Generator Safety

Many residents who lose power may turn to emergency generators to ensure a continuous source of electricity to refrigerators, freezers, lights, fans and other appliances.

SVEC urges residents to exercise extreme caution. While generators are a convenience in keeping appliances running during storm-related outages, they can also create hazards for homeowners and electric utility workers.

Safety Considerations

Always operate a generator in accordance with manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions.

To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, never use a generator indoors or in attached garages. Only operate the generator outdoors in a well-ventilated, dry area away from air intakes to the home.

To avoid electrocution, plug individual appliances into the generator using heavy duty, outdoor rated cords with a wire gauge adequate for the appliance load.

Prevent Backfeeding With a Transfer Switch

If connecting into the house wiring is necessary on a temporary basis, homes must have a transfer switch installed by a licensed electrician. A transfer switch allows your house to receive power directly from a portable generator as opposed to through the main circuit breaker normally supplied by SVEC.

Transfer switches isolate the circuits supplied by the generator and prevent backfeeding – inadvertently energizing circuits in both systems. SVEC has approved the GenerLink™ transfer switch.

Backfeeding can most commonly occur when a generator is connected directly to the electric panel or circuit in a home. Feeding power back into the utility system during an outage will energize the transformer serving the house and could pose a serious threat to service and tree crews working to restore power in the area who may not know they are working with an energized line.

If you desire to obtain a transfer switch for residential use, the cooperative has approved a meter socket based transfer switch by GenerLink: model number MA23-N or S. Purchase the transfer switch through GenerLink (800-886-3837) and the cooperative will install it, for free.

Check a generator’s compatibility with the GenerLink transfer switch.

How to Calculate your House Wattage for Generator Sizing — GenerLink (PDF)

SVEC Generator Safety Video