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Using My Generator To Power My Home

Q: How do I power my house with my new portable generator?

A: There are three right ways to power your house with your portable generator.

  • Extension cords – You can power your appliances and lights using extension cords going through an open window or door to your generator. Disadvantages: Numerous cords and the inability to power items that do not have a power plug (i.e. are hardwired) – often your furnace, etc.
  • Manual Transfer switch off your circuit breaker panel – This allows you to choose a certain number of circuits that can be powered by your generator through the transfer switch. A power cord from your generator attaches to a power inlet installed in the transfer switch or a power inlet box connected to the transfer switch. When the power goes out, you simply flip the switches on the transfer switch from utility to generator in order to power your chosen circuits. You flip the switches back when the utility power becomes available again. A good option for powering a limited number of chosen circuits. Reliance offers single circuit switches, pre-wired models with up to 10 circuits, and sub-panels with up to 36 circuits – sufficient for most applications.
  • Manual Transfer switch connected between the utility power entry point and the circuit breaker box – Your generator is hardwired to the transfer switch. By placing the transfer switch before your circuit breaker box, you can power any circuit in your house in a power outage by simply flipping the switch from utility to auxiliary power.  Note that power is limited to generator output, so you may need to move many of the breakers in your breaker box to “off” if your generator is not large enough to power the entire house. A good option especially for larger generators or in applications where many of the circuits may be needed at various times. Ronk offers several models up to 800A.