Know the hazards of portable generators
Before purchasing or installing a portable generator for use during a power outage, consider these important safety issues:
BACKFEED–Plugging a portable generator into an electrical outlet in your house could cause backfeed. This occurs when electricity from the generator flows through the home’s wiring, out through the electric meter, and passes through the utility’s transformer, energizing the utility service lines. Backfeed can injure or kill a utility worker who is repairing a power line!
TRANSFER SWITCH–When operating a portable generator, any effort to use home electrical appliances that are hard-wired to the wiring in a house requires the use of a transfer switch. The transfer switch will mechanically disconnect the household’s circuit from the utility’s power supply system. A transfer switch MUST be used to avoid backfeed into the utility’s power system and is required by electric code.
INSTALLATION–Electric code requires that a licensed electrician install stationary generators that are permanently wired to the household’s electrical system. The owner of the generator must acquire an electrical permit, and the unit must be inspected.