There are many different types of home generator available, and many different reasons that you might want to own a generator for your house. You might want a small generator for general use around your house, or a standby generator to provide backup power in order to make sure that you have access to power in your house even without standard electrical provision, such as may occur in major storms. Whatever sort of generator you have in your house, you will want to make sure that you know how to use your generator properly in order to avoid any problems.
One of the most common problems is found by people trying to set up a generator in their house without transfer switch. Many people only discover that they do not have a generator transfer switch when it is too late and desperately need to find out how to work a generator without a transfer switch.
Fortunately, here at Best of Machinery, we have put together a starter guide to how to connect your generator to your house without a transfer switch, as well as an introduction to transfer switches and other components like the generator power house, breaker, breaker box, and all the other elements you need to get your generator properly up and running.
What is a Generator Transfer Switch?
The transfer switch is an important part of most high-end generators. If you try to plug your generator straight into your power supply with no transfer switch and no appropriate preparations, you will have major problems. Without a transfer switch, your generator could fry your appliances, endanger utility workers working on nearby powerlines, or damage your generator itself.
Transfer switches are not cheap, but they are very important. In general, they will set you back $500 to $900, but it is usually worth it. If you don’t want to break the bank, though, then don’t worry. With a bit of effort and patience, you can get your generator attached to your home even with no transfer switch entirely safely and reliably.
How to Connect Generator To House Without Transfer Switch?
The process of hooking up your generator without a transfer switch to your home power system is an intimidating looking one, but it does not have to be particularly difficult, as long as you approach it slowly and carefully and ensure that you keep yourself safe at all times. As long as you follow the steps below to connect your generator to your house with no transfer switch, you should be able to get everything up and running with no problems.
Step 1: Preparing all of your Tools and Supplies
There are a number of tools and other pieces of equipment that you will need in order to set up your home generator if you don’t have a transfer switch. All of these are important and don’t feel tempted to make substitutions or skip certain bits of it. You are going to need an interlock kit. These are generally fairly affordable tools, but you will need to be certain that you have bought the interlock kit that matches the model of your generator precisely – these are not interchangeable tools!
Electric wires are an important part of the process of setting up a generator with no transfer switch. You will need at least 3 sets of 10 foot long 10 gauge wires, and potentially more if you have a particularly large house. Electric wiring might look intimidating, but if you are patient, it should be fine. It will be much easier to use these wires if each of your 3 sets is a different color – this isn’t essential, but it is a tip that you might want to use to make your life easier!
As with any electrical work, you will need to make sure you have the proper safety equipment for the job. As a bare minimum, you will need to have protective eyewear to keep your eyes safe from damage, sturdy work gloves, and a strong pair of rubber-soled work boots to keep you safe from the risk of electrocution.
You are also going to want to be sure to have a standard range of all-purpose DIY tools. You will want to keep several different tools handy, although you probably already have several of them lying around in your house somewhere. Ensure that you have tools such as pliers, screwdrivers, wrenches, electrical tape, and a power drill easily available for this project.
A breaker is also an essential piece of kit. You will need one that fits with your generator specifications, but there aren’t too many options to choose from when you are trying to buy the right breaker. In most cases, a standard two pole double breaker with a 30 amp power supply should be right, but be sure to check your generator’s specifications to make sure you have got the right type of breaker for it.
Step 2: Understanding your Plug Types and Amperage
Not every type of generator will work well with this setup. In order to connect your generator to your home with no manual transfer switch, you will have to have a generator with a large round plug attachment. This should fit into both sides of your breaker with no issues. The amperage will be written somewhere near to the plug – make a note of it for later, as well as any other codes and information written nearby!
Step 3: Prepare your Walls
To set up your generator properly, you are going to need to be able to pass power wiring from your generator to the inside of your house. That means that you are going to need to drill a hole in the wall to pass the wires through. Try to keep the hole as far away from the generator as possible for safety reasons. If your walls are particularly thick, use a hammer drill to force your way through the wall quickly and easily!
Step 4: Setting up your Generator and Other Elements
First, you will need to set up your power inlet box. Keep the power inlet box a few feet away from your generator on an exterior wall. Attach that to the conduit, and ensure that all of the holes are fully watertight. Using glue to hold everything in place can keep everything safe and secure at all times.
Next, you will want to wire up the generator inlet plug. Pull the wires one at a time from the body of the conduit, and fix them to the plug. Tighten everything up with a screwdriver, and everything should be secure and safe.
The next step is to prepare the breaker box. Turn off the main breaker and all branch components, and simply push the wires inside. Then, install the breaker retainer, and it should be ready for use. Put the breaker cover back on the breaker box, and you are ready to go!
How do you Connect a Portable Generator to a House Transfer switch?
In order to connect your generator to your home transfer switch, you are going to need a gen cord. That is essentially an extension cord designed specifically for use with a generator. Without a transfer switch, you’d need an extension cord for each of the appliances you want to power. If you are using transfer switches, however, then you will just need a single gen cord extension cord for your generator.
Simply plug one end of your gen cord into the generator, then connect the other end to the transfer switch. Then, start the generator outside your home. Once the generator is running, it is time to use the transfer switch. Flip each main breaker in your transfer switches from the “line” setting to the “generator” power option.
Then, you can just use the standard switch on each circuit you want to power in order to power it up, and you will be ready to use your appliances again!
Do I need a Permit to Install a Generator Transfer Switch?
Generator transfer switches count as a permanent addition to the outside of your house. That means that they require a permit for installation, which can be frustrating and time-consuming to acquire. There is no loophole available here, and nothing that can be done to stop your transfer switch box from counting as a major permanent addition to the exterior of your home. You need a permit for this, and that is unavoidable.
The process will generally involve a building permit and a full inspection to ensure that your power systems are fully safe and include features like a proper circuit breaker for your home. You should always consult with your local building and code enforcement department to be completely sure that you know what you have to prepare before you get started on planning your transfer switch installation.
It is important to ensure that everything is fully safe and reliable when dealing with home power systems! However, if you choose to hire a certified professional to install your switch for you rather than doing it as a DIY project on your own, then you might be in luck.
In most cases, a certified professional electrician will be able to sort out all of the permits you need for installing a transfer switch for you, reducing the complexities and stresses involved in getting this part of your generator power system fully set up.
Can you Plug a Generator into a wall Socket?
You should never, under any circumstances at all, plug a generator directly into a power socket in your home directly. This can be extremely dangerous and can cause overloads, damage, fires, and injury to any utility workers working on nearby cabling. It is vitally important that you never try to plug your generator into a home power socket, even if you think you are being careful.
Generators should only be connected to your power supply using proper safety buffers. That means that you should not plug generators into power sockets or even directly into your breaker panel. There are other elements that have to be placed between your generator and your breaker for safety reasons, and they should not be skipped under any circumstances.
Rather than plugging cables directly into the breaker panel, you should run them through a “double pole, double throw” switch, otherwise known as a two-way transfer switch. A breaker panel provides some protection against overload, but even your breaker panel is not enough to protect against the sort of overload and damage that an improperly installed generator can cause.
How much does it cost to have a Professional Electrician Install your Transfer Switch for you?
There is no one single simple answer to this question, as the costs of hiring a professional electrician can vary a great deal depending on a number of factors like the area in which you live, the age of your house, the scale of the job you are asking them to do, and various other considerations. In general, the process of installing transfer switches is likely to take a professional electrician somewhere in the region of 3 to 4 hours of work, and will probably cost you somewhere around $500 or a bit less.
You might be able to get the job done for somewhere more like $200, but you should take care and ensure that you trust the electrician to do a good job – a cheap electrician might be appealing, but this is an important job that you don’t want anyone to rush or do a bad job on!
Manual Transfer Switches vs. Automatic Transfer Switches
There are two main types of transfer switch available: manual and automatic. In most cases, most homeowners will want to set up a manual transfer switch, but each option has a number of pros and cons that you might want to be aware of before you try to make this decision. Manual switches are much cheaper than automatic ones in most cases. If, as is usually the case, you are not expecting to make use of your generator more than a few times a year, then saving the money is likely to be worth it.
They are also much easier to install, which can save you a great deal of time and effort in the setup process, as well as saving more money if you want to hire a professional electrician to do the job for you! On the other hand, though, these switches have to be flipped manually every time there is a power outage. That is not a particularly difficult task at all, but it is an extra step in the process of keeping everything running properly that not everyone wants to deal with.
On the other hand, automatic transfer switches are designed for standby generators. As soon as the power goes out, an automatic transfer switch will automatically flip the power over to your generator, keeping everything running automatically without requiring any input for you. However, they are much more expensive than the manual equivalent.
For a good quality automatic switch, you are likely to be expecting to pay around $1000 for the device alone. If you are expecting to use it often, then it might be worth the money, but if power outages are rare in your area, then it may well not be worth it.
The world of generators and transfer switches can be confusing to amateurs and anyone who is not a professional electrician, but that does not mean you can skip over the details and just plug things in and hope for the best. Setting up a generator improperly can be disastrous, not only for your home and appliances but also for everything electrical in the surrounding area and anyone working on the cables nearby. It is important to use a transfer switch or an appropriate alternative, such as a high-quality interlock kit, to keep everything safe and secure and to protect your circuits from the risk of overload.
If you follow our guide above and stay patient and careful, then you should have no problems getting generators set up safely. Take your time, and do not be tempted to rush, and this should be entirely manageable as a DIY project even if you are not particularly confident with electrical projects!