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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.

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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, who is 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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The Importance of a Generator Transfer Switch

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Wire It Right with the help of my Illustrated Wiring Book

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Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

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Handyman, Handy Women, and Electricians
Wiring GFCI Outlets
Wiring Home Electric Circuits
120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
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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..

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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

6 Responses to “Generator Transfer Switch Using Circuit Breakers”
  1. Stephen Mulenga says:


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

    Many thanks.

  2. Dave Rongey says:

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!