Underwriters Laboratories (UL) announced the publication of UL 2201, a Standard for Portable Engine-Generator Assemblies. Prior to this standard, there was no voluntary safety standard for portable generators sold in the United States.

When used improperly or when used indoors, portable generators may present potential safety risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust, electric shock or electrocution, and fire. Unsafe portable generators also can pose a danger for an installer.

“Portable generators are becoming more popular for consumers, so it is important for the industry to manufacture and market portable generators that have been tested for foreseeable hazards,” said Robert Williams, vice president of standards for UL.

According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), the estimated number of portable generators in U.S. households grew from 9.2 million units in 2002 to 10.6 million units in 2005. The number of deaths associated with portable generators has increased annually since 1999. The CPSC reported at least 365 generator-related deaths between 1990 and 2005, many of them after a hurricane or other major storm.

“Portable generators are commonly used during and after storms; however, consumer-grade generators typically are not weatherproof and can pose the risk of electrocution and shock when used in wet conditions,” Williams said. “UL 2201 will help to mitigate the safety hazards related to poor weather conditions. We are prepared to test and certify generators that can operate safely outdoors under the real-world conditions consumers will experience.”

UL performance requirements will permit safe outdoor use of UL-listed portable generators during storms or poor weather conditions as well as require clear usage labels that may help reduce the known risks of CO poisoning and electrocution. UL is prepared to begin evaluating portable generators to UL 2201 effective immediately.

For more information, visit www.ul.com.