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I'm considering getting a large portable generator to help power our house during rolling brown outs and local electric public shutoffs from our power company.

I'm curious though. Can a solution like this, connected to a transfer switch or interlock device be used to distribute power across multiple circuits? Or should I only plan for the portable generator to power one circuit?

The specific generator I'm looking at has the following outlets:

  • 120V 20A GFCI Outlet (4X)
  • 120V 30A Twist Lock (1X)
  • 120/240V 30A Twist Lock (1X)
  • 120/240V 50A Heavy Duty Outlet (1X)
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  • What loads do you need to run, and can you post photos of your breaker box please? – ThreePhaseEel Aug 18 '20 at 11:36
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Most often generator feeds in residential applications are now done with kits specific to your panel that backfeeds your panel through a breaker near the main breaker, and has an interlock bracket that prevents the backfeed breaker from being turned on unless the main is switched off. The generator breaker is then wired to an inverted (male) receptacle to cord connect to your generators 240v receptacle.

Any or all the circuits in your panel are then effectively connected to the generator, and you need to select which circuits in your panel you wish to turn on or off to prevent overloading and tripping the breaker on the generator. A generator with a 240v/50A receptacle will often allow operation of almost everything, some coordination of air conditioning, electric ovens and electric water heaters would be necessary.

If air conditioning isn't a must-have then I would advise considering a smaller generator. The one you have selected uses a gallon of gas an hour at half load, and runs at 72db. The sound level may have HOA repercussions.

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The key is that you want to get everything out from one circuit on the generator and into your house (interlock, subpanel, etc.) Fortunately, you have a 240V/50A outlet - that will do the trick. That's enough to use the full output of the generator and to power most of a house - practically speaking, if you are careful with the big loads (electric water heater, air conditioner, electric dryer, electric oven) you can run your whole house with one of these.

Post specifics about your home's breaker panel and the pros will tell you exactly what to do.

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    Yup, based just on the 50A HD outlet that will power a good portion of a home. My generator has a 30A capacity and it would allow the fridge, furnace, the propane fired tankless water heater (it needed power too), and a few outlets. Enough to get by on pretty well considering.... We have a shared well, that is a different matter. – Jack Aug 18 '20 at 5:38
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    I have a 5500w (30A) and a 3300w (15A), for my own sanity I most often I kill the 240v breakers and use my 3300w because it is so much quieter. – NoSparksPlease Aug 18 '20 at 15:23

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