How to Hook Up A Portable Generator To Your House

If you’ve made the decision to purchase a portable generator, you’re on the right track to being as prepared as possible in the event of a power outage. With loved ones in your home, a power outage could be disastrous if you have infants, pets, or those who rely on a continuous stream of electricity for medical reasons. With a back-up generator, you’ll be able to supply your home with the necessities during any lasting power outage.

We’ve all been lost in the user manual index at some point, endlessly searching for words having to do with installation. Whether it’s a new appliance or just a new headlight, installing things yourself can be a tricky and frustrating process. With generators, it’s no different. Don’t wait until the power is out to learn how to hook up your generator. Be prepared with this quick-tip guide on how to hook up the back-up generator to your home.

Three types of portable generators make up the majority of machines out there: there’s a breaker interlock, manual transfer sub panel, and an automatic. The automatic type of back-up portable generator is convenient because it automatically senses the power outage and kicks in. A manual transfer sub panel machine can be a little less expensive, which is good, but they also require a manual switch. Sometimes these machines will only cover a few individual breakers. Finally, the breaker interlock can be even cheaper, and requires a manual and tedious process to switch it on, but it is usually uncomplicated and only takes a couple minutes to set up.

**Disclaimer – When working on or around power lines or any electrical in your house, it is best to hire a qualified electrician. Wiring must be up to code and installed safely.  A hired professional would also know if proper permits are needed.

Hooking It Up

First, you need to identify how to hook up your generator to the power. This means you should look for what type of plug it takes and also identify the amperage which should be used. Normally, there are hookups to receive several three-prong male plugs, as well as a larger round plug. Amperage differs in different generators, but a standard amperage could fall between 20-50 amps. The amperage should be listed on your machine close to the plug. It might just list it as “30A.”

Additional Items

Some items you may need to purchase separately (supposing yours is a 30 amp machine) are a 30 amp 2 pole double breaker, several feet of a few different colors of wire (red, white, black, and green), a 30 amp power inlet box, electrical conduit and fittings, conduit body and glue, flexible conduit that’s not metal, and a 30 amp generator extension cord.

Installation Of The Generator

Once you have all your necessary items, you will be able to begin installation. First, you’ll have to locate the panel in your home where the breakers are. Next, you can either find a hole that already exists in the foundation of your home, or you may have to drill one in order to run the cables to the panel. Try to use the shortest and most direct route if possible. Once you have established this, you’ll mount the inlet box to the outside of your home a short distance from the hole you’ve made or found. You should be able to remove the front cover in order to install it properly.

The conduit is basically the smaller box that directs the cables into your home. There should be an extension that came with the conduit that attaches to the inlet power box you already installed. Make sure to measure where the inlet box is in relation to the hole you made in the previous step. You may need to make some adjustments with a hack saw to ensure that everything will fit nicely. You’ll then wire your inlet box using the different colored wire you bought. Pull all the wires through the extension and make sure all colored wires are attached to their respective areas. Use the glue if needed, but be sure to let it dry before pulling on the cords. Once you’ve set up the wires which run from the inlet box through the extension and through the conduit and into the foundation of your home, replace the covers of the two boxes.

Your next step is to prepare your breaker box for the attachments that you’ll send from the foundation. You may want to remove the breaker box cover for easier access and in order to make room for the new incoming wires from the generator. You should make sure all breakers are switched to off in order to do any work within the breaker itself. Also, if you’re not an electrician, you may want to review some more detailed instructions on working within a breaker box. Now feed the different colored wires that you mapped into your foundation into the breaker box. Typically, the red and black wires go to two separate terminals in the box. Your white wire goes to the common bond rail within the breaker box. Finally, the green wire should go to the ground rail. Once the wires are installed, be sure to lock them into place using brackets.

Installing the inter lock inside your breaker box’s panel cover is the next step. You may need to drill some holes so that everything fits nicely inside and your inter lock is safely installed. Once this is complete, you should have wires running from your portable generator through the installed box, through the extension and into the foundation of your home. Then the wires come into the breaker box itself through the inter lock you’ve secured inside the breaker box. After you’ve completed all of these

steps, you may test your portable generator. Be sure to read the user manual first carefully to avoid any accidents or mishaps with the machine.

Finally, make sure to put clear directions on how to set up the generator onto the inside of your breaker box so that when you need them, they are handy. Be sure not to wait until a power outage for this step. If the lights are off, you want to be able to access the directions for hook up quickly and efficiently.

**Disclaimer – When working on or around power lines or any electrical in your house, it is best to hire a qualified electrician. Wiring must be up to code and installed safely.  A hired professional would also know if proper permits are needed.