Safeways to Connect a Portable Generator

Living in Jacksonville Florida, it’s important to know what to do in case of emergencies – especially when it has to do with electrical. Do you need a generator? Which generator is best for you in times of power outages or damage from severe weather vs camping or tailgating? Do you need a fixed or portable generator?

There’s a lot of decisions that need to be made prior, and you should weigh out all the pros / cons – or consult a licensed, certified and professional Jacksonville electrician if you have any questions or doubts. Depending on which portable generator you choose to use, the methods of connecting to a power source may vary. At Thompson Electric, Inc. we provide a range of electrical services to accommodate your electrical needs, including setting up portable generators before or after a hurricane or storm.

Cords vs. Transfer Systems

There are two methods of safely hooking up a generator to your house. The first and easiest method is to use an extension or generator cord to connect appliances to the generator. The second and more complicated method involves the use of a power transfer system from the generator to an entire house.

Extension or generator cords are for a small-scale emergency and are used to power individual appliances only. Power transfer systems are for large-scale emergencies such as power failure from a hurricane, which can power entire rooms.

DIY Generator Setup

To determine the best way to connect your portable generator, first reference the owner’s manual and assess the severity of your situation. You may want to call in assistance, or you just might be able to set it up yourself with a little bit of guidance from a local, professional electrical company.

Connecting with a generator cord:

  1. Consult the generator checklist.
  2. Place the generator outside and approximately 10 feet from any windows or doors.
  3. To connect the generator to an appliance you can either:
    1. Run one generator cord to connect several appliances or…
    2. Run many extension cords to connect the appliances
  4. Start the generator.

*Never plug the generator directly into a wall socket. This could cause an issue called backfeeding*.

Generator and Extension Cords

Using extension cords can be dangerous and hinder maximum power from the generator to run your appliance efficiently. Before using extension cords with your portable generator, make sure you are using the proper gauge for your generator power output. Extension cords are really only effective for a few appliances and are best used with an inverter (small) generator.

Generator cords are best for a medium-sized generator and should be plugged into the amp on your generator. This provides several outlets for the appliances located at the opposing end of the cord.

Connecting with a transfer system:

  1. Connect the transfer switch to the generator using the generator cord.
  2. Start the generator.
  3. Flip the switch on the transfer system from “line” to “generator.”
  4. On the circuit breaker, you can choose which appliances you would like to run power.

Power transfer systems are the most powerful and efficient option for a large generator as they can run power to circuits rather than individual appliances. When running power to a circuit breaker you are able to power hard-wired appliances such as air conditioning units and ceiling fans.

If you have any questions about which portable generator is best for your home and how to properly install it contact one of our local, certified and insured electricians at Thompson Electric.