Can You Run a Generator In The Garage? (Let’s Find Out)

Have you ever felt too lazy to find the appropriate place to put your generator? It is sometimes challenging to find the best place for your generator, even with the vague guidelines of not placing it near your house. You don’t want to hear all the noise that comes from a generator, so you wonder, “Can I put this generator in my garage? At least the noise there is not as bad.” But is it safe to put a generator in the garage?

Never run a generator inside a garage, especially with the doors closed. You should always run generators outdoors or in spaces with excellent ventilation because of the fumes that contain carbon monoxide. These fumes accumulate without proper ventilation and can lead to severe illness or death.

It is bad to run a generator inside your garage because it can kill you, but, in that case, where should you put your generator? There are rules/guidelines that you must follow when you locate where you want to run your generator. Additionally, the location of your generator is not the only thing that can save your life when you run your generator, but there are other safety tips that can also save your life. Let’s look at the all-important details about running your generator safely.

Why You Cannot Run a Generator In the Garage

It is essential to mention that there are two types of generators when answering whether or not you can run a generator in the garage: portable generators and standby generators. Because they are the most common type of generator, we will focus on portable generators.

When running your generator, you must have it in the correct location to prevent any hazards, accidents, or death.

As we’ve already mentioned, it is highly recommended that you do NOT run your generator in your garage because it poses high levels of risk and potential dangers.

There are many risks to running a generator in a garage, including a higher chance of electrocution occurring. However, the main danger is exposure to carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide cannot be smelled or seen and can be deadly if consumed.

Enclosed Spaces are Not Good for Generators

The most basic and essential rule of running a generator is never to run a generator in an enclosed space. The exhaust fumes of the generator contain carbon monoxide, which is very lethal. Some maintain that it is acceptable only if the garage doors are completely open, but why even risk it?

In 2004-2013, 136 deaths occurred in the United States of America of people having generators running in the garage. This is in addition to the 336 people that died because they either ran their generators in other enclosed spaces or in spaces located very close to their home.

It is, simply put, a no-brainer that you should not operate or run a generator in an enclosed space. That includes garages in which many people conveniently put their generator – until now.

Why the Fumes of Generators are Dangerous

While a generator is on, it expels carbon monoxide at very high levels from its exhaust. As already mentioned, carbon monoxide is poisonous, and you cannot smell, taste, or see it. Accordingly, you will not even know that it is causing harm to you while you are breathing it in!

Carbon monoxide is harmful if breathed in because the oxygen in your blood gets displaced by the carbon monoxide. This deprives vital organs, such as your brain and heart, of the necessary amount of oxygen.

If you are subjected to high levels of carbon monoxide, it can overcome your entire body in minutes. This can result in you losing your consciousness and suffocating.

Safe Places for You to Run Your Generator

Now that you know a garage is not the best place to run a generator, your next question might be, “well, then where should I run it?” Below, we will explore a couple of options available to you.

In the Outdoors, of Course!

The best possible location to run your generator is outside and a fair distance away from your house. The recommended distance is between 15-20 feet, but it’s even safer to go further.

If you can, you should place the generator on a concrete slab. This is to prevent the generator from standing in a yard that might be wet after rainfall. If your generator is on wet ground (or a wet area in general), the moisture can cause shock or electrocution.

Furthermore, point the exhaust of the generator away from your house. Your generator might be a fair distance from your house, but you do not want to risk the carbon monoxide particles coming your way. On that note, the exhaust of your generator must also not face any of your neighbors.

If it does rain, make sure that you have an appropriate cover for your generator. You can consult many hardware stores that can advise you on which roof or cover to buy for your generator to keep it safe from the rain. The one crucial thing to bear in mind when buying this cover is that it must provide enough ventilation for your generator.

Other Well-Ventilated Spaces

If there is no yard with your house, you will have to find another place to put your generator. This space must have excellent ventilation, and, thus, you cannot use your basement, crawl space, or any other space that does not have a lot of windows for the poisonous fumes to escape.

It is recommended that you purchase a carbon monoxide alarm and place it very close to your generator. This will ensure that when your generator is running, it will alert you if carbon monoxide levels are too high. This will only be in very dire circumstances because, ideally, you do not want your generator in an enclosed area.

Safety Tips for When You’re Using a Generator

We know now that you must avoid using your generator in a garage or any enclosed space by any means necessary. If this is not adhered to, you can risk your own life.

The question now remains, are there other safety tips when using a generator that can also spare your life? We look at a few:

  • Never plug your generator into the wall. This is to make sure that you do not ‘back feed.’ If you back feed, you can cause your appliances to overload on power and short circuit if the electricity comes back on. Rather, use longer heavy-duty cords with which you connect your appliances to the generator.
  • If your generator is exposed to the weather, make sure that it does not get wet. You can do this by getting a roof structure that protects your generator from rain but still ensures that there is enough ventilation.
  • Turn your generator off before you refuel it. If you do not turn your generator off before refueling it, the gasoline may come in touch with very hot parts of the generator, which can then catch fire or explode (in extreme circumstances).
  • As an alternative to a portable generator, consider buying a standby/backup generator. These generators cost a bit more and do not come with the mobility of portable generators, but they do not pose the risk of high carbon monoxide levels.


In conclusion, it is best not to be lazy when you decide where to put your generator. A garage might sound like a good option – it protects the generator from bad weather and tucks away the noise in some corner somewhere, but it is simply not worth it.

Running a generator in your garage can kill you if the carbon monoxide reaches very high levels. It is best not to store your generator anywhere near a place that does not have excellent ventilation. What is the most ventilated place on earth? Outside! That is where your generators belong.


Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections since 2002. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and an FHA 203k Consultant. I started to help people better understand whole-house and portable generators.

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