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Generator Connection Guide

Power - by Joe Weber - updated on 5/5/2023

Two guys hooking up a Generator to a circuit box

Power outages can be a major inconvenience and even dangerous in many cases. Many people around the country have been dealing with severe weather over the last few years and in some of those storms, power was knocked out for weeks. That's why having a generator is so important.

But how do you connect a generator to your house? Do you just plug it in? It's not as difficult as you might think. In this article, we'll walk you through the process step-by-step.

How Do I Connect A Generator to My House?

There are two ways to do this.

  1. You can simply run long extension cords from your generator to specific appliances that need power.
  2. You can permanently connect the generator to your home's electrical system. This is the ideal way that we've outlined below.

Step 1: Choose the Right Generator

The first step is to choose the right generator. You'll need to consider the size of your home and the number of appliances you want to power. A good rule of thumb is to choose a generator that is twice as powerful as the total wattage of the appliances you want to connect.

You can use this document, How to Choose A Generator  , created by Champion as a helpful guide to calculate how much power you need for your home. If you need a little extra help, In "Everything You Need to Know About Generators (And Why You Should Have One)" we discuss everything you need to know about generators and how to choose the right one for your home.

Once you've calculated how much power you need and have chosen a quality generator, you'll need to purchase a transfer switch, sometimes also called a home integration kit.

A transfer switch is a piece of equipment installed in your home that allows you to safely connect your generator to your home's electrical system. It is incredibly important to have a transfer switch installed by a licensed professional electrician.

Step 2: Install the Transfer Switch

The next step is to install the transfer switch. This is a job that must be done by a qualified electrician to ensure correct and safe installation. The electrician will connect the transfer switch to your home's electrical system and install a disconnect switch outside of your home.

During installation, you will need to tell your electrician which circuits you would like connected to the transfer switch. Transfer switches come in many sizes so you can choose which home appliances will have backup power.

Some common choices include:

  • Heating and cooling
  • Kitchen appliances
  • Lighting

The disconnect switch will allow you to turn off the power to your home's electrical system before connecting the generator. This is important to ensure that the electrical systems aren't overloaded if the power from the grid were to come on while the generator is providing power at the same time.

Step 3: Connect the Generator to the Transfer Switch

After the transfer switch is installed, you can connect the generator to it. Follow the instructions that came with your transfer switch and listen to your electrician's recommendations for safe operation.

Typically, you'll connect the generator's power cord to the transfer switch. Remember, you'll need to have your generator at least 20 feet away from the house as required by local laws. Make sure your generator's power cord will reach the house from where it is.

Step 4: Power Up the Generator

Once the generator is connected to the transfer switch, you can power it up. Be sure to follow the instructions that came with your generator for safe and proper starting.

Typically, you'll need to turn on the generator's fuel valve and start the engine but these steps can vary by the generator.

Some newer generators have remote start capabilities so you don't even need to leave the house to turn on the generator. Just push a button on a remote and you're on your way.

Step 5: Turn On the Transfer Switch

Once the engine is running, you can flip the disconnect switch to cut the grid power from the home and flip on the transfer switch to allow the power from the generator to flow into your home's electrical system.

The transfer switch will then distribute power from the generator to your home's electrical system, specifically the circuits that you selected to have installed to use the backup power.

Step 6: Disconnect the Generator When the Power Comes Back On

When the power eventually comes back on, disconnect the generator from your home's electrical system. This will prevent damage to your home's electrical system.

To do this, first, turn off the transfer switch and then disconnect the generator from the transfer switch and power off the generator.

Important Safety Tips

  • Never connect a generator to your home's electrical system if you don't know how to do it or are uncomfortable doing it. Hire a licensed electrician to install the transfer switch to connect your generator to your home's electrical system.
  • Never connect a generator directly to your home's electrical system without a transfer switch. A transfer switch will protect your home's electrical system from damage.
  • Never overload your generator. Make sure the generator is powerful enough to handle all of the appliances you want to connect to it.
  • Never use a generator in an enclosed space. Generators produce carbon monoxide, which can be deadly. Have it outside at least 20 feet away from the house.

Connecting a generator to your house can be a safe and easy way to keep your appliances powered during a power outage. By following these steps and safety tips, you can safely connect your generator to your home and keep your family comfortable during a power outage.

Get Your Generators and Supplies at Batteries Plus

If you think that it might be time to look into getting your home set up with a high-quality Champion generator, then look no further than your local Batteries Plus. Don't forget to pick up those extra accessories for your generator like protective covers and extension cords.

If you are in the market for more environmentally friendly and safe-for-indoor operation options, the line of lithium power stations from Goal Zero will allow you to have safe backup power that you can keep indoors. With the Goal Zero Home Integration Kit, you can wire your Yeti Power Stations to power your home circuits just like a generator.

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