How Do You Hook A Generator Up To Your House? Step By Step Guide

Last updated on December 9th, 2023

How Do You Hook A Generator Up To Your House? In this article, we will explain all the steps involved. In addition to that, you will learn about the installation of a whole house transfer switch for a portable generator.

Power outages in your home are not only frustrating, but they can also be hazardous. A power outage is a big problem in hot or cold weather or if you are dependent on electricity for a medical device. 

The easiest way to fix a power outage is by installing a generator or having one ready to go. Having one on hand is really beneficial if you suffer from frequent power outages. 

Quick Comparison – 5 Best Selling Transfer Switches This Year


How Do You Hook A Generator Up To Your House? 3 ways:

  1. Directly connecting your generator to appliances: Connecting your generator directly to your appliances allows you to light your house or to connect appliances like a refrigerator or freezer. You can do this by using extension cords straight from your appliance to the generator. Due to the generator requiring to be outside, this can be annoying and create a trip hazard with the cords along the ground and in your doorways or windows. This is where installing a Generator Power Inlet Box is a better idea. See further below for step by step installations guide.
  1. Connecting the generator to the electrical grid of your home: Using this method, you can use all the outlets, lights, and appliances normally. The process is not as easy as plugging a generator into an outlet. That act is called back feeding and can cause serious damage to your electrical system, as well as a fire. More importantly, this method is illegal. So how does one connect their generator safely? 
  2. Transfer switches are a great option here! Read on.

Are Transfer Switches safe to install? What is the purpose of a Transfer Switch?

how do you connect a generator to your house

To safely use your generator for powering your house, you need to install a transfer switch. Transfer switches are electrical devices that let you safely connect a generator to your house wiring. They isolate the electrical load, so your home can operate on either municipal power or generator power.

This prevents electricity from your generator from flowing outward onto city power lines and endangering people who may be working on those utilities during a power outage. It is safest and most efficient to power your house using a generator with a transfer switch that has been professionally installed. Follow this guide to learn how to wire a whole house transfer switch.

How Do You Hook A Generator Up To Your House?

Process of Installation 

The task of connecting a transfer switch to a generator is a challenging one if it is not done correctly. To overcome this, you will only need a bit of electrical knowledge. In addition, you can finish the job within a few hours if you pay attention to detail. When dealing with the main electrical installation, it is wise to hire a electrician who is experienced in handling this type of work. 

Also, be sure to comply with local and state regulations when it comes to electrical components in your home. For this to happen, it is necessary to gain insight into these laws, codes, and other general requirements. After this is done, you will be able to install the necessary equipment without violating legal requirements.

Installation Steps 

Near the main panel, you can install a manual transfer switch. During a power outage, this helps override the normal electric system with a backup generator. However, you need an operator to change the power source. 

Detecting power outages and switching to backup power is easier with an automatic transfer switch. Just select a few circuits to receive the backup power. Make sure you know which loads you need to power before buying a backup generator. Usually, electricity is needed just for a few lights, and for the refrigerator or freezer. Moreover, don’t start each circuit at the same time. It may cause your generator to overload. 

Check out the steps below to learn how to install a whole house generator transfer switch and connect the generator to your house:

How to install a whole house generator transfer switch – Step by Step

how to install a whole house generator transfer switch

Notes – This should only be done by a qualified electrician 

*** Follow all installation instructions given with the transfer switch and generator.

*** Installation is technical, these steps are a brief overview.

  1. Firstly, you will need to isolate the main fuse/circuit breaker in your service enclosure. This is usually a black metal/plastic box where your main line is connected to your house.
  2. After testing that power is isolated, you will need to locate your consumer’s mains cable between the meter and the main switch in your meter board enclosure.
  3. Identify and cut the active and neutral cables, ensuring that you have enough cable to terminate into your transfer switch. Extension or replacement of this cable is likely.
  4. Install the transfer switch next to the main circuit board in a clear space on your wall, then terminate the cables from your meter side to the transfer switch line in.
  5. Terminate the main switch cable to the load side of the transfer switch. (Some transfer switches will require the circuits to be wired separately to each new transfer switch circuits)
  6. Install the power inlet box close to where you want to install the generator.
  7. Run cable from the generator terminals of the transfer switch to the power inlet box and terminate cables.
  8. Install your cables from your generator to your power inlet box and terminate.  
  9. Turn off your main switch on your main switch board.
  10. Switch off all of your circuit breakers for lights, power, etc.
  11. Turn the transfer switch to the generator position.
  12. Start the generator and check voltage and frequency are correct. If so, turn the generator circuit breaker on.
  13. Check that your voltage and polarity at the main switch is correct.
  14. To ensure transfer switch is working correctly, check to make sure no voltage is current at the load side of your service fuse/circuit breaker.
  15. Close your main circuit breaker.
  16. Close your lights and power circuits one at a time to ensure your generator can handle the load of all of your circuits.
  17. Turn the transfer switch to the mains position and check that the power is off to all of your circuits.
  18. Turn generator off (unless automatic)
  19. Close your main service fuse/circuit breaker and check that everything is working as it should be.

Check out our 8 Best Generac Whole House Generator Reviews

Also – Generac Vs Kohler Whole House Generator – We Compare The 2!

Check out this – How To Hook Up A Generator To A House Video:

One other way is to use a Generator Interlock switch

This is similar to the transfer switch, but can be installed in your existing board using less space. Check out this video for instructions:


What are transfer switches and how do they work?

Electric transfer switches are devices for connecting and disconnecting electric loads safely from different sources of electricity. As soon as there is no electricity in your area, your portable generator can be plugged (unless permanently wired) into an outdoor power inlet box that is connected, inside your house, to a transfer switch. Moreover, click here to see the best Generac 200a transfer switch on Amazon.

When using a generator, do you need to shut off the main breaker?

Yes, it is necessary to shut off the main breaker whenever using a generator to run your house circuits through a transfer switch. If you do not, it can back feed into the power line system and cause an unsafe condition for power line workers, plus possible damage your generator.

Is it worth investing in a whole house generator? 

Generally, whole house generators are expensive to buy, but they can be worth investing in if you work from home, experience frequent or extended outages of power, or live in a climate where heating or cooling is a necessity. Moreover, if they are properly maintained and have enough fuel, generators are able to run for several weeks. If you’re thinking of installing a generator, read our above guide on how to hook up generator to house with transfer switch.


If you have always wondered – how do i hook up a generator to my house; this guide has provided you with valuable information. It is important to make sure that your generator is able to power the appliances that you require. You should also make sure you review code regulations, have all the right parts, install the parts correctly, and ensure proper operation.

We hope you have enjoyed our How Do You Hook A Generator Up To Your House article and it helped you in your journey. 

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