Hooking Up a Generator to a House

The easiest and safest way to hook up a generator to a house is through a transfer switch or interlock kit. Then, a portable generator need only be plugged in and the manual switch thrown. A stationary generator can include an automatic transfer switch. But using any other method can create safety hazards not only for you and your family, but for others, and may be a violation of code.

  1. Buy and Install Your Transfer Switch

    • When you buy your generator, know that it is useless unless you hook it up. Buy your transfer equipment at the same time so you won't be tempted to try to hook up without it. Install it as soon as possible. If you can't do it yourself, hire a qualified electrician to do the job.

    Hook Up Your Generator

    • Plug your generator into your transfer socket. Start your generator. Wait until it comes up to speed and stabilizes. Throw your transfer switch to disconnect the line power from the house and connect your generator. If you have a properly installed automatic transfer switch, you will not have to do anything. It will come on automatically when the power fails.

    Bad Ideas

    • Hooking up a generator directly to your main breaker can risk severe electrical shock and death. You never know when the power will return, and if it is not separated from your generator when it comes back on, you could damage your generator or cause a fire. Also, "back feeding" could injure or kill a fireman or power line worker unaware that your generator is running. Hooking it up to a dryer outlet requires making a "suicide cord" which can expose dangerous voltage inside your house.

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