How to connect a generator to house without transfer switch

How to Connect a Generator to House Without Transfer Switch

A transfer switch makes it possible for a generator to be connected to your home when the main utility power to the house is off. However, you might be in a situation where you will need to know how to connect a generator to house without transfer switch. A generator can be necessary during emergencies such as a hurricane, flood, or power outage. During these situations, having a generator can save you money on the food that would have spoiled in the refrigerator, or make sure your electronics never die during an emergency.

Although it is ideal to have a generator for extra power in your house, it can be quite pricey. Unless you are an avid outdoorsman, you probably don’t have the best camping generator laying around. Depending on the wattage of the generator, you could be paying upwards of $1,500 for a home generator. Because of this reason, a lot of people try to cut costs where they can. One way to do so is by omitting a transfer switch from the materials list, which can lead to around $500 in savings. 

If you need power from your generator and don’t have access to a transfer switch, or decide not to purchase one, this article will walk you through the steps to make that happen. 

Warning: Read This Before Moving Forward

Before you decide to cut costs and skip the transfer switch for your home generator, it is not safe to connect a generator to a house without a transfer switch. 

The safest way to use a generator is by connecting it to your house with a transfer switch. However, this might not be possible in some circumstances. If you are in an emergency and do not have access to a transfer switch, it is possible to use a generator without a transfer switch. We outline that procedure below. 

The National Electric Code requires homes to have a transfer switch that is installed professionally, to enforce the safety of you, your household, and your community. Therefore, it is not allowed to use a generator without a transfer switch.

If you decide to move forward without using a transfer switch, please proceed with caution. 

Should You Connect a Generator Without a Transfer Switch?

Transfer switch on wall
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No matter what, your best option is to consult with an electrician before doing any electrical work to your house. We greatly recommend hiring an electrician to install a transfer switch, or an interlocking kit, because they are professionals and experts in their field. 

Having a transfer switch is the best and safest option, but in certain emergency circumstances, you can connect your generator to your house without a transfer switch. 

Safety Measures for Connecting your Generator

It is important to read and understand all of the safety instructions before beginning. You will be working with electricity which could be dangerous, and you want to make sure to take all of the necessary safety precautions. 

Use appropriate attire when working, such as rubber gloves, rubber boots, and safety glasses. Also, work with insulated tools when possible. Remember to never work with wires that are frayed or any equipment that is broken. Make sure to turn off the main power to the house before you start working with the generator. 

How to Attach a Generator to Your House Without Using Transfer Switch

Things You Will Need

  1. Interlocking Kit: This can be used as a cheaper substitute to a transfer switch or electric sub-panel. You will have to make sure that you get the correct interlocking kit that goes with your generator.
  2. Breaker: The breaker also has to be compatible with your specific generator. 
  3. Electrical Wires: You will need three or more wires. One tip would be to get wires of all different colors so you can tell which one is which. 
  4. Optional Drill: A power tool that can be used to drill into a wall to mount the interlocking kit.

Keep in Mind Before Proceeding

Electrician working on a power line
Unsplash

Most interlocking kits violate most building and electric codes unless professionally installed by an electrician. Without the proper application, interlocking kits might cause damage to power lines or the people working them in your neighborhood. They also pose a hazard for an indoor fire.

With this in mind, you should only attempt to connect your generator without a transfer switch in cases of emergencies, such as a blackout or other drastic events. Only use the interlocking kit for a temporary fix, and do not keep it hooked up for a prolonged duration. 

5 Steps on How to Connect a Generator Without a Transfer Switch

Here are the steps to take if you decide to proceed with connecting your generator to your house without a transfer switch.

  1. Turn everything off. Make sure all of the main power sources to the house are off. This includes the main circuit breaker and all branch breakers.
  2. Mount the interlocking kit. The kit should come with instructions on how to mount the plate to the breaker. It should be as easy as lining it up and sliding it over the breaker. If not, use a drill to mount it to the wall.
  3. Connect the generator to the plug in the interlocking kit. Use the wires and the generator’s power plug to connect the kit to the generator. 
  4. Double-check your connections and make sure everything is correctly wired together before proceeding.
  5. Turn the generator on. Now you can flip the breaker switches for the needed appliances. Make sure to not overload your generator, and to keep the used wattage under the generator’s capacity.

How to Connect A Generator to House Without Transfer Switch: Conclusion

Although it might be tempting to save money and skip on the costs of a transfer switch, that is not the safest option. Remember, it is always a good idea to consult with a professional electrician when making any changes to your home’s electric circuit. While it is possible to connect a generator to your house without a transfer switch, it should only be done in times of emergency, or a temporary fix. 

Written by Mira Hemaidan

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