Why Backfeeding With a Generator is Dangerous: A Simple Guide

WHAT IS BACKFEED? 

Backfeed is the term used when the flow of electricity is reversed from its normal direction of flow. 

For example, a generator used for backup power in the event of a power cut is capable of sending electrical power not only to your home or business but back into the power grid. 

IS BACKFEED DANGEROUS? 

Yes. If proper precautions are followed, there should be no reason for concern but if these precautions are skipped then it could be fatal. 

Backfed electricity can re-energise the power grid, subjecting anyone working on, or coming into contact with the power lines, to an unexpected electrical current that can cause injury or death. 

SO, WHAT PRECAUTIONS CAN I TAKE TO PREVENT BACKFEED? 

The only safe and sensible precaution to take when a standby generator is to be connected into the home or business is to have it installed with a transfer switch. 

A transfer switch can be manual or automatic and will isolate the generator from the main electricity grid, removing the risk of accidental backfeed. 

The transfer switch will need to be professionally installed as it will be integrated into your main electrical supply. 

Manual Transfer Switch (MTS) can be located anywhere in your home or business and once you’ve started the generator, you’ll use this to switch from mains to backup, eliminating the risk of possible backfeed and vice versa when the mains power has been returned. 

The Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS) will sense the drop in power from the grid and while the lights may go off for a minute, it will automatically signal your generator to power up and the transfer switch will connect your home or business to the generator to provide power. 

The ATS will also do the reverse - sense a return of power from the grid and automatically switch you back from generated power to mains power. 

ADDITIONAL GENERATOR SAFETY 

At ThePowerSite we take your safety seriously, so please always be aware that generators are a source of carbon monoxide, which is a poisonous gas that has no smell or taste and can kill. 

Any standby generator must be installed outside in a well ventilated area away from doors and windows. 

Please visit our safety page for more information.

If you do have a standby generator, we’d recommend installing some carbon monoxide gas alarms just for peace of mind. 

To discuss possible backup power options or a Manual / Automatic Transfer Switch, please contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss the options.