How to attach a back-up generator to power a house

Written by karen adams
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How to attach a back-up generator to power a house
You may only need a small generator to power the lights. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Backup generators create a second energy source for houses in a time of power outage. Hurricanes, thunder storms, snow storms and other emergencies may leave a home without electricity for days or even weeks. By setting up a generator, you prepare for these emergency situations. A permanent standby generator runs on natural gas from the home, which makes it an ideal model for a house. A standby generator connects to the house wiring and can be activated through a push of a button or tripped by a transfer wire at the time of an outage.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Natural gas standby generator
  • Transfer switch
  • 2.5 cm (1 inch) plastic pipe
  • Safety equipment (goggles and gloves)
  • High pressure gas meter

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  1. 1

    Mount the generator on a concrete pad about 4.5 m (15 feet) wide near the fuel source. In this case, place the generator near the gas line of the house. The location needs to be flat and in a well-ventilated area away from doors and windows. This is to prevent exhaust gases from entering the house.

  2. 2

    Call your power company and ask them to turn off power supply to your home before installing the transfer switch. You can have the power turned on after installation of the transfer switch is complete.

  3. 3

    Wire the transfer switch near the house circuit panel (breaker box). It is recommended that you consult an electrician for this set-up. Standby generators connect to house wiring through a transfer switch. You need the transfer switch to avoid "backfeeding" into utility lines. Most generators come with a pre-wired transfer switch.

  4. 4

    Attach a cable to serve both the transfer switch panel and the main circuit breaker panel. Secure the white and ground wires to the corresponding white and ground bars of each panel.

  5. 5

    Set up a 30-amp circuit breaker by the main circuit panel by attaching black and red wires from the cables of the circuit breaker. Lock bus tabs of the service panel to circuit breaker and connect other end of the black and red wires to the power line attachments located near the transfer switch.

  6. 6

    Install flanged inlet box. You may not need to perform this step if the transfer switch already contains a 30-amp flanged inlet connector. The flanged inlet box is placed on the exterior of the house near the generator. You need to create a hole through the wall and then use a cable to cover this distance to the transfer switch. Mount the box onto the outside wall, then set up the wires to the corresponding colours.

  7. 7

    Connect a positive twist lock plug to the generator outside the house. A negative-twist plug also connects from the flanged connector to the transfer switch panel. Finish connecting the coloured wirings to the designated wires.

  8. 8

    Connect the gas line to the generator. For this step, it is recommended that you consult a professional from your gas company because you need to run a natural gas line from your house, pressure test the line, and hook it up to the connector on the generator unit. Working with natural gas is dangerous. Check with your gas supplier to see how to connect your natural gas lines.

  9. 9

    Secure gas and electrical connection at the back of generator. Be sure that these connections are free of debris and elevated from the ground.

Tips and warnings

  • Consult electrical and gas professionals for this installation. It involves very dangerous installations.
  • Make sure to place the generator in a well-ventilated area.

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