How to power your home with a portable generator


Whether it’s a hurricane, ice storm, or even a forest fire, power outages seem to be happening more often and in more places. You might be thinking about buying a generator to keep the juice flowing. While a whole-home model can be quite expensive, Consumer Reports says there is a cheaper option to power just the essentials.

A transfer switch is like a mini circuit breaker panel that allows you to draw electricity from your generator instead of the utility company. An electrician can easily install it next to your breaker panel and you choose the circuits you want to run through it.

On its own, a generator supplies power to units that use a standard outlet. But the transfer switch can power anything hardwired into the circuit panel, like a well pump, and anything that requires a 220 or 240-volt outlet, like a clothes dryer or electric range.

Consumer Reports says to keep in mind that the generator must be at least 5,000 watts to easily connect to a transfer switch and to handle the load of multiple devices. And you want to make sure you have a generator big enough to power all your essentials, but still the smallest model you can get by because you’ll be saving a lot of gas.

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Plan to spend between $ 200 and $ 400 for an electrician to install the switch, plus up to $ 300 for parts. You will lose some of the convenience of a transfer switch, but save hundreds of parts by using a locking device, installed directly on your circuit board.

When the power is off, you turn off the main switch with street power, slide the small locking device up and open the circuit breaker, which allows the generator to power one of the circuits in the panel. main.

Consumer Reports says you should never run a generator in an enclosed space to avoid exposure to deadly carbon monoxide. Always place the generator at least 20 feet from the house, with the exhaust pointed away from the house.


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