If you’re a prepper, there’s a very high likelihood that you have at least one backup generator in your shed or garage. This is a good thing and I believe that all preppers should have one or more generators that they can use in the event that the power goes out.
What you might not know is that simply having a generator may not be good enough. Many people purchase generators to use in the event of an emergency but they have no idea about how they will actually get the power from their generator to their home if they should ever need to use it.
Sure, some people probably just plan on running extension cords into their house but that probably isn’t the best choice because they will have to pick and choose which appliances they plug into their generator. Ask yourself these questions:
- Are you going to power your refrigerator and/or freezer with your generator?
- What about your lights?
- What about power tools?
- What about your electric stove?
- Do you plan on using your electric furnace?
- What about your well pump if you get your water from a well?
I hope you’re seeing my point by now and that is that using extension cords are rarely the best option when it comes to powering a home with an emergency generator.
What You Really Need Is a Generator Transfer Switch
If you haven’t heard of this device before, let me take a minute and explain what it does. A power transfer switch is a device that an electrician wires into your home so that you can power your entire home with a single generator. Basically it’s a way of switching from having electricity that is delivered from the power company to having electricity that is provided by your backup generator.
Option Number One; Install an Automatic Generator Transfer Switch
The first option is popular with people who have backup generators that have an electric starter. This type of transfer switch can be set up so that if your power ever goes out, you’re backup generator will automatically be started without you having to do anything. The transfer switch then automatically switches from getting electricity from the power company to delivering it to your home from your backup generator. This can be extremely handy if you do in fact own a generator with an automatic starter.
Option Number Two; Install a Manual Generator Transfer Switch
The other option is to go with a transfer switch that you manually plug your generator into. Many of us don’t have a standby generator that will automatically turn on in the event of a power outage. In cases like these, a manual transfer switch may be the best option for you. The way these work is that you take your generator out of your garage or shed and start it up, then with a heavy-duty cord, you can plug your generator into the transfer switch to provide power to your entire home.
There’s Another Reason That These Devices Are Important to Have
Let’s say that you are using your generator simply because a storm took down the power lines in your area. It may take a while for the electric company to get out and repair the lines but you might want to use your generator to keep things like your freezer and refrigerator running so that your food doesn’t spoil. A properly installed transfer switch will isolate the power grid from your home. This is important because if you just plug your generator into the electrical system of your home without a properly installed switch in place, the people who come out to repair the power lines could get electrocuted because the power that your generator is producing could back feed into the power lines.
Always Hire a Qualified Electrician
Unless you have the skill and expertise needed to install this type of device, it’s always best to hire a qualified electrician to do the transfer switch wiring. You can purchase the generator transfer switch kit but I highly advise that you have someone who is licensed and really knows what they are doing install it for you.
It may also be a requirement in your area that the electrician get a special permit in order to install this type of device in your home so make sure you check with your county or city building department to make sure you have all the necessary permits in place before the work is done.
Use the Right Tool for the Right Job
It’s important that when it comes to using backup generators that you use the right generator for the right job. If you plan on running your entire house off of one backup generator, you need to make sure that it’s up to the task. If you don’t, the breaker on your generator will probably trip if you try to power too many things with a generator that isn’t big enough. For example, if you have a little 2000 watt generator, it’s probably not going to be up to the task of running your entire home.
Choosing the right size of backup generator is a very personal choice and it’s not one that I can make for you. What I can say is that we have a few generators. We have a small 2000 watt generator that is super energy-efficient that will run for almost 10 hours on 1 gallon of gasoline and we have a larger generator that we use when we need to run heavier loads such as a welder or many devices at once. We also have a small portable generator that is the “backup” to our backup if you get what I mean. The point that I’m trying to get across here is that if you plan on running your entire house using one generator, make sure that you do the research to find out exactly how much electricity you plan on using at any given time and that you purchase a generator that is big enough to handle the job. You should also make sure that your transfer switch is adequately sized to handle the amount of electricity that you will be sending through it.
Take the Time to Install an Electrical Transfer Switch Now
The time to think about having a transfer switch installed is BEFORE you need to use your back up generator. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where the power is out for a prolonged period of time before you discover that you never really gave much thought about how you would power your entire home with your generator should the power go out for an extended period of time. As preppers, it’s our goal to plan and prepare for what might happen in the future and hope that it never does. Unfortunately, the likelihood of the power going out for a prolonged period of time is quite high. In cases of major natural disasters, it’s not uncommon for cities to go without power for many weeks. You have to ask yourself this question, will you be ready when that happens to you?
Wait! There’s More!
Before you go, I highly encourage you to a minute and read this important article called, “10 Handy Portable Generator Repair Tips to Improve Performance“