Portable Generators are Helpful Tools…When Used Properly

Portable generators are helpful tools in emergency situations and power outages. Recent Hurricane Irma left millions without power across the southeast. It also created a demand for portable gas-powered generators, which quickly disappeared off Myrtle Beach home improvement stores’ shelves.

Portable gas-powered generators usually output between 3,000 and 7,000 watts, enough to power a refrigerator, small appliances, and communication devices. Users can plug into a handful of 120-volt (and sometimes a single 240-volt) outlets and weather the power-outage in relative comfort.

Portable generators should not be tied directly to main electrical panel without a professional electrician. Nonetheless, “backfeeding” your home’s electrical panel from a portable generator remains a popular “trick” searched on web with plenty of DIY videos and discussion forums explaining how to do it.

What you may not read is that backfeeding may be illegal (and punishable) in your state or county, and it is also extremely dangerous. Yes, backfeeding with a generator can lead to death by electrocution for you, others in your home, and also workers working to restore power in your area.

What Is Backfeeding and Why Is It Dangerous?

Electricity comes into your home from utility lines. Before entering your house, a transformed throttles power to 240 volts. In your home, it routes through a circuit breaker where it is distributed to appliances, lighting, and outlets.

Backfeeding is a dangerous and possibly illegal way to power your home by connecting your generator to an appliance outlet (like a dryer outlet) and allowing electrical power to flow in reverse. Power moves backward to your electrical panel and is redistributed throughout the house.

Powering your home this way is dangerous and possibly illegal. If the main breaker is not shut off, power backfeeds to the utility lines outside your home, potentially shocking a maintenance worker. In these situations, you are responsible for injury or death, and could be criminally prosecuted.

Using backfeeding to restore power to your home is dangerous because electrical loads are not balanced. Also, unbalanced loads are inefficient and put extra strain on your generator.

Call Cooper For A Better Solution

When used as intended, portable generators are an excellent way to preserve power to essential appliances and devices. However, users that explore backfeeding are usually those looking for a more comprehensive backup power solution.

If powering your entire home is desired, a permanently-installed residential generator from Cooper Electrical Services is your best option. Residential generators tie directly to liquid propane or natural gas lines, so they do not require manual refueling. They safely (and legally) power your main electrical panel, restoring power to all circuits.

Additionally, with a residential generator power restoration is automatic and immediate. When your system senses a disruption in incoming utility power, your residential generator will switch on within seconds.

To learn more about residential power generation solutions, call Cooper Electrical Services and speak to one of our residential generator professionals.