Can I Share Generator Power with My Neighbors?

When a standby generator is installed, it is installed in a place where it can easily connect into the home or business’s electrical panel. This means that it is just a matter of feet away from the structure that it is powering.

If you want to share generator power with your neighbors, the generator location is one factor that makes that quite difficult. The second factor is that there is a good chance that you have a generator that handles just the load of your home and not two homes. This means that you are not necessarily going to be able to share power with your neighbors in the way you’d probably like to.

Sure, you can invite your neighbors over to wait out the power outage with you. If they have electronic devices, such as cell phones and tablets that need to be charged, they can probably come over and charge those devices. In some cases, a person may run an extension cord from an outside outlet to the neighbor’s house to power a device. If that’s what needs to be done, you have to make sure that that’s all your neighbor is running, otherwise you could exceed the load that your generator can handle and that could cause some problems. Plus, they would need to use a power strip to avoid any potential damage to their sensitive devices; otherwise they could possibly hold you liable for the damage.

You may find after running all of the possible scenarios through your mind that it is best to invite them over or offer to charge devices for them so you can keep a close eye on what is plugged in. That way you don’t risk overload and you can ensure that power strips are used. Just keep in mind, however, that any time you take responsibility for someone else’s devices, you’re opening yourself up to liability if something happens to them. While generators are designed to steadily deliver power in a safe way, a slight surge can happen at any time, which is why power strips are recommended (even when connected to utility power), especially for the most sensitive devices. Your relationship with your neighbors is also a factor when determining what you should or shouldn’t do.

The general answer, though, is to power electrical components within your home only because that’s what your generator was meant to handle. When powering items within your home only, you know your generator is going to be able to safely handle the load.