Hand starts a portable electric generator in front of a summer house in summer

A Guide On How To Use A Generator To Power A House

Power outages happen from time to time and it is important to be prepared. One of the best ways to be prepared is to have a portable generator that you can use to power your home. These types of generators can power most, if not all of the appliances in your home such as your fridge, television, microwave, air conditioning, etc. Now, there are three main ways that you can connect a portable generator to your home and that is using a transfer switch, an interlock device, or extension cords. We will now take a closer look at exactly how to set up a generator as well as all the equipment you’ll need, potential issues, etc.

We recommend always hiring a licensed electrician if you are not trained in working with electricity.

Connecting A Generator Using A Transfer Switch

A transfer switch is necessary in order to change your home’s source of power from the main electrical grid to your generator. You can choose to have one that automatically comes on when the power is out or one that is manually activated. One of the best aspects of using a transfer switch is that you can quickly turn the power back on with little fuss. Ensure your generator is in a dry and well-ventilated area to ensure no mishaps occur.

Equipment Required (Using Transfer Switch)

– Generator: The size of the generator should be based on the number of appliances that you want to power.
– Power Inlet Box
– Power Cord (Heavy Duty): This should be at least 20 feet long.
– Transfer Switch

Installation Steps With A Transfer Switch

1. The very first thing you’ll need to do is install the transfer switch next to your home’s electrical panel. This is important to facilitate a safe and secure connection.

2. In order to start wiring, you’ll need to turn off all power.

3. It is important to have a list of appliances you want to power using the generator and then turn off the circuits you won’t be working with.

4. Once you’ve identified the important circuits that you’ll be working with, match them with the appropriate connections on your transfer switch. The circuits have to match according to the right amperage and you’ll need to connect the 240 volts (double-pole) circuits with the 120 volts (twin) circuits. Make sure that you are careful to balance electrical loads on the far opposite ends of the switch.

5. Have a good look at the knockout holes that are located underneath the electrical panel and carefully select one that is compatible with your transfer switch. Take out the knockout and place the cable so that it is attached to the panel.

6. Next, you’ll need to move the wires from your transfer switch via the knockout hole. You have to be careful not to mix up the wires and ensure they go to the correct circuits. You can easily see which wire needs to go to which circuit as this information should be marked on the wire.

7. Don’t forget to connect your ground wires and neutral wires. The transfer switch will have green ground wires and white neutral wires. Move these wires through the knockout hole to the electrical panel and place the green grounding wire in the grounding bar and the white neutral wire in the neutral bus bar. Once you do this, you’ve completed installing your transfer switch.

8. Now, you’ll need to connect your power inlet box to the generator and transfer switch. Install this box in an area that is far from doors or windows to avoid any fumes from getting into your home. It should also be placed at least 2 feet above ground level.

9. Once you have checked all of your connections, you can now turn on your generator! Once you can see the generator powering all of the circuits that you want it to power, you’ve successfully installed your generator using a transfer switch.

Potential Issues

One of the main issues with using a transfer switch to install your backup generator is that you are limited to only 10 circuits. As a result, you’ll have to carefully choose what you want to be powered when you have a power outage. Also, transfer switches are somewhat costly in comparison to using an interlock kit to install a generator. With that said, transfer switches are completely legal in all states whereas interlock kits are actually illegal in a couple of states.


To wrap things up, we have just covered how to install and use a generator to power your home. Be sure to hire a licensed electrician to safely install your generator and you can rest assured that your home will always have power, no matter what happens.