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About: I’m a computer engineer — but please don’t judge me by that. I heat with wood, fix broken things hook up camping love camping with my family. A generator is a core component to many people’s emergency preparedness plans.

Maybe you have a cool charcoal powered or a multi-fuel generator. However many fail to think through how exactly they will power the items they want to run when the grid is down. In June of 2012 my family experienced a 10 day power outage. It was 100 degrees during the day with periods of heavy rain. I had to run a sump pump to keep my basement dry, a refrigerator, freezer for food preservation, a portable AC unit in the living room to protect my infant, we charged phones, and ran the wifi router.

I decided then and there I would find a better way. A generator transfer switch is the legal and proper way to power your home with an emergency generator. There are three main types: automatic, manual transfer sub panel and a breaker interlock. Each has varying degrees of complexity, benefits and expense.

Automatic transfer switches will sense a power loss, start your standby generator and automatically move your load to the generator. These are awesome — but very expensive and require a full time dedicated standby generator. Manual transfer sub panel switches are good option. They typically only cover a few breakers which was problematic for me. Breaker Interlock is the option I chose. It is National Electric Code compliant and is in my opinion the least expensive and most flexible option.

In this setup you use a breaker to energize your existing breaker box. Switching it on is easy and safe. My wife did an unassisted dry run in under 5 min — which included getting the generator out of the building. The breaker interlock system has come in very handy for us.