- Home Improvement
How to plug my generator into my dryer outlet and become a fatality
Don't rely on remembering to turn main off!
How not to hook your generator to your home.
Every storm season I see an increase in homeowners wanting to hook their portable generators into their house during power failures. I have done this in my own home several years ago. However, as an Electrical Inspector and Master Electrician, I chose to connect my portable generator in a manner that is not only code compliant but both easy and economical as well. Many people do not realize the dangers involved when they listen to their "handyman" neighbor's advice and make a double end cord that backfeeds into their dryer, range or other receptacle in the home. There are two major problems with this setup. First is the fact that this homemade cord has two "male" ends, one of which is plugged into the generator and the other into an existing outlet (typically a dryer) Sounds like a good idea right? Well now picture "Harry Homeowner" plugging one end into the generator and then cranking up the generator. Harry now has an energized cord with exposed cord cap end in his hand.! Okay, Harry proudly states "I'm smart enough to plug both ends in before firing up the generator." Well that seems fine unti the normal power comes back on and Mrs Homeowner unplugs the dryer cord and gets electrocuted. I tell folks that even if you think you have control over the generator hookup procedures in your home, to please consider the second danger involved with this scenario. The storm has knocked out normal power to your home and you hookup your previously described "deadman's cord". You forgot to turn off the main breaker in your electrical panel or you have an old panel without a main. Now when your generator is running you are backfeeding current into the power grid, which in turn can kill or injure a power company worker.
Many of these injuries and possible lawsuits described above could have been avoided with two simple devices. First a "flanged power inlet" which has "male" prongs should be used to comply with the National Electrical Code. Secondly, a manual transfer device that will not allow simultaneous sources of power should be used. It's important to note that both of these devices should be "approved" by your local buiding inspection department. Your locality may require a permit to install these, however don't let that discourage you. Many electrical inspectors are happy to assist you with understanding state or local regs. prior to your project. Speaking with an Inspector prior to starting could save both of you time and heartache including saving a life.
So in conclusion, when it comes to hooking up your portable generator to power your home, consult a licensed,qualified electrician for the job. And if your localilty allows you to do the work yourself and you feel qualified, at least check out this link to some of the devices I have described. http://www.interlockkit.com/
PS I have no affiliation with this company so if you find a similar source, just confirm that the products are "listed and labeled" as required in the National Electrical Code.