Suicide Cables/Widow Maker Cables

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Old 01-21-19, 12:45 PM
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Suicide Cables/Widow Maker Cables

Hi All.
I am making a short educational video about the dangers of suicide cables. As most of you might already know, these are the cables with male plugs on both sides. I understand that they are dangerous because one plug could be exposed and be touched by the human operating it, resulting in a shock. But is there anything else I should know? Are these cables technically illegal?
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Old 01-21-19, 01:23 PM
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When suicide cables are used there is usually no interlock or transfer panel being used to prevent back feeding the power grid which can result in the injury of a lines person doing service work on the grid.
 
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Old 01-21-19, 02:02 PM
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Yes they are illegal except under certain circumstances. You cannot buy them retail.
 
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Old 01-22-19, 01:56 PM
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"Illegal" is hard to state conclusively for something like that. It would certainly violate electrical code, but electrical code generally doesn't apply to aftermarket devices that aren't part of the building. It would not pass any sort of UL certification, but that speaks more toward insurance liability than illegality. Any business or electrician who sold a suicide cord could probably be found guilty of negligence or could be found civilly liable for damages if someone got injured. But for a random person to buy the parts from Home Depot and assemble one is not illegal, just stupid.

I think one of the biggest concerns is that people don't think about what might go wrong they didn't plan for with a system that fails into an unsafe state. For example, they figure I'm an adult I know not to touch the sparky end so I can handle it safely which for most people is probably true. But they don't anticipate the neighbor kid kicking a ball over the fence and accidentally touching the cord or the dog snagging the cable and pulling it loose when he sees a rabbit or someone mistaking it for a normal extension cord and plugging it in unaware there is a live bit wrapped up in the coil on the other side or even just a mistake they might make themselves when it's 3am during an ice storm and you're trying to get the generator going in the dark and cold with fatigue and frustration boiling over.
 
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