If you live in an area where power outages are common, installing a portable generator provides emergency backup power. While it is possible to power lights using extension cords, hardwiring with a transfer switch is often a better solution. The process can take an hour or longer.
Select the appropriate transfer switch
Transfer switches come in several sizes to accommodate different-sized generators. One of the most popular for portable generators is the six-circuit switch that accommodates up to a 5,000-watt generator.
Install the switch
The transfer switch connects to the home power panel. In addition to preventing power from the generator from flowing back through the main power-line and endangering workers trying to restore power, it allows you to select the circuits you want to operate without overloading the system. Building code may require a permit and an inspection, so it is often wise to hire an electrician for this stage of the installation.
Position the generator
Generators typically produce poisonous carbon dioxide gas. Operate them outside the home in a well-ventilated space. Connect the power cord from the generator to the transfer switch or connection box.
Start the engine
A manual transfer switch requires you to manually start the generator after connecting the cord. Once the generator is operating, use the switch to power lights, refrigerators, the well pump or the furnace blower. If your home is equipped with a sump pump, check the basement regularly and transfer power to the pump as needed to prevent flooding.