The receptacle pictured below is a standard dryer receptacle.
It is installed next to the stacking washer dryer and was likely used for the dryer, previous to the dryer being converted to gas. What is a handy sort of guy to do with a left over dryer receptacle? Well why not plug the generator into it and use it as a way to get power to the electrical panel? GENIUS!
While it has been labeled as to what it is for–with even a warning to make sure the main breakers are turned off, this is not an approved means of providing power to the electrical service panel. Modern generator interfaces are just that: “an interface.” An interface will mean that there is a way of ensuring that home generated power cannot improperly back-feed the lines running to the home.
This is an extremely important safety feature because, every year utility company lines workers are killed or injured from improperly installed generators that send power back into the grid. Obviously if you shut off the mains, as the instructions say–everything will likely be OK. But all you have to do (when in the heat of the moment all you can think about is the venison thawing in the freezer or getting your crashed computers back up and running) is forget to turn the Main breaker off just once and someone is killed–how will you rationalize not installing a proper interface?
These interfaces are extremely cheap–especially the type that is basically a switch that turns the generator breaker to the on position in the same movement that turns the main breaker off. Here is a picture of what these simple interfaces looks like.
When you flip the main breaker to the left you can then slide the mechanism upward allowing you to turn the top right generator breaker to the on position. There are even panels that can perform this operation automatically. Here is a picture of a Square-D Panel that can sense a power loss, turn off the main breaker and turn the generator on–all before the lights much more than dim. At least that is the theory.
These panels however, are not cheap–but for someone that wants all the bells and whistles or has to maintain life support systems and computer systems–it may be warranted.
So let’s generate safety–and let’s do it safely!
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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