There are some situations when you may not need a transfer switch. For instance, if you are using a generator in a residential set up to power small appliances. When connecting your generator to your house, one of the key components is a transfer switch. The role of a transfer switch is to continuously monitor your connection to the utility power or generator. It ensures that there is no overlap. When an outage occurs, it offers you a simple and direct way of powering important functions.
Role of a transfer switch
In case of an outage, the manual and automatic transfer switch offer you fast access to power. Without a transfer switch, you should connect the best quiet generator to the equipment that you want to power. This is usually less effective and less efficient. Apart from the convenience that you get from a transfer switch, do you need a transfer switch?
When you may not need a transfer switch
There are some situations when you may not need a transfer switch. For instance, if you are using a generator in a residential set up to power small appliances, you may not need one. But when you add some heavy-duty equipment such as an HVAC system or other industrial equipment, then you may need one. Appliances and equipment bear a heavy load. When connections are made without a transfer switch, this can be very dangerous and may increase the risk of physical harm.
To improve your safety and ensure that you are operating within the code, you may need a transfer switch. But what if you want to hook your generator without a transfer switch? How do you do that? Here are the steps you will need to follow.
Connecting using a power cord
Probably the easiest way of connecting your generator without a power switch is to use an extension power cable. However, we do not recommend this method for several reasons. First, the generator may not distribute power to some parts of the home. An extension cable will also limit the number of appliances that you can power using the generator.
Get the right materials
Before you start any electrical work, you will want to ensure that you have the necessary supplies. For this job, you will need:
- An interlocking kit. This device is used in place of the transfer switch. It’s readily available online but you must ensure that you get one that matches your generator model. While the transfer switch is still more effective than this device, the interlocking kit will still serve the purpose.
- Circuit Breaker. Your choice of a breaker will depend on your generator model. You should ensure that the generator can fully power your home. For a typical household. You will need a 30 double amp breaker with 2-poles.
- Get all the necessary wires with different colors for identification ease. The wire’s length will depend on the area of the home. Therefore, you should ensure that you have long cables that will enable you to keep the generator at a safe distance away from your home.
Steps in hooking a generator without a transfer switch
1. Determine the electrical devices you will be powering
You will want to ensure that the generator can meet the power demands in your home. To determine this, you will want to know the watts needed for every electrical device.
2. Check the wiring system
Different homes have different wring systems. Therefore, you may want to get in touch with the power company in your area to understand the legal system installed in your home. You need to ensure that you get the correct information.
3. Install the circuit breaker
Install a double pole circuit breaker on the electrical panel in your home. Before you do that, check your circuit breaker’s ratings. A good idea is to ensure that the circuit breaker matches the generator’s amperage.
4. Install interlock hardware
At this stage, you will need an in-let hook-up box. This should be installed along with the circuit breaker. It will ensure that when the circuit breaker of the mains turns on, the circuit breaker of the generator turns on and vice versa. This helps make your installation legal.
5. Connect the generator with the code
Connect the generator to the attachment cable. The heavy-duty code should be connected to the plug. The other side should be connected to the generator’s output. You don’t have to be afraid of wrongly connecting the plug to the power code. The power cord can only penetrate the plugin one way and therefore, there is no room for human error.
Connect the cord to the side of the generator. Ensure that the cord are firmly fixed and will not come out when pulled. Some models require you to turn the codes to lock them in position.
6. Prepare the engine
Before you can move to the next step, you will want to ensure that the generator’s throttle is in your preferred location. You will also want to ensure that the generator has enough oil. You can now start the engine.
This is where you will need the breaker. Switch off the main switch of your home. You should then switch on the main of the generator.
8. Choose the right location
Always keep your generator outside the home. This important as a generator emits harmful gases like carbon monoxide which can be dangerous when inhaled. Also, keep the generator under a shade and away from water.
9. Test the system
Once you have successfully installed the whole system, you should now test the system to see if it works as expected. This will also show you if the hardware interlock is working. When using the grid power, it shouldn’t be possible to switch on the circuit breaker of the generator and vice versa. In other words, you must ensure that one power source is completely isolated.
If there is grid power and therefore, no need for a generator, the connecting heavy-duty power cord should be removed. Be sure that the connecting port lid or plug closes so that water doesn’t ingress terminals. When not in use, the generator should be kept in a safe and secure place.
While it’s possible to connect a generator without a transfer switch, we don’t recommend doing that. This is because it’s safer to use a transfer switch. A transfer switch will prevent overlap between the generator’s power and the power from the utility firm. In some states, this may also be illegal.
However, some situations may be urgent and you may be forced to connect without a transfer switch. In such a situation, you can follow the steps above to hook a generator without a transfer switch.