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If you do not have a transfer switch, you risk sending power back through your breaker and meter, back to the transformer, and stepping 120 volts up to line voltage.

No a good thing for the linemen out in the middle of the night, in bad weather, trying to restore everyone's power. In lots of the panels I've seen, the neutral line is attached to the local ground.

In other words, the first path to local ground in those cases is the bare copper wire running from the transformer down the pole to a grounding rod installed by the utility company. I have marked every breaker that I want to run off the generator and turn off all the others along with the mains breaker. Of course, I am the only person who is capable of hooking up the generator and running it, so there is no chance of someone else running into a problem. There is nothing inherently wrong with a male-male cord.

So I wouldn't take anything for granted.....there's still less electrical resistance back through that nice metal neutral path than there is into the dirt outside your house, and you're still physically connected to that neutral wire. The only time an interlocking transfer switch is absolutely needed is if the generator automatically comes on when the power goes off. It is obviously dangerous, but only to people dumb enough to wave the pointy end around while it is plugged into a live circuit.

Things you genuinely do have to be concerned about: Dryers have 2 hots and a neutral. Presumably the dryer is also disabled by virtue of it's plug being in use by the generator. Do not use a 3-pin welder plug for a generator - the absence of a neutral will have very strange results, like the hallway light only working when you turn on the toaster. You know who can't figure out how to turn off the main breaker?

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