The Basics of How to Connect a Generator to Your House Without a Transfer Switch

Christine Herrington

Christine is our Chief Editor and a contributing writer to the site.

Last Updated on April 21, 2021

If you are a prepared homeowner, you most likely have a power generator on your property. Owning a generator is a smart way to protect your family in case of an emergency when the power to your house goes out.

Many generators have built-in transfer switches that make connecting them to your residential power source easy. If you own a generator that lacks a transfer switch, it can make things more challenging; however, it is possible to connect a generator to your house without one. 

The Basics of How to Connect a Generator to Your House Without a Transfer Switch
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Table of Contents

What is a Transfer Switch?

To understand the mechanism you’ll need to work around; it is helpful to look at what a transfer switch is and what it does. 

Transfer switches on generators provide a quick and easy way to harness the power of a generator. They are vital for businesses that use heavy-duty machinery and other major appliances in the event of an electrical shutdown. 

Transfer switches automatically transfer power from one source to another; therefore if one source goes it, a transfer switch will get power from a generator. 

Why Are Transfer Switches Important?

Although knowing how to connect a generator to your house without a transfer switch is valuable in case of an emergency, the truth is that transfer switches are important to electrical safety

With a transfer switch, you must manually connect your generator to your home, which can be a risky undertaking, especially if you don’t work with electricity often. Electricity is dangerous and you can not only cause an electrical fire or short out equipment, but you can physically harm yourself if you aren’t sure of what you are doing. 

Also, consider that by manually connecting a power source to your home, you are technically performing uninspected electrical work and might put future utility workers at risk, as you could push power into the main grid, possibly causing electrocution. Also, you could potentially be held liable for any damages incurred down the line because insurance can deny you coverage.

What You’ll Need to Connect a Generator to Your House Without a Transfer Switch

You may find yourself in a situation that requires you to connect a generator to your house without a transfer switch, and in that case, it is wise to know the basics. You’ll need a few items before you can even consider connecting a generator to your house without a transfer switch. 

The correct breaker

You will need the right circuit breaker to connect your generator. The compatibility is based on the amps your generator uses. Different brands of generators also use different breakers. You must have the correct breaker. If you don’t, it may not work at all or cause many dangerous complications. 

Electrical wire

You will need to have color-coded electrical wires if you want to do the safest job possible of hooking up your generator to your house without a transfer switch. This will avoid crossing wires or mistakenly hooking one appliance up to another. 

An interlock kit

An interlock kit is critical to connecting your generator without a transfer switch. These kits connect your generator to your service panel, so the process won’t work without them. It is important to make sure you get an interlock kit that is meant for your generator’s make and model, or problems can arise. 

Appropriate tools

To ensure safety, you’ll need the appropriate tools for the job. A voltage stick is a must. This will tell you if a wire has an electrical charge. You will also want to have an electrical tool kit on hand, which contains items such as pliers, electrical tape, screwdrivers, and a drill. 

Appropriate safety gear

If you are working with electricity, you must have the correct PPE, or Personal Protective Equipment, if you want to avoid injury. The most important kind of PPE for you to wear if you are hooking up your generator is electrical safety gloves. These are cut-resistant gloves that are still flexible enough for you to work dexterously with your fingers. They also prevent your bare skin from touching live wires. 

How to Connect a Generator to Your House Without a Transfer Switch

If you still want to proceed in learning how to connect a generator to your house without a transfer switch, you can become familiar with the general process. 

Figure out which appliance you want to run power to. You will want to pick the electrical items that are most important to survival, such as the fridge, stove, and lights. However, if keeping the television is important as well, you can include this. Just remember that many generators have a finite amount of power, and depending on how long the generator has to run, you may need to ration your devices. 

Assess your home’s wiring system and install inlet hookups. These hookups will connect to your generator’s breaker. Then you will need to hook up your generator and turn it to the voltage required for powering your home.

The final steps include turning off the main breaker to the house, turning on the generator according to its instruction manual, and then flipping on the breakers to the appliances you want to power. This should result in power from the generator flowing through to the appliances that are hooked up. 

Should You Attempt to Connect a Generator to Your House Without a Transfer Switch?

Although it is possible and even necessary in some emergencies, connecting a generator to your house without a power switch is a complicated process that can put you, your home, and your family at risk. 

Unless you are a qualified electrician, the safe and simple solution is to purchase a generator that has a transfer switch. Attempting to do this by yourself is difficult, requires many tools and pieces of equipment, and a working knowledge of electrical hookups and safety procedures. It is best not to risk it and invest in a quality generator with a transfer switch.

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