When used properly, portable and standby generators are a great option for providing backup power during an outage. But generators can be very dangerous—for you and for our line crews.
A generator used for backup power can send electrical power not only to your home or business but back into our power lines. This is referred to as backfeeding, and it can be extremely serious and even fatal for our linemen.
Any generator that will be connected to a home or business should have a transfer switch installed by a licensed electrician. A transfer switch can be manual or automatic and isolates the generator from our electrical system—removing the risk of backfeeding. Only a licensed electrician should install a transfer switch since it will be integrated into your main electrical supply.
Another way to avoid backfeeding is to use a generator with outlets and plug appliances directly into it. Use a properly sized outdoor extension cord for the appliances you want to power.
Always consult the owner’s manual for detailed instructions and safety guidelines before operating a generator.
Generator Location Safety Tips
- Always keep generators at least 20 feet away from your home.
- Never operate a generator in an enclosed space.
- Make sure the generator has 3-4 feet of clear space above and on all sides for proper ventilation.
- Keep generators away from doors, windows, and vents.
- Always direct exhaust away from your home.
Generator Use Safety Tips
- Always use grounded cords and inspect them for damage prior to use.
- Use the proper cord for the wattage being used.
- Always use ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection.
- Make sure to start and stop generators when no electrical load is connected.
- Keep generators dry, do not operate when wet, and refuel only when cool.
- Do not overload generators.
- Never plug a generator directly into a wall outlet.
Carbon Monoxide Poison Prevention
Improper use and installation of a generator could cause carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Ensure your home
has carbon monoxide alarms outside each sleeping area and on every level. Symptoms of CO poisoning are dizziness, headaches, nausea, and tiredness. If you experience CO poisoning symptoms, go outside for fresh air, do not reenter areas, and call 9-1-1.
For more information on generator safety, please visit the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) website.