Installing an Emergency Generator

In the unlikely event of an outage, a portable or permanently installed emergency power generator can provide electric service until your regular service is restored. However, as useful as they can be in an emergency, there are a number of important things to keep in mind when dealing with generators - before and during installation and when in use.

Requirements for Approval

For our customers' safety, EPB Electric Power requires the following information before an emergency generator installation can be approved for use within our service area:

A detailed schematic diagram of the emergency generator and accompanying transfer switch wiring connections.

Written or visual verification from the manufacturer of the transfer switch that the transfer method is Break Before Make, which means that it breaks contact with one source of power before it makes contact with another.

Your generator should be installed by a licensed electrician to reduce the possibility of shock or fire hazard when the unit is in operation.

The Danger of "Back-feeding"

Back-feeding occurs when the electricity produced from a home generator feeds back into the power line. If the back-fed voltage passes through one of our transformers, the voltage increases to a deadly level, which places the lives of linemen who may be working on downed power lines in grave danger and also risks starting a fire. Therefore, this must be prevented through the installation of a Break Before Make transfer switch.

How to Choose an Emergency Generator

First, consult with a licensed electrician to determine the appropriate size and type of generator for your needs. Then, let your electrician help you determine the best avenue for the generator-produced power to follow - either through extension cords directly to the equipment you wish to run, or into an emergency panel installed in your home. If you decide to use an emergency panel, determine the type of transfer switch to be used. Don't forget to have the transfer switch approved by EPB Electric Power before you install and operate the generator.

Tips for Safe Generator Operation

A generator should be installed and serviced by a licensed electrician.

Read all instruction manuals and safety warnings from the manufacturer before operating the generator.

Keep children and untrained adults away from the generator.

NEVER operate gasoline-powered generators indoors, in a garage or any other enclosed area.


Remember - all liability for the improper installation or operation of a generator rests with the homeowner.

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