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Can You Plug a Generator Into a Wall Socket?

Can You Plug a Generator Into a Wall Socket
Written by Jamie Masterson

It might seem intuitive to plug your generator into any wall socket with the right input; you shouldn’t. Generators produce large, unfiltered currents that if connected to your household mains can overload not only your grid, but the power lines in your area too.

Basically, you risk serious damage and you’d be breaking the law in a lot of states just by plugging it into your house. If you want to know the why’s and how’s, keep reading.

Why Shouldn’t You Plug a Generator Into a Wall Socket?

Why Shouldn’t You Plug a Generator Into a Wall Socket

1. It’s illegal

When you plug a generator into a wall socket, you’ll overload the mains current of your house with the generator’s current. Think of it like a river. It flows one way, but if more water that’s flowing faster comes in the opposite direction, the flow will be overpowered, and the river will switch directions.

Assuming something breaks, electricians will be called out to make repairs. Usually, what they’re repairing has no voltage on it, but your generator is still providing power. Those electricians could be fatally shocked not knowing a current is still flowing in the wrong direction.

This is a major factor in why plugging a generator into a wall socket is illegal in most countries.

2. Backfeeding

If you plug your generator into your house mains without an adapter, the current from the generator will override the current provided by the house grid.

A more powerful, unfiltered current will travel in the opposite direction. This creates a huge risk of fires from an overloaded appliance.

Additionally, current will flow across the area mains (power lines), extending this risk to appliances and potentially people who could be fatally shocked.

3. Insurance

Since it’s illegal and hazardous to plug a generator into a wall socket, the damage incurred might not be covered under your homeowner’s policy.

4. Risk of death

As mentioned in the section “It’s Illegal”, backfeeding can cause serious damage to your home and the surrounding areas. Electricians that come to make repairs will usually assume that there’s no current on the grid that powers whatever broke since normally fuses and RCD’s will cut the flow.

However, your generator is still providing power meaning that there is still a current and therefore a voltage on anything they touch. There is a significant risk they could be fatally shocked.

5. Permanent damage

Backfeeding any other problems caused by plugging your generator into a wall socket introduces a risk of sparks, flames, and arcs. Electrical fires are particularly dangerous and there is a high chance that your home and the surrounding area could be permanently damaged.

6. Live contacts on the generator plug

It should be noted that the cord from the generator has a plug with exposed live contacts. This is dangerous and presents a serious risk of shock while the generator is running.

7. Supply and frequency stability

Unless you buy an inverter generator, most other generators will provide a very poorly regulated supply of AC current with dangerously low-frequency stability. Appliances that rely on stable AC current can be damaged.

8. Generator overload

If you connect a generator to a wall socket, you must be extremely mindful of what appliances you’re using. The total electrical load of your house may exceed the supply of the generator. Loads higher than supply would likely result in the automatic shutoff of your generator.

9. Connector supply and conductor load

The load on your house you’re trying to supply might be more than the connector is rated for. If you’re connecting the generator to the socket with a 2KW connector, and the load on your house is 6KW, you risk electrical damage in the connection.

FAQs

1. Can I wire a generator to a breaker box?

Ans. It’s possible. You’ll have to turn off any branch circuit breakers along with the main circuit breaker. Then reshuffle some of the breakers to make space for your generator connection. Make sure you connect the generator to the breaker box using a conduit adapter.

2. Do I need a permit to install a transfer switch?

Ans. If you want to connect a generator to a wall socket, you’ll first have to have a transfer switch installed to make the connection safe. To do this, a licensed electrician will have to file for a permit to install the connection. Finally, the work needs to be viewed and approved by an electrical inspector.

About the author

Jamie Masterson

With decade-long experience as a generator technician, Jamie has worked with USA’s top generator manufacturers and suppliers as an independent contractor.

The long years of service to the industry has taught Jamie the ins and outs of troubleshooting, repairing, and maintaining all kinds of generators in home, industrial and outdoor settings.

Jamie thinks this platform is a great opportunity to share his tips and tricks with you so you can make the most of such power equipment for better living.

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