How do you hook up generator to home wiring? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Has anyone any good info on how to hook up a generator to home wiring ?

-- DD (, October 04, 1999


Do not try to do this yourself. Get an electrician to do it. It's just too dangerous.

-- cody (, October 04, 1999.

Gary North posted this site last week. Go

-- Marsha (, October 04, 1999.

Your local power company will be eager to help you get it hooked up right, because they run the risk of accidents if you don't. You could also hire a licensed electrician.

At bare minimum, you'll need a transfer switch to cut off grid power and connect to generator power. This can ONLY be installed by the power company or an electrician. It is way beyond the means of a homeowner.

-- Y2K Pioneer (, October 04, 1999.

A generator transfer switch which is already internally pre-wired can be installed by an electrician in about an hour. I purchased my from a local electricians supply house for about $260 bucks. You can find them at Home Depot or order through Northern Tool and Equipment catalog. To get a catalog from them, call 800-533-5545. They even have several pages in their catalogs just for "Y2K Preparations". You'll find all sorts of tools you might need. With my Gen-Tran switch, I selected 6 household circuits which could be switched on from the generator panel. It works very well and I know I won't accidentally fry a utility worker.

Good luck.

-- delerious (, October 04, 1999.

The main danger is if you hook it up
to your home while your home is still
connected to the grid. This can send
the power from your generator back along
the lines and hurt a lineperson that might
be working on the lines.

The best solution is to buy a switch that
is made for this purpose or make one from
a double throw-double pole relay with enough
capacity to carry your intended current. I
use a 30 amp relay because that is sufficient
for my needs and I am off the grid. If you are
on the grid you would need a 200 amp relay.

If your are not experienced in electrical
wiring, it would be a mistake to do it yourself.

-- spider (, October 04, 1999.

The short answer is that you need to install a device called a 'transfer switch' They come in huge variety of flavors and sizes. Some are 'automatic' but many, including mine, are manually operated. Prices can range from a couple hundred (ours was around $300) on up to several thousand for the fully automatic, large-load types.

In its normal position, the transfer switch, allows the public utility to feed electricity to your house. If an outage occurs, you set the transfer switch to its alternate position This completely isolates your house from the public utility and allows you to power the circuits of your home from a generator. It prevents the power from your generator from 'backfeeding' into the public utility.

In essence it is a simple A/B switch that allows you to select (A) the public utility, or (B) your generator as your source of electrical power. It never allows both to be connected simultaneously.

You definitely DO NOT want to install one yourself unless you are a qualified electrician. Improper installation can be serious hazard.

The simplest way to use a generator without a transfer switch is to simply NOT CONNECT IT to you house's wiring. Just plug extension cords into the outlets on the generator and plug the devices you wish to run into the extension cord. Note that this is not usually an option for running a well pump.

Also note that unless you are 'well-heeled', it is not practical to use a generator to live at the same level of power usage that most of us normally do. Also, storing large quantities of gasoline is problematic and can be dangerous if not approached with due respect. Some folks planning for longer term outages have opted for deisel generators - since it is a safer fuel to work with.

Our generator is intended for either (1) short outages, or (2) occassional usage during a longer outage. We never intended to have full, 24x7 emergency power.

Using a generator to charge a 12-volt electrical storage system is probably one of the most efficient usages of generator power -.i.e. the generator charges the storage batteries and then you run 12-volt appliances from the batteries. Some folks combine solar charging with generator charging. Had I gotten started on my preps 6-8 months sooner, I would probably have such a system but there was simply not enough time or money. Such a system fell under my "priority 3 - nice but not absolutely critical to survival" category. We've only recently completed priority 1 tasks. We've started, but will probably not finish priority 2 tasks. If Y2K turns out to be a bump in the road, we will then have the opportunity to move on to priority 3 tasks as time and money allow.

Time is short. If money is a consideration, then consider doing without a generator. It's far from certain that there will be electrical outages associated with Y2K. Even if there are outages, it is not at all clear how long such outages would last.

It is far more important to address issues of food, water and shelter before considering luxuries such as electricity. For millions of years humans lived without electricity. Food, water and shelter are a bit more important.

-- Arnie Rimmer (, October 04, 1999.

This site has an excellent diagram showing how a transfer switch is used as well as information on generator extension cords, gasoline usage of typical sized generators, etc.

A lawsuit could be very expensive if you hurt/kill a lineman.

-- John (, October 04, 1999.

I installed my own second service box. Spent about $50 to do the job. It's really easy actually. I talked to a electical supply store here and the guy was real helpful. I don't want any liability charges here, so I won't explain it. Common sense and a screwdriver was all that was needed.

-- home_electrician (, October 04, 1999.

Follow this link, to Gary North's Latest links... There is one for Oct. 4 that says step by step directions for home generating.


-- Stash (, October 04, 1999.

DD, Try these sites.

John F.

Gener ators for simple folks

The juice page

-- John F. (, October 04, 1999.

I might add that most counties are requiring that you pull a permit and have the installation inspected. If its not right and signed off, YOUR HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE WILL NOT COVER ANY INJURY TO ANYONE ELSE OR DAMAGE RESULTING IN FIRE, ETC.


-- Taz (, October 05, 1999.

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