Generator Backfeeding, Suicide Cords

480sparky

Senior Member
Location
Iowegia
I doubt there's any compiled stats on something that specific. More likely, it would be classified simply as 'electrocution' or 'electrical fire'.
 

hillbilly1

Senior Member
Location
Atlanta,Ga
Occupation
Field coordinator/ technical support
I do know locally we had a lineman killed many years ago when someone from Florida hooked up a generator on their mountain house and didn’t turn off the main. Lineman picked up the line he thought was dead.
 

drcampbell

Senior Member
Location
The Motor City, Michigan USA
Occupation
Engineer
Wouldn't be the first time solar hardware turned out to be not-quite-compatible with the POCO's old-school methods.
DTE Energy would love such a thing. Every time you look, they're imposing restrictions (or lobbying the legislature to) that make it difficult or infeasible to install solar.
 

mkgrady

Senior Member
Location
Massachusetts
With intelligent people, by using sense and following the rules.

For the rest, it's difficult. How can you physically prevent assembly of a suicide cord?
Many years ago, in my area, if you tried to buy electrical supplies you had to show your electricians license. Those. Days are long gone.
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
Location
Henrico County, VA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
Many years ago, in my area, if you tried to buy electrical supplies you had to show your electricians license. Those. Days are long gone.
A few years ago, I (hopefully) stopped a guy from "doing his friend a favor" by buying #12 NM to go along with the 50a breaker and range receptacle he had in his cart, because "the right size wire was too expensive." :oops:

I've always wondered whether my explanation fully convinced him. :rolleyes:
 
Where can I find statistics about how often generator backfeeding results in a mishap, property damage, injury or death?
I think it is quite rare and really not much of a hazard. I am certainly not saying go ahead and do it improperly, but I think the risks are overblown. A generator connected in parallel with the live utility will likely just trip the breaker on the genny - I have seen it happen, it was disappointingly uneventful.

A suicide cord is certainly a shock hazard, but I think the chance of injury/fire/death from 120V to ground is quite small per instance, although if you have a few hundred thousand instances, there could be a few.

backfeeding dead utility lines could be a risk for lineman, but I think in most cases the generator would trip out from all the neighbors loads.
 

hillbilly1

Senior Member
Location
Atlanta,Ga
Occupation
Field coordinator/ technical support
In the suburbs and cities, yes. Rural areas, depending on where the line is broke, it’s possible for the generator to not trip out. The chicken farmers around here use tractor driven generators and suicide cords.
 

drcampbell

Senior Member
Location
The Motor City, Michigan USA
Occupation
Engineer
... A generator connected in parallel with the live utility will likely just trip the breaker on the genny - I have seen it happen, it was disappointingly uneventful. ...
There are a few small generators still in service that don't have a circuit breaker. I suppose the design rationale was that the engine would harmlessly bog down if the output were shorted.

In the suburbs and cities, yes. Rural areas, depending on where the line is broke, it’s possible for the generator to not trip out. ...
Suburbs and cities, too, depending on where the fault occurs. If there are only a few houses downstream of a blown fuse and it's not air-conditioning season, a portable generator could light up the neighborhood. And it can still create a hazard, even if it can't carry the load. If it can manage to put 4 volts onto the secondary of the transformer -- which for all practical purposes, is "off" -- it will put 120 volts on the primary of the transformer, and onto the distribution line.
 

Dsg319

Senior Member
Location
West Virginia
Occupation
(Green)Master Electrician
With intelligent people, by using sense and following the rules.

For the rest, it's difficult. How can you physically prevent assembly of a suicide cord?
Only one male plug can be bought for any individual😝 (with proof of intended use)
 

Buck Parrish

Senior Member
Location
NC & IN
How can back feed incidents be prevented?
Some innovative homeowners try to power their house wiring by plugging generators into wall outlets, a practice known as backfeeding. This is extremely dangerous and presents an electrocution risk to utility workers and neighbors served by the same utility transformer. It also bypasses some built-in household circuit protection devices. Never assume the equipment you are working on is in safe condition or de-energized, especially during a power outage. When possible, perform testing to prove that a backfeed situation does not exist.
 

GeorgeB

ElectroHydraulics engineer (retired)
Location
Greenville SC
Occupation
Retired
Wouldn't be the first time solar hardware turned out to be not-quite-compatible with the POCO's old-school methods.
DTE Energy would love such a thing. Every time you look, they're imposing restrictions (or lobbying the legislature to) that make it difficult or infeasible to install solar.
I've read, here I think(?), that some meters record power in both directions the same way. Some POCO customers note higher bills with PV installed. I talked to a friend with Duke who told me the new meters they use work this way unless they are programmed, after an interconnect agreement, to work as we would like, incoming - outgoing, instead of incoming + outgoing.
 
I've read, here I think(?), that some meters record power in both directions the same way. Some POCO customers note higher bills with PV installed. I talked to a friend with Duke who told me the new meters they use work this way unless they are programmed, after an interconnect agreement, to work as we would like, incoming - outgoing, instead of incoming + outgoing.
Yup. Poco here has meters that record up regardless of which direction the energy flows (unless it's an older mechanical meter). Here they don't reprogram them, they replace with a net meter.
 
Top