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Electrical Wire and Cable

How to Prepare an Electrical Panel for a Generator

If I install that interlock transfer switch kit to my main breaker do I need to do the whole Sub Panel install?

Home Electrical Wiring Video

Hooking Up a Generator to the House Panel
Using a Circuit Breaker Interlock Kit
for Backup Power

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Installing a Home Generator
Electrical Question: Currently I have a Main 100amp breaker panel for my house.
Back in the day they pulled wires from everywhere and anywhere to get power to where they needed it.  So when I did some testing to see what breaker was for what I had a breaker running some things in the master bedroom along with some items in the kitchen and what have you. This is all over the house though, and from doing some small upgrades and installs myself I have come across 14 gauge and 12 gauge wiring on the same breaker and its a mess. BUT no breakers are tripping yet and no issues yet. All the breakers as you can see in pic are 20a but are all different and not uniform.

electrical panel wiring

Here is what I would like to do thought as my next project for the house. We do not get hurricanes so no outages from that, BUT we do get strong winds and earthquakes which will cause an outage at some future point. So instead of sitting in the dark I would like to create a back up system, And this was my thought process:

Lastly, I have an email into this company to see if L.A. D.W.P. (Los Angeles Division of Water and Power I believe) approves of this device being installed on my meter, if it is and I can do that it would be cheaper and easier but I doubt L.A. D.W.P. will say yes. The Generlink device is being considered.

Well that was a long winded email and I apologize for that but I wanted to get you pics of what I have currently, what I am delaying with and what I hoped to accomplish. I am confident with the right guidance I can do almost anything (even though I am not an electrician) BUT with that said, if i get in over my head or this becomes unsafe or “not right ” for me to do.. then of course I will call in for a professional back up.

Questions about the Generator Connection to the Electric Panel
If I install that interlock transfer switch kit to my main breaker do I need to do the whole Sub Panel install? Or can I just do an install of a weatherproof box with a 4 prong 30 amp receptacle for the generator to plug into and then a 30 amp in place of where I was going to put the 60 amp breaker (where the current 40 amp breaker is for the washer dryer)?

Thank you for your time and I truly appreciate any and all feedback.

This home electrical repairs question came from: Greg in California.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your home generator wiring question Greg.

Identify the Condition of Electrical Circuits to Prepare for a Generator

When planning to install a generator it is best to survey the existing electrical system of the home to avoid any problems and have a safe and functional system when generator power is needed. As we see from this photo and the condition of the electrical circuits as described there are some areas of concern that will need to be addressed.

Skill Level: Advanced.This electrical wiring project is best performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor. Make sure to inform the electrician about the questionable electrical wiring that has been discovered and any additional wiring that has been installed.
Tools Required: Electricians pouch of hand tools and the various power tools necessary for installing the generator and transfer switch.
Estimated Time: Depends on the type and size of the generator and transfer switch and the available access to the project area. Additional electrical violations or corrections will need to be completed.
Precaution: Any existing electrical wiring within the immediate area that may interfere with the installation of the transfer switch may need to be relocated if necessary. The selection of the transfer switch or generator connection or generator circuit panel will affect the over all project.
Important: Installing a generator, transfer switch or generator panel must be well thought out and performed with a permit with all work being inspected. Be aware that generator types and connection methods may be regulated by local ordinances and or building authorities.

Identifying any Electrical Concerns

As stated in the question and I have seen in the photo there has been previous electrical work performed which needs to be inspected and corrections as needed, including mixed wire gauges, improper circuit breakers for the brand of panel, correct size of the circuit breakers for each circuit, and most of all identify each circuit to understand where it goes what it feeds and if necessary make the appropriate corrections.
The electrical panel panel itself appears to be in good shape, however the electrical circuits and wiring methods need to be inspected and dealt with.

The method selected to connect the generator power to the home will determine what additional electrical wiring and equipment will be required. When installing most circuit breaker interlocks a transfer switch will not be required, and the same is true for generator circuit panels.

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This series covers a wide variety of topics all about home generators including sizing, selecting, connecting and safely operating this all important addition to your home.
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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.
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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.

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Dave's Guide to Home Electrical Wiring:

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Wire It Right with the help of my Illustrated Wiring Book
Great for any Home Wiring Project.
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Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handy Women, and Electricians
Wiring GFCI Outlets
Wiring Home Electric Circuits
120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
Wiring Light Switches
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Learn more about Home Electrical Wiring
with my Online Video Course:
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Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.

Electrical Tips to Help You Wire it Right

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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