The instructions in this article will be for connecting a generator to your home. It’s important that you’ve read and understood the instructions before attempting this, or it could be dangerous.
There are many different types and styles of generators but this should give you a general idea of how they’re connected. If your home is set up differently, contact an electrician so they can help you properly install a generator for your home.
2 Main Ways to connect generator to home
There are 2 ways to hook your generator with your house’s electrical system:
- By connecting all of your home appliances directly to the generator.
- By connecting the generator to a transfer switch in your home’s electrical panel, then running one or two lines from the generator to your home appliances.
Connecting your generator directly to your home appliances:
This is by far the easiest way to run an extension cord from your house over to the generator and connect them directly together.
This method will require you to purchase additional equipment such as a heavy-duty cord, either 4 or 6 gauge, and a cord reel (and necessary hoses). If you choose this method, then skip down below for connecting directions.
Connecting a generator to a Home’s Electrical Panel:
This method is easier than connecting directly to appliances, but it’s not as convenient as having all of your home’s appliances connected.
Most people believe that if you run one line from the generator into their house, the generator will use up all of their power, so they connect their generator to a transfer switch which sends power back into their house from another line at the same time the generator is running.
You will need an electrician to do this job for you.
Good to Know Some Basic Things
What is back feeding
Back feeding is when you connect an electrical device to your home’s electrical panel. In this case, since we’re hooking up a generator to the house, we would be back feeding it. back feeding is usually not done in homes, but there are times when it is necessary for homes or businesses.
Usually when you’re using a generator and only want power going from the generator to certain essential appliances and not the entire house like you would with your standard electrical system.
When back feeding a system, your using two different sources of power that are connected. So if one source becomes overloaded, the other source sends power into it so that you still have power flowing through the system.
and NEVER backfeed!
There are 3 Lines
If you choose to connect your generator to a home’s electrical panel, you’ll need to have 3 lines into your house:
- A neutral wire that will be used by the electrical panel to determine the amount of power going into the house. This line needs to be plugged into the neutral socket inside your electrical panel.
- A hot wire that will be used by your main circuit breaker or fuse box that has an incoming feed from the transformer in your transfer switch and/or transfer switch box depending on which circuit it is. This line needs to be plugged into your main breaker or fuse box.
- A ground wire that needs to be grounded in your electrical panel and will need to be plugged into the ground socket inside of the electrical panel. Please make sure this is grounded correctly and securely, as it’s crucial for your safety while operating a generator during a power outage.
The generator can still use the neutral wire throughout the entire house if it’s installed properly, but you’ll need extra equipment for that if you want to do that, so just go ahead and run all three wires from your generator to your home, then choose which one(s) you prefer to use (neutral or hot).
Use a Transfer Switch to Connect the generator to your house
This is a very common method used to connect a generator to your home. It may be the best option for smaller homes with only one or two bedrooms.
If you have a larger house, and multiple rooms connected, then it will be easier if you install your transfer switch in a room where all of the rooms are connected to one electrical box.
You can find more information about installing a transfer switch here. Before that, let me tell you what a Transformer Switch is.
What is a Transfer Switch?
A transfer switch is an electrical device that enables you to use power from a separate source so you can run your electric appliances during a power outage. This type of device is typically used when there’s no power coming into the house, but another source nearby.
The best way to connect a generator to your home is through the use of a transfer switch. This will allow the generator electricity supply and protect your home from potentially dangerous voltage levels or surges in current levels.
Manual vs Universal Transfer Switch
A manual transfer switch is the simplest type of transfer switch. It has one output with a hot and neutral wire for a circuit. You will use this transfer switch when connecting to an existing outlet, not when installing the generator. This is the type of transfer that you will use every day in your own home.
Universal Transfer Switches are very common and are used in homes if you wish to back feed your generator into the house’s electrical panel, but they can be used to connect farm equipment (such as tractors) to a home’s electrical system as well.
How to use Transformer Switch to connect the generator
- Step 1: Get an extension cord from your electrical store. I recommend using at least 8 gauge wire for the cords.
- Step 2: Cut the cord for the hotline so that it is long enough to reach from your generator to the breaker box or fuse box inside of your electrical panel.
- Step 3: Cut the neutral line so that it will reach from your transfer switch and down into your breaker box or fuse box inside of your electrical panel.
- Step 4: Connect both hot and neutral lines into their respective receptacles in the breaker box 1st, then insert an extension cord into a specific receptacle to be used later on in case there is a power outage you will not need to use your generator.
- Step 5: Connect the extension cord into the outlet of your generator and plug it in.
- Step 6: After that, connect a ground wire from your transfer switch to a grounding rod using an 8 gauge wire.
- Step 7: After that, turn on the generator and make sure all switches work properly. If you have an electrical meter, you can test to make sure if there is power going into your home’s electrical panel.
- Step 8: Once you are sure everything works properly, it is time to shut off the breaker box or fuse box inside of your house.
- Step 9: Turn off the breaker or fuse for the circuit where you connected your transfer switch (in this case I will use breaker number 3).
- Step 10: Next, turn on the circuit breaker or fuse for the circuit where you connected your generator (in this case, I will use breaker number 2).
- Step 11: Turn on your Transfer Switch and plug in your extension cord.
- Confirm that everything has been done properly.
Once you have successfully unplugged the backup generator from the power company and reconnected it to a transfer switch you can now start using it. Now, all of your appliances will be powered by electricity coming from your generator.
Connect generator to your house without Transformer Switch
The first thing you need to do is unplug the line that is going from your house to the power company. Then, you need to cut the wires and make sure they are stripped of metal.
Do not cut the wire in half!
Step 1: Use Interlock Kit
You will need some kind of connector on your generator (I used a twist lock).
Connect the Wild Relay you bought for the Painless Way to Run an Inverter to the Twist-Lock connector. The Wild Relay I used came with a 2″ and a 5″ connector and I had to tie these connectors together with rubber bands for it to easily fit into my Volvo 240D’s fuse box.
Step 2: Use Circuit Breaker
Run the power out of your inverter through a circuit breaker and put the circuit breaker in your fuse box. If you are installing this on a camper van (like I do) then you can install the circuit breaker next to the fuse box or upfront near an easily accessible 120Vplug.
Step 3: Install Outdoor Generator Plug
The next step is to install the outdoor generator plug. To do this you need a pair of wire strippers (not necessary if you are using 12 gauge wire from your RV), a screwdriver, and some electrical connectors (if your connector doesn’t already have them).
Strip both ends of the outdoor generator plug wires so you can put them on the connectors. I used this cool little tool for stripping wires that I purchased at Lowe’s for $2.50. I think I can find it on Amazon as well.
Screw the wire connectors onto the stripped ends of the wires making sure you don’t keep them too tight or they will be difficult to remove when you are done. Then connect the red wire to hot and black wire to neutral.
Then, put your outdoor generator plug into a box and use some foam insulation around it so that rainwater doesn’t get into your box and cause a short in your wiring.
Run the Wires
Now you need to run the hot and neutral wires from your inverter or transfer the switch out to your generator.
You can use the heavy-duty outdoor extension cord we bought in step 1 or if you are really handy, you can make your own extension cord by using a large wire that has tons of strands inside of it (such as welding wire).
Step 4: Install Interlock Kit
If you are using the Painless Way to Run an Inverter then you will want to connect the Wild Relay to your inverter.
The Wild Relay is really important and its purpose is to protect the power coming from your generator (if you run into a problem with it) by cutting off your generator. It’s also very effective if you just have kids or pets running around the house.
You will need some kind of connector on your inverter (I used a twist lock).
I hope now you know how to connect a generator to the house with Transfer Switch and without Transfer Switch.
If you want to know more about generators then you can read our other articles about this on GeneratorXpert.com. And if you like this article, and think it has helped you, please don’t forget to share it!