How to Backfeed a Generator to Your House

A generator can be a lifesaver during a power outage, but to ensure you can power the essentials in your home, you’ll need to know how to back feed it properly. Backfeeding a generator means using a generator to supply power to your home’s electrical system by plugging the generator into an outlet in your home instead of the traditional method of plugging appliances and devices directly into the generator.

How to Backfeed a Generator to Your House

While back feeding can be a convenient and effective way to power your home during an outage, it can also be dangerous if not done correctly. In this article, we will explore the steps of how to backfeed a generator to your house.

We will cover the necessary equipment, safety precautions, and procedures for both portable and standby generators. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your generator is properly backfed, providing reliable power to your home and keeping you and your family safe during an outage.

Is It Safe to Backfeed Your House with a Generator?

When it comes to back feeding your house with a generator, safety is paramount. Backfeeding a home involves connecting the generator directly to the circuit breaker and then connecting that same circuit breaker back up to the utility line. This setup allows electricity generated by the generator to flow through the entire home’s electrical system and power everything from lights to appliances.

When done incorrectly, however, back feeding your house with a generator can be potentially dangerous and even deadly. It is important to understand the risks involved and take all necessary precautions before attempting to back feed a home.

First and foremost, it is important to make sure you are using the right type of generator for the job. Generators come in many different shapes and sizes, with varying power outputs and safety features. When back feeding a house, it is best to choose a generator that has been specifically designed for the purpose.

Generators Come in Many Different Shapes

It is also important to be aware of the dangers associated with connecting the generator to your home’s electrical system. It is possible for the generator to produce an overload and cause the circuit breaker to trip, leaving your home without power. It is also possible for back feeding to create a “back-feed” which will send electricity back into the utility lines, potentially endangering personnel that is close by or using tools on those lines.

Why Is Backfeeding a Generator Illegal?

Backfeeding a generator to your house is illegal in most jurisdictions. This process involves reversing the power flow so that electrical current flows from the generator back into your home’s main circuit breaker panel, which can potentially be hazardous and cause serious injury if done incorrectly. Backfeeding also causes problems with utility workers as it disrupts their ability to accurately measure power usage.

Utility workers may not be able to determine whether the power is coming from your generator or from a utility feed, and they could unknowingly work on live wires while attempting repairs. Furthermore, back feeding can interfere with current system operations, such as voltage regulation and frequency control, which can create safety hazards for customers and utility workers alike.

For these reasons, back-feeding a generator to your house is illegal in most jurisdictions and should be done only by someone trained in the proper safety procedures. It’s important to consult local laws and regulations before attempting any electrical wiring projects.

If you decide that back feeding is necessary, make sure you use all appropriate safety precautions and contact a certified electrician for help.  By taking the proper precautions, you can ensure the safety of yourself and your family while also complying with applicable laws.

You Can Ensure the Safety of Yourself

Ultimately, back-feeding a generator to your house is not something that should be taken lightly. It’s illegal in many jurisdictions and can pose serious risks if done without professional guidance. In order to stay safe and compliant, it’s best to consult a certified electrician before attempting any electrical wiring projects.

10 Methods How to Backfeed a Generator to Your House

1. Safety First:

Before attempting to back feed a generator, ensure you understand the risks involved and take necessary safety precautions. Familiarize yourself with the generator’s manual and adhere to all safety guidelines.

If you are not confident with the back feeding process, seek professional help. Though back feeding can be a cost-effective way to provide power to your home in an emergency situation, it should only be done if absolutely necessary. Try to find alternatives if possible.

2. Choose the Right Generator:

Select a generator that meets your power requirements and is compatible with backfeeding. Consider factors such as wattage, fuel type, and the generator’s ability to handle the load. Make sure the generator is properly rated and equipped with an appropriate transfer switch.

While portable generators tend to be less expensive, they generally have lower wattage ratings and are not designed for backfeeding. However, some models can be equipped with a transfer switch that will allow you to backfeed them.

3. Transfer Switch Installation:

Install a transfer switch, which is a crucial safety device that prevents power from backfeeding into the utility lines. Hire a licensed electrician to install a transfer switch properly. Make sure the generator is in a secure location and has the proper ventilation. Connect the transfer switch to the main circuit breaker box, using a conduit that is properly grounded.

Main Circuit Breaker Box

Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when wiring the transfer switch. Additionally, follow all local building codes. While it is possible to install a transfer switch yourself, improper installation can create hazardous conditions. Always hire a qualified electrician for this job.

4. Isolate the Main Electrical Panel:

Disconnect your house from the utility power grid by switching off the main circuit breaker. This prevents power from entering your house while the generator is running. Make sure you secure the breaker in its off position.

Also, be sure to disable any backup power sources that may still supply electricity to your house, such as a generator interlock kit. However, remember to switch it back on when you’re done. Although not necessary, you should also turn off the individual breakers in your main electrical panel.

5. Locate Generator Outlets:

Identify the generator’s outlets specifically designed for back feeding, usually known as 240V outlets. These outlets allow you to connect the generator to your house’s electrical system. Make sure you label the generator outlets so that you can identify which one is for back feeding your house.

Though most generators have some type of labeling for the outlets, you should also double-check with your generator’s owner’s manual to make sure.

6. Use Proper Cords:

Utilize heavy-duty, properly rated-extension cords and cables to connect the generator to your house. Make sure the cords are in good condition and have the appropriate amperage rating.

Cables to Connect the Generator

Extension cords should be long enough to permit the generator to be placed a safe distance away from your house, yet close enough for you to reach it easily. Additionally, consider using an extension cord with a built-in circuit breaker to increase safety while producing additional convenience.

7. Start the Generator:

Follow the generator’s startup instructions to begin supplying power. Allow the generator to stabilize and reach its operating speed before proceeding. Although you can backfeed power from the generator without opening the main breaker, it is safer to shut off all breakers before you switch over.

Try to run the generator for a short test period before relying on it for long-term power supply. Once you are satisfied that the generator is running smoothly, you can switch over to it as the main power source. If you are using an automatic transfer switch, it will detect the presence of generator power and switch over automatically. If you must manually engage the main breaker, make sure to finish the process before switching on any load circuits.

8. Connect to the Transfer Switch:

Plug one end of the cord into the generator’s outlet and the other end into the transfer switch’s inlet. Ensure a secure connection to avoid accidental disconnection. Once the cord is connected, turn on the generator. You should hear a click from the transfer switch as it automatically switches between your main power supply and the generator.

 Transfer Switch as It Automatically

If you have a manual transfer switch, move the switch to the “generator” position when the generator is running and back to the “utility” position when power is restored. It’s important to allow about 10 seconds for the transfer switch to complete its transition before turning on any electronics.

9. Power Distribution:

Gradually switch on the essential circuits one by one on your house’s electrical panel. Start with the most critical circuits and prioritize based on your needs. Trace the power consumption of each circuit to ensure that it does not exceed the generator’s rated power output.

If your generator’s capacity is exceeded by the power demand of your house, you may cause an overload and have to reset the generator or shut it down. While the power is being distributed, monitor the generator’s electrical output and temperature to ensure it remains in safe operating conditions.

Finally, make sure that the generator is running in manual mode and not automatically connected to your house, then you can be sure it won’t suddenly start supplying power when you don’t need it.

10. Monitor and Maintain:

Regularly check the generator’s fuel level, oil level, and overall performance. Adhere to maintenance schedules, such as oil changes, to keep the generator running smoothly. Be sure to check the connections between your generator, transfer switch, main panel, and utility lines for degradation and wear over time.

Finally, always be aware of safety protocols when operating a backfeed generator. Never operate the generator in wet conditions or with faulty wiring. Use extreme caution when refueling and never attempt to “jumpstart” a cold-start generator. Follow all manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation of your backfeed generator.

Safety Protocols When Operating

Things to Consider When Backfeed a Generator to Your House

1. Safety:

Backfeeding has the potential to be dangerous, so it’s important that you take all necessary safety measures before attempting it. Make sure you are familiar with local codes and regulations regarding back feeding, and ensure any electrical connections are secure and in good working condition. Additionally, have a qualified electrician inspect your system prior to attempting to back feed.

2. Generator Capacity:

In order for your generator to successfully power the entire house, it needs to be large enough to handle the load. Check your generator’s capacity to make sure it is adequate. If it isn’t, you may need to purchase a larger generator or use it in conjunction with another power source.

3. Transfer Switch:

A transfer switch is required for back feeding and should be installed by a qualified electrician. This switch allows you to easily switch between grid power and generator power when necessary. It also helps to minimize the risk of damage caused by reconnecting power during a blackout.

4. Fuel Source:

Before attempting a back feed, make sure your generator has a reliable fuel source. Most generators run on gasoline or diesel, but some may require specialized fuels such as propane or natural gas. Ensure that the fuel is readily available and secure when powering your house with the generator.

By considering these factors prior to backfeeding, you can ensure a safe and successful experience. With the proper precautions taken, you can rest assured that your home and appliances are powered safely and reliably during a blackout.


To sum up, backfeeding a generator to your house is a complicated and risky process that could put you and your loved ones in danger. It’s imperative to talk to an electrician or generator expert before you start the process so that you are properly informed on important details and safety measures.

Don’t cut corners when it comes to power generation and make sure you always put your family first. Knowing how to backfeed a generator is an important skill for survival during unexpected outages, but leave it in the hands of experts if you’re worried about putting yourself or your family in danger.

If you need help getting started, research local electricians in the area that can advise and guide you through the entire process of how to backfeed a generator to your house.

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Enrique Howard

Hi, I am Enrique. I started my professional life as a handyman and did a lot of external and internal repair of home and office with a little bit of electric and plumbing support. I have extensive experience in tools testing such as drilling, turning, milling, and non-conventional machining like EDM. So let me help you on your journey towards becoming an enlightened DIYer with amazing tools that you can use on your project.

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