DIY Backup Generator Connection

Channel: Possum Living


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We had yet another power outage today. I waited about 20 minutes to see if it would come back on, then started the generator. That seemed like a good opportunity to do a short video and writeup about how I connect the genny to the wiring in my home, so here it is.
Note that I said how I do it, not how you should do it. This information is presented for its entertainment value and should not be construed as practical advice. This can be dangerous and may even be illegal where you live.
I feed the power from the generator into the dryer circuit of the house. This works pretty well because a dryer circuit is 30 amps at 240 volts, which is 7.2 kilowatts. The generator is 7.5 kilowatts and 240 volts, which is a nearly perfect match. One way to do it is to scavenge the plug from a dryer someone has thrown away, and connect it to a cable from the generator. When I need to connect the generator to the house wiring I can follow this procedure to connect the generator to the house:

1) Go to the service panel and switch off the main breaker. This is of utmost importance; never allow the main breaker to be on when the generator is connected.
2) Switch off the breaker that controls the dryer.
3) Go to the dryer. Unplug it and plug the generator connector into the dryer outlet.
4) Go outside and ready the generator for starting. Make sure the breaker is switched off. Check the oil, fuel and cooling water. Add fluids as necessary.
5) Start the generator and let it warm up.
6) Go back in the house and double-check all connections and especially make sure the main breaker is off, while the generator is warming up.
7) Practice power management: switch off the breakers to any non-critical loads and heavy loads that I do not want starting all at once. Also switch off loads that are too large for the generator, such as a central HVAC system if I had one and my generator wasn't large enough to handle it. Switch off the breaker to the electric stove and water heater. The water heater stores hot water for a long time, and I can always switch it on to run for a cycle later, if necessary.
8) Go outside, bring the now-warm generator up to full speed, and switch on its breaker.
9) Go inside, check that the main breaker is still off, and switch the dryer breaker on to power up the house through its circuit.

And that's it; I am running on generator power. When I am ready to switch back to public utilities, I use the following order of operations: switch off the dryer breaker, go outside and switch off the generator breaker, shut down the generator, unplug the generator cable from the dryer outlet, plug the dryer back in, and switch the main breaker back on.