How to backfeed a breaker panel with a generator: an explained guide

Sometimes the lights in the house can suddenly turn off. The first thing you think about is the generator, but what if you have never used it? Consider how to act in this situation.

Sudden electrical power outage: what to do?

A generator is needed for minimal electricity to work. But sometimes ordinary household appliances, such as a fridge, may be needed. In this case, we speak about “back feed”. Backfeed is the motion of electricity in a way opposite to what is usually intended or normal.

Backfeeding can also lead to unanticipated problems. If unintentional back fees are unavoidable, then they can influence not only power grid equipment but also maintenance organizations. How to backfeed a breaker panel with a generator

Backfeeding with a generator

Backfeeding is the tying of a portable generator directly to your home’s electrical panel. Used instead of using a transfer switch.

A power source is what and how you power your home in the event of a power outage. The located outside generator is connected to the house by a reverse power cable. It is usually connected to a 240-volt appliance outlet. Everything will be done right if you’ll use a bypass transfer switch.

If you attempt to back feed without a transfer switch, this may result in power flowing back through the utility. Such action will damage the power grid systems or kill the lineman working to regenerate the power supply.

You can also consider buying a standby generator. It provides automatic backup power seconds after the outage, lasts for days, and adds value to your home. Such a generator is better but much more expensive.

So, working with electricity is always a risk. We hope the article will help to bring a lot of useful information.

Circuit breaker panel: what is it?

The first thing is important to know what a switch panel is. This will help you gain more knowledge. Simply put, the switch panel is what controls all the electricity inside your home. It contains several wires on a circuit board that shares the electricity in the house.

Such a panel also has a fuse for each circuit in a certain area. This means that if you use too much energy, a part of your home goes haywire. Then you have to go to the panel to reset the circuit breaker.

The switch panel is often referred to by this name, there are other variants of this word:

  • Electric panel;
  • Panelboard;
  • Distribution board;
  • DB board/box.

In the US, the transfer switch box has two columns. And on each side. This slightly affects the work and perception. That is, the numbers will go from left to right and from top to bottom. But the more you understand this topic, the faster you will notice that this numbering is universal for many brands.

As for other electrical panels, they suggest the use of lines A, B, and C. Use suggests instead of numbering. This allows the use of two or three trip switches. In return, each phase will receive a pole.

In North America, there will be line-to-line wire for permanently installed large equipment occupying 2 poles or 3-panel slots.

The panel uses 3-phase power and 208V, and each split-phase electric power uses 240V. Therefore, a certified electrician should be consulted and hired to place the circuit breaker.

Backfeeding an electrical panel with a generator

So, you already know that with electricity in the house, you can use a lot of appliances. If there is light in the house, then you can turn on the appliances, light up the house and garden, as well as charge what you need. You will simply use outlets as an electrical power source.

Also, with a reverse power generator, electricity from the generator flows from the house back through the power grid. This is a bad sign. Such wiring can damage the grid or kill line workers who will be working during the outage.

The generator is connected to the house with a return power cable connected to an external 240-volt socket. To prevent back feeding, a transfer switch is needed that cuts off the electrical power lines supply to the base of the meter and the mains.

Without a transfer switch, the electric power generated by the generator passes through the main switch and returns to the meter’s base panel—the transformer.

In the home, it passes through the main circuit breaker for distribution through branch circuit breakers to various appliances. The transformer then supplies power to utilities in your area.

Can I backfeed my panel with a generator?

The transfer switch is very important. The base of the counters should be given maximum attention. Public grid reverse power will not start. This will help prevent it. It is best to have the switch installed by a licensed electrician before connecting the generator.

It’s easy only in your head. Especially when you yourself have already replaced the end of the extension cord, and it seems to you that everything is within your power.

But cables are different. They are much larger, bigger, and harder to work with.

We do not recommend working with them on your own. If you still take them, do not forget to first disassemble the plug and remove them. After that, connections can be made. Remember, the red and black cords are on either side, the ground is at the top and the white is at the bottom.

Unfortunately, many people still think it’s ok, for example, to connect a generator to their house through a dryer outlet. Never attempt to plug the generator into a wall, range, or dryer outlet to feed back into your home. It can also cause a fire.

If you don’t know what you’re doing for stubs, don’t do it. Better to be safe.

Backfeeding: risks

When dealing with anything electrical, it’s important to know the risks involved.

Lack of experience

You lack experience. Many people try to do electrical work in their homes that requires official permission. Yes, some projects are smart: making furniture, for example. But some tasks are best left to professionals.

In the case of connection, it is better to invite a professional who will correctly install the generator connections. You won’t be worried that something went wrong.


Reverse feeding is illegal in many states, regions, and countries. This applies not only to inexperienced people. This also applies to those who deal with utility lines and electrifying them. If you are not sure about the legality of your place of stay, be sure to check it out.

This is illegal as it has the potential to result in death, injury, and moral damage. In addition, backfeeding can pose a serious threat to utility workers who work on the line year-round.

If they are injured or killed due to your backfeeding attempts, you may face criminal prosecution. Do not take on utility lines on your own.

Let’s say your internet goes down, which is more common in some areas than others.

In this case, someone working on the line could be seriously harmed by the energy rushing through the utility power lines in the neighborhood. Energizing the utility lines in this case is dangerous and illegal.

Huge fines

Even if you haven’t harmed anyone, that too has consequences. These include multiple fines or a utility company cutting off electricity from your home.

Also, keep in mind that 240 volts are enough to kill someone instantly. The question is not whether you can do it, but whether you are willing to risk yourself and others for something that can be easily avoided.

If you want to reduce the risk of this, you must turn off the main transfer switch. However, it is important to understand that there is no 100% guarantee against any threats.

Turning off the main breaker alleviates the hazard, but doing so relies on someone to shut the main breaker off. There is no guarantee that someone else will not turn the main breaker back on and energize the neighborhood wires.

Tripping over the return cable

If someone, or you, trips over the return cable, even by accident, it may come off. This will electrocute that person. The breaker back feed cord is sometimes referred to as the “suicide cord”.

Let’s say you live with an older person, you have small children, or even little furry friends roaming around you. If it’s dark or someone is not paying attention, this can be a massive risk factor.

No balance of portable generator

The electrical panel receives electricity from a generator that powers the entire house when you are back feeding. However, a large portable generator has power limitations. Running too many circuits can cause a significant voltage drop, resulting in unbalanced loads.

Given this information, the generator can supply 240 volts of power between two lines of 120V, which means that each line provides half the generator’s capacity. The more circuits you run, the more unbalanced the load becomes.

Why do people backfeed if it’s illegal?

Now you know backfeeding is illegal, but why do people still do it? What’s the point?

People use reverse feed because it feeds power into outlets during a power outage, providing electricity to run their appliances.

For example, if there is a severe storm in an area and all households are offline after you just went grocery shopping, then those perishable foods are at risk.


Not everyone wants to use backfeed because of the risk to the safety of themselves or others. In this case, there are several solutions you can use.

Washing machine

When it comes to washing clothes, a manual washing machine will help you. It is easy to use and can be used for RV and camping. Also, such a purchase will not take up much space in an apartment or dorm room.

After the end of the cycle, the best choice is to air dry the clothes.


A camp stove is suitable for cooking. So, you cannot worry about electricity.


Perishable products are more difficult. If you don’t have a massive dry ice tub, your best bet might be to keep your fridge open and chilled food in the giant freezer until the power comes on.

Types of back feed

There are many types of reverse feeds that you should be aware of: intentional, unintentional, and intrinsic.

The first includes wind turbines and solar power. In that case, generated electrical power is no exception. Over the past few years, numerous commercial products have found their way to people who want to purchase them for their homes.

In this case, the generated electricity is no exception. Under excellent power generation conditions, a generator is required. If the electricity supplier cannot support more electricity production, electricity is fed to the grid systems.

For example, a utility meter shows how much energy you have consumed. Due to reverse power, the electricity generator is used for a short time and the electricity remains in reverse mode as long as the generator is on.

When the utility power is restored, the system reconnects the utility lines and shuts the generator down.

As for unintentional back feeding, many may not even realize they are using it. This usually happens when the portable generator being used is not properly connected.

When the outage occurs and the homeowner needs to turn on the house to use their appliances, the energy then flows through the lines in the opposite direction, which re-charges it.

However, plugging a generator directly into a home appliance outlet can cause a major problem. Electricity returns to the lines of your appliances, and you are at risk.

And finally, the internal backfeed. In such a situation, the generator does not produce more electricity than it can handle. That is, the generator becomes a consumer.

This usually occurs when the generator is turned off or running at a lower capacity. And the power consumed when the device is turned off becomes more than the power of the generator.

During a power outage, the portable generator must continue to supply power to appliances and other systems to remain active with backup power or its power supply.

Such appliances include pumps, lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning systems, etc.

If you want to reduce power and improve efficiency, make sure the electrical grids are on standby or reduce the parasitic load.

Can I hook up my generator to my breaker box?

Portable generators are not ready to be plugged into your home’s breaker box. You typically will need to turn the circuit breaker off and turn the fuel valve on before starting it up. Give the machine a few minutes to warm up, then flip the circuit breaker on.

Connecting a generator directly to an outlet, known as a back feed, can seriously damage your home’s electrical wiring and even start a fire. It’s also illegal, as back-feeding power into your home could electrocute any technician working on power lines elsewhere on the grid.

Can I backfeed my house with a generator through my dryer plug?

Not. Never back-feed your generator through a dryer outlet. You must use some form of transfer switch or interlock to connect generators. It is a safety measure that prevents forgetting to turn off the main breaker when switching to generator power.

Turning off the main breaker is a mandatory measure. It is also mandatory to use the appropriate pin input. Do not forget about the “suicide cord”, which we wrote about above.

What size breaker do I need to backfeed a generator?

Well, let’s say you installed an interlock kit on your 200 amp home electrical panel and a two-pole transfer switch to reverse power the generator.

A 4-pin socket will be connected to this switch to connect an inverter generator rated at 9000W pulsed / 7600W continuous, and you will use the 120V / 240V plug on the generator.

What size breaker do you need? Most, 9600W portable generators will have a 30A twist-lock outlet with a 30A switch.

It is also possible to upgrade the transfer switch on the panel up to 40A. Since the breaker in the generator is protecting the system at this point, you can use any size breaker to reverse power your breaker panel.

For any breaker, you need to know the exact dimensions. You can consult professionals about this. Or call your power company that serves.

Transfer switch: how to stop backfeed?

You can use an automatic switch to prevent power lines from back-feeding the portable generator.

The automatic transfer switch disconnects the building from the utility lines and connects it to the generator supply. Without a gear shifter, things can get out of hand relatively quickly.

The toggle switch will manually turn the transfer switch on and off, isolating the home’s electrical system from the utilities.

Not only is this the safest option, but the transfer switch itself allows electric powerto supply electricity through certain circuits in your home.


To sum it up, reverse feed redistributes electricity within your home by moving power backward. Then a generator is connected inside your house, which changes its power and connects the generator to any device.

However, whether it is safe or not is another matter. Backfeeding can lead to unanticipated problems for electrical grid equipment.

While many homeowners insist on this, it may not be the wisest choice. Be sure to ask yourself all the safety questions before doing something you might regret. Read about Pulsar 12000 Watt Generator in the article

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

How to wire a generator to a breaker box without a transfer switch?

When linking a generator to the home without a transfer switch, an alternative is to utilize an electrical adapter. This involves attaching a standard 30-amp twist-lock plug to the end of a wiring cable, which is then directly connected to the generator and plugged into the power outlet in the house.

Can you feed power backwards through a breaker?

Circuit breakers can be backfed as they operate regardless of the feed direction. Certain transfer switches utilize backfed breakers to introduce power into a panel when running on a generator during a power outage.

What is a transfer switch, and why is it essential for backfeeding a breaker panel with a generator?

A transfer switch is a crucial safety device that prevents backfeeding and ensures the proper isolation of utility power and generator power. It facilitates the safe transfer of electrical load between the utility power and the generator, preventing damage to equipment and ensuring the safety of utility workers.

Are there any alternatives to using a transfer switch for backfeeding a breaker panel with a generator?

While using a transfer switch is the safest method for backfeeding a breaker panel with a generator, some homeowners may consider alternatives like interlock kits or manual transfer switches. However, these alternatives may not provide the same level of safety and reliability as a dedicated transfer switch, so it’s essential to consult a qualified electrician for proper installation and compliance with electrical codes.

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