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Bryan Wilson
  Jun 6, 2023 2:16 PM

Electricity is a very necessary energy for human life. It powers your favorite home appliances and entertainment devices, such as phones, laptops, TVs, refrigerators, etc.

But electricity doesn't just entertain you. It adds safety and security to your home by providing light and power to the security system.

So a day or two without electricity can be very stressful. Now, can you imagine a week or more without electricity? Nothing could be worse.

To avoid such power outages, portable electric generators are a handy device. Do you know how to connect it properly? Otherwise, you risk being electrocuted, damaging the wiring and appliances in your home, and causing a fire. Read on to learn how to connect portable electric generators to the electrical panel.

You can choose high-quality generator brands here to get the best one for your home.

1. Learn More About Transfer Switch

A transfer switch is the first thing you need to connect a portable electric generator to electrical panels safely. It ensures you can power your home with a generator without damaging the wiring or electrical equipment. Furthermore, this is the permitted way to power your home.

You will have to wire the transfer switch to the electrical panel. There are three types of home generator wiring solutions. These are the automatic transfer switch, manual transfer switch, and breaker interlock.

This way also applies to gas-powered generators, small generator inverters, or even electric power stations.

Automatic Transfer Switch

This transfer switch allows you to automatically switch from the grid to the generator without physical impact. They detect power failures and automatically transfer the load to the generator.

While they offer convenience, automatic transfer switches are best used with a backup generator, and they are very expensive.

Manual Transfer Switch

Manual transfer switches can help you power some circuit breakers. As the name implies, you must manually convert from mains to portable generator power. However, they are a reliable choice if you only need electricity for basic power equipment, and manual transfer switches are cheaper than automatic transfer switches.

Manual Transfer Switch

Manual Transfer Switch

Source: Pinterest

Breaker Interlocks

Breaker interlocks can be the ideal choice if you want the power to continue operating in the event of a power failure but want to spend it wisely. Setting up a breaker interlock can cost around $150.

Once you set it up, turning it on and off is easy, making the breaker interlock a convenient option.

2. Steps to Connect a Portable Electric Generators to Electrical Panels

Tools You Will Need

  • Safety gear

  • Breaker interlock kit/Transfer switch

  • Electric drill to install the breaker interlock (if you use breaker interlock)

  • Appropriate screws

  • Pliers

  • Power inlet box

  • Conduit and the appropriate gauge wire based on the generator capacity

Step 1. Identify The Control Panel Box

The main electrical panel in the house is usually located in a closet near the front door. An " Electric " cap can often identify the control panel box and many wires going into the box, carrying 120 volts. 

Control Panel Box

Control Panel Box

Source: Pinterest

The neutral wires coming from the panel box are usually white. The control panel box is often referred to as the main service panel. So you will need to wire the generator to the house's main panel. There are two ways to do this, with a transfer switch or by redirecting the circuit.

The transfer switch is easier in both cases because you must connect the generator to the electrical panel by plugging it in.

Step 2. Disconnect The Main Breaker

You should turn it off before working with the electrical system. This ensures that no current flows into your home.

You also want to ensure your portable generator is not connected to your home's main circuit breaker. This will help avoid electric shock accidents.

In the event of a power failure, you can connect the generator to the main breaker and have backup power. It should not be used for common household power.

Step 3. Remove The Main Control Panel Cover

Locate the main electrical panel. There will be a cover for the control panel box, remove it to reveal the main electrical panel. Remove the breaker by turning the handle of the breaker counterclockwise.

Step 4. Connect The Generator To The Transfer Switch

A transfer switch is a device that allows you to connect a generator to the electrical panel during a power outage. It is installed between the generator and the main electrical panel. The incoming circuit breaker is connected to the transfer switch.

Champion Inverter Generator

Champion Inverter Generator

Source: Amazon

Step 5. Connect The Generator To The Breaker Box

Your home's electrical system can be restored by connecting a generator to the main circuit breaker. To do so, remove the main breaker from the electrical panel. Place the breaker in the box on the switch labeled “Generator.”

Connect the generator to the main breaker by plugging the power cord into the main breaker and turning it on. You will hear the breaker click, and the generator starts.

Breaker Box

Breaker Box

Source: Amazon

Step 6. Check The Generator Again

Do this to ensure that it can power your home. Turn on the main breaker, and check the lights and appliances to make sure they are working properly.

The generator is now properly connected to the electrical panel, and the power can be used to power your home in the event of a sudden power outage.

3. FAQs

Can a 3500-Watt Generator Run a House?

Starting at around 12,000 watts, these generators can often keep a home running continuously. You'll be able to run lights, TVs, refrigerators, washing machines, computers, space heaters, and pretty much anything else you plug into an outlet.

A medium-sized power inverter generator will give you about 3,500 watts, with this amount of power, you can only power your air conditioner and run your coffee maker, washing machine, or hair dryer.

Can You Run A House on a 2000-Watt Generator?

Most homes need more than 2000 watts of electricity to run all electrical appliances. Unless you're powering a small home with few appliances or an RV, you won't be able to run all of the electrical equipment you would use on a typical day with a 2,000-watt generator.


Knowing how to connect a portable electric generator to the electrical panel will help you install a generator conveniently in the event of a sudden power outage where you live. Moreover, this is a simple job that someone can do with basic knowledge of household electrical appliances.

Now that you have this guide on connecting a generator to a home electrical panel, can you do the installation?

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