Unless you are fortunate to have a whole house generator, owning a portable generator here in Michigan has become a necessity. Strong storms and aging power grids translates to many of us unfortunately experiencing numerous power outages, sometimes for days at a time.
Safely Using Portable Generators
Important Safety Reminder: NEVER run a portable generator inside your home. Place it outdoors and as far away as possible from your home. Portable generators emit a lot of potentially deadly carbon monoxide.
The most important thing when using a small, gasoline powered portable generator is that you connect it to your home safely. Here’s how:
Extension cords: If you’re only powering a few appliances such as a refrigerator or freezer, you can simply plug them into the generator’s power outlets using extension cords.
Transfer switches: With a transfer switch, a separate breaker panel is installed next to your main panel. During a power outage, the generator is plugged into a dedicated outlet and electricity is sent into the transfer switch to branch circuit breakers in the breaker panel. The separate panel prevents backfeeding of the power main from your generator.
Generator interlock kit: This system offers the same safety of a transfer switch, but costs less and has an easier installation process. Let’s take a closer look.
What is a Generator Interlock Kit?
A generator interlock kit is used to safely power a home through a portable generator during a power outage. This is done by connecting the generator to the home electrical system.
An interlock kit prevents your home’s main breaker from being turned on at the same time as your generator breaker. Not only that, but it stops power from backfeeding into the power lines. This is vital because backfeed can injure or kill anyone working on the powerlines.
A generator interlock kit is installed on the home's electrical panel, which allows a generator to power multiple circuits in your house. Basically, it’s a set of hard plastic or metal guards that allow power to enter the circuit accepting power from the generator while keeping the main switch off. Of course, the number of circuits powered must not exceed the capacity of the generator.
An interlock kit is a safe and cost-effective way to ensure you're using a portable generator safely. Generator interlock kits must be installed by a licensed electrician. Find one here!