The Ontario Electrical Safety Code and electrical code in most other provinces specifies that 'under no circumstances shall a generator be connected to any portion of a wiring system except where it is connected through a transfer device that makes it impossible for the generator to feed back into the normal power supply.' A transfer device is required between the utility system and the generator for safety, to prevent:
The transfer device should be sized according to the current rating of each service connected to it. It must be sized for 100% of the largest service, and 75% of the balance of services. Only a qualified electrical contractor following local electrical codes should install the transfer device.
The simplest and cheapest method is to use an extension cord, running only those few items you want to back up.
What is a generator switch or panel?
A manual or automatic transfer switch is a panel wired into the house electrical distribution system that allows a generator to be used to supply power. It prevents the generator from back feeding the utility and reduces the potential for lineman injury. If the generator is to be connected to household wiring, an approved method of isolating the house electrical system from utility must be used. A manual or automatic transfer switch can be wired into the distribution system to allow the use of existing household wiring and receptacles
A Generator panel is an simple method of hooking up a generator. The generator panel receives power from your normal distribution panel while Hydro is doing their job. When grid power fails; you start your generator, plug it into a special plug and switch the generator panel to receive power from the generator. The generator panel powers only those circuits you have chosen to back up. This means you won’t need to go around turning things off etc. The panel shown at right is a combination panel, which in some cases will be more practical than using a separate generator panel because space is frequently limited.
The diagram at left shows a simple double throw switch and a small sub distribution or generator panel.
Generator Switch is another alternative. These come in two flavours, manual and automatic. A good automatic switch will do more than turn itself on. It will start the generator when it’s needed and shut it down when the power failure is over. It will also “exercise” the generator from time to time making sure it will start when it’s needed. The switch shown at right is an automatic three-phase 225A switch. (A single-phase switch looks almost the same.)
A Pole top Generator Switch is an inexpensive option frequently used by farms. This is a variant of the double throw switch but is mounted on the service pole. And yes, a long insulated pole is required to manipulate the switch.
Meter Base Generator Switches are available and are just as their name implies. They fit between the electrical service meter and the meter base. Meter base switches may be manual or automatic.
The advantage of a meter base switch is that re-wiring within the house at the frequently congested and space limited distribution panel is not required; the switch is at the meter. The generator is plugged into the bottom of the switch control
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