hazards through a new “Danger” label. The label states that, “Using a generator indoors CAN KILL YOU IN MINUTES.” Manufacturers will be required to place the “Danger” label on all new generators and the generators’ packaging. The label warns consumers that a generator’s exhaust contains carbon monoxide, a poison that cannot be seen and has no odor, and that generators should never be used inside homes or garages, even if doors and windows are open.
The death toll from CO associated with generators has been steadily rising in recent years. At least 64 people died in 2005 from generator-related CO poisoning. Many of the deaths occurred after hurricanes and major storms. CPSC staff is aware through police, medical examiner and news reports of at least 32 CO deaths related to portable generators from October 1 through December 31, 2006.
“These deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning are preventable,” said Acting CPSC Chairman Nancy Nord. “The warning labels are meant to stop consumers before they make what could be a fatal mistake.”
Generators should be used outdoors only, far from windows, doors and vents. The CO produced by one generator is equal to the CO produced by hundreds of running cars. It can incapacitate and kill consumers within minutes.
The new “Danger” label requirement goes into effect on May 14, 2007 and is required for any portable generator manufactured or imported after that date.
In a separate action last month, the Commission began rulemaking to address safety hazards with generators by approving an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR). The Commission directed staff to investigate various strategies to reduce consumers’ exposure to CO and to enable and encourage them to use generators outdoors only. Those strategies include generator engines with substantially reduced CO emissions, interlocking or automatic shutoff devices, weatherization requirements, theft deterrence and noise reduction.
U.S. CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION
BALLOT VOTE (FINAL RULE FOR LABELING REQUIREMENTS FOR PORTABLE GENERATORS)
January 4, 2007
The demand for portable generators has increased greatly in recent years. So too have the number of people who have been killed or sickened by carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the improper use of those generators. Portable generators are extremely useful machines, particularly after the loss of electricity in the wake of a storm or other unforeseen circumstance. However, the amount of CO emitted from a portable generator can be several hundred times that released by a modern car’s exhaust and can kill consumers in a very short period of time. Consumers need to be adequately warned of the hazards posed by the improper use of a portable generator.
Today I am voting to promulgate a final rule that requires all portable generators sold in the United States to bear an explicit warning label that will better advise consumers about the very real danger of CO poisoning posed by the use of a portable generator in or near a home. The final rule requires labeling that uses explicit language that warns, “Using a generator indoors CAN KILL YOU IN MINUTES,” and “NEVER use inside a home or garage, EVEN IF doors and windows are open,” as well as other pertinent safety warnings. Providing this safety information will convey to consumers the CO hazard associated with generators and instructions on how to avoid the hazard. The deaths resulting from CO poisoning from improper portable generator use are preventable, and this warning label is an important step towards eliminating these tragic, but avoidable, deaths in the future.
I am voting today to issue a final rule for labeling requirements for portable generators. This vote today concludes a process that involved excellent Commission staff work and is an important beginning step toward improvements in the safe use and operation of portable generators.
The Commission staff concluded several years ago that the warning labels on portable generators were not as clear or as strong as they could be about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning related to operating portable generators in or near living spaces. Staff worked in the voluntary standards arena, through Underwriters Laboratories (UL), to make changes to the labeling requirements, as well as to the operation of the generators themselves. When this process stalled, UL took it upon itself to impose new labeling requirements for generators bearing the UL certification mark. But this is not a consensus standard and it is unclear how many currently marketed generators bear the new UL warning label.
The Commission’s broader and more comprehensive review of the existing portable generator safety measures could take a considerable amount of time to reach a conclusion. There remain inconsistencies in generator operations which the label cannot cure, such as, the inability to use generators in the very circumstances—wet conditions—in which they are most likely to be needed, and instructions to use a short extension cord, which can have the effect of placing the generator too close to the house for safe operation. But while we are working on the other issues relating to generator safety, we should do what we can to try to stem the rising tide of deaths from portable generators. Therefore, I think that today’s action to mandate improved warning labeling could be one important step in enhancing generator safety.
As a matter of course, we will take another look at the labeling of generators in the context of the broader generator safety rulemaking. If fundamental changes are proposed to the generators themselves, it could certainly have an impact on future generator labeling requirements.
January 19, 2007
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following consumer product. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.
Name of Product: DEWALT DG2900 Portable Generators
Units: About 13,000
Manufacturer: DEWALT Industrial Tool Co., of Towson, Md.
Hazard: A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) installed on the generator could fail to operate properly, posing a risk of electric shock to consumers.
Incidents/Injuries: No incidents or injuries have been reported.
Description: The recall involves DEWALT DG2900 2900 watt gasoline-powered generators with date codes 200150 through 200635. The generators are black and yellow. “DEWALT” and “DG2900” are printed on the generator. The date code is stamped on the right side of the unit on the black plastic covering the rear of the control panel. Units with an “R” stamped on the name plate are not affected by this recall.
Sold by: Major home center and hardware stores nationwide from December 2001 through November 2006 for between $900 and $1,000.
Manufactured in: Japan
Remedy: Consumers should stop using the generators immediately and contact DEWALT to arrange for a free inspection and, if necessary, free repair.
Customer Contact: For more information, contact DEWALT toll-free at (888) 742-9108 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s Web site at:
January 16, 2007
Q: I live on a farm and want to install a generator. My electrical meter is outside on a hydro pole, and it has a master shutoff below the meter. The breaker box inside of the house also has a master breaker shutoff on it, its a 100 amp. If I shut off both master breakers, and hook the generator into house circuit at the main breaker box, there wouldn’t be any feedback into main supply hydro line, that the hydro repair men could be injured at all, or would there be.
A: In theory this will work. However, this is not safe and it is a National Electrical Code (NEC) violation. Depending on where you live this could also be illegal. Here in Montana, the NEC has been adopted into legislation and this would be illegal here.
The problem with just turning off your breakers is that mistakes can be made. You may forget to turn off your breakers or the breaker could be bad and not turn off which would allow the power to backfeed into the utility line.
You are required to install a transfer switch between the meter/disconnect on the pole and your breaker box. We typically install these right next to your breaker box. Using a transfer switch is the only safe and legal way to wire a back-up generator into your electrical system. Transfer switches can be tricky to install and I highly recommend hiring a licensed electrician that is experienced at installing generators.
If you have a portable generator and no transfer switch, the only safe way to use this is by running extension cord(s) from your generator to the appliance(s) you want to work off of your generator during the power outage.
January 10, 2007
(ARA) – According to the Electric Power Research Institute, about 3.5 million people in the United States lose power each week. As power outages become a way of life in some areas of the country, more homeowners are switching from their portable generators to permanent, home generator systems. The systems receive continuous fuel supply from a home’s propane or natural gas supply, and are permanently installed and wired directly to the electrical system to provide automatic standby power in the event of utility power loss.
How do you decide which type of generator is right for your home?
Portable generators are more versatile than home generator systems, as they can be transported to provide power for home backup power, DIY projects and recreational activities. Portable generators connect to tools or to the home with an extension cord and may be moved to wherever the homeowner needs a power supply.
Homeowners may select from a variety of engine types, fuel tank sizes and outlet types, depending on what type of appliance power is desired. Portable generators are available in manual or electric starting models, and range in price from $500 to $1,500.
One disadvantage to portable generators is that they are unable to power as many appliances at a time — or high-wattage items such as air-conditioners — as home generator systems can.
Portable generators have roots in the construction industry, and although extremely versatile, they do have limitations, especially when being used for residential home backup power. Consumers must move the generator to a safe location outside the home, start the generator, and run extension cords to key appliances inside the home. Having enough gasoline on hand for the duration of the power failure can also be a challenge. Run times are limited to the size of the gasoline tank, which is a critical consideration, especially if the outage lasts more than a day or two.
Home Generator Systems
There is a more efficient solution to power failure. Exclusively designed for residential use, Home Generator Systems supply fully automatic backup power whether you are home or away, receive a continuous fuel supply from a propane or natural gas supply, and are permanently wired to your home’s electrical system for hassle-free, continuous backup power. Residential Home Generator Systems are also significantly quieter than most portable generators, and feature a durable, weatherized compartment for an attractive, subtle yard presence.
Recently, the trend has been for homeowners to seek out “Whole House” power solutions that often result in enormous and costly industrial liquid-cooled standby generators to meet with their ever increasing household power demand. “You don’t really need a larger generator, just a smarter one,” says Scott Alderton, director of marketing for Briggs & Stratton Power Products Group. “Briggs & Stratton has recently introduced the industry’s first line of high efficiency Home Generator Systems — the IntelliGEN Series. Equipped with an advanced computer-controlled power management system and a premium commercial-grade Vanguard engine, IntelliGEN has both the brains and the brawn to efficiently manage the same essential and high wattage household power demands as a more expensive 25kW liquid cooled standby generator,” Alderton said. “IntelliGEN is also nearly half the size of most liquid-cooled standbys, uses up to 50 percent less fuel, is up to 50 percent quieter, and costs half as much,” Alderton added.
When comparison shopping for home generator systems, evaluate choices based on:
* Essential appliances and high-wattage items — what do you want to power?
* Energy efficiency — how much fuel does the generator require and how much does it cost to power your appliances per kilowatt?
* Overload protection — does the system prevent generator overload due to unmanaged power demand?
* Design and operation — how much space does the generator take up and how loud is it when it is running?
Courtesy of ARA Content
December 10, 2006
CPSC Approves ANPR to Make Portable Generators Safer
Rulemaking Aims to Address Rising Death Toll
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) unanimously approved (2-0) an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) to address safety hazards associated with portable generators.
Chief among the safety hazards is carbon monoxide (CO) exhaust from gasoline-powered generators which is highly poisonous and can overcome and kill consumers in minutes when a generator is used indoors.
CO deaths associated with generators have spiked in recent years as generator sales have risen. In 1999, generators were associated with 6% of the total yearly estimated CO poisoning deaths associated with all consumer products compared to 24% in 2002. There were at least 64 deaths in 2005 alone from CO poisoning associated with generators.
“These are preventable deaths,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Nancy Nord. “We need to determine if additional measures can be taken to make generators safer to use. We must reverse the rising death toll from carbon monoxide associated with generators.”
The ANPR cites several possible strategies to reduce consumers’ exposure to carbon monoxide, including generator engines with substantially reduced CO emissions and interlocking or automatic shutoff devices.
Additional strategies to address CO and other hazards include weatherization requirements, theft deterrence and noise reduction. These measures are intended to enable and encourage consumers to use generators outdoors and properly placed far away from their homes.
As part of a separate rulemaking, the Commission is considering a mandatory warning label for generators. Earlier this year, the Commission proposed a rule requiring a new warning label warning that a generator’s exhaust contains poisonous carbon monoxide and that a generator should NEVER be used inside the home or in a partially-enclosed area such as a garage.
The ANPR will be published in the Federal Register in the next few weeks. Following publication, the public will have 60 days to provide comments to the Commission. Comments can be submitted to CPSC’s Office of the Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org Entire story