How to Hook up a Portable Generator to a House?

Portable generators become quite handy during power outages. When sudden blackouts occur due to natural calamities, infrastructure problems, or man-made issues, supplying the power back may take a lot of time. In the meantime, you will run out of battery in your phone and laptop, the food in the refrigerator may go bad, and you would be cut off from the entire world and sitting in darkness. Portable generators prove particularly useful in these scenarios.

How to Hook up a Portable Generator to a House

Connecting a generator to your house may seem quite a difficult task. Therefore, we will try to explain in detail how you can set it up. However, before we proceed further, some important instructions must be followed:

  • Generators should never be set up inside the homes or enclosed spaces because of carbon monoxide emission, which can be quite dangerous. Therefore it is wise to place them at least 20 feet away from your house.
  • Check in the instruction manual whether your generator is rain-proof or not. Take measures to protect it with specifically designed tents.
  • If you are using an extension cord, use the one which matches the ampere output level of the generator.
  • Keep an eye on the fuel levels of the generator.
  • It is always better to read the instructions manual.

Let’s look at the best ways to connect a generator to your home

Transfer Switch

Generator transfer switch

You will need an electrician to install a transfer switch, an electrical device used for transferring power from supply line to generator. This is because generators should never be connected directly to the house’s wiring system or other electrical outlets; otherwise, back-feed (the reverse flow of electricity) can occur during a power outage.

Back-feed is extremely dangerous. It can harm your appliances, start a fire, and may cause some damage to your generator. The electrical flow can also occur in reverse and may travel from the main panel of the house to the transformer, which can result in dangerous situations. Such hazardous situations can be prevented by hooking up the generator with the transfer switch.

A transfer switch, though expensive, is a legal and safe way to connect a generator to your house. Besides, it is also a convenient method to power up your home appliances through its connection to the circuits in the electrical panel. Thus it saves the trouble of using extension cords to turn on various items. After the electrician installs the transfer switch, a connection is built up with the switch’s main breaker box. This is to ensure that the transformer and the generator simultaneously do not power the house.

Extension Cords

generator's extension wire

A common and inexpensive technique to connect the generator with the home appliances is through extension cords. It is an inconvenient method as you will have to spread the cords all over the place. It can be extremely dangerous in case of rains or a damaged, torn off cable. It is also not recommended as too many appliances plugged on the extension cord can lead to overheating of the cord. As a result, the appliances may suffer damage, or in the worst case, a fire may erupt.  It is a handy and quick way to connect a portable generator to your home. Make sure you buy high-quality and heavy-duty extension cords for this purpose.

Connection without Transfer Switch

As the transfer switch can be quite expensive, people may turn towards alternative solutions and forego the transfer switch. There is a risk of back-feeding in this. Moreover, passing over the transfer switch may not be permissible in some areas. Make sure to check the legality and risk of this option in your State. This method makes use of an interlock kit, which allows you to disconnect the utility power from the electric circuit panel. As a result, the power flows from the generator to the items at your home through a generator breaker. After installing the interlock kit and generator breaker, you are good to go.


We have discussed various methods to hook up a portable generator to power home appliances. You can make use of any of the above methods. However, if you do not have the proper technical expertise of wiring and circuits, or do not have time, contact a certified professional to help you out. If you are doing the connection yourself, make sure you follow all the necessary safety precautions.

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