Portable Generator Installation
Portable generator installations in New Jersey and elsewhere can provide electrical power to your house when there is a power outage. Portable generators do not have the ability to provide power to all the electrical applications in your home, but only the essential ones like the refrigerator, lights and TV. Other appliances require more power than a portable generator can produce and, therefore, you should not attempt to connect things like the stove, washer/dryer and air conditioner to a portable generator.
You should decide which electrical items you want to connect to the generator and then determine the required wattage (or power requirement) for each of those devices. Refrigerators use between 1200 and 1500 watts, a microwave uses 1500 watts, televisions use about 1000 watts (depending on the size), while a small fan uses about 500 watts and lighting requires much less wattage.
Once you’ve determined what electrical appliances you need to install the portable generator and connect it to the different appliances, make sure the generator you’re using has enough power for those appliances. A generator with a power rating of at least 3500W will provide enough electricity for lighting, refrigerator/freezer, TV and several small fans.
A generator’s power rating is written on the generator itself and is indicative of the power which that particular generator can provide continuously for about 12 hours on a single tank of fuel. Make sure your generator has enough wattage for the applications you need.
Next, you must choose a wiring system for connecting the generator to your home. There are a variety of different wiring systems that you can use, including basic plug-ins, but you should contact your local power company to determine what is legal in your area. Do not rely on the advice of amateurs on the Internet, who may or may not be knowledgeable enough to offer such advice.
One wiring system involves an interlock kit, which is usually the cheapest option and fairly easy to install yourself. These devices must be installed correctly or they prevent a safety hazard, which is why they are illegal in many areas. The interlock kit has to be manufactured by the same company that made your particular breaker box and several extra spaces are required within the box to connect the generator. If there are no extra spaces, you may need to purchase and install a new breaker box, which should only be done by a qualified, professional electrician.
A manual transfer switch is a more expensive option than an interlock kit and must be installed by a professional. However, this is the safest choice and will prevent accidental electrocution.
You also need an inlet receptacle hook-up, which goes on the outside of your home. Your home may already have an inlet receptacle since they’re fairly common but, if it doesn’t, you will need to hire a professional electrician to install one to ensure that your system is safe and up to code. Installing the receptacle on your own is not advisable inasmuch as it could result in personal injury or death. Failing to hire a professional to do the job could also result in large fines by the city in which you live or your insurance company could refuse to insure your home.
You should never connect a portable generator directly to your home’s breaker box and never connect it to a washing machine or dryer outlet. Following unprofessional advice when installing a portable generator could result in tragic personal injury, electrocution or a house fire. It is advisable that you check with your city officials before undertaking this project and that you hire a licensed, professional electrician to ensure that the job is done right and that you and your loved ones remain safe within your home after the addition of a portable generator.
Finally, you should contact local authorities to have the generator connection inspected to ensure that there is no faulty wiring, which could cause a fire. Having the project inspected by qualified individuals will allow you the comfort of knowing that your generator is safely and correctly connected to your home and will also prevent any denial of claims related to the generator by your homeowner’s insurance company.