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Last Updated on June 10, 2021
Portable generators have become super popular in recent years. They are the perfect way to protect your home in emergency situations. If there is a power outage, whether because of a storm, flood, or just a strike by the power suppliers, you don’t want to be caught unawares.
A portable generator can help you with things like keeping the food fresh in the fridge or freezer, or it can help with things as simple as lighting your home or allowing you to not miss your favorite show on TV.
But although you might have a portable generator, do you know how to connect it to your house? Usually, the answer is simply found in the electrical device called a transfer switch.
A transfer switch allows you to connect your generator to your house safely and without extension cords. It tends to be near the main service panel of your house because it is designed to help you control the power supply.
So what do you do if you need to use a portable generator but you don’t have one? Don’t worry, it’s still possible. In fact, we’ve made a list of the best ways to connect the generator to your house without one, so you never need to be left in the lurch.
How to connect a portable generator to house without a transfer switch?
1. Keep the generator away from the home
Okay, so the main thing to bear in mind when you are setting up your portable generator, is to keep it at a distance from your home. It will probably be fine, but there’s always a chance that something could go wrong. If that’s the case, you don’t want it to set fire to your home.
Some generators also emit carbon monoxide, which can be poisonous, so it’s definitely best to keep the generator a bit apart from your house. Having said that, you will also need to get the power supply into your house. That means that you are going to probably need to drill a hole into a wall of your house, so that you can pass the wires through.
2. Buy the right gear
If you don’t have a transfer switch, that means that you need something else to hook up the generator to your home. It’s not as simple as using a USB port. Instead, you’re going to need some specialist gear. Don’t worry though, we can keep you informed about what you need to get.
First up, you’re going to need an interlock kit. An interlock kit is basically a less expensive alternative to a transfer switch and generator sub-panel. It provides a mechanical interlock so that the utility and generator breakers can’t be turned on at the same time.
It can be mounted to your existing electrical panel, and once it is installed, you can safely power your household system through your portable generator. You need to make sure that it matches the model of your generator, otherwise, it won’t work. Then all you need is to get a qualified electrician to install it for you.
The next thing that you need is a breaker. The breaker will make sure that the electricity supply is automatically shut off if the electrical current exceeds the capabilities. It is a really important safety feature to prevent overloading and fires.
The other thing that you’re going to need is electrical wires. You can’t connect the power from your generator to the rest of the house without sufficient electrical wiring. You’ll need at least three sets of wires, and it’s best to get each set in a different color where possible so that you can easily tell them apart. These sets of wires need to be ten feet long ten gauge wires, minimum. But remember that if you have a larger home, you’ll probably need more.
3. Work out the power requirements
It’s no good you going through the whole rigamarole of setting up your portable generator, only to find out that it won’t produce enough power for your needs. Take a look at what you are going to want to power, and find out how many watts of power they will each need.
For instance, freezers are around 1200 – 1500 Watts, and a microwave is also around 1500 Watts, but the lighting in your home is probably around 150 Watts. Remember that you shouldn’t use a generator for a washing machine or dryer. The laundry will have to wait for the regular power to return.
4. Plug it in
The other thing that you will need to ensure is the plugs. In order to connect a portable generator to your home, you will need a large round plug attachment that can fit into both sides of the breaker. If you check this you should see the amperage written on it, and you should make a note of that and any other nearby codes written down.
5. Wire the system
The final step is to wire the generator to the home. You need to pull the wires one by one from the conduit body and fix them to the plug. Remember to be really careful to attach the wires the right way. Similarly, at the breaker box, you need to push all the wires inside.
6. Call an electrician
Remember that electricity is no joke. If you feel unsure, or if something isn’t working, this is probably one of the times when you should call a professional. It’s much better that you have an electrician to come and fix everything than you just keep trying on your own, ending up with no power and potentially breaking everything. Instead, you can always swallow your pride and get some help.
So there you have it. If you don’t have a transfer switch it is still possible to connect a portable generator to your home, so you don’t need to go without power in the case of an emergency. However, it’s not a simple task and you need to make sure that you have all the right kit in your cupboard, otherwise, you’ll struggle to hook up the power. And remember, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help.