Improper generator installation risks injury or death

 
Improper generator installation risks injury or death

Several severe storms experienced in the Twin Cities over the past few years have caused many Dakota Electric customers to consider buying a standby generator, as insurance against any long-term power outages in the future. A generator will definitely help avoid any loss or inconvenience resulting from an extensive power outage but, unless it is installed safely, a generator can cause serious injury or death to power line workers or the general public.

Some customers, unaware of the possible consequences of their actions, have attempted to connect a standby generator to their main fuse panel. To properly install a standby generator large enough to power a whole house, a double-throw disconnect is needed to isolate your new temporary power source from the main power lines feeding your home.

When you use current from Dakota Electric's lines, the transformer at your location steps the voltage down from 7,200 to the 120 and 240 volts used in your home. When you run a generator without a double-throw switch installed on your system, you may feed 120 volt current back into the transformer. The transformer then steps the current up to 7,200 volts, potentially giving a lethal shock to anyone who contacts the line C a power line worker, an unsuspecting citizen or maybe even a child.

In addition, when power is restored it will almost certainly damage your generator, unless it is isolated from the lines by a double-throw switch. This switch must be sized according to the rating of your service entrance equipment. Common sizes are 100 or 200 amperes. Sometimes automatic switches are part of a control panel, to be used when standby service is automatic. Otherwise, manually operated switches are used. To ensure proper installation of a standby generator and comply with electrical code requirements, please contact a qualified electrician.