Generator Suicide Cord: Male to Male Extension Cord
Male-to-male extension cords are not very common extension cords but can come in very handy in emergencies and blackouts when one wants to provide at least some electric power to the home appliances.
Male-to-male extension cords are simple electrical cords with prongs on both ends, allowing the user to connect one end to the wall power socket and another end to the power generator.
Although such connections are quick and easy, there are a few very serious safety issues with them, giving these extension cords a rather grim nickname - suicide cord.
Updated: December 22, 2022.
When and How to Use Generator Suicide Cord
The most common use of the generator suicide cord is for connecting power generators to homes and RVs without having proper means of connection, for example, a transfer switch at home or a suitable RV receptacle or cable adapter for an RV.
A generator suicide cord is nothing more than a male-to-male extension cord that allows the user to plug one end into the wall power outlet and another end to plug into the power generator, providing the home with at least some electric power - it is that simple.
However, a male-to-male extension cord is, for a reason, also known as a "suicide cord" or "widowmaker" and similar.
Well, if one plugs one end of the male-to-male extension cord into the "live" socket, the other end of the male-to-male extension cord will be "hot" with exposed prongs which are far from being safe.
That is why connecting the suicide cord must be done in a certain order.
How to Connect Generator Suicide Cord?
When connecting generator suicide cord and doing similar activities with electricity, You are doing it on your own responsibility...
Note: In some countries/states/counties, the use of male-to-male cables to connect the power generator to home outlets is even illegal - it may be that dangerous!
If there is a blackout of some kind and You want to connect your power generator to your home electric grid, and You don't have a transfer switch, locate the main switch (master switch) and set it to Off position - without a master switch set to Off position, some of your electric power would disappear in the public electric grid, and the operation of the generator would be questionable.
This is also known as "backfeeding" - electricity that You send into your home is not staying just there, it is also being sent into the public electric grid. Hence the need to set the main/master switch to an Off position.
Not to mention the fact that with the return of the mains power, the mains power and the power from your generator would be out of phase, with different waveforms, and maybe even with a slight difference in frequency and voltage.
After that, set all your home electric breakers to an Off position as well - this will prevent overloading the generator with all the appliances that are at the moment turned On by default at home.
Now, locate a suitable wall power outlet and check other wall power outlets that are connected to the same electric breaker.
By connecting a suicide cord to one of those wall outlets, all of them will become "hot" - unplug any device that may overload the generator.
Now, connect one end of the suicide cord to the suitable wall power outlet and another end to the working and warmed-up power generator.
This segment of the home electric grid is isolated from the rest of your home (and the rest of the world - "generator backfeed" is a big no-no!) by its electric breaker set to Off and is protected by the overload safety system of the power generator.
Most home wall power sockets are 15 Amps or 20 Amps, and the total load on this segment should be kept below ~1500W for the 15 Amps socket and below ~2000W for the 20 Amps wall socket.
If the power must be provided for the rest of your home, set the electric breaker where the wall outlet with the suicide cord is to the On position and set the electric breaker of your, for example, lights to On as well.
Now, the maximum electric current is still limited by the maximum allowed wall outlet current (usually 15 or 20 Amps) but also by the maximum value of the electric breakers that let the current flow from the wall outlet with the suicide cord to the, for example, lights.
By setting electric breakers to Off and to On position, the user can provide electric power to the different parts of the home where the electric power is most needed.
Using a single generator suicide cord, one can provide 1500-2000 watts to lights, multimedia devices, refrigerators, can recharge telecommunication devices, and similar.
But what to do when a power generator features several 120V 20A AC receptacles and when more power is needed?
Connecting Several Generator Suicide Cords to Home
First of all, connecting a single male-to-male cord from a generator to the home electric grid is not the safest thing to do; connecting more of them is even less safe and can lead to property damage, injuries, or worse. And in your area, it may even be an illegal thing to do.
But, it can be safe when done properly.
If your home requires more than 1500-2000W of power and You have a generator that can supply more than that, and You don't have a transfer switch (question: why not?), set ALL your electric breakers to Off, including the home master switch.
Turn on the power generator and let it warm up properly. After that, connect one by one suicide cord to the generator, starting with the wall outlet first and only then the generator's receptacles.
But, there is a catch - each segment of your home power grid (electric network) should be connected with only ONE generator suicide cord.
Well, the voltage available on one of the generator's receptacles is usually in phase with other receptacles, but sometimes, it is not.
Also, if two wall outlets of the same segment are connected to the same generator, the wires in the wall don't have the same length, the same parasite capacity, and the same parasite inductivity, causing instabilities and imbalances in power levels between the home electric wiring segments.
This instability can sometimes be ignored, but sometimes it can cause various issues, to say the least.
Thus, if You are connecting several generator suicide cords to the home's electric grid, be sure to connect only ONE suicide cord to each segment of the home electric grid isolated by setting the electric breakers to the Off position.
How To Disconnect Generator Suicide Cord?
The generator suicide cord is removed in the reverse direction - disconnect it from the power generator and then disconnect it from the wall socket.
Then, set the master switch to On and only then slowly set the rest of the electric breakers to On position, restoring the power to the entire home.
After that, consider hiring a professional electrician to check your home's electric wiring and to add a transfer switch as soon as possible ... Again, let the certified electrician do that for You - it is the safest and, believe it or not, the cheapest way to do it!
If You have a large enough power generator, You can connect it directly to your home using a transfer switch which will protect the generator from backfeeding and which will help You distribute electric power to your whole home - just be sure to have everything turned Off and to start turning appliances and other loads gradually while monitoring the load on your generator.
How to Make a Suicide Cord/Male-to-Male Extension Cord?
A male-to-male extension cord can be easily built using an ordinary extension cord and a suitable male plug.
So, take a long enough and thick enough extension cord and remove the receptacle from one of its ends.
Attach the male plug to this end, taking great care of which wire is connected to which prong.
And that is all - You have built your own male-to-male extension cord.
Personally, think twice before using it at your home ...
Long Story Short: Male-to-male extension cord is, for a reason, called generator suicide cord or widowmaker cord, etc.
It can be used safely but with great care - turn off the master switch, turn off all the electric breakers at your home, unplug all the devices that are connected to the segment where there is a suitable wall outlet to connect the suicide cord, plug the suicide cord into the wall outlet and only then, connect it to the power generator.
It is not complicated, but it is very easy to overlook something and that can be dangerous ...
Also, power generators MUST be used outside - the open door of the garage is not "outside"! Before running any power generator, check its safety warnings carefully!
Again, whatever You do, it is your own responsibility ...
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