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Reliance PB30 Generator Inlet

Square D generator sub-panel completed and labeled

Generator Sub-Panel Installation

Dear Mr. Electrician: What is required for a generator sub-panel installation?  I want a generator sub-panel for circuits in my house, such as the furnace, the sump pump, and the refrigerator. Answer: Requirements for a generator sub-panel installation vary, and several types of generator sub-panels are available. NOTE: Some text links below go to applicable products on Amazon.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.  Using my links helps to keep this website FREE. Some types of generator sub-panels come pre-wired from the factory.  It is just a matter of connecting the flexible conduit to the main electrical panel and then making all the electrical connections per the instructions.  That type of sub-panel can only be used directly adjacent to the main electrical panel and has limited circuits. Another type of installation utilizes a standard electrical load center as a generator sub-panel for some previously selected circuits to be powered when the generator is on.  Below are photos of a generator sub-panel installation using a Square D generator sub-panel, which included two main breakers, an interlock kit, and a circuit breaker hold-down kit. As with any new electrical installation, the town building department must issue an electrical permit.  Submit a copy of the sub-panel instructions and specifications with your permit application.  Also include information about an interlock kit, if one will be used, and where the sub-panel will be located. Top Of Page If you use an interlock kit made by a third party, ensure it has a testing laboratory approval such as Underwriter's Laboratories (UL).  Interlock kits made by the electrical panel manufacturer will have this approval. If the installation is a little out of the ordinary or you have questions about code compliance, you can include photos of the new generator sub-panel location with your permit application and the existing electrical service and main electrical panel. I usually include a one-page typed "Scope of Work" that briefly describes the work to be done and some of the materials used. It is best to provide as much clear and concise information as possible with your permit application so the inspector fully understands the work being done beforehand.  It is better to find out ahead of time if the installation will be code-compliant rather than after the work is done and your work fails inspection. Some applicable articles from the National Electrical Code concerning the installation of generator sub-panels are 210, 230, 250, 300, 310, 314, 334, 445, and 702. PORTABLE GENERATOR SUB-PANEL INSTALLATION I have found that some finished basements have made the main electrical panel inaccessible for future renovations and sometimes even for repairs.  The Cutler Hammer load center depicted here was boxed in by the wall erected in the basement.  Fortunately, it was not completely enclosed. I could remove the circuit cables to be relocated into the generator sub-panel from the top of the main electrical panel and fish them into the ceiling above.  I had enough slack on the Romex cables to bring them into two 4 11/16" square junction boxes. Top Of Page Two large junction boxes were installed...
Installed Interlock kit on a Cutler Hammer Circuit Breaker Panel

How To Install a Generator Interlock Kit and Inlet

Dear Mr. Electrician:  Tell me how to install a generator interlock kit and inlet on my main electrical panel to connect a portable generator. Answer:  How to install a generator interlock kit and inlet is explained below in detail with photos.  A generator interlock kit is excellent if you want to supply temporary power to your entire circuit breaker panel and can be an economical choice compared to installing a separate external transfer switch. The interlock kit and generator inlet can be installed before you purchase a portable generator.  However, it is a good idea to test the interlock kit and inlet before you lose power in your home.  You can rent or borrow a portable generator for that. NOTE: Some text links below go to applicable products sold on Amazon.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.  Using my links helps to keep this website FREE. Below are step-by-step photos depicting how to install a generator interlock kit and inlet on an older Cutler Hammer main circuit breaker panel.  There are also photos and details of the power inlet installation, which is how the temporary generator power is supplied to the existing main electrical panel. WARNING: Do not attempt to connect a portable generator to your home's electrical system using a backfeed cord to plug into an appliance electrical receptacle.  A backfeed cord, or suicide cord, is dangerous because it has a male plug at each end, which can become energized when plugged in.  There is also a risk that the backfeed power from the generator is not connected correctly when plugged in this way and can damage other appliances or cause a fire. Follow the advice below for safety.  There is a short installation video at the end of this article. Table of Contents: Getting the Permit for the Interlock Kit Installation Planning the Interlock Kit Installation Installing the Power Inlet Installing the Generator Circuit Breaker Mounting the Interlock Kit Top Of Page GETTING A PERMIT FOR YOUR GENERATOR INTERLOCK KIT INSTALLATION Before installing an interlock kit on your main electrical panel, you should obtain an electrical permit from your town's building department.  Submit a copy of the interlock kit installation instructions with your permit application. In addition, I always write a short "Scope of Work" and include that with my permit applications so that the inspector clearly understands the work being done beforehand.  The scope of work is no longer than one page and contains details of the work to be done and the materials used.  I also include the location of the main electrical panel and the generator inlet. For the installation depicted below, I submitted documentation about the interlock kit, the PB30 generator inlet, and my application for an electrical permit for this job.  I also made a simple drawing depicting the location of the generator inlet in relation to the basement electrical panel. Furnishing this information is helpful for the electrical inspector and lets them know if it looks like it will be code-compliant.  It is better to find out beforehand if the job...