How to Install a Generator

A home power generator, or stand-by generator, can be a lifesaver during blackouts or natural disasters. It can allow you to return to the comforts of a normal life without fear of food spoiling, data being lost, or important health-related electronics losing power. Installing a generator is a multi-part process, and will require some amount of work. Keep in mind location when looking for the right generator, as these units can be quite large, and give off emissions that could endanger health. Once you've got the necessary equipment, and you're ensured that your home service panel is up-to-date, the installation process is quite simple.

  1. Determine the appropriate location to place your generator. Remember that generators use fuel to generate electricity, and as a result they emit gaseous fumes which may be noxious or cloying. Placing a generator outdoors is usually the best option, though they can also be installed in basements or garages with proper ventilation.

  2. Level the area you intend to use for the generator. Placing the generator on uneven ground can cause a myriad of complications, and excess plant life near or below the generator may pose a small fire hazard. Use your shovel or rake to pound and flatten the ground before moving the unit into place.

  3. Install the necessary fuel source. The most common type of generator uses gasoline to generate power. These generators can usually be filled directly, though some require you to fill an external unit before attaching it to the generator. Another common generator type uses propane to generate electricity, these units require a propane tank to function, so it might be a good idea to keep a spare around.

  4. Route the unit to your circuit breaker's transfer switch. The transfer switch connects to your outside power source and sends a signal to the generator when power is no longer being received. This allows your generator to power on automatically. The transfer switch also allows you to limit the number of circuits being routed to your generator to conserve power while ensuring that the important areas of the house stay connected. Double check the circuits leading to your transfer switch to ensure that the appropriate areas of the house will be covered.

  5. Connect the generator to your home's central service panel, or create a workable network using external power cords. If you house has a flanged outlet, you can use this to forgo the need to use extension cords to power external devices not covered by your transfer switch. Simply connect the "male" end of the large extension cord to the generator, and connect the female end of the cord to the flanged outlet on the outside of the house. These outlets are easily found because they are very large and feature 4 prongs instead of three.


  • Always exercise caution when working with electricity. Try to keep yourself grounded, and avoid overloading any power source with too many high-demand appliances. If you're unsure about the state of your electrical system, transfer switch, or flanged outlet, contact a professional electrician to safely evaluate the situation.

About the Author

Jacob Stover is a writer and editor from Ann Arbor. He has been writing professionally since 2009. His work has been published in the "Wayne State University Literary Review." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and film studies from Wayne State University.