The CPSC Says Plug To Socket, Not Plug To Plug, Please

When the power goes out, it goes without saying that all the lights and sockets in a house stop working. Savvy rural homeowners stock up with candles, batteries, LED lights, and inverters.  More foolhardy folks simply hook up their home electrical system to a generator using a mains lead with a plug on one end between the generator and a wall socket. This should be so obviously dangerous as to be unnecessary, but it’s become widespread enough that the US Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a warning about the practice. In particular, they’re concerned that there’s not even a need to wire up a lead, as they’re readily available on Amazon.

The dangers they cite include electrocution, fire hazard from circumventing the house electrical protection measures, and even carbon monoxide poisoning because the leads are so short that the generator has to be next to the socket. Hackaday readers won’t need telling about these hazards, even if in a very few and very special cases we’ve seen people from our community doing it. Perhaps there’s a flaw in the way we wire our homes, and we should provide a means to decouple our low-power circuits when there’s a power cut.

It’s likely that over the coming decades the growth of in-home battery storage units following the likes of the Tesla Powerwall will make our homes more resilient to power cuts, and anyone tempted to use a plug-to-plug lead will instead not notice as their house switches to stored or solar power. Meanwhile, some of us have our own ways of dealing with power outages.

Plug image: Evan-Amos, Public domain.

101 thoughts on “The CPSC Says Plug To Socket, Not Plug To Plug, Please

  1. I saw it was written by [Jenny List] (a Brit) but the title listed a USA acronym, and therefore I was briefly confused.
    Those little cords are also called “suicide plugs”.
    Yes, PLEASE either feed the generator directly into the appliance, or have a Transfer Switch installed ahead of time if you intend to use a generator for power outage backup.
    (Currently (no pun intended) we have been waiting months for a certified electrician to stop by to give us an estimate on having a Transfer Switch installed -contractors are very busy here.)

        1. number 1 point of failure in any system is the operator, I actually personally failed to do this during a several day ice storm, but I woke up in the middle of the night in a panic to run downstairs and shut it off

        2. Then the breaker needs to be Locked Out as in a lock to prevent some else, or you, from mistakenly turning on the mains with the generator connected. That’s why you should use an interlock so that mistake is impossible.

        3. The breaker is the thing which protects over current. Turning it off/circumventing it takes it out of the loop making it ineffective. You would have to have a generator hookup (transfer switch, interlock) before the circuit breaker to make it safe.

          1. While valid, counterpoint: the mains breaker being bypassed in this case is the 200-300amp main, while the generator will be feeding in on a 20amp branch. Additionally, the generator also has a breaker.

            In this setup, turning off the main and feeding power in through an outlet, you’re not going to be able to do much more than lights and basic devices before you trip that 20amp. That’s a much stricter safety control than the 200-300 being bypassed provides, assuming they remember to have it off at all times that the generator is plugged in.

        4. Actually, there is one. If you or someone else unplugs the male plug going into the home outlet, that plug is “hot” and has exposed wire. So, this is an electrocution risk if you trip on it or something. This is why the “code” was to do it is to install a male outlet and plug in a female ended cord

    1. While back powering the grid is a concern, that is easily solved by flipping the main breaker. The real danger is the 15A/20A wire between the outlet and its breaker. The breaker may not flip on a backward load, so if your whole house is 20A+ you got heat and fire. Now if you flipped the outlets breaker and only powered that one leg, should be safe, but no breaker protection. If you have a 15A breaker on your generator before reverse plugging in, then it should be totally safe no matter what, but it will likely flip as most houses pull more than 15A, at least occasionally.

        1. Not this again..

          First, if you plug a generator, even if you luck out and find a 50KW diesel generator, and you turn the main breaker off, and plug it into one of your residential outlets with a suicide cord, guess what. The most power you are going to get out of it is about 3WK before the breaker on that branch pops, and that is assuming it is a 20A breaker and pops at more like 25A. Now I dunno about you but I can not power my whole house with 3KW. Now I were to clip it right on one of the phases, I might be OK until I turned a few big loads on, but the breaker on the generator will pop before you fully light up the house. My pal has a 13KW generator that auto falls over. Even with that, you have to be careful. The heating or AC, and washing your face (well pump and hot water heater) are enough to bog it down. If the fridge or freezer kicks on our god forbid you have dinner on the stove.. Pop.

          But lets say you have something even that big, and you backfeed the line. He and I both live far enough out that the line might be bad on the secondary of our pole pig, so in that case we would just light up our houses and the folks right around us on the same pole pig. Given the generator can not even handle all the loads in one house, multiplying that by a few and if you are lucky all you do is pop the breaker on the generator. If you are unlucky you damage either the generator or the engine powering it.

          Now I know a few of you are already jumping up and down going to blab about transformers. Transformers that you have never had the opportunity to play with most likely. I can tell you from playing with them, that the secondary, the 240V side of a pole pig, has an unbelievably low impedance and even with the primary open, I can not fire one up backwards off of my 200A service without a lot of reactance to limit the current. It just pops the big main breaker, Even if you could backfeed a pole pig, you are back to trying to power up multiple houses with your little generator and it is just not going to work well. If you do get it to work well, by all means patent it cause you will have the technology to put every single utility in the world out of business. More realistically you will just pop the breaker on your generator.

          Ponder trying to push a freight train and your buddy stops by with a come along. Only the electrical disadvantage is worse than that. Figure 60:1 for a 7.2KV line.

          Now, there are some very rare cases where a utility person may be hurt, but they are rare and the first rule is for lineman is to always treat a line like it is hot. My utility worker friend told me what kills lineman is the utility or other utilities who do have the power to light up the grid, unexpectedly. They have the power generation capacity to do it. You, do not.

          I suspect a lot of this lore about cooking lineman comes from people not knowing what they are talking about or not thinking it through, and trying to keep people from shocking themselves with the energized male end of the cord, and some concerns about people burning their houses down or gassing themselves playing with gas and hot engines and toxic exhaust. The fear is not necessarily a bad thing. I mean there are people out there that put batteries in things backwards. There are people who have no technical grasp whatsoever, and in their hands a suicide cord is a really bad idea. But if you know what you are doing and understand what you are doing, and how to do it safely, I really do not see a problem. Pop the main breaker off. No danger of backfeeding or the line coming on and toasting your generator. The train analogy again… You might not be able to move the train, but the train can most certainly move you. Be careful to plug the load side in first so the other end is not energized, and be aware that you are limited to the amount of current that one branch you are feeding can carry. Oh and anything on the other phase is not going to get any power. When the lights next door come on, turn the loads off, turn the gas to the generator off, when it stops remove the suicide cord and flip the breaker back on. Not rocket science.

          1. Your assuming the grid is alway intact. After storms roll through only portions of your neighborhood grid may be connected. This still poses a risk to utility personnel.

          2. You’re mistaken in that backfeeding will instantly trip the generator’s breaker because it’s trying to power the entire grid. Or that it will trip a branch circuit’s breaker, or that it will trip a home’s main breaker.

            Bobsdecline shows a real world example of a utility outage, where someone actually did backfeed the grid. There’s so much power backfeeding through one of the phases that the pole smokes and smoulders.


            “The remaining portion of broken wire, being on the Load side, was dangling innocently from the next pole down. Technically speaking, this wire is dead. It is completely disconnected from its source.”

            “as the wind blows this dead wire against the pole, the pole heats up and actually starts a small fire.”

          3. Franqlin: that is not somebody with a generator. That’s a big three-phase load, maybe a motor (could be a combination of things), that is being powered by the two phases that are left, and then the third phase is being energized. Very different scenario.

  2. It is relatively easy to buy or make a lockout tab of metal, it blocks the “backfeed” circuit until you shut off the main breaker, lift the tab, then you can switch on the backfeed. Fairly safe that way.

    1. It’s even been covered here (and naturally caused some debate):

      My father used a similar method to backfeed power to his cabin using a bank of batteries and a 1,200 watt inverter. He just needed a way to keep the lights on when grid went down in middle of a storm. Flip the breaker, plug in the inverter, and he was set.

      Though to be fair, if it was a whole house with appliances and all that, he probably would have gotten a proper transfer switch.

        1. Since they are selling suicide cords now I immediately tried to picture that as a product which someone could sell through Amazon and I think I’ve got it.

          I’m picturing something that looks like a coin cell holder only with thick leads for more amperage on an E26 base. The user sticks their penny in the holder then snaps a glass or acrylic cover over it and screws it into the fuse box.

          It can be marketed as the Ever-fuse. Guaranteed to last a lifetime or your money back. I love it!

      1. Recently replaced the power cord on my dishwasher; the hardware store sold me one with good (but undersized) wire and weak insulation. Over the course of a year the insulation melted off the “hot” wire all the way back to the wire grommet; then shorted and tripped a GFCI and let us know there was a problem.

        I’m very glad of my box of old parts now; considering how unlikely it is to find quality in new parts.

      2. Nothing wrong with CCA when actually used correctly. Almost all of the problems were from breakers and receptacles that weren’t designed for it.
        And if your house was built in the last 40-50 years there’s a good chance all your power is running through aluminum up to your main disconnect.

  3. There certainly are proper ways to arrange such a thing. A vital aspect is a transfer switch. In other words a way to disconnect your house from the rest of the planet and connect it to the local generator. The idea of using a cord with male plugs (is that redundant, eh?) on both ends just gives me the heebie jeebies. Not to mention that is also gives me the willies.

    1. Right? You can’t plug *anything* in, without setting eyes on the other end of it to be sure of what you’re energizing, if there’s even one of those rat b*st*rds anywhere in the house!

      And then what if there are kids in the house?

      1. I’ve used these in a pinch(needed to get generator power to a hard-wired furnace fan during a blizzard).

        As much as I’d never sell on in a store? There is a place for these in limited circumstances if you know what you are doing.

    2. Can you point me in the direction of a 200A manual transfer switch for residential use? they all seem to want to have me wire over just “some” circuits to the breakers they come with rather than just a big transfer switch for the main incoming power.

  4. Our neighborhood has unreliable power during the monsoon season, so much so that the previous owner (an avid DIYer, as I’m still finding out) added a spare 50a 2-pole breaker to the service panel and wired it to a male plug that hangs next to the panel, so one could just turn off the grid input, then plug in a generator. I didn’t really like the idea of a male 240v plug just hanging out even if it was turned off.

    One of our neighbors has a proper 10kW natural gas Generac unit and it’s the only noise on the block when the power is out. Wonder if they’ll mind a really long extension cord across their yard? 😂

  5. Completely unplanned and unprepared, but GUILTY of this with a split phase 220V generator via the dryer plug, following a rare severe ice storm in New England, back before climate change. It was shady as all hell, and we knew it, but we took precautions, locked out the main breakers as best as possible with what we had, and wrote the procedures down. If the power is out too long, the pipes freeze, and then things get ugly. At least with the dryer plugs, you don’t casually and accidentally kick them out, plus it feeds the whole house.

      1. I should clarify: I attempted to connect my refrigerator directly to my generator with a “heavy duty” extension cord, NOT to back-drive my house with it!

        Even so, despite the generator being rated for 42A continuous, and the fridge only needing about 3A to run, there was only about a 1 in 4 chance that when I plugged it in, that the compressor would actually *start*. Seemed like the voltage drop during the starting surge meant not enough power to get it moving. Had to use a 25 footer, which .. makes me want to go back to the hardware store before hurricane season gets busy.

  6. This is going to become worse and worse with raising energy prices and overworked professionals. I see people building any combination of solar panels, battery storage and generators bought from AliExpress (no joke) and so many of these installations are not up to standard or so complicated that errors must happen. Sometimes even professionals don’t see through all the complexity and connect something to the mains that probably shouldn’t be.

    I know a guy who bought 22 kWh in batteries directly from China for 2000 USD. When those go up in flames it’s going to be interesting.

  7. A friend of mine put his whole house on a red 32A three phase CEE plug and had a socket right behind the meter. He just unplugs his house and plugs it into the cable from the generator.

  8. If you shut off the generators breaker or simply plug into the side without power first you will never have an exposed and energized male plug.

    The much bigger danger is the idiots doing this without shutting off their main breaker first energizing the dead power lines and endangering the lives of the people working to restore power.

    Also running a whole house off a cheap non UL listed cable of most likely undersized aluminum wire is just asking for a fire.

  9. Jenny List’s 2017 article needs updating in the UK.

    The light bulb used as a load on her genny probably needs to be incandescant; LED/CFL bulbs are very light loads.

    Having an POTS wired phone won’t help. Nowadays the fibre-to-the-router telephone installations require that the router has mains power. Perhaps you can get battery backup for the router, but will any line equipment between your phone and the exchange remain powered?

    People that use POTS phone lines for emergency purposes (e.g. the elderly with push-button alarms) are screwed by that, of course. The “solution” (and I use that word loosely) is supposed to be to use a cellphone.

    1. One of the requirements for the newer fiber/coax ATA devices is they must have an onboard battery and feed the required 48v DC to the end devices. It has been years since I have looked at the spec but I think it even called out a REN 5 power output.

    2. You sure the Telco haven’t put in backup lithium batteries? I suspect that landlines are considered critical infrastructure . If someone needs to call emergency services and can’t, the fines are significant.

    1. Anyone can wire up a portable generator safely. The problem with suicide cords is that if it comes unplugged, you wind up with am exposed male plug.

      If it’s a gas generator, you use a male.outlet on your house. The F150 is a different beast and the plug is the least of the concerns

    2. Presumably with a transfer switch, which any sane person with a generator would also use (suicide cords being the “solution” for insane people). The only difference being that the transfer switch connects to the car rather than to a generator.

    1. Tesla’s Power Wall requires internet connectivity for software updates, and they recommend an internet connection for monitoring, but it doesn’t need an internet connection provide power during an outage.

  10. Some lawyer’s going to make a fortune, if they keep selling these things. It’s just irresponsible to make, market, sell something with so much potential to cause fires and deaths.

    They might as well start selling “lawn darts” again.

    1. They should start selling Jarts again. There was nothing wrong with them when used correctly and responsibly.

      Why have we reached this point where the onus seems to rest entirely on manufacturers to sell only things that are impossible to use incorrectly or unsafely? That are impossible for people to hurt themselves with? Why is it the responsibility of manufacturers to be the stewards of protecting the public from their own stupidity? (Kind of like Hackaday somehow being responsible for posting a video of someone building something cool and interesting, albeit without following every safe work practice everyone can think of….)

      If you use a table saw improperly, you can get seriously hurt. If you drive a car irresponsibly, you can get killed, kill someone else, damage property, or all three. Nobody seems to have a problem understanding and accepting those terms and conditions. Yet someone it’s “irresponsible” to sell something like this? Does the individual who purchases it and uses it in such a way that it causes fires and deaths not bear any responsibility for this?

      We buy things every day whose use necessitates varying amounts of care and attention required to ensure that negative outcomes are avoided. It takes very little care to ensure that a rubber ball does not cause injuries or deaths, it takes greater care to ensure a chainsaw does not cause injuries or deaths.

      I’m sorry but I’m just tired of arguments that the onus rests solely with manufacturers to only sell products that meet somebody’s subjective opinion of a “responsible product”.

      If I buy a suicide cord like this (or make one), the responsibility rests with me to use it in a manner that the risk is low enough for me to feel comfortable owning the possible outcomes.

      Part of the reason I am not happy about this example in particular is that this is the sort of thing that leads to every new home being required to have transfer switches installed, whether a home buyer does not have nor has any intentions of ever using a generator.

      1. Yep. New home “safety” requirements, which jack up the price of the house, and put them out of the hands of anyone that’s not rich (looking at you car industry).

        The problem with this is where do we draw the line? Tire pressure systems? Backup cameras? Airbags? Gfcis?

      2. Absolutely! And worse yet, once a culture of fear is established, the first armchair lawyer or shade tree engineer who expresses an opinion that a person could get sued or void their insurance then discourages that person from experimenting, even when there is no risk or the risk is readily mitigated. (Witness the comments on many Hackaday articles.)

      3. I don’t think anyone is suggesting any and all liability is or should be on manufacturers nor is anyone saying there is no place for personal risk assessment. You seem very very at one end of the argument, which if I read it right, is 100% personal responsibility and zero on manufacturer which is fine and you’re entitled to your opinion, it’s neither right or wrong. But the two examples you used, table saw and cars are about the worst to make your point. There exists safety guards, newer style power switches and even a thing called a saw stop that has prevented significant personal injury. If your position is that all of those people in the gallery for that table saw deserved to lose a finger or hand due to their own ignorance, that’s a a position to take, too, I guess. Cars? Sooooo many nanny state safety features that have saved countless lives, deserved to be lost or not, plus all those silly laws and traffic lights and even police and everything else. Clearly more than just personal liability.

        A very interesting case study on the topic of personal vs corporate liability is firearms. I’m legit interested in your thoughts. They are actually incredibly safely designed and design flaws are rapidly recalled and remedied. Thanks in advance.

      4. It’s really really easy to spend somebody else’s money protecting them from themselves.

        The fact of the matter is that for many people a generator hookup is something that you’ll use once or twice a decade. The value proposition of spending many thousands of dollars on added safety equipment in order to do something that you can do just as well for free by being attentive and careful is a terrible one.

        Yes, some people don’t know what they’re doing and are going to get themselves electrocuted. But. Those people are unlikely to pay attention to your rule in the first place, and there’s so few of them that on aggregate nobody is going to miss them. There are billions of us left. It’ll be OK.

        Meanwhile, the rest of us should be able to keep our food at a safe temperature, run our furnaces, and pump water out of our wells the 3-4 times EVER that we have an extended power outage without having to invest thousands and thousands of dollars in transfer switching, permitting, and licensed labor to install it.

        We all drive cars around every day that have nothing stopping us from driving full speed into brick walls. Some people are scared of them and think we should ban them all or set the speed limit to 25 everywhere. But cars are pretty well understood, so we don’t do this. Electricity is mysterious and it’s practically popular to pretend you’re too dumb to understand it. So we have a much easier time letting reasonable risks be banned.

    2. These suicide cords are made in China.
      Good luck suing the manufacturer.
      If sold on a Chinese website, good luck suing them.
      Either will ignore you, or if they don’t, they’ll be laughing at you.

  11. Transfer switches ideal but are expensive. To safeley connect a large genny to the panel without one you need (for US single phase 240v AC)
    A “recessed male” “twistlock” receptacle rated for at least the gen output
    Box and cover for above
    Appropriately sized 4 wire (3 wire +ground – terms vary by region) OUTDOOR cable (typiclly SO or SJO cant remember for sure or like – no “extension cords!) to connect gen outside
    Appropriately sized 4 wire cable from recessed male plug to an appropriately sized circuit breaker based on gen output in the panel box
    An interlock that prevents the gen breaker being turned on while mains is on and the reverse – if you dont do this there is not only risk of fire/electrocution in your house but for workers trying to get power back on!
    And of course have circuit breakers marked to be shut off during outage if gen is not big enough for whole house (like disable electric stove, electric heaters, dryer if needed)
    Most importantly – someone to wire this up correctly that knows what they are doing

  12. “If I buy a suicide cord like this (or make one), the responsibility rests with me to use it in a manner that the risk is low enough for me to feel comfortable owning the possible outcomes. ”

    The flaw in this is hubris. If your comfort is borne of ignorance of the consequences, the backfeed lashup could easily murder a line worker dispatched by the power company to fix an outage.

    I’m not against the freedom to decide how to proceed in supplying power to one’s home, I did so for our off-grid home certainly, but if the choice of methods causes death to another “owning the possible outcomes” should be capital punishment – the electric chair would be wholly appropriate.

    1. We would not be having an honest conversation if we did not point out that this particular situation being discussed is a somewhat unique one.

      While the analogies I made earlier were applicable enough to make the point, this particular situation is not entirely analogous to them. Backfeeding can – in theory – energize miles of primary. Some jackass backfeeding a generator can cause life safety risk to utility workers miles down the road.

      And let’s also be honest in this point: all the accountability in the world cannot bring back a dead lineman.

      But that said, the proper place to mitigate this risk is at the utility worksite. I am not aware of any utility that does not short/ground the primary line(s) they are working on with a hot stick prior to bare handing any conductors. Are we really going to try to convince ourselves that should these suicide cords be removed from the market that utility companies can rest easy and begin skipping that step?

      If some law/code/whatever was passed that required all new homes to have transfer switches installed, just in case a generator was used at some point, would this ameliorate the need for mitigation at the utility worksite? What if passed a law that forced every single utility customer to retrofit existing installations as well? The answer is still no. It’ll be mitigated at the worksite from now until eternity.

      But requirements like this (at least the new home part) have a nasty habit of happening, making us all feel better that we’ve “done something” about a problem, but in the end all we’ve done is drive up costs for all of us while actually doing nothing about the problem.

      But my argument in all this has never really been about this particular exact example. This is the second time in a week I’ve seen an article here where someone jumps in and basically says “People need to be protected from doing anything stupid! Products that allow stupid actions should be banned! Videos that show a tool being used without a guard must censored! Won’t somebody please think of the children?!?!??!”

      FFS where does that end? What percentage of products are out there that cannot cause injury or death given sufficient and unchecked abberation of the product’s intended purpose? When are we going to stop endeavoring to shift responsibility and accountability for our own actions to other parties?

  13. Why the h**l are US notices regarding US plugs and the USCPSC warning being presented to users in the UK? How can I stop this from happening? I also continue receiving US emails advertising US mortgages, car insurance, home insurance, and even court claims for payment of money reimbursement!

  14. I’m daft. Is the article saying you fire up a generator then, like, plug it into any old house outlet using some double-male cord thing and viola, whole house has power? If that’s the case is the problem that the normal circuit breakers aren’t in the loop anymore? I’m definitely in the camp of not having “common sense” (ick) about this and freely admit it isn’t “so obviously dangerous” to me. I’ve never messed with mains power (I’m smart enough to know I know nothing about it and don’t want to die from touching something wrong).
    I don’t even have a generator and even if I did I would probably just run an extension cord to the fridge and get out the camp stove and do me some propane grilling till power came back on.

  15. Guilty as charged… Been using a 60 foot 4/4 cable with a 50 Amp split-phase trailer plug at one end for the generator and a 50 Amp dryer plug at the other end on a 50 Amp breaker.

    Always turn off the Main 200 Amp Breaker and lock panel door with padlock before back feeding the 50 Amp circuit. Yes it’s unsafe unless you know what you are doing!

    Temporary Solution until I get around to installing a Transfer Switch, which I will install…

  16. Personally I have an old computer ups I upgraded to use a larger capacity battery, it runs things like the fridge freezer, smoke alarms and alarm clocks, pretty much anything I’d rather not have unexpectedly turn off for a few hours, that don’t consume too much electricity. I was tempted to add solar charging to the ups,but power cuts are much rarer than they used to be around here.

    1. So very true. I’m retired but I briefly worked as department manager in the electrical department of a big box store while my youngest son was going to college. One day a guy called me to complain that his dryer cord left black spots on his floor. I was pretty confused at first what he could possibly be talking about. It turned out that he had bought a dryer from us but since he wanted it installed further from the 240VAC wall socket than the standard cord would reach, he told the installers that he would buy his own ten foot third party cord and wire it himself once it arrived. The black spots were burn marks on the floor due to sparks from the pigtail leads of the dryer cord touching each other. He had plugged the cord into the wall and then was going to connect the pigtails to the dryer, but got confused by the sparks and stopped to call me. I told him that the sparks saved his life and that he needed to connect the pigtails to the dryer BEFORE plugging into the wall. He got all defensive and said that not everyone knew everything about electricity, to which I blurted out … “yeah, but that’s pretty basic”. That of course didn’t help matters much, but as far as I know he didn’t kill himself that day. Not so sure about subsequent days.

  17. Along with a properly rated and certified transfer switch, a carbon monoxide detector should be on the must-also-buy list of any homeowner getting a portable generator. Many people die every year after storms, because of a generator that’s simply been running overnight, next to a house that’s allowed exhaust fumes to enter. The CO detectors themselves cost so little, and use so little power, that it’s silly to not have one — at the end of an extension cord, if need be — while a generator is running.

    As for my folks’ home, they are still using an old gasoline-powered generator out on their back porch, with extension cords to everything that needs power during an outage: refrigerator, sump pump, furnace, and the well pump. But outages are so rare where they live, it’s hard to justify the cost of a transfer switch and its installation, especially when only those few things need power. I wish they’d replace that old generator first, with one that’s permanently installed on a concrete pad, away from the house, and runs on natural gas.

    1. At least on ones sold in the USA, it seems the industry groups have decided this is the issue they’re tackling this year: generators without CO detectors capable of shutoff have been clearanced and replaced with ones that have them.

    2. You can get battery powered co and smoke detector combo units. I’d get them a few for Christmas and install them. Change the batteries every 6 months, or get the lithium battery powered ones and replace when required. Put a calendar entry on your smartphone to remind you when you next need to pick some up.

  18. Whatever you want to call the plug, it’s a useful tool in the right hands and a dangerous “weapon” in others.

    Kill the main breaker.
    Kill you HVAC breaker.
    Kill any other breaker you don’t need if you want.
    Then plug your gene in and turn it on.

    Only thing you should be worried about powering is life support equipment, like my grandmother’s O2 she needed, and fridges to keep food from spoiling. Should still be able to watch some TV and play on the computer just fine. Most important thing is the mains and HVAC.

    1. HVAC is life support about 1/2 the year around here. No HVAC = no heat = frozen pipes at best, or frozen people at worst. 0f (and colder) is no joke. In the winter I’d rather lose the fridge than the HVAC. In the summer if we could run a fan or 3 probably no one would die, but again 95f+ and 80% humidity isn’t very nice to be in.

  19. Proper way to connect any generator would be thru a breakout box connected to your circuit breaker after the main 50kw 240v power breaker coming from the meter, flip dat switch off, connect generator, and simply keep on necessary circuits, unused ones stay off, so u don’t overload

  20. This article on these comments have reduced my faith in this community there is a smart way and a dumb way to do everything. It’s not hard to disconnect the rest of the panel from the grid and properly hook in a generator so that backflow is impossible. Just disconnect the lines coming in from the grid after they pass through the main breaker so that when the grid is back up you’re dealing with connecting wires to a shut-off breaker and not connecting live Mains wires. I don’t recommend fooling with electricity unless you are a professional.

  21. I have two panels, one of which is an emergency power panel, with limited devices connected to it: some strategic lights, sump pump, water pump, fridge, internet (starlink). Then a switchover switch, and a dedicated generator input, and a decent inverter standing by for me to power up manually (after flipping the mains protection switch).

    I don’t want this thing in kicking in automatically for a five minute outage.

  22. The thing people should be thinking of after they view this article, is how much gas do they actually have on hand? A 5g can with some Stabil is good for those of use who have the occasional outages. However, some of us also have a good day or multiple day snow-in, hurricane, etc.
    Be smart, and not only get a decent transfer switch but run a secondary gas line whever you can to feed that genny. I’m in snow country NY, however even if the power goes out, I can’t remember NG ever being affected.

  23. We backfeed the electric clothes drier plug. This allows us to supply the whole house, including the well pump.

    I built a double male 240 volt plug just for that purpose.



    And be doubly paranoid about it.


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