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Guilford Fire Department Urges Caution: The Dangers of Backfeeding a Portable Generator.

As a responsible and safety-conscious community, the Guilford Fire Department believes in educating our residents about potential hazards to prevent accidents and protect lives. In this article, we aim to raise awareness about the dangers of backfeeding a portable generator to your house. While it may seem like a quick and convenient solution during power outages, this practice can have severe consequences that can jeopardize your safety and the safety of others.

What is Backfeeding?

Backfeeding refers to connecting a portable generator directly to your home's electrical system by plugging it into an outlet. This allows electricity from the generator to flow into your home's wiring, potentially energizing the electrical lines outside your property.

The Dangers of Backfeeding:

1. Risk of Electrocution: Backfeeding creates a grave risk of electrocution for utility workers, neighbors, and anyone in contact with the electrical system. If a power outage occurs, utility workers may be working on the electrical lines, assuming they are de-energized. However, the backfed power from your generator can energize these lines, putting their lives at risk.

2. Fire Hazards: Backfeeding can overload your home's electrical system, causing electrical fires. Your generator may produce more power than your home's internal wiring and electrical panel can safely handle, leading to overheating, short circuits, and potential fires. Additionally, improper wiring or connection of the generator can also pose a fire hazard.

3. Damage to Appliances and Electronics: The unstable power output from a portable generator can damage sensitive appliances and electronic devices. These power fluctuations can cause irreparable harm to computers, televisions, refrigerators, and other expensive equipment.

Safe Alternatives:

1. Proper Generator Installation: To ensure the safe use of a portable generator during power outages, consider installing a transfer switch. A transfer switch allows you to connect the generator to your home's electrical panel directly, ensuring a safe and isolated power supply to your essential circuits.

2. Outdoor Placement: When operating a portable generator, always place it outside in a well-ventilated area. Generators emit carbon monoxide, a silent killer gas that can build up quickly in enclosed spaces, leading to poisoning or death. Keep generators at least 20 feet away from doors, windows, and vents to prevent carbon monoxide from entering your home.

3. Follow the Manufacturer's Instructions: Read and understand the manufacturer's instructions and safety guidelines provided with your generator. These instructions outline the proper setup, operation, and maintenance procedures to ensure the safety and longevity of your generator.


The Guilford Fire Department strongly advises against backfeeding a portable generator to your house. This hazardous practice not only puts your life and the lives of others at risk but also increases the likelihood of electrical fires and damage to your home's electrical system. Instead, prioritize safety by following recommended installation practices and adhering to the manufacturer's instructions.

By practicing safe generator operations and promoting awareness within our community, we can prevent accidents and protect the well-being of our residents. Remember, safety should always be the top priority when dealing with portable generators during power outages.


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