A backup power generator provides much-needed electricity during a power outage. It can be a lifesaver for those living in areas prone to extreme weather or blackouts.
A generator ensures that essential appliances such as refrigerators, lights, and heating systems continue functioning. Connecting one to your home can be straightforward with the right tools and knowledge.
This article explores the steps and considerations for connecting a backup generator to your home, including choosing the proper transfer switch for your backup power system.
Using a Transfer Switch to Connect a Backup Generator to Your Home
Transfer switches allow the home’s electrical circuit to automatically or manually switch to the backup generator for its power source. Without one, you’ll only be able to plug appliances directly into the generator’s inputs. You wouldn’t be able to use anything hardwired to the home circuit panel — such as central heating and AC, and lights hardwired into the walls or ceiling.
When the power goes out, you can either manually flip the switch or wait for the system to kick in automatically, depending on the type of transfer switch you’ve installed.
Knowledgeable, handy homeowners may opt for a DIY installation, but hiring a professional is advisable. Electrical wiring is not recommended for the amateur handyperson.
Whichever route you choose, you must purchase the correct transfer switch.
Step 1: Choose the Right Type of Transfer Switch
There are several types of transfer switches, including manual transfer switches, automatic transfer switches, and breaker interlocks.
Each has its benefits and drawbacks, so it’s essential to research and choose the one that best fits your needs.
Manual Transfer Switches
These switches require manual operation. They’re typically the least expensive, and you can easily install one for portable generators, such as the EcoFlow DELTA Pro.
Manual transfer switches require the user to switch the power source from the home circuit to the generator. Set-up is simple, and you can easily find universal transfer switches at the local home improvement store.
The only drawback is that someone must be present to switch to the backup power source. It can be inconvenient during a blackout — especially when it comes to appliances like refrigerators, freezers, and even fish tanks.
A manual transfer switch doesn’t provide uninterrupted access to power.
Automatic Transfer Switches
Automatic transfer switches detect a power outage and transfer power from the generator to the home electrical circuit without manual intervention. They’re more expensive than manual switches but offer the convenience of automatic operation.
Both gas and solar generators have automatic transfer switches. However, gas generators usually cause a 1-2 minute service interruption as the generator kicks on and warms up.
In contrast, a battery-based home backup solution like the EcoFlow Smart Home Ecosystem allows uninterrupted power. A standard system comes with a DELTA Pro portable power station, optional solar panels and extra batteries, and a Smart Home Panel — which has the automatic transfer switch built in. Smart Home Ecosystem setup is simple and customizable to your needs, supports up to 10 home circuits, and integrates with your existing wiring.
Breaker interlocks are installed on the main electrical panel to prevent power from back-feeding into the utility lines. Most building codes require this safety feature in conjunction with a manual or automatic transfer switch. Back-feeding power into the utility lines can harm utility workers and damage the generator or other equipment.
A breaker interlock is a barrier between the generator and utility power, preventing back-feeding. It also prevents accidental generator start-up while utility power is present.
Breaker interlocks are a critical safety feature when connecting a generator to your home.
Step 2: Install the Transfer Switch
Once you’ve chosen the correct type of transfer switch, the next step is to install it. Power from the generator will run into the transfer switch, and the transfer switch will then feed this power into your home’s electrical panel.
If you have home wiring experience, you can DIY install the generator and connect it to the transfer switch and home electrical circuit. However, it’s better to hire an electrician to avoid electrical hazards. Professionals will ensure the wiring and grounding of the transfer switch is in order and will complete all necessary permits and inspections.
Step 3: Connect the Generator to Your Home
The final step is to connect the generator to your home. Connecting the generator can be done by powering the circuit panel using the transfer switch. To prevent electrical shock, ensure proper grounding and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for connecting the generator.
If you have a natural gas generator, you’ll also need to connect it to a gas line. If you’re not familiar with this process, hire a professional. Solar generators don’t require this step, as the power comes from plugging solar panels into the generator.
Other fossil-fueled power generators, like gas and diesel generators, must be kept a safe distance away from the house and may present additional challenges for integrating with your existing electrical system.
Installation is easy if you purchase a Whole Home Backup Power Solution like EcoFlow’s. Once you’ve connected the circuit breaker to the smart panel, just hook up the DELTA Pro portable power station for simple, plug-and-play operation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. You can connect a portable generator to your home by plugging in each appliance individually or using a transfer switch to power a circuit panel. You should never connect a portable generator directly to the electrical panel; instead, route it through a transfer switch.
Yes, it’s advisable to hire an electrician to connect a backup generator to your home. The only exception is if you’re proficient in working on your home’s electrical system. An electrician can advise on transfer switch selection, safely install the transfer switch, and ensure proper connection to the electrical panel.
Connecting a backup generator to your home ensures reliable power during a power outage. Choosing the proper transfer switch, installing it properly, and connecting the generator to your home are crucial to ensure safety. If you’re ready to achieve reliable backup power, consider EcoFlow. With a wide range of portable solar generators and home backup systems, you’ll find everything you need to build a smart home ecosystem to keep your family safe when the power goes out.