Connecting Generator To House
Let’s say that you are ready to start generating your power. You have decided on a reliable inverter generator and maybe even went as far as to read some reviews online. But it seems like every generator is sold with its transfer switch. Except for tall utility generators that usually come with a hardwired NEMA L14-30 cable. If you looked at the specs for these tall generators, you might see something along the lines of “requires 50amp breaker or NEMA L14-30 adapter.”
This means that if you want to connect this beast of a generator to your house, you’re going to need either one heck of an expensive transfer switch or perhaps find yourself an old-fashioned extension cord. Depending on what you want to power, a transfer switch could cost a couple hundred dollars or more. An extension cord will be much less expensive, but the labor involved in finding the right one and getting it installed will be problematic.
This article will know how to connect a generator to the house without a transfer switch. For any of these methods to work, your electrical service must have a neutral wire as well as the ground. If you don’t have those two wires coming from your meter box, these options probably won’t work for you. Not without adding the additional wires plus an electrical sub-panel.
It is also worth mentioning that not all steps will apply to every generator and home combination.
Before we start, It should be mentioned that you will need a padlock and hasp to secure your circuit breakers or fuses for safety purposes. And lastly, it is recommended that any loose wiring coming from extension cords or anything else be put inside metal conduits for extra safety precautions.
Connect generator to house without transfer switch: Method 1
This method involves reconnecting the breaker box back into itself after having hooked up the non-generator side of your cable. This way, the only devices drawing power simultaneously are the ones attached to the generator.
This is only possible if you have an existing two-wire cable with a ground wire in it, just like your main circuit breaker box. This cable type usually looks like a regular extension cord, but it should be clearly labeled as ” Generator Cord .” Make sure none of your devices are more extensive than 15amps before starting this project! If they are, see one of the other methods below instead.
- You will need to turn off both breakers for this method to work, so make sure everything is unplugged before doing anything dangerous. To begin, you’ll want to disconnect all wires from each of your two-meter box breakers. This will typically consist of two black wires, two white wires, and one bare wire (or green if it’s a ground).
- You will now make your generator cable long enough to reach somewhere near the breaker box. If there isn’t an existing hole in the wall for your cable, you might want to make one yourself; don’t just shove it through drywall by brute force. Use a drill or something similar along with a wedge to remove some material safely. If you do not wish to damage any walls or furniture, please use carefully planned holes instead! Make sure that all unused portions of extension cords are taped up properly with electrical tape. Remember, exposed copper wiring can be deadly if put under pressure or bent too tightly.
- Now that you have a hole, run your extension cord through it and terminate the end of it with the appropriate adapter for connecting to your home’s breaker box. You can get these adapters at any hardware store or even Walmart for about $15 each. The far-right image below shows what these look like up close. If you don’t see them on the shelves, check-in the electrical section near where they sell light bulbs. They should also have orange plastic handles instead of silver ones if this makes more sense to you.
- Put some wire nuts on your two-meter box’s black wires (hotlines). Please make sure they are tight! Do the same thing with the white wires (neutral lines) and the bare or green wire (ground line). This is why you will need a wrench.
- Then, go ahead and connect these three wires with your generator cable’s exposed wiring. Again, make sure they are tight! It does not matter which told wire you choose to use on either end of this cable, as long as it is one of the two colored wires. If there isn’t enough exposed wire coming from the cable, strip some more off until they both reach your breaker box and your generator, respectively.
- Now that everything is connected correctly and doesn’t seem like it can fall out anymore go ahead and turn on those two breakers again. Remember that before hanging anything on or plugging anything in, you should test the circuit (by turning on all devices one by one) to make sure that your generator is running and producing power.
- Once everything looks good, go ahead and plug in any devices you want to run off your generator. Remember to turn them off once they have been fully charged! This way, you can keep the generator running for as long as there is gas inside it.
Required tools and material
- Meters from left to right
- Circuit Breaker Box
- Generator Cord Adapter
- Extension Cord Adapter
- Wire Nut
This method of connecting a generator works best if you have a large appliance with a motor that needs more power than standard house circuits provide. It also works best if this device cannot be easily moved or installed away from where you are trying to connect it.
This method also works well for anyone with a switchable transfer/sub-panel that can be flipped over to the generator side.
- This method is the same as above, except for a tiny modification. Disconnect one of your meter’s neutral lines rather than its ground line. Please do this at the box itself using a wrench. You will want to reconnect this later by twisting on another wire nut. The wire nuts are plastic, so they won’t conduct electricity even if there are mixed up.
- Now go down to your circuit box and pop open the little door marked ‘generator’ where all of your breakers are currently set to ‘on.’ It might already be available if you flipped it to the generator side when installing this transfer switch. If not, use a screwdriver to pry it open.
- Run your new wire (with some wire nuts pre-attached) along with all of your other house wiring and down to where your meter is currently plugged in. This can be done quickly by bringing it through any of the holes in your wall that was previously used to carry phone lines or cable TV wires into the house. Also, don’t forget to tape off any extra exposed copper wiring on both ends of this extension cord with electrical tape so that nothing accidentally short circuits anywhere else on either end!
- Connect one end of this extension cord into the slot marked ‘generator’ on your transfer switch and the other end into your meter.
- Go ahead and twist-on wire nuts to all exposed wires exactly like we did in step 3 above, and put electrical tape over them for extra protection. Then you’re done! Turn everything back on and test it out as we did in step 6 above. Remember to flip the breaker back over to ‘on’ when you are finished using this generator so that no one trips it during a power outage.
This method is best used if you have a device that uses more power than an average house circuit can provide but does not need any special wiring or installation beyond what would already be required to plug it in. This method also works well for anyone who cannot safely install a transfer/sub-panel themselves.