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In this post from last year, I stated that you could safely backfeed your house from a generator if you did it correctly, but that doing so incorrectly was dangerous -- dangerous as in someone being dead.  It seems that the latest victim is a Georgia electric utility worker who was apparently electrocuted by a generator which was improperly connected.

This is tragic and need not have happened.  I want to restate a caution that I said last September: you need to know what you are doing with your home electrical system when you backfeed. Do not attempt to backfeed your home in ignorance.

Apparently, someone expressed their electrical ignorance.  Now, someone else is apparently dead for it.  The local police chief may not refer criminal charges, but I think the dead man's family may have a civil case.

Small generator carbon monoxide has killed at least one in Florida in Dennis' aftermath.

However you manage it, dead is still dead, and, Darwinism aside, your family has to endure your loss.  Do not add to the statistics.

Update:  I guess the carbon monoxide danger is even worse than the electrical danger based on this article.  Eight people have died within the past 12 months in Florida due to stupid generator use.  Get a strong chain, a good lock, and build an enclosure ahead of time to keep it dry.

Posted on Saturday, July 16, 2005 2:10 PM Home Ownership , Hurricane | Back to top


Comments on this post: Hurricane Recovery: Dangerous Generators

# re: Hurricane Recovery: Dangerous Generators
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What type of enclosure would you build? I have thought of stacking cinder blocks, and putting a few "sideways" (holes facing out) in order to provide ventilation for the genset. I would then put a piece of plywood on top (I would obviously leave a "door" to move the set in/out), and anchor it with some more blocks.

I've heard, though, that blocks will get pulled off by hurricane-force winds. Your thoughts on my set-up?
Left by Bob on Jul 25, 2005 9:02 AM

# re: Hurricane Recovery: Dangerous Generators
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Bob: I would not plan/try/attempt to run the generator during the hurricane. I would have it inside the house. It is too valuable to risk damage during the storm.

If you lose power, move it to your enclosure. The enclosure should have 6-12" or so of space all the way around, and extra "drip-proof" water resistance at the generator/electric plug end. The sides do not need to go all the way to the ground since the very bottom of the unit can likely survive water. It should be strong enough to survive in a strong thunderstorm. My concern would be to keep water spray/mist from being sucked into the generator cooling air.
Left by Mark on Jul 25, 2005 4:20 PM

# re: Hurricane Recovery: Dangerous Generators
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Mark, we ran the generators at our office during Jeanne. For Charley and Francis we closed the office during the storms, but being a 24-hour emergency center, we really need to stay open.

A local Generac service rep said running during the storm is fine, that it would really take a lot of water to cause problems. We have threaded bolts on the side of the building and use wing-nuts to attach a large tarp. That works very well.

For my house, however, I want a way to store the unit without moving other stuff out of existing storage space. Plus, I need it near the ground rod I installed. But I also want it reasonably protected while it's running.

I won't run it during the storm at the house, I want the satisfaction of walking outside after the storm and starting the thing up like some typical TV commercial they would show on a football Saturday!
Left by Bob on Jul 26, 2005 9:18 AM

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