6 Steps to Safely Hookup a Portable Generator to Your House

6 Steps to Safely Hookup a Portable Generator to Your House

Electricity is an integral part of modern-day life. Aside from providing lighting, it also powers phones, entertainment devices, and key household elements. These include HVAC and security systems.  

While the power grid is generally a reliable source of electricity, power outages often occur. This may be due to extreme weather events, short circuits, and issues with the transmission lines or substations.

When this happens, you don't have to stay in the dark without heating or cooling. With a portable generator, you can restore your home's electric supply. This is why portable generators are a crucial element of most people's emergency preparedness plans.

But buying the generator is the easy part. You'll also need to hook it up safely whenever you want some backup generator power.

In this article, you will gain crucial insight into how to hookup a portable generator to a house and some key tips to keep in mind. 

 

How Do Portable Generators Work? 

As you prepare to purchase a portable generator for home or office use, you must understand what it is. 

The first thing you should note is that it's not the same as a standby generator, which is permanently hooked up to your house. These automatically begin circulating power in your house when the grid goes down. 

On the other hand, portable generators require some work and planning. Since they're not permanently hooked to your house, you'll need to make the connection each time you want to use it.

 

How to Hook Up a Generator to a House 

Hooking up a portable home generator is not the same as plugging other devices into sockets. There are several things that you need to consider, and you must get everything right.

Otherwise, you may unknowingly risk yourself, loved ones, and property. Here are some steps to guide you:

 

1. Plan Ahead

Portable generators are an invaluable asset during emergencies. However, setting it up during a crisis is a hassle and adds to the risk.

Instead, plan ahead and gather the equipment when there's no emergency. This will allow you to assess and determine the best generator for your needs. If you wait till your grid is out, you'll buy in a rush. And there's a high chance you'll buy it at extremely high prices as other people will also be shopping for one.  

Once you have it, you also need to figure out how you'll use it during an outage. This involves determining where you'll place it and where the extension cords will run through. 

With a portable generator, it's advisable to be selective with which parts of the house you power-up. This is to avoid overloading it and preserving the fuel source. 

So, make a list of the appliances and parts of the house you'll want to light up. Then, add up their peak wattages and ensure they do not exceed the generator's capacity.

 

2. Don't Use a Double Male Plug

It's possible to energize your house using a double male plug. Since it's an easy way to do this, many people use this method.

However, it's dangerous, and you should never use a double male plug to power your house. This is because:

 

  • It's illegal in most places
  • You'll violate the electrical code
  • It can shock company linemen if you do not disconnect the main breaker, making you liable for lawsuits
  • Since male plug prongs are exposed, you can easily get shocked

 

Generators produce greater voltage than what the receptacle, electrical wire, and breaker can handle. Therefore, if you use a double male plug, you can easily start a fire.

 

3. Gather Necessary Supplies

Aside from the things that come with the DuroMax generator, you'll need additional supplies. These include:

 

  • Breaker interlock kit- Purchase a breaker interlock kit that fits your specific breaker box. Ensure that it has a UL rating which means it's tested and validated to work. This is important as the UL rating is a key requirement in many jurisdictions and insurance companies.

 

  • Amp 2 pole (double) breaker- Buy one that fits your breaker box.

 

  • Wire- Depending on your needs, buy the appropriate wire gauge size based on the generator output in red, black, white, and green.

  

Some of the other things you'll need include:

 

  • Schedule 40 electrical conduit and fittings
  • Appropriate power inlet box
  • Conduit body
  • Flexible non-metallic conduit and fittings
  • Conduit glue
  • Extension cord

 

Keep in mind that each of the supplies you buy to help with plugging the generator should match your generator and breaker's amperage. 

 

4. Find the Perfect Spot for Your Generator 

One of the most important things when setting up a portable generator is where you position it. In addition to being convenient when connecting, there are other factors you should consider. 

For starters, if your generator runs using a gas motor, never place it inside the house. This is because they produce life-threatening carbon monoxide fumes. 

Ideally, it would be best if you run it outside on an open porch, patio, or driveway. However, do not position it where it will be vulnerable to rain.

Also, generators can be very noisy, which is irritating. So, try as much as possible to position it somewhere it won't be a nuisance.

Once you identify a good place to keep it, ensure that your extension cords are long enough. Whether you use a propane generator or it's powered by gasoline, ensure you store enough fuel. 

 

5. Contact a Certified Electrician

At this stage, you have a whole house generator and know where it'll be powering your house from. All that's left is setting the stage, so you won't have a lot of work to do when you need emergency power. We’d recommend contacting a certified electrician to help you with wiring and installing the interlock kit to your home correctly.

 

6. Put the Generator to Good Use

With everything in place, all that's left is using your generator when there is a power outage. Use the following steps when using the generator:

 

  • Confirm that the power is out
  • Start the generator and ensure it's running at normal speeds
  • Turn off all the breakers at the breaker box
  • Switch off the main breaker
  • Slide the interlock up so that the generator breaker's 'On' position is visible and turn it on
  • Turn on selected breakers one by one with a 5-second gap to see how the generator takes each circuits load

 

Similarly, you also need to be careful when powering off the generator. You'll need to:

 

  • Turn off all branch breakers
  • Switch off the generator breaker
  • Expose the main breaker's 'On' position by sliding down the generator interlock and turn on the main breaker on
  • Turn on branch breakers individually with a 5-second gap between each
  • Switch off the generator
  • Remove the extension cord

 

Portable Generator Maintenance

Keeping your portable generator in peak condition is vital if you want it to serve you well and for long. Some of the maintenance tasks you should do include:

 

  • Clean or change spark plugs periodically 
  • Clean the screen on the spark arrestor
  • Regularly clean or change the air filter
  • Ensure the generator always has sufficient oil
  • Change the oil according to the generators maintenance schedule
  • Add a fuel stabilizer to the tank if you do not use the generator for over a month

 

It All Starts with the Right Generator 

There are numerous generators available for you to choose from. However, depending on your chosen brand and model, the functionality can vary significantly. Therefore, it's vital that you know your power needs and select a generator that can match them. 

At DuroMax, we're committed to delivering the best portable generators to power homes and offices. We have different models suitable for varying needs. So, get in touch with us today to find out which model best suits your needs.