Generators are the perfect alternative power sources when you are off the municipal power. A generator will power your AC unit, refrigerator, TV, lighting, and other electrical appliances. It is a worthy investment, particularly if you live in areas where frequent storms contribute to power outages.
You can’t imagine being in a winter storm without a running heating unit. There is a need to understand how to hook up a generator to a house without a transfer switch. Depending on the type of generator at your disposal, connecting it to your house can be a bit complicated, especially when you’re not a qualified electrician.
Convenient generators to connect to your home come with an in-built transfer switch, and it is a safety feature. However, such units are expensive to acquire. This explains why generators without a ready transfer switch are common compared to those with such a feature.
Even so, a certified electrician can add you a transfer switch at your home, but it may come at a high cost, and it can also be time-consuming. In case of an emergency, you may not have adequate time to get an electrician to fix one for you. So, what do you do?
Read on to learn how to hook up the generator to the house without a transfer switch.
You should, however, note that this is not a safe way of powering your home, and it should only be done when there is an emergency.
What is a Transfer Switch, and Why is It Important?
It’s an electric switch that automatically changes the load between two power sources. A transfer switch can be automatic or manual; generators come with automatic ones.
Once you power on a generator with a transfer switch, it securely shuts off the utility line connected to your house, allowing the house to be powered by electricity from the generator.
A transfer switch ensures there is no mixing of the power from the utility line and the one coming from your generator.
This protects your house and stops electricity from your generator from having a backflow to the utility power lines, which can endanger the lives of those working on the lines.
Things You Will Need
Having everything you need to hook up a generator to your home without a transfer switch is almost similar to having the job half done. Here is what you need;
An Interlocking Kit
This is the primary tool you will need in this process; it links your generator to the service panel. It’s a low-cost substitute for a transfer switch.
With an interlocking kit, it is possible to feed your house with electricity from the generator without any risks of having a backflow to the power grid.
While you can buy this kit from online stores, you must ensure that it is compatible with the requirements and version of your generator.
Getting the perfect interlocking kit will increase the efficiency of your connection.
It is mandatory that you lookout for a breaker compatible with your home’s power requirements and the power your generator produces.
However, if there are some empty spaces on your breaker box, it will not necessitate buying a new breaker.
You can only secure your connection by using electric cables. However, the same wires can ruin your entire connection if their handling is not done with seriousness.
Get about three sets of 10 gauge wires that are at least 10 feet long. It is advisable to go for cables of different colors to avoid a mix-up during the assembling.
When working with electricity from any source, you should put on safety gear to avoid electrocution. Get safety boots that are steel capped to ground your body, pair of insulating gloves, protective eyewear, and a voltage stick.
An Inlet Plug:
You need to have a compatible inlet plug for this connection to be successful. The plug that you will be using should also be compatible with the amperage of your generator.
Steps on How Hook Up a Generator to Houswithout transfer switch
Step#1: Check on safety precautions
Safety of your family and property comes first because the process of hooking up your generator directly to a house without a transfer switch is by itself dangerous.
Never use a double male plug during this procedure.
Place your generator away from your house.
This will safeguard your loved ones and the house, too, should the generator catch fire when in use. It is likely to happen.
Additionally, the generator produces poisonous carbon monoxide fumes, which can be dangerous when inhaled.
Placing it away from your house lowers the chances of having the fumes inhaled by anyone in your house.
To protect yourself while working, ensure to put on your safety gears.
Step#2: Check on the generator’s plug and amperage
An ideal generator plug for this procedure should be big and round and fit on either side of the breaker.
Check on the amperage near the plug.
The most common amperage readings in the US are 20, 30, and 50 amp. The amperage is essential when adjusting your materials.
Step#3: Drill an access hole
You need to drill a hole where your wires from your generator will pass through.
Therefore, it should be big enough to accommodate them be, and it should also be close to the panel.
It is also important to remember to drill the hole in a position that will set the generator far away from you.
However, if your house has a conduit hole in the foundation, you don’t have to drill another.
Drilling an access hole next to your children’s bedroom or yours could be the worst idea.
Noise coming from the generator may be a bother to you.
When placing it outside, you should also ensure it is under a shade and free from water contact.
Step#4: Install the circuit breaker and the interlocking kit
You should fix a compatible circuit breaker on your house’s electrical panel.
A compatible circuit breaker matches the amperage of your generator. At this point, you should turn off the mains line.
Just alongside the circuit breaker, you should install the interlocking hardware.
The interlocking kit is responsible for turning off the generator’s circuit breaker when the mains circuit breaker turns on and vice versa.
At this point, your connection will be legal.
Step#5: Install the inlet box
This step involves the installation of an inlet box on the outside of your house.
This should not be close to the access hole drilled in step#3.
While at this point, assemble the conduit at the inlet box, for maximum safety, glue it down.
Step#6: Wire your generator inlet plug
Remove the covering on the conduit and start pulling the wires one by one and secure them on the plug.
You can remove about three-quarters of an inch of the insulation on the wires to make it easier for you to attach them to the plug’s terminals.
This is the point you will need to use your screwdriver to tighten them in the plug.
Step#7: Attach the wires on the breaker box
Proceed by connecting the inlet wires from the conduit to the breaker installed earlier.
After a successful installation, cover the breaker box.
With the other end of the plug on your generator, it is ready for operation.
Step#8: Operate the Generator
With the mains switch off, power on your generator and switch on the generator’s main.
Check on the starting instructions on the manual that came with the generator.
Test to see if the entire connection is working before connecting your electrical appliances.
The most sensitive part is to check whether the interlock is working correctly.
Suppose your test is successful, power on the breakers of devices you wish to power.
The powering on of the breakers should be one at a time, giving an allowance of about five seconds.
You should also be careful not to overload your generator.
As a precaution, do not undertake the above process if you are not sure of what you are doing.
Contact a certified electrician to do it for you.
However, if you are confident with what you have done, call in a professional electrician to inspect your work.
Can I connect a generator to my house through a dryer outlet?
Yes, however, this is illegal and a dangerous method.
Don’t try this at home. If you have to do it, modify the plug from your generator to be a male connector.
If his connector falls, it poses a risk of electrocution or an electric shock to whoever may come into contact with it.
One of the leading causes of house fires related to generators is incorrect connections of generators to the houses through the dryer outlet.
Home insurers do not compensate homeowners for fire losses attributed to such connections.
Frequently asked questions
Is a transfer switch for a generator a must?
Technically, it is not needed. However, it is a requirement set by the National Electric Code.
Whenever you power your home’s electrical equipment, the National Electric Code expects you to have a transfer switch in place.
Additionally, it is the easiest and safest option for powering your home in case of a power blackout.
Which is better, a transfer switch or an interlock?
A transfer switch is the legal provided way of connecting your generator to the house in different states in America.
It is also the safest way of powering your home; it is, therefore, better than an interlock kit.
However, an interlock kit is affordable and allows you to run power in any available circuits in the electrical panel.
On the other hand, the transfer switch is expensive and limited to a particular number of circuits.
How much will it cost me to install a transfer switch?
There are different types of transfer switches in the market, and all come with different prices.
Averagely, you will pay from $500 to $900 to have one installed for you.
The prices mentioned are labor inclusive.
What size of a generator will power my house?
A generator in the range of 5000 to 7000 watts can power essential household appliances.
Some of the basic appliances include a refrigerator and a freezer, a well pump, and lighting circuits.
A generator with a running wattage of 7500W is capable of powering these appliances simultaneously.
To tell the suitable size of the generator for your home, get a list of the appliances you intend to power and get their total starting watts alongside their running watts.
If the total appliances you need to power have a starting wattage of 5000W and a running wattage of 4000W, add 10% to each wattage. Such a size can comfortably power your appliances.
How far should I place my generator from the transfer switch?
You should not place a generator near your window, door, or even at the garage.
You should put it at a distance of approximately 60 feet.
It is the safest distance to operate a generator from; apart from keeping your house free from carbon monoxide, it also reduces the noise level from the generator.
Can I plug a generator into a wall socket?
No, it is not advisable. You should not connect your generator to any of your home’s electrical outlets.
Linking a generator directly to the wall outlet of your house bypasses the circuit breaker installed on your power panel. In case of any power mishaps, your house can be razed by fire.
And neither should you connect it directly to your circuit breaker.
Is it possible to hook up the generator to the house without a transfer switch? Yes, however, you should not do it.
It is a risky and complicated process to undertake on your own unless you are a professional electrician.
If you have to do it, ensure you have an interlock kit and a breaker to install before making the connection.
Get a professional electrician to inspect your connections.
Alternatively, you can get high-quality extension cables and power your essential home appliances directly instead of connecting the house without a transfer switch.