A generator can be a great way of providing a backup supply of electricity to your home. Because of this, you no longer have to worry about the risk of losing power after a storm or natural disaster. But not all houses have a transfer switch.
The good news is that this doesn’t need to be a major problem. There is a safe, effective, legal way to get around this problem. Here’s what you need to do.
What is a Transfer Switch?
In most cases, your generator will connect to your home through a transfer switch. This is a circuit breaker on the outside of your house. You will be able to plug your generator into this and use it to power the house, rather than drawing power from the grid. If your house doesn’t come with one, you can install it for around $1,500. This article goes into more depth about transfer switches and how they work.
Avoid Extension Cords
While installing a transfer switch is the ideal solution, it will take some time. In the meantime, you still need to power your appliances. Some people do this by using extension cords. However, this isn’t a good option. It will be an unruly solution, which requires you to run a lot of cords that pose a tripping hazard. Plus, there is a limited number of connections on the generator.
Even worse, though, is the risk of electrocuting yourself. Because of this, many states will ban this practice and you could find yourself facing heavy fines. Thankfully, there is another approach you can use, which is legal.
Gathering the Right Tools
Before you start the process, you must have the right tools. Here are the things you need:
- Inlet plug. This will sit on the outside of the house and is what you will plug the generator into. Make sure that it is customized to suit the type of generator you have.
- Interlock kit. This separates the circuit breaker on the generator and the circuit breaker on your house. The good news is that these tend to be fairly easy to find, they should be at most hardware stores.
- Breaker. Check that this will be compatible with your generator.
- Heavy-duty power cord. This connects your generator to the inlet plug.
Switch off the Circuit Breakers
The first thing that you need to do is turn off the circuit breakers. This ensures that you don’t accidentally electrocute yourself.
Install the Inlet Plug
The next thing you need to do is get the inlet plug set up. This is where the generator will be plugged in. You should be able to screw it into the wall. Put this close to the main electrical panel. Next, you need to run the wires through plastic tubing and into the main electrical panel. This will stop them from getting wet.
You need to connect these wires to the main box. You should just need to insert the wires into the right place and tighten them using a screwdriver. When you are installing the red and black wires, you will need to first run them through the circuit breaker. Then, use your screwdriver to tighten them in place. Put the breaker into place.
Next, you need to connect the wires to the back of the inlet plug. There should be letters to tell you where each of the wires should go. Again, you just need to screw them in. You might need to strip off some of the insulation to do this.
Finally, you need to assemble the inlet plug case. This ensures that all the wiring is protected by the waterproof box. If you want a visual guide, you should check out this video which talks you through the process.
This isn’t a complex job, but it does require a little knowledge about electrical elements. If you aren’t comfortable doing this, you should consult with a professional electrician and get them to do it for you.
Install the Interlock Plate
The next thing that you need to do is attach the interlock plate. This is what you need to make the system legal. It ensures that you won’t be able to use the electric power and the generator power at the same time. This prevents you from accidentally electrocuting yourself.
The good news is that this plate is relatively easy to attach. All you need to do is screw it into place. You will need to carefully remove the metal plate to do this. Screws should be included with the interlock plate. This video talks you through this process.
After you have finished the installation, check the interlock plate. You shouldn’t be able to turn on the mains power when you are using the generator and vice versa.
Plug the Generator in
The final step is to put the power cord into the generator. It will only go in one way, so you don’t need to worry about getting the connection wrong. Then, plug the other end of the cord into the inlet plug.
Test the System
Now, everything should be set up, it’s time to test it out. Make sure everything in the circuit box is correct, and you are running on generator power. Then, crank up the generator. The appliances in your house should be working.
Using the Generator to Power Your House
When you are running the generator, you only want to be using the most important appliances. You don’t want to risk overloading the generator. If you are planning on using the generator regularly, it’s important to get a model that is powerful enough to support your energy needs. If you want to know what you should be looking for, this whole house generator guide will help you out: https://generatorpick.com/best-whole-house-generator/.
You don’t need to be an expert electrician to connect a generator to your house’s electrical supply. But if you aren’t confident, you should call in a professional. It won’t be an expensive job and they should be able to get it done relatively quickly. So, install this system so you don’t need to worry about losing power.