How to Run a House on a Generator Full Time

Written by allen teal
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How to Run a House on a Generator Full Time
Gasoline-powered portable electric generators can be used to power a whole house. (engines image by Jake Hellbach from Fotolia.com)

The thought of generating your own electricity is appealing. It sounds like a way to gain control of utility bills. This is a terrible idea for most people because of the cost of fuel and replacement generators. Most portable generators have a lifespan of about 2,000 hours of service. Running a generator full time means that replacement may happen every three months, but using a generator may be a necessity. Houses constructed in remote areas can have problems getting access to electrical power. Installing a generator capable of powering a whole house may be the answer to your needs.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Double-throw switch box
  • Screwdriver
  • Wire
  • Generator
  • Screws
  • Fuel

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Purchase a 48-kilowatt generator if you plan to power a house with 200-amp service. This is the power level of most homes today. If you want to purchase the smallest generator that will still run your specific home, you need to determine the exact power requirements of your home. Making a list of each item that the generator will power. The total watts used by these items will give you an idea of the minimum generator that you will need.

  2. 2

    Disconnect the power to your home at the electric meter. Remove the cover from your breaker box by using a screwdriver to remove the four screws that hold it in place. Use the screwdriver to loosen the screws on your main breaker to remove the power cables that come from the electric meter. You can leave the white wire hooked to the neutral bar for now.

  3. 3

    Install a double-throw switch between the generator and the breaker box. This box has a lever on the side that moves a bar inside from the bottom where the generator power will be attached to the top where the power from the electric meter will wire in. Its purpose is to prevent power from the utilities and the generator from competing to power your house. Use screws to anchor this box to the wall as near to the breaker box as possible.

  4. 4

    Insert the power cables from the electric meter under the lugs in the top of the double-throw lever box and tighten the screws over them to secure the wires. Repeat this process with the power cables from the generator and the lugs at the bottom of the box. Insert the white cable into a port on the breaker box and secure it under the same screw as the white cable from the electric meter.

  5. 5

    Attach two cables under the screws in the centre of the double-throw switch box and run them from there into the breaker box. Insert these two cables under the screws on the main breakers and tighten the screws to secure them. Replace the cover on the breaker box and attach it with the four screws that were removed earlier.

  6. 6

    Flip the switch on the double-throw box to the bottom to engage the circuit coming from the generator into the house circuitry. With the main breakers off, start the generator. Turn on the main breaker to allow the power to begin to flow into the house. Monitor the fuel supply on the generator to keep it running. As long as the generator holds up, the house will continue to be fully powered. Move the switch on the double-throw box to the "Up" position to return the house to utility power.

Tips and warnings

  • A larger fuel tank may need to be installed to run the generator longer between refuelling.
  • If there is a significant change in the power requirements of your home, you may need to upgrade the generator to meet the increased needs.
  • Never operate a home on generator power unless the utility power is off to the house.
  • Always turn off the power at the meter before disconnecting the power to the main breakers.

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