Generator Safety

Linemen working to restore power after an outage believe the lines they are working on are de-energized or “dead.” Without knowing that a line has been re-energized by an improperly installed home generator, a lineman can come in contact with the live line and be seriously hurt or even killed. A generator that is directly connected to your home’s wiring can “back feed” onto the power lines connected to your home and injure neighbors or utility workers.

The only safe way to connect a portable electric generator to your existing wiring is to have a licensed electrical contractor install a transfer switch. MLEC strives for the safety of our linemen and members.

Typical install for service entrance_200 amp or less_0

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Typical installation for service entrance rated at 200 amperes or less

  • Conductor sizes from generator to transfer switch will be determined by generator capacity.
  • Over-current protection for the generator will be determined by generator capacity.
  • A transfer switch*, such as a double-throw type that breaks contact of ungrounded conductors, should be installed in accordance with the current National Electrical Code. The neutral will not be broken by the switch. (*Switch must be listed by an OSHA Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory such as Underwriter’s Laboratories.)
  • Transfer switch will be bonded to the service entrance ground with #4 solid copper conductor.
  • If the transfer switch is suitable for service equipment, the overcurrent protection between the meter base and the transfer switch is not required.


  • Never plug a generator into a regular household outlet.
  • Never operate the generator in enclosed spaces.
  • Use heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cords.
  • Ensure your generator is properly grounded.
  • Never overload a generator.
  • Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting the generator down.
  • Always have a fully charged fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Never fuel a generator while it is operating.