Generator Transfer Switch Using Circuit Breakers
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?
- I want to connect my generator to my House panel during a power outage.
- I have a meter with a 200 amp main breaker which also has a panel for breakers.
- Is it possible to run electricity backwards through a circuit breaker?
- I want to use the 50 amp garage breaker in this panel as a source from my generator to my house.
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, who is a Homeowner from Fruit Heights, Utah.
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
- Skill Level: Advanced – Best installed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
- Tools Required: Electricians pouch of hand tools and the various power tools necessary for installing the generator and transfer switch or circuit breaker interlock kit.
- Estimated Time: Depends on the type and size of the generator and transfer switch and the available access to the project area.
- Important: Installing a generator and transfer switch must be well thought out and performed with a permit with all work being inspected.
How to Use a Circuit Breaker Interlock Kit for a Generator Transfer Switch
PLEASE READ THIS CAREFULLY!
- The following information is to be used for a Main Electrical Panel ONLY.
- This cannot be done from a Sub Panel
- The Circuit Breaker Interlock can only be used at the Main Panel.
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.
- Selecting a Generator Interlock Kit
- This serves as a required Generator Transfer Switch and is listed with UL.
- The circuit breaker for the generator power must be sized for the capacity of the generator, or match the circuit breaker that is on the generator, (consult your generator manufacturer specifications.).
- Avoiding Generator Overload
- This set up works well, but keep in mind that you may need to turn off some circuits to avoid overloading the generator and or causing a voltage drop condition.
- We found this to be the case if our refrigerator and septic pump came on at the same time, so I had to turn off the breaker for the septic pump and run it later.
- Generator Transfer Switch Required by Electrical Codes
- IMPORTANT: A transfer switch or mechanical device such as the one shown in the picture must be installed to provide separation between the electric utility power and the generator power to prevent hazardous electrical conditions and to be compliant with electrical codes.
- The home electrical panel circuit breaker for the generator feed must be sized to the capacity of the generator.
- Sizing the Interlock Transfer Switch
- The amount of power available to the home will be limited to the Size and Type of generator that you have.
- Not all generators have the same design features such as voltage regulation.
- The circuit breaker interlock kits for generator transfer switches are available for a variety of electrical panels, circuit breaker sizes and styles.
- All home electrical generator systems and transfer switches must be installed with a permit and be inspected as per your local building department or jurisdiction.
More about Home Generators for Backup Power
The Importance of a Generator Transfer Switch
- This series covers a wide variety of topics all about home generators including
- Generator sizing
- Generator selection
- Generator connections
- Safely operating a generator
Home Electric Service Panel
House Wiring Circuits and Circuit Breakers
- This article looks at common 120 volt and 240 volt house wiring circuits and the circuit breakers that are installed identifying the types and amperage sizes used in most homes.
Electric Circuit Listing
- The size of the home electrical service panel is designed by calculating the square footage of the home and factoring in the code requirements for the electrical circuits that are required.
Electrical Wiring Protection using Circuit Breakers
- A guide to home electrical circuit breakers and how they work to protect your electrical wiring. When properly installed, your home electrical wiring is protected by a circuit protection device.
The following may also be helpful for you:
Learn more about Home Electrical Wiring
Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.
The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.
The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.
Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..
The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.
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You have sent to me the most needs in my electrical work making it easier!
I’m Glad this has helped you out.
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.
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.
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.
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!