Keep Lights On: Connecting Portable Generators to Home

Unexpected power outages can cause major disruptions to your daily life, leaving you in darkness and affecting essential appliances. Portable generators offer a convenient solution, providing much-needed backup electricity during these inconveniences.

This blog post will guide you through the process of connecting portable generators to your home safely and effectively, ensuring that you’re well-prepared for any future power shortages.

Key Takeaways

  • Portable generators are a convenient solution for providing backup electricity during power outages or outdoor events.
  • There are various types of portable generators available, including open-type, baffle-box, traditional (without inverters), inverter models, fixed and portable ones.
  • It is important to choose the right size generator based on your power needs and follow proper safety guidelines when connecting appliances directly to the device or hooking it up to your home’s electrical grid using a transfer switch.
  • Professional installation by licensed electricians can ensure smooth operation and prevent accidents. Make sure to follow regulations set by local authorities regarding wiring laws in your area.
Connecting A Generator To Your House

What Is A Portable Generator?

A portable generator is a compact, easy-to-move device designed to provide electrical power when your home’s main source of electricity isn’t available. At the heart of this versatile machine lies an internal combustion engine that runs on fuel – typically gasoline, diesel, or propane – and generates mechanical energy as it burns.

There are various types of portable generators available in the market, each with its unique set of features and capabilities. For example, traditional generators provide a steady output without any voltage regulation, while inverter generators offer cleaner power suitable for sensitive electronics like laptops and smartphones.

One major advantage of owning a portable generator is its flexibility – you can quickly bring it along for backup power at off-grid locations like remote job sites or camping trips where no conventional electricity sources are accessible.

It’s also worth noting that unlike fixed generators which require professional installation and permits, portable units entail fewer regulatory requirements and can be easily stored away when not in use.

Types Of Portable Generators

There are various types of portable generators available, including open-type generators, baffle-box generators, traditional generators (without inverters), inverter generators, fixed generators and portable ones.

Open-Type Generator

One of the most common types of portable generators you might come across is the open-type generator. As the name suggests, this type of generator has an open frame design, which allows for better air circulation and cooling during operation.

However, there are some trade-offs with open-type generators that you should be aware of. For one, they can be quite noisy since they lack any soundproof enclosures or insulation material to dampen the noise.

So if your neighbors live close by or if you want to power outdoor events without disturbing others too much, an open-type generator may not be the best option for you. Additionally, these generators tend to have shorter runtimes compared to more advanced models like inverter generators due to their less-efficient fuel consumption rate.

Baffle-Box Generator

baffle-box generator is a fantastic option for those who prioritize noise reduction when using a portable generator. These generators are designed with unique and innovative features, such as an enclosure made of sound-absorbing materials, which significantly minimize the noise levels during operation.

For instance, imagine hosting a backyard party or working on a home improvement project without worrying about the loud hum of a traditional generator drowning out conversations or causing irritation.

A baffle-box generator allows you to keep essential appliances running smoothly while maintaining the peace and quiet around your home.

Traditional Generator (No Inverter)

A traditional generator, also known as a non-inverter generator, is one of the most common types of portable generators. It uses a four-stroke engine or diesel engine to generate mechanical energy that is converted into electricity.

This type of generator is usually less expensive than an inverter generator but it can be quite loud and produce more emissions. It’s important to note that when connecting a traditional generator to your home’s electrical grid, you must use a manual transfer switch wiring system for safety reasons.

Additionally, you should determine which essential appliances require power and calculate their wattage needs to ensure that the generator will provide enough power for them.

Keep in mind that some appliances such as air conditioners, stoves and tumble dryers may consume too much power for this type of generator and could cause damage if connected improperly.

Inverter Generator

An inverter generator is a type of portable generator that packs some serious power into a small package. These generators are efficient and produce clean power, meaning they can be used for sensitive electronics like laptops or phones without causing any damage.

Inverter generators use advanced technology to regulate the speed of their engine based on current demand, which makes them much quieter than traditional generators.

If you’re looking for a reliable source of backup power or need to run tools at your job site, an inverter generator might be just what you need. Make sure to choose one with enough wattage to handle your needs, and always follow safety guidelines when operating it.

Fixed Generators

Fixed generators are permanent, stationary generators that are installed outside of a home or building. They are typically powered by natural gas or propane and can provide a continuous flow of power to the electrical system when the main power supply is down.

One advantage of fixed generators is that they do not require manual setup as they automatically start up once an outage has been detected. These types of generators are usually more expensive upfront but may be more cost-effective in the long run for those living in areas with frequent outages or off-grid homes.

Portable Generators

Portable generators are great for providing backup power during a power outage or for outdoor activities like camping and tailgating. These generators come in different types, including open-type, closed-type (baffle-box), traditional (no inverter), and inverter models.

Portable generators use mechanical energy to generate electricity which is then supplied through electrical outlets. It’s important to choose the right size generator that meets your power needs so that you can run essential appliances like lights, fans, refrigerators, and televisions.

When buying a portable generator, it’s crucial to look at its wattage rating expressed in kilo volt amperes (kVA) to ensure that it has enough capacity to meet your needs while staying within the safety limits of the appliance.

Why Use A Portable Generator For Your Home?

A portable generator is an excellent backup power source during electrical outages, useful for powering essential appliances like lights, heaters, refrigerators and other items necessary to maintain daily living requirements.

Backup Power During Outages

We never know when a power outage will hit, right? It could happen at any time, and it’s always best to be prepared. That’s where a portable generator comes in handy! With a generator on standby, you’ll have access to backup power during outages caused by severe weather or other unforeseen events.

To determine your specific needs for backup power during an outage, the wattage of essential appliances must be calculated beforehand. Some examples of essential appliances that should be considered include refrigerators/freezers, sump pumps, and medical equipment such as oxygen machines.

Outdoor Events And Activities

I absolutely love spending time in the great outdoors, whether it’s camping with friends or simply enjoying a backyard barbecue. But nothing can put a damper on your fun like an unexpected power outage.

That’s why having a portable generator for outdoor events and activities is so important. With one of these powerful devices, you’ll never have to worry about running out of juice for your grill, music system, or any other essential appliances.

Did you know that some generators are specifically designed for off-grid homes? These fixed generators can provide reliable power even in remote areas where utility services aren’t available.

And if you’re planning on hosting an outdoor event or party at your home, a portable generator can come in handy as well.

Power For Home Projects

As a homeowner, you may have several home projects that require power tools or heavy-duty machinery. From building a treehouse to installing a pool, these projects can be time-consuming and expensive.

However, with the help of a portable generator, you can complete these tasks without worrying about access to electricity. Portable generators are an affordable and convenient alternative to renting or buying large electrical equipment.

With their high wattage output, they can power anything from circular saws and drills to air compressors and paint sprayers.

Connecting Appliances Directly To The Generator

When connecting appliances directly to the generator, it is important to choose the right extension cords and take necessary safety precautions such as avoiding overloading and keeping the generator away from flammable materials.

Choosing The Right Extension Cords

It’s important to choose the right extension cords when connecting appliances directly to your portable generator. Using the wrong extension cord can limit power output and even cause damage to equipment.

Look for heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords that can handle the wattage of your appliances without overheating or melting.

When selecting an extension cord, pay attention to the wire gauge and length. For appliances requiring higher wattages, use thicker wires (i.e., lower gauge numbers) since they offer less resistance and maintain voltage levels adequately over long distances.

Finally, always take safety precautions when using extension cords with your portable generator.

Safety Precautions

As a customer looking to connect your portable generator to your home supply system, safety should be a top priority. Here are some important safety precautions you need to take:

  1. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions on how to safely operate and maintain your generator.
  2. Keep the generator away from flammable material such as paper, wood, and gasoline.
  3. Never plug the generator directly into your home’s electrical outlets as it can cause backfeeding that can damage appliances or even lead to electrocution.
  4. Choose the right extension cords and ensure they’re rated for outdoor use and heavy – duty applications.
  5. Do not overload the generator with too many appliances as it can cause power failure, system breakdown or even fire outbreaks.
  6. Ensure proper grounding of the generator according to manufacturer guidelines and local wiring laws in order to prevent electric shocks.
  7. Install carbon monoxide detectors or alarms near any indoor generators or fuel – powered tools to protect against risks of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  8. Only install manual transfer switches or interlock kits by licensed electricians who follow national electrical codes (NEC) or international electrical codes (IEC).
  9. Turn off all appliances powered by the generator before shutting down the generator to avoid power surge problems.

By following these safety measures, you can ensure that your family and property are secure while using a portable generator as an emergency backup power source for your home during outages or other emergency situations.

Connecting The Generator To The Home’s Electrical Grid

Connecting the generator to the home’s electrical grid is a crucial step in ensuring that your portable generator can power essential appliances during an outage. Learn about using a transfer switch and proper grounding and bonding techniques to safely connect your generator to your home.

Using A Transfer Switch

To safely and legally connect a portable generator to your home’s electrical grid, you will need to use a transfer switch. This device isolates the generator from the power company’s supply system so that no electricity flows back into their lines.

There are two types of transfer switches: manual and automatic. While an automatic switch is more convenient as it does not require manual setup, it is also expensive compared to a manual switch.

A manual transfer switch requires human intervention whenever you want to start or shut down your generator, but it is the most cost-effective option for many homeowners.

Proper Grounding And Bonding

Proper grounding and bonding are essential for connecting your portable generator to your home’s electrical grid safely. Grounding ensures that the excess current generated from short circuit or overload flows away from the house and back into the ground, while bonding helps prevent a shock hazard in case of a fault.

This is achieved by connecting the generator to a grounded electrode system with a copper rod driven into the earth, either directly or through a separate grounding wire.

The grounding wire should be connected to both the generator frame and an external grounding point using high-quality clamps.

Additionally, regular inspections of all wiring connections should be conducted by qualified personnel as well as following safety precautions such as avoiding touching electrical components when wet or standing on damp surfaces while handling generators.

Generator Backfeeding: What You Need To Know

Generator backfeeding occurs when the generator’s power is sent back into the utility line, which can be dangerous for workers and damage appliances in neighboring homes.

Dangers Of Backfeeding

Backfeeding, or directly connecting a portable generator to a home’s electrical panel without a transfer switch, is extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.

Backfeeding can cause damage to appliances, fires, and even explosions in the home. It can also lead to injury or death for utility workers who are unaware of the presence of an active generator.

In fact, backfeeding is so dangerous that it is often illegal in many states and provinces.

How To Prevent Backfeeding

It is crucial to prevent backfeeding when connecting your portable generator to your home’s electrical grid. Backfeeding occurs when electricity from your generator flows backward through the power lines, posing a significant safety hazard for utility workers and damaging appliances in other homes on the grid.

To prevent this, you must use a manual transfer switch that isolates the generator from the power grid while redirecting power only to essential appliances within your home.

Remember that improper installation of generators can cause deadly accidents such as fire or carbon monoxide poisoning; therefore, seeking professional help with installing a manual transfer switch is highly recommended.

Licensed electricians possess practical experience designing backup systems or readjusting wiring systems properly without violating NEC (National Electrical Code) regulations.

Choosing The Right Size Generator For Your Home

To make sure your portable generator can power the essential appliances in your home during an outage, it’s crucial to choose the right size based on wattage needs and generator specifications.

Calculating Power Needs

To determine how much power you need from a portable generator, start by creating a list of essential appliances and devices that you will need to run during an outage.

This may include things like your refrigerator, lights, phone charger, and internet router. Once you have your list, check the wattage rating for each item and add them up.

For example, a typical 18-cubic foot fridge uses around 700 watts while running; compact fluorescent light bulbs use between 5-20 watts depending on their brightness level.

It is also important to remember not to overload the generator with too many high-powered appliances such as air conditioners or space heaters which can draw too much power causing the generator to break down or fail altogether.

Understanding Generator Specifications

Generator specifications can be confusing, but it’s crucial to understand them when choosing the right generator for your home. Generally speaking, power ratings of generators are expressed in Kilo Volt Amperes (KVA).

This rating represents the apparent power output and doesn’t necessarily reflect the actual usable power that a generator produces.

Additionally, it’s essential to consider a generator’s fuel consumption. A more efficient generator will consume less fuel and save you money in the long run. Other factors like noise levels, weight, and portability also play a role in deciding which generator is right for you.

Installing A Portable Generator Safely

To safely install a portable generator, select a proper location that provides adequate ventilation and keep the generator away from doors or windows where carbon monoxide could enter the home; also, follow all safety precautions when connecting to the electrical panel system.

Selecting The Proper Location

One of the most important things to consider when installing a portable generator for your home is selecting the right location. You’ll want to choose an area that’s easily accessible but also far enough away from windows, doors, and vents to avoid any carbon monoxide buildup inside your house.

Additionally, you’ll want to ensure that the generator isn’t at risk of getting damaged by weather elements like rain or snow. Keep it covered from the elements with a shed or canopy if necessary.

It’s also not recommended to place generators on wooden decks or near flammable materials like gas cans or propane tanks as they pose a fire hazard.

Ventilation And Exhaust Considerations

Proper ventilation and exhaust considerations are essential when installing a portable generator for home use. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a grave risk associated with generator usage, which can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and even death.

Therefore, generators should always be placed outside away from windows and doors to prevent toxic fumes from entering the house. Extended exhaust pipes can also be utilized to direct fumes away from the home; this helps minimize carbon monoxide exposure levels.

It’s crucial to inspect the exhaust pipes regularly for damage or blockages as they could interfere with proper ventilation leading to increased risks of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Additionally, mufflers can reduce noise levels but shouldn’t be modified in any way that could lead to excessive noise pollution or dangerous concentrations of harmful gas emissions like carbon monoxide.

Maintaining Your Portable Generator

Proper maintenance is crucial to ensure your portable generator remains in good condition and ready for use when needed. This includes checking the fuel storage, engine oil level, and conducting regular inspections.

Fuel Storage And Usage

As a portable generator owner, proper fuel storage and usage are crucial for its maintenance. It’s essential to keep a sufficient amount of fuel on hand, stored in a safe and ventilated area.

Ethanol-based fuels can cause damage to the generator if left unused for extended periods of time.

For instance, during an emergency power outage, it might be tempting to hoard gasoline or diesel fuel without considering the consequences. While keeping extra gallons of gasoline around may seem like a good idea, storing them incorrectly could lead to disastrous results such as fire outbreaks or even explosions in some cases.

Hence, always check with local authorities about laws relating to storing gas before making any long-term plans.

Regular Maintenance And Inspections

As a possible customer looking to connect a portable generator to your home, it is important to understand the value of regular maintenance and inspections. Here are some crucial maintenance tips to keep your portable generator in good shape:

  1. Check engine oil level regularly, and change it after every 50-60 hours of operation.
  2. Keep the generator clean and free from debris.
  3. Inspect the air filter regularly, and replace if necessary.
  4. Check spark plugs for wear and tear, and replace them if needed.
  5. Test your generator’s battery periodically, and replace it as necessary.
  6. Inspect fuel lines for leaks or damage, especially before use after long periods of storage.

In addition to these maintenance tasks, it is important to have your portable generator inspected by a professional at least once per year. A professional can check for proper wiring connections, inspect the generator’s electrical components, perform load tests to ensure proper output, and identify any potential safety hazards.

By following these maintenance tips and having your generator inspected regularly by a professional, you can ensure that your portable generator is always ready when you need it most during power outages or emergencies. Remember that neglecting maintenance can lead to breakdowns or even accidents which is why taking good care of your equipment is essential for its functionality over time.


– Can a Generator Damage a Refrigerator?

Yes, if the generator is not properly grounded and connected to the home’s electrical grid, it can cause power surges that may damage appliances like refrigerators.

– What Size Generator will Run a House?

The size of the generator needed to run a house depends on the total wattage of essential appliances.

– How much Does it Cost to Have a House Wired for a Generator?

The cost of wiring installation varies depending on several factors such as location, complexity of setup and local regulations.

– What Happens if you Plug too Many Things into a Generator?

Overloading your generator by plugging in too many devices can lead to circuit

Can A Generator Damage A Refrigerator?

It is important to choose a generator that can supply enough wattage to power devices, including the startup draw of power, to avoid damage to appliances like refrigerators.

If a generator does not provide sufficient power, it may cause voltage fluctuations or surges that can harm electronics and electrical appliances. When trying to run a refrigerator on a generator, it’s essential to ensure that the generator size meets the electrical requirements of the appliance.

Additionally, spreading out major appliance use during periods when your home is running on generated electricity can help save costs on generator size. For example: A large refrigerator will typically need about 2kW-3kW peak watts in total starting up load demand while other appliances like lights or televisions have lower peak loads which range from 100 -1kW depending on their sizes and hit rates.

What Size Generator Will Run A House?

Determining the right size generator for your home depends on the electrical demand of your essential appliances. A typical portable generator can provide between 3,000 to 8,500 watts of power.

Depending on the wattage requirements of your appliances, a generator that provides at least 5,000 watts could be sufficient for basic lighting and refrigeration needs.

It is important to note that calculating power demands accurately is crucial when selecting the right size generator for your home. It’s always better to overestimate so that you don’t find yourself out in the cold during an unexpected power outage.

How Much Does It Cost To Have A House Wired For A Generator?

Having your house wired for a generator can be an expensive but worthwhile investment in the long run. The cost of wiring a house for a generator typically ranges between $3,000 and $5,000 when done by a professional.

This includes the installation of a manual transfer switch wiring system, which is the safest and most legal option for connecting your generator to your home supply system.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that costs will vary depending on factors such as the size of your hometype of generator you have or plan to purchase and complexity of electrical work involved.

What Happens If You Plug Too Many Things Into A Generator?

It is important to be careful when plugging in too many devices into a generator, as overloading it could potentially damage your appliances. To avoid this, it is recommended that you determine the essential appliances and their wattage to calculate the power needed from the generator.

Be aware that some high-consumption devices such as stoves, air conditioners, and tumble dryers may require more power than a typical portable generator can provide.

Wiring Color Code And Safety Precautions

Understanding the wiring color code and adhering to safety precautions is crucial when connecting a portable generator to your home’s electrical grid.

Understanding The Wiring Color Code

I know it can be daunting to connect your portable generator to your home’s electrical system, but understanding the wiring color code is crucial when wiring electrical systems.

The most common colors you will come across are green, white, black, and red. Green usually represents the ground or earth conductor; this prevents electrocution due to a short circuit.

White indicates the neutral wire that carries current back to its source.

It’s essential always to follow local and national regulations for wiring connections since they may vary between countries. For instance, in America, we use NEC codes while IEC codes are used elsewhere globally.

In addition, hiring a professional electrician ensures that proper safety precautions have been followed during installation.

General Precautions For Electrical Connections

Electrical connections can be dangerous, so it’s crucial to take necessary precautions when setting up a portable generator for home use. Here are some general precautions to follow:

  1. Always turn off the generator and unplug any appliances before making any connections.
  2. Make sure that the generator is properly grounded and bonded to avoid electrical shock.
  3. Use properly rated extension cords and wiring based on the wattage of your appliances.
  4. Avoid connecting the generator directly to your home’s electrical system without using a transfer switch or safety switch/disconnectors.
  5. Never plug a generator into a wall outlet as it can cause backfeeding which may result in electrocution or death.
  6. Keep the generator dry at all times and away from flammable materials, particularly when refueling.
  7. Do not touch the engine or muffler while operating as they can get hot enough to cause burns.
  8. If you are unsure about how to make an electrical connection, always consult with a licensed electrician or professional installer for safety reasons.

By following these general precautions, you can ensure that you safely connect your portable generator to your home’s electrical system without putting yourself or others at risk of injury or accidents.


Having a portable generator can keep your home’s electricity up and running during power outages or outdoor events. However, proper installation and use are crucial for safety and effectiveness.

Connecting appliances directly to the generator requires choosing the right extension cords and taking necessary precautions. For connecting the generator to the home’s electrical grid, transfer switches provide a safer option than backfeeding.

It is also important to choose the right size generator for your home based on your power needs. Finally, professional installation can ensure smooth operation and prevent accidents.

Always follow regulations set by local departments of labor and industries, planning departments, or power companies when it comes to wiring laws in your area.


1. Can I connect my portable generator directly to my home’s electrical panel?

No, it is not safe or recommended to connect your portable generator directly to your home’s electrical panel unless you have a transfer switch installed by a licensed electrician.

2. What size generator do I need for my home?

The size of the generator you need will depend on the wattage consumption of your household appliances and electronics. A licensed electrician can perform an assessment of your energy needs and recommend the appropriate sized generator for your specific situation.

3. Can I run my refrigerator on a portable generator during a power outage?

Yes, you can power a refrigerator with a portable generator during a power outage however it is important to ensure that the wattage output of the generator is sufficient enough to handle the startup current required by refrigerators which can be up to three times their normal running watts.

4. Is it safe to operate a portable generator indoors?

No, operating a portable gas-powered generators indoors puts individuals at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning due its exhaust fumes which are deadly when inhaled in enclosed spaces without proper ventilation. Generators should only be operated outdoors in well-ventilated areas away from buildings and crawl spaces.

Subscribe to our list

Don't worry, we don't spam



Skyler is an outdoor adventurist and avid RV-Fan. He loves to explore the world and all its beauty, but he's just as happy relaxing at home with his family. His favorite pastime is taking weekend trips in his RV with his wife and kids, where they can get away from it all and enjoy nature. He’s also a self-proclaimed expert on all things portable generators and can often be found reviewing the latest models on our website.

Electric Ninjas
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Shopping cart