July 1, 2012

Connecting An Emergency Generator

There are two basic methods of connecting your devices to an emergency power generators:
  • Via a pre-wired transfer switch;
  • Via extension cords.
The transfer switch method can be used for both stationary and portable generators. Portable generators are connected via a manual transfer switch. The stationary standby home systems usually use an automatic transfer switch. It automatically isolates your home from the grid and starts up the generator when it detects a power outage.
A transfer switch installation and wiring requires a licensed electrician and obviously takes time. If you are caught off-guard by a blackout, you’ve got to use a portable genset with extension cords. This is the case today, when more than 3 million people in mid-Atlatic are still without power after a sudden storm. Unlike hurricanes that give you about a week of warning, this storm gave all the impact of a hurricane without any warning. Unfortunately, the extension cords can be used only for cord-and-plug appliances. Connecting lights and hard-wired appliances to a portable generator will not be simple. There are some emergency methods of connecting hard-wired devices, but they may require a professional help. In any case, here are the main two things you need to remember:
  • Whenever you run a generator, it must be isolated from the utility lines;
  • A generator can be run only outdoors with exhaust pipe located away from house.