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Generator Transfer Switch Using Circuit Breakers

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

Can You Make a Generator Transfer Switch Using Circuit Breakers? How to Use a Circuit Breaker Interlock Kit for a Generator Transfer Switch.

Interlock Generator Transfer Switch

Electrical Question: Can You Make a Generator Transfer Switch Using Circuit Breakers?

My plan for an outage would be to trip the main breaker and plug a home made cord into my generator and garage outlet.
Please advise, Thanks.

This electrical wiring question came from: Colin, a Homeowner from Fruit Heights, Utah.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your generator question Colin.
Yes Colin, a typical circuit breaker works the same way protecting the circuit in both directions.

Generator Transfer Switch Circuit Breaker Interlock

How to Use a Circuit Breaker Interlock Kit for a Generator Transfer Switch


How a Circuit Breaker Interlock Kit Works

The photo above is from a job site where I installed a Circuit Breaker Generator Transfer Interlock device which allows either the main electrical panel breaker or the generator feed circuit breaker to be on, but never both. The interlock kit must be properly installed with the appropriate circuit breakers and then may only be used with the panel cover positioned and securely mounted in place. Consult the installation instructions of the specific interlock kit that is obtained.

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6 Responses to “Generator Transfer Switch Using Circuit Breakers”
  1. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Levi,
    There are some wiring diagrams that may be helpful for you, which are found here in the website in the Home Generator area, and the Solar Power area.
    I hope you find them useful for your application!

  2. Levi Joseph Uri says:

    I just want to ask about power standby for our house using solar power. Can you send me a simple circuit and contactor or any relay which I can use for installation. Can you send me a circuit diagram?
    Thank you very much.

  3. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Linda,
    Here are some thoughts about your 7500 watt generator set up and supplying essential circuits with standby power.
    There are a few ways to provide generator power for two panels and their circuits if there will be manual control or intervention, starting with positioning the generator transfer switch in an approved location by the main panel which can then provide power to a separate panel in the basement for essential circuits only, and this panel can be sized large enough to feed the garage panel where non-essential circuits may be identified and shut OFF during generator operation. However if this is to be a fully automated system then splitting up essential circuits from non-essential circuits into separate panels which are fed from an automatic transfer switch will be required. It is also possible to install two transfer switches, one at each panel location, however this will require an additional feed from the generator line to the garage panel location. All of this will need to be configured by taking the existing electrical service and circuit panels into consideration, and the possibility of installing a circuit breaker interlock.
    I should also add that I do not advise using or installing extension cords to be used with a generator system such as this. If this were a small generator powering a garage refrigerator or single device then using an appropriately size extension cord is OK for temporary power only.

  4. Linda says:

    We have a main panel in the basement and a subpanel in the garage – they are very far apart (3500 sq. foot house). We are getting a 7500 Generac generator. About half the circuits we want to power with the generator are powered by the subpanel in the garage (kitchen outlets and lights, 1 bedroom). However, half the circuits run through the basement main panel (2nd bedroom lights, living room outlets, furnace).

    How do we safely connect the generator to run selected circuits on BOTH panels? If we use a transfer switch for safety, would we need to buy 2 transfer switches (one for each panel)? This would add a few $100 to our cost. We’d also prefer not running 100’s of feet of extension cords to both panels.

    Appreciate any suggestions that will be safe and economical. Thanks.

  5. Dave Rongey says:

    Thanks Stephen,
    I’m Glad this has helped you out.
    Happy Wiring!

  6. Stephen Mulenga says:


    You have sent to me the most needs in my electrical work making it easier!

    Many thanks.