How to Hook Up Generator to House?

Learn the essential steps to safely connect a generator to your home. From choosing the right transfer switch to following essential safety precautions, this guide ensures you're equipped to power your household securely during outages.

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Ever been left in the dark during a power outage, wondering how to safely power up your home using a generator?

While the idea of having a backup is comforting, the process of connecting it isn’t just a simple plug-and-play.

What if you unknowingly set yourself up for potential electrocution or even a fire?

Don’t fret! In this detailed guide, we unravel the steps to securely harness your generator’s power for your home.

Dive in to discover how to light up your space without sparking any unwanted surprises!

How to Hook Up Generator to House

Knowing Your Electrical System

The first step in any generator hookup project is understanding your home’s electrical setup and power needs. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Total electrical load: Add up the wattage or amps required for all essential circuits and appliances you want to run on the generator.
  • Generator capacity: Choose a generator adequately sized for your total household load and surge wattage.
  • Voltage: Household voltage is typically 120V in the US. Match generator output.
  • Relevant codes: Check your local regulations on home generator connections to ensure compliance.

Take time to carefully evaluate your existing electrical system. Avoid connecting a generator haphazardly without understanding the load demand and equipment involved.

Weighing Your Generator Connection Options

There are several methods for connecting a portable generator to your home, each with pros and cons:

Transfer Switch

  • The safest and most reliable method
  • Allows powering the whole house
  • Requires professional installation
  • More expensive

Direct Wiring

  • Powers hardwired appliances like AC
  • Avoids manual switching between power sources
  • Complex electrical project for DIYers

Extension Cords

A standby home generator hardwired to an automatic transfer switch is ideal for whole-house backup but isn’t practical for everyone. Make sure to consult local regulations and inspectors to determine the best solution for your situation.

Step-by-Step Guide to Connecting a Generator Safely

Follow these key steps to hook up your generator for temporary emergency power:

1. Place Generator Outdoors

Set the generator on a flat, dry surface at least 10 feet from your home’s windows and doors. Never run a portable generator indoors due to deadly carbon monoxide emissions.

2. Allow the Generator to Warm Up

Start the generator and let it run for several minutes before connecting devices. This allows time for the engine and generator to stabilize.

3. Plug the Generator into the Inlet Box

Use an adequately sized extension cord to connect the generator to the inlet box or hookup installed on your home’s exterior.

4. Switch the Electrical Panel to the Generator

At the main breaker panel, switch the main disconnect from the utility setting to the generator setting.

5. Connect Transfer Switch

If using a manual transfer switch, connect it to the generator inlet and panel according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

6. Connect Circuits One at a Time

Flip breakers on slowly, starting with essential appliances like refrigerators. Avoid overloading.

7. Use Heavy Duty Extension Cords

Quality, grounded exterior extension cords can also be used to connect devices.

8. Connect Grounding Wire

Always properly ground the generator frame to an exterior grounding rod.

9. Monitor Appliances

Check that connected appliances are running normally before adding more load.

10. Disconnect Before Shutting Off

Unplug devices before turning off the generator.

Following proper generator hookup procedures and safety precautions will prevent accidents and equipment damage. Never cut corners when it comes to electrical safety.


Can I just plug a generator directly into a wall outlet?

Absolutely not! This extremely dangerous method of connecting a generator, known as “backfeeding“, can electrocute utility workers making repairs. It can also lead to fire and serious property damage.

What is the correct, legal way to connect a generator to my house?

The only universally approved and safe way to connect a generator is by installing a manual transfer switch and inlet box hookup wired by a qualified electrician in compliance with all codes.

Is it okay to hook up a generator without installing a transfer switch?

While it is possible to connect a generator without a switch, it is not advisable or legal in many areas. The proper generator-to-home connections rely on a transfer switch to avoid backfeeding hazards.

In Summary

Hooking up a portable generator to safely power your home during an outage takes both proper planning and careful execution.

Correct generator sizing, safe installation, and electrical know-how are absolute musts. But with the right approach, you can have reliable backup power to weather any storm.

Are you prepared for the next blackout? Let us know if you found this generator connection guide helpful!

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Jennifer Smith

Jennifer Smith, with a rich background marked by a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, boasts over 10 years in the power generation sector. Her journey includes a notable 5-year tenure as a Senior Engineer at a reputed energy firm, alongside numerous publications and speaking engagements in industry events, reflecting her deep-rooted expertise in generator design and development.

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