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Panel Interlock Devices

Generator Operation with Panel Interlock Devices


Remember: You do not need to run the generator continuously for hours and hours.   (Click here to view/download a pdf document of this info.)

  • House heat and refrigerator temperatures can be maintained for many hours without using the generator. (Sump pumps may be more important).    

  • You should be able to keep your home safe and comfortable by only running the generator occasionally.  Try 1 or 2 hours at different points of the day: 

    • first thing in the morning,  

    • a few times during the day, and 

    • just before going to bed.

There are 3 basic steps.   

(The process is the same, whether for test purposes or for actual power failures.)


 1. Get the generator started without any electrical load.      (This is to let it warm up before it starts working.)

  1. If you are using a trickle charger for the battery, disconnect it.
  2. Move the generator to the proper location for operation. (Away from door or window openings, remove any coverings.)
  3. (A separate ground wire to a ground rod connection is no longer used.)
  4. Check oil level.  (Low oil level sensor can prevent the generator from running.)
  5. For gasoline models, fill tank with gasoline.  Wipe off any spillage.
  6. Plug twist-lock extension cord into generator and weatherproof outlet box.  They only need a small turn (clockwise to lock.)
  7. (In cord weather) Use the choke lever for initial start-up.
  8. For electric start: Turn key if it is a key start, or turn the manual switch to [On] and push the [Start] button.
  9. Otherwise, pull cord to start engine.  Be sure switch is [On].
  10. Once motor is started, push choke lever back in to normal position.
  11. Allow motor to run for 5 minutes or so to warm up.  If there is an Idle control, it should be [On].
  12. Check that the generator breaker is On.

2. At the
circuit breaker box,  shut off main breaker, turn on generator breaker.

  1. Turn off all the individual breakers in the panel.  (The generator can not power the entire house. Its own breaker will shut off.)
  2. Shut-off the main breaker.  (This prevents the generator from backfeeding the utility wires, and causing electrical hazards to the repair crews.)
  3. Slide the interlock bar across to block the main breaker. This unblocks the generator breaker (this connects the generator power to the sub-panel.)
  4. Flip on the double breaker for the generator.
  5. Turn on the (marked) key circuit breakers for heat, sump pump, refrigerators, etc. 
  6. If you have a load meter by the panel, you can monitor how much electricity you are using..  If the load meters show too much power being used for the generator, or to prevent items from being powered, shut off individual circuit breakers.

3. When finished with the test, or
utility power is back on:

  1. Shut-off  the generator double 30 breaker. 
  2. Slide the interlock bar to block the 30 amp breaker and allow access to the main breaker. 
  3. Turn on the main breaker.
  4. Turn on all other breakers.  (Usually, On is when the breakers are flipped to the center of the panel.)
  5. Turn off generator.
  6. Unplug the twist-lock extension cord.
  7. Allow the unit to cool completely before storing.
  8. If you have one, reconnect the trickle charger for the generator battery.