The electricity from the generator must be distributed to the applications. One temporary method is to run good quality extension cords directly from the generator to the appliance. If you expect that power disruptions will be exceptionally prolonged in your area, or if you are moving towards being independent of your centrally-generated power utility company, a second way to distribute power is to install a switch so your generator can power your existing house wiring. This must be done in accordance with the local electrical code, or you can put your whole neighborhood at risk due to back feeding from your home wiring into the general electrical grid. You could also kill a utility lineman working on the power outside your home. Safety first and always.

The Power Service Select Switch.

A power service transfer switch will select either the generator or electrical utility to supply electrical service to the incoming power side of the breaker box. With this system, it is "all or nothing" when it comes to running on either the generator or public utility.

This type system is used in motor homes, remote cabins, house boats, and hospitals to name a few. This system is the most costly to install of the connection types and requires a licensed and experienced electrician to install it properly, legally and safely.

The transfer switches in this type system can be either manual or automatic. With a manual switch, you would crank the generator and after it has warmed up some you would pull the switch to transfer your house's electrical requirements to the generator. An automatic switch would work much like the manual switch but the connection would be made automatically after the generator cranked up. This is much more expensive and complicated than the manual type installation but is capable of power transfer without attendance. If you were away and lost power, a fully automatic system could go on line without you even being there. As you might imagine, this system also has some negative features as well. Any unattended machinery is a possibility for malfunction or other problems.

Either type switch is expensive both for the purchase of the switches themselves and the labor required to install them. Because this type system is installed between the generator, house panel box, and public utility, both the generator and public utility must be off-line to install this system safely. Working with the electrical lines from the street to your breaker box is not for the inexperienced or the faint of heart! Leave this one for the experts. A mistake here could be fatal if the house was not disconnected properly from the utility during installation of the power transfer system.