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December 28, 2023

Beware of Backfeed

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Avoid Deadly Backfeed & Help Keep Lineworkers Safe

Using a backup generator during an extended outage or winter storm can give you peace of mind. And self-generating power through rooftop solar could provide some level of energy flexibility.

But these examples of behind-the-meter generation can have deadly consequences if not properly installed, maintained, and used. Keep reading to learn what causes electrical backfeed and what you can do to protect yourself and others. Our lineworkers thank you in advance!

Backfeed happens when a generated power source is introduced to your home without isolating the power supply, creating a new and unintentional path for power that reverses the typical flow of energy.

A transfer switch helps prevent backfeed by safely isolating the power source from its primary source to a backup or secondary source. Transfer switches should always be installed by a professional and routinely inspected for proper working order.

Backfeed is hazardous to the household where it’s done, to the neighboring properties, and to our lineworkers and other first responders.

Generators have the potential to create backfeed when a person connects their portable generator to a wall outlet. That’s a big safety no-no. Never plug a portable generator directly into a wall outlet or electrical system. If done, the alternate power source (the generator) would then feed energy back through your home’s electrical system, through your meter, and back into the power lines. Permanently installed generators that are not used or installed correctly can also backfeed the grid. The only way to safely install a generator is by disconnecting it from the grid by using an automatic or manual transfer switch, depending on the generator.

Negative backfeed in the context of rooftop solar systems refers to unwanted electrical contributions when generated power is pushed back to the grid when the grid is not willing or able to accept excess power. Modern solar inverters are designed with safety features to help prevent this from occurring. Our small generator interconnection and net metering agreement also specifies safety measurements and protocols to help prevent backfeed.

View more generator safety tips here.

Source: SafeElectricity

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