Trying to Hook Up a Generator Without a Transfer Switch
January 16, 2007
Q: I live on a farm and want to install a generator. My electrical meter is outside on a hydro pole, and it has a master shutoff below the meter. The breaker box inside of the house also has a master breaker shutoff on it, its a 100 amp. If I shut off both master breakers, and hook the generator into house circuit at the main breaker box, there wouldn’t be any feedback into main supply hydro line, that the hydro repair men could be injured at all, or would there be.
A: In theory this will work. However, this is not safe and it is a National Electrical Code (NEC) violation. Depending on where you live this could also be illegal. Here in Montana, the NEC has been adopted into legislation and this would be illegal here.
The problem with just turning off your breakers is that mistakes can be made. You may forget to turn off your breakers or the breaker could be bad and not turn off which would allow the power to backfeed into the utility line.
You are required to install a transfer switch between the meter/disconnect on the pole and your breaker box. We typically install these right next to your breaker box. Using a transfer switch is the only safe and legal way to wire a back-up generator into your electrical system. Transfer switches can be tricky to install and I highly recommend hiring a licensed electrician that is experienced at installing generators.
If you have a portable generator and no transfer switch, the only safe way to use this is by running extension cord(s) from your generator to the appliance(s) you want to work off of your generator during the power outage.
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