DISTRIBUTING THE ELECTRICITY
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