How to Hook Up a Generator to Your House: Furnaces, Well Pumps and Electric Water Heaters Require a Transfer Switch
A manual transfer switch is essentially a small circuit breaker box that you mount next to your main electrical panel. You match the capacity of the transfer switch to the wattage of your generator. Then you choose which circuits to connect to the transfer switch. The Gen Tran manual transfer switch shown here came prewired for six circuits and included the inlet box (generator connection) and the cord to connect the generator.
Using a transfer switch is the only safe way to connect your generator to house wiring because it requires you to disconnect the house wiring from the incoming power lines at the same time you switch to generator power. This prevents the possibility of “backfeeding” generated power into the power lines, which creates a potentially lethal hazard for power line workers.
Buy Gas Cans When You Buy the Generator
A 5,500-watt generator will run about eight hours on 5 gallons of gasoline, so gas management is critical if you want to be prepared for an extended power outage. That may mean running your generator for shorter periods and coasting on things like refrigeration.
Having several filled 5-gallon gas cans available is prudent, but you’ll need to add stabilizer to extend the shelf life. Even then, after six months or so you should pour it into your car’s gas tank and refill the cans with fresh fuel. The generator itself should be run dry for storage or filled with stabilized fuel. That fuel should be replaced every six months as well.