Can you plug a generator into a wall receptacle outlet?

Saturday, May 23, 2020

You could call it “good ole Yankee ingenuity” or “white trash engineering,” depending on whether you approve or not. But, either way, it’s both dangerous and illegal. Here’s four reasons why:

1) It’s against code. The National Electrical Code [NEC 406.6(B)], states that “no receptacle shall be installed so as to require the insertion of an energized attachment as its source of supply."

2) Potential fireworks. If the main breaker in the service panel is not turned off, or inadvertently turned back on while generator is still connected, when the local utility power comes back on there will be an explosion in the panel. 

3) It’s a "dead-man’s plug.”  Anyone who does not know that the cord is a power source will be shocked by touching the bare prongs if they touch them when they pull it out. 

4) Wiring from receptacle to panel may be undersize for generator amperage rating. Also, any fixtures or other receptacles between plug-in point and panel would not have correct over-current protection.

    The correct way to power your home through a portable generator is to connect it thru a generator-rated power inlet, dedicated for just that purpose, to a breaker in the panel with an overlay plate between the generator breaker and main breaker that makes it impossible to have both on at the same time. A power inlet box has male prongs instead of female slots. 

Another, more expensive option is an electronic automatic transfer switch and a separate subpanel. See our blog post Why did my generator hookup get tagged as defective by the home inspector?  for more on this.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 

Here’s links to a collection of some of our other  blog posts about HURRICANE RESISTANCE:

How can I inspect my roof for hurricane damage?

Should I buy a house that has hurricane flood damage?

Should I buy a house with hurricane flood damage that has been repaired?

• What can I do right now to prepare my house for a hurricane? 

Why did so many concrete block homes collapse in Mexico Beach during Hurricane Michael? 

How can I tell if the concrete block walls of my house have vertical steel and concrete reinforcement?   

Can I do my own wind mitigation inspection?  

• What is the wind mitigation inspection for homeowner's insurance? 

What is the best emergency back-up generator for the power outage after a storm? 

Can I run a window air conditioner on a portable generator? 

What are the pros and cons of concrete block versus wood frame construction? 

Is a metal roof for a mobile home approved for HUD Wind Zone 3? 

Why do so many more sinkholes open up after a hurricane? 

Which trees are most likely to fall over on your house in a hurricane? 

What can I do during a hurricane to reduce the possiblity of roof damage?

Why is it a dangerous mistake to attach a carport, porch, or room addition directly to the roof of a mobile home? 

How can I tell how hurricane resistant a Florida mobile home is before I buy it? 

What is the average life expectancy of a whole-house standby emergency generator? 

What size generator do I need to run my submersible well pump? 

• How can I tell how hurricane resistant a Florida house is before I buy it?

    Visit our HURRICANE RESISTANCE and GENERATORS page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles. 

How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes






Air Conditioner & Furnace Age/Size



Aging in Place


Click Below  

for Links

to Collections

of Blog Posts

by Subject


Doors and Windows


Energy Efficiency

Fireplaces and Chimneys

Heating and Air Conditioning

Home Inspection

Hurricane Resistance

Electrical Receptacle Outlets

Electrical Panels

Garages and Carports

Common Problems

Exterior Walls & Structures



Life Expectancy

Mobile/Manufactured Homes

Older and Historic Houses

Mold, Lead & Other Contaminants

Modular Homes

Metal Roofs



Pool and Spa

Roof and Attic




"Should I Buy A..."


Termites, Wood Rot & Pests

Structure and Rooms


Water Heaters

Water Heater Age

Septic Tank Systems

Plumbing Pipes


When It First Became Code

Park Model Homes

Shingle Roofs


Wind Mitigation Form

"Does A Home


"What Is The Difference Between..."


Concrete and Concrete Block


Rain Gutters


Crawl Spaces

Building Permits

Clay Soil




HUD-Code for Mobile Homes

Flat Roofs

Sprinkler Systems

4-Point Inspections

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Building Codes

Inspector Licensing

& Standards

Washers and Dryers



Electrical Wiring

Plumbing Drains and Traps

Smoke & CO Alarms

Top 5 results given instantly.

Click on magnifying glass

for all search results.