How To Connect Portable Generator To House Without Transfer Switch

Having a generator to provide backup power to your house is invaluable during outages. You can use a stationary or portable generator to power your home in the event of a power blackout caused by a natural disaster or stormy weather. Portable generators are preferable since they are generally cheaper and more versatile than the stationary kind. However, they lack a built-in transfer switch.  

A transfer switch is needed when operating a portable generator with a power rating of above 5,000 watts. This switch is installed adjacent to the circuit breaker panel and facilitates a safe connection between your portable generator and your house’s main electrical panel. It allows you to safely power multiple household appliances without the risk of frying them. 

Sometimes, emergencies force us to connect our portable generators to our houses hurriedly bypassing recommended installation procedures. The transfer switch is one of the equipment that you can do without. In the absence of a transfer switch, you can make do with extension cords. However, using extension cords poses a safety hazard and limits the household appliances you can power with your generator. This article explains how to connect portable generator to house without transfer switch. You should note that this should only be an emergency measure.  

What you need to start the connection

While you may avoid using a transfer switch to connect a portable generator to your home, you will need several other tools and devices. These include:

  • Breaker: The portable generator you are using will determine your choice of breaker. Use a breaker that can handle the power of your generator. A two-pole, 30-double-amp breaker is ideal for a typical household. 
  • Electrical wires: Your wires must be long enough to allow the generator to stand at some distance from your house. They should be differently coloured for easy identification. 
  • Interlock kit: An interlock kit is a cheap alternative to a transfer switch. It is easily accessible and can get the work done though not as effectively as a transfer switch. Pick an interlock kit that is compatible with your generator. 
  • Safety tools: Connecting the generator to your house without a transfer switch is risky and can backfire, so being careful is advisable. Use insulated gloves, work boots and protective eyewear. 
  • Other tools: To complete the task, you will need some essential tools, including drills, wrenches, pliers and screwdrivers. 

Guide for Connection

Once you have all the right tools ready and the safety measures in place, you can start the connection. You will need the proper guidelines and patience to get the job done. Here are the steps of how to connect portable generator to house without transfer switch: 

Step 1: Find out the plug type and amperage of your generator.

The plug delivers power to both sides of the generator breaker. A huge round plug is best suited for a setup without a transfer switch. The amperage is typically written on the plug alongside several codes. The codes on the plug should help you adjust the materials.    

Step 2: Drill a hole

Use a drill to drill a hole in the wall of your house. You will pass electrical wires through the hole so it should be wide enough to comfortably accommodate all of them without clogging. Find the perfect wall to drill the hole. It should preferably be thin and far from important rooms such as the bedroom. 

Step 3: Assemble the elements.

You can now complete the connection by assembling all the necessary materials. Begin by mounting the power inlet on the exterior of the wall. It should be at some distance from the hole you drilled. Make sure that the power inlet box is watertight for safety purposes. 

Assemble the conduit using glue to attach them safely. Pass the electrical wires through the conduit by pulling them through one by one to avoid blockage. Wire the generator’s inlet plug and secure them tightly using a screwdriver. 

After ensuring that all connections are properly secured and tightened, you can then prepare the breaker box to receive the wires. First, turn off the main power supply at the breakers and branch properly. Push the wires from the conduit body inside the breaker box. Place them at the upper right section to leave enough room inside the box. Install the wires accordingly and the breaker retainer. Check to confirm that all connections in the breaker box are secure before covering it.         

A case for the transfer switch

You can connect your generator to your house without a transfer switch, but it is not recommended because of the following reasons:

  • National Electric Code Requirements: The National Electric Code requires the use of a well-installed transfer switch when using a heavy-duty portable generator with an output of above 5,000 watts. 
  • Safety: Using extension cables can cause back feed which increases the risk of fire or electrocution. Such incidents can result in injury, property damage or death. 
  • Ease of connection: A transfer switch makes the connection of a portable generator to your house easy and quick. With a transfer switch, you can power your home quickly and safely in the event of a blackout.   

Final thoughts

A transfer switch makes it easy and safe to connect a portable generator to your house. During an emergency, struggling to use extension cords to get power from a generator to your household appliances can be cumbersome. While it is possible to connect a portable generator to your house without a transfer switch, it is not recommended. Using extension cords should be a one-time-hack until you get a qualified professional to install a transfer switch.      

An interlock kit is the best alternative to a transfer switch. Do not attempt connections that are illegal in your state or against the National Electric Code regulations. Such connections are not safe and can result in hazards such as a fire. If you are not sure about the instructions detailed above about how to connect portable generator to house without transfer switch, you should contact a qualified electrician to help you.  

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