How many verified cases (not urban legends or ancient history) are there
- linemen being electrocuted or at least "zapped" due to backfeeding
from residentical generators, or
- residential generators being "blown up" (severe damage, fire,
explosion etc, not just the breaker popping) from being connected to
the electrical grid due to improper use (typically: stinger cord or
suicide cord instead of a DPDT-style transfer switch or
approved/listed transfer panel).
I would bet that these problems actually hardly ever occur. Why?
(a) Linemen will treat any line as energized, except when they have
grounded and/or disconnected it themselves and can verify that it
is and will remain safe.
(b) If you try to backfeed the grid (which means backfeeding a lot of
electricity users at once), the breaker on the generator will
simply pop due to overload, so the situation dangerous to a
lineman will correct itself very quickly.
(c) If a generator is connected to a de-energized utility line, and
then the utility line comes back on, the breaker on the generator
will simply pop long before the generator is damaged (after all,
that's what the generator is there for).
By the way, I am in no way advocating that people connect their
generators in an unsafe, non-approved or illegal fashion. Even if
these problems occur extremely rarely, you really don't want it to
happen to you. But I'm getting quite tired of the constant repetition
of mantras such as "if you use a stinger cord, you will kill linemen
and blow up your house", which I think is just paranoia and
Again, I'm not asking for opinions whether connecting generators the
wrong way is a good or bad idea (I know it is a bad idea). I am
asking for verification that it actually causes harm and continues to
- posted 17 years ago