Emergency home generator 101 Qs


Old 04-19-07, 03:25 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Coos County - The Great North Woods
Posts: 17
Emergency home generator 101 Qs

I have done a search here, but got tired before I found an answer to this.

I understand that small generators (5-10KW, NOT "whole house fixed" ones) can be connected for emergency use using two additional devices:

1. Transfer switch, which eliminates backfeed to the grid, and

2. Sub-panel, which as I understand it contains a number of switches, each of which is wired to a specific breaker in the regular power panel.

Correct or not, what I would like to know is why I can't (seemingly) have a small generator which is switched with the meter feed so as to eliminate backfeed issues, but which essentially REPLACES TOTALLY the feed from the meter to the entire existing panel box, giving me the flexibility to use ANY circuits I need to.

I understand that if I did that, it would be up to me to avoid generator overloads, but that is a small price to pay for a low-wattage substitute for normal commercial power during outages. As I have a 100 Amp box, that means that I could only use a small portion of the circuits at any one time, but that is OK.

This is my ideal scenario because while I know a couple of circuits I definitely always want covered (furnace and refrigerator), it is an old house and not at all easy to trace given lights to given breakers. So in addition to these "full time" circuits, I would alternate TV, microwave, bathroom light, etc., making sure that I was always under the generator's load limit.

Thanks for enlightening me!
Sponsored Links
Old 04-19-07, 04:22 PM
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: welland ontario
Posts: 5,665
You could certainly connect a smaller generator to your whole house through a proper transfer switch. If you overload it the breaker on the generator will trip.
Old 04-19-07, 04:24 PM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 14,617
There is a device made to do exactly what you want. All you would need would be the required 2-3 adjacent breaker slots available.

Old 04-20-07, 06:16 AM
Pendragon's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: USA
Posts: 1,839
Yep, you can do it, parts to do so are readily available from your local home center. My local one even has a display showing exactly how it's done.


You can spend the $700 or so and buy a GenConnect. This device fits between your meter and meter base, there are several models available for 30 and 50 amp generators, as well as the ability to auto-start a generator that has electric start.

Check with your local power utility, some rent them (especially up north).
Old 04-20-07, 01:27 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Central Indiana
Posts: 389
The interlock kits that pcboss referenced are expensive! The Square D kit for my 200 amp panel runs $149 whereas if I go to Square D and get the SD part, its about $75 (which I still thinks is expensive).

My suggestion: go to the vendor's website for your panel, research the vendor's kit and pick it up locally at an electrical supply house.
Old 04-20-07, 02:18 PM
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 306
as some who is considering hooking up a generator, dont forget, if you do it your way it is a much bigger job. i do not belive any inspector or power company will let you do it on your own. you will need an electrician.
even if im wrong, and you can do it yourself, it is still a lot more work then using a transfer switch.

also, you will have to know what is on all your circuits anyway, so you know which ones to turn on. and you will have to only turn on the breakers you want, like a transfer switch.

i would only do it your way if the generator could power the whole house.
Old 04-20-07, 03:47 PM
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: welland ontario
Posts: 5,665
A 5000 watt generator will run almost your whole house if you don't use any power hungry devices. Turn off the AC, electric heat, dryer, water heater, electric stove any other 240 double pole breakers and it will probably run the rest of normal house.
Old 04-21-07, 06:02 AM
Pendragon's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: USA
Posts: 1,839
Yep, I run mine on a 6500, it will run everything except the heat pump, but it will run a window a/c.

I have a low wattage (20a) water heater (not one of the 30a/4500 watt deals), so it will even run that.

I have a gas range, so no problem there.

TV's, lights, computers, microwave, fridge.. all small potatoes.

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes