Generators are usually connected to our houses using transfer cables. These transfer cables are connected to the Distribution Board (DB) of the house. Connecting a generator to a home using a transfer cable is the safest way to do so. However, it can be time-consuming and require professionals to do it. Transfer cables come in handy when you are connecting to all the appliances in your home.
In some cases, you might not be able to call in someone, or you simply don’t have to. There’re two other ways you can connect your house to a generator;
- Using an extension cord
- Using an interlocking kit
If you are using a generator for one or two appliances, you can use extension cords.
When should you use an extension cord?
Take the example of caterers and event organizers who set up appliances on open grounds without connecting to the local transmission. It is not feasible for them to connect transfer cables. Similarly, if you have a farmhouse or gateway house off the grid, you will have to stick with extension cords.
The problem with extension cords is that they are not a permanent solution. They can cause electrical hazards due to several reasons. If you connect an extension cord to a wall socket while the power is gone, you might send current into the transmission line. If a worker is working on the transmission line, he will get a very high shock.
This is why extension cords are deemed illegal by most states. You should only use them temporarily. Another one of its disadvantages is that it will not provide the total capacity of the generator. This is a massive drawback because you are not fully utilizing the machine you’ve paid so much for. (“How To Connect Generator To Your House Without Transfer Switch,” 2016)
However, if you’re sure that you need to go with the extension cables, make sure you follow these safety tips that we will mention.
What precautions to take when you want to connect a generator using gen cords?
Connecting a generator with a gen cord is the easiest method. You don’t need any tool besides the cords themselves. The precautions that you need to take are:
- Turn Off the main power of your house if the device you are connecting is connected both ways.
- Make sure the wattage of the appliances is within the limit of the generator
- Make sure your hands and feet are dry when you are handling a connected wire.
- Keep your generator outdoors, preferably a few feet away from your house.
- Don’t let the length of the cord increase too much because that will increase the power loss.
- Wearing steel-capped work boots and work gloves will further ensure your safety.
How to connect using an extension cord?
If you’re going the extension cord route, try getting gen cords. Also, make sure you keep your generator outdoors to avoid noise or mishaps.
- Connect the cord into the generator outlet. The outlet will be around 20- or 30- amp, and your cord will be sufficient for them.
- Run the line toward your appliance. It doesn’t matter whether you run it through a window or an open door. However, avoid running it under a mat because it can lead to heat accumulation and eventually a disaster.
- The other end of the cord will either split into three or four 120-volt outlets. You can connect the appliances you want to power to these outlets. Only corded machines can be connected to gen cords. Appliances such as ceiling fans and lights that are hardwired cannot be linked to gen cords.
- If the devices you want to power fall within the generator’s wattage, then go ahead and connect them.
When should you use an interlocking Kit?
Connecting your generator using an interlocking kit is midway between an extension cord and a transfer switch. It’s safer than an extension cord but not as safe as a transfer switch. It requires more effort than an extension cord but not as much as needed when installing a transfer switch.
Interlocking kits themselves are super-cheap; it’s the other tools that you’ll have to get that increase its cost. Unlike extension cords, they allow you to power hardwired appliances as well. (“How to Connect a Generator to Your House Without a Transfer Switch,” 2020)
Therefore, if you want to take a safer step than just the bare minimum, you can come with an interlocking kit. However, to connect your generator using this method requires a breaker box. So, if you are on a road trip or setting up appliances somewhere off-grid, you cannot do that with this method.
Tools you need to connect using an interlocking kit.
Interlocking kits are a kind of bracket that prevents your main switch and generator switch from being on simultaneously. Suppose you are not going the transfer switch rout. In that case, this is an excellent way to switch between your primary and generator power. (Jones, 2020)
Like we’ve said, these kits are cheap and are available in almost every other electronics store. They allow you to use your main panel as a transfer switch. They prevent back-feeding to the transmission lines. They are safe to handle and easier to install. The only thing that you will have to take care of is the compatibility of the kit with your generator.
If your existing breaker box does not have space for more connections, you will have to get a new breaker. If buying a new breaker, keep in mind the capacity of your generator and the demand for your house.
An inlet plug:
You will need an inlet plug to connect one end of your interlocking kit to the breaker box. This will again have to be compatible with your generator.
While only you can be sure of exactly how much wire you need, we usually recommend 10 ft of three different electrical wire colors. Other colors will make it easier for you to identify wires while you are working with them.
How to connect a generator to a house using an interlocking kit?
While the benefits of using an interlocking kit are impressive, installing it is not effortless. For most user’s we would recommend hiring a professional electrician. However, if you are a DIY-kind-of-a-guy, then you might be able to install it yourself. So here’s what you need to do.
- First, you need to make sure that an electrical panel is installed in your home. Electrical panels are usually preinstalled in most buildings because that’s where our circuits lead. If you don’t have it pre-installed, you should read about that first and then return to this article.
- To install an inlet panel, you will need to drill a hole in the wall. Do this close to the electrical panel and then mount the inlet plug in it. If your electrical panel is indoor, you can still install the inlet plug outdoors.
- The interlocking kit is installed on the breakers inside the electrical panels. So you need to pass wires from the inlet plug to the interlocking equipment. (“How To Connect Generator To Your House Without Transfer Switch,” 2020)
- Be sure to turn off all your switched before you start working on the electrical panel.
- Then you will have to install the interlocking kit on the electrical panel. For that, you will need to find the precise spot where you will stick the interlocking kit. Circle the areas where the holes need to be drilled
- Then, drill a couple of tiny holes in the interlocking kit for the wires to connect to the breaker.
- Once that is done, pass the other end of the wires through it and put the breaker back on.
- Now your interlocking kit is connected. If you want to test your generator, click its main plug into the inlet plug.
- Then turn on the switches for the circuits that you want to power. Only when that is done should you turn on the generator’s breaker switch.
- Your appliances should start working by now. If they haven’t, you should first turn the switches back off and then look for the missing puzzle. Usually, it’s a wire that’s not connected correctly.
We hope we have answered all your queries on connecting a generator without a transfer switch. If there’s something you are having trouble with, let us know. We would love to help you get over it.