Is Backfeeding Generator Illegal?

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Last updatedLast updated: June 16, 2021
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Electricity backfeeding is an illegal bypassing that can lead to death to utility workers or yourself. Also, it can destroy your home if things go wrong. Backfeeding generator is a process that involves tying your portable generator into the electrical panel while not making use of a transfer switch. As you can imagine, it is very dangerous and is often very illegal. Under no circumstance should you attempt this. So, it’s not something we advise. Restoring power to your home is a dangerous procedure as the electrical loads at home are not balanced. There have been documented reports of fire outbreaks as a result of this crude practice. It also poses dangers to employees from power companies who may be working on wires that are supposed to be off or dead but eventually fed back with electric currents from a backfed generator. In this article, we will see the concept fully, the procedure, the possible dangers, reasons why it’s illegal, and possible safer alternatives.

What is backfeeding?

In electrical circuits, feedback is the process in which part of the output energy of a circuit or system is transferred, back, to its input, with the aim of reinforcing, reducing, or controlling the energy output of the circuit. The system is then said to be feeding back into itself.

What types of generators are suitable for backfeeding and how is the whole procedure done?

Some people choose a 3,500 watts generator with four duplex outlets, 120-volt outlets with 20 amp plugs.  What you’ll do is get a double male end cord and a 20 amp plug. You’lI get 12 gauge wire which is rated for 20 amps and add another male end which is going to go into a receptacle in the house. With these, there’s very little that can go wrong in this other than building it wrongly.

Is Backfeeding Generator Illegal?

How the procedure is done

We are going to take you through the process of how to build a generator backfeed cord. Now before anybody says it’s a suicide cord, you’re going to kill yourself, what if this and what if that, please know that this is illegal and has a lot of dangers. If you would still like to continue, ensure that:

  1. you know how electrical power works and know that you’re supposed to have the main off and everything else if you’re going to back feed your generator.
  2. ensure you do not have any kids, pets, or anyone in the house that are going to pull the plug.

Backfeeding, as earlier mentioned, involves routing electric flow from the generator and plugging it into an outlet straight.

Backfeeding is carried out with two make extension cords. The electric current will therefore move backwards into the electrical panels from your outlet. The power is supplied throughout your home.

It’s a seemingly easy way of powering homes for many people, but it’s done by many without knowing the risks therein.

Is backfeeding illegal and possible dangers?

Backfeeding is considered illegal and is the closest way to starting a fire outbreak or causing electrical shock. Many times, the fire outbreak starts when the normal power of the homeowner comes back online. So, two power sources are coming to and fro the generator and the panel.

This results in an overload of the electrical system, resulting in a very large fire risk which could start at the generator or panel end. The risks are limitless. The generator could catch fire and the fuel tank could also explode. In many cases, the house of the user may also catch fire.

In an extreme situation, the portable generators, the neighbor’s house, vehicles could get burnt.

Asides from the fire risks, generator backfeeding is illegal and it’s not just because of governments’ excessive and overreaching power. There’s a reason for this.

By backfeeding a generator to a house, the electricity you’re generating from the portable generator is routed back into the electrical grid.

What this means is that if perhaps there is an employee from the power company who is working with the lines, he stands at a high risk of getting electrocuted without being aware of the reason. As the lines he is working on are supposed to be dead, backfeeding a generator can mean electric current will flow back into the presupposed dead wires. And you don’t want to be responsible for their mishap.

However, for those still wanting to know how to backfeed a generator, here are rules to follow. Remember that these rules don’t eliminate the main risks.

What you should do

  • Only use the generator in a dry and open space that is well ventilated.
  • Have a fire extinguisher and carbon monoxide detector handy
  • Properly ground the generator
  • Shut down the generator before refueling
  • Keep the children away
  • Use the generator only as the manufacturer directs through the manual
  • Use the supplied cords supplied by the manufacturer.

What you should avoid

  • Never use the generator indoors. Do not keep the exhaust fumes enclosed.
  • Do not connect to your home’s wiring directly.
  • Do not overload.
  • Finally, do not leave the generator unattended for long.


Alternative solutions

One of the alternative solutions is to call a professional electrician to install a two-position transfer switch or a panel that will not include backfeeding to the utility if you have to connect the generator into the building’s wiring. This procedure can be carried out for large generators. Look for a more powerful and reliable generator. According to most reviews, the most reliable model must be the DuroMax XP12000EH, which, thanks to its reinforced construction, 12,000 watts capacity, and dual-fuel engine, is the most reliable option out there. Or you can always get a whole-house generator, which will be a much safer solution.

Final thoughts

Never return electricity to your home and consequently into the power grid. The internet is awash of many articles explaining ways to “recycle” power to your home using an extension cord with two male ends. Backfeeding generator come as a result of terrible advice. You shouldn’t follow them as re-feeding is illegal and dangerous for good reasons. It kills and can kill families, unsuspecting neighbors, as well as utility linemen instantly. It’s indeed a suicide mission. If you need to rid all of the extension cords, then you will need to raise a few hundred dollars on a transfer switch. Next, you’ll need to pay a professional electrician to have it installed. This is the safest alternative to using multiple extension cords.

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