Last year we bought a generator. We did not get a transfer switch but
did talk about it in estimated costs ... so this year when I started
asking about buying one and getting it installed, the price has gone
up a lot and there is a big variation according to whom I am
asking ... for a 5000 horsepower generator - what should the average
price be. We only expect to have about six outlets (120). And what
should we expect to pay to install it - garage is concrete block so it
would have to be mounted on the wall with screws. Thanks. I am in
Tampa Bay area.
You really are lost, a 5000 horsepower gen would power a small town,
so ill guess its 5000 peak watts and maybe 3500 w full time load, or
maybe enough to run a frige, lights and tv safely. Generac has 6
circuit prewired complete kits for about 3-350, I put mine in, in a
day. By the way, costs have come down unless you live in one of those
rich oil producing countries like Dubai. You should be able to get one
done complete with kit for maybe 500 US$. Learn about what you have,
5000 means nothing, its going to safely run less than you think.
Hondas site has a good load calculator.
Hope you mean 5,000 watts otherwise you can power you house and
neighbors with that much horsepower.
It's been a couple of years but electrician did mine as well as
replace old house panel which was deemed hazardous for about $1,100.
Retired friend in the business thought it was very reasonable. Price
included both boxes and extra wires for generator which I run outside
garage where box is located. My generator is 5,500 running watts,
7,500 start up and can handle 2 small freeezers, refrigerator, well,
furnace several lights and TV.
In a moment like this. I open the phone book, and call half
dozen listed electricians. I choose the one who is
reasonably priced, and sounds like he knows what he's doing.
And who doesn't try to intimdate me.
Here is a link to a typical manual transfer switch with 6 circuits max. This
one is rated for 7.5 KW. Your generator is probably 5KW, so one like this
will be fine. I can install one of these in about an hour, give or take, so
in my area of NY the installation would be no more than $200.
Don't worry about the simple mistake in wording. Some people can't
resist giving the folks who come here for advise a hard time for
Your best solution is a main breaker interlock kit that interlocks the
main breaker with a breaker for the generator so that it is physically
difficult to close both at the same time. I use the word difficult
deliberately because anytime you think something is fool proof a new
and improved model of fool will show up and prove you wrong. Here in
the Washington, DC / Baltimore, MD area the cost to install a main
breaker interlock, the supply wiring, and the generator inlet box
would run about three hundred dollars ($300.00). The reason that I
like this solution is that it gives you a lot of flexibility in what
you can choose to run from the generator. It allows you to operate
any electrical load in the house that is within the capacity of the
generator. Whether there is such a kit for your panel can only be
determined by calling a supply house that is a stocking distributor
for your brand of panel. If you provide them with the panels part
number they can tell you whether an interlock kit is available for
If there is no interlock kit for your panel then installing a main
breaker feed through lug panel ahead of your existing panel with an
interlock kit would work but the cost will rise to about six hundred
dollars ($600.00). Some of the additional cost is in the labor and
parts to convert your existing panel to a feeder supplied panel that
is no longer wired as service equipment. That remedy also provides
ten or more additional breaker slots for other loads and is a cost
effective way to install a heavy up were there are multiple feeder
supplied panels in the home already. The biggest draw back IMUHO is
the additional space that the new panel will take up either inside or
outside of the home.
Put an ad in the Tampa Craigslist under "Wanted" (electrician).
As you found out, a transfer switch is not really needed - you CAN operate
with long extension cords.
Further, depending on the circuit-breaker box you have, you may be able to
forego a transfer switch altogether by a simple attachment to the
circuit-breaker box. This "attachment" is called a "Generator Interlock" and
relates the two twenty-amp breakers that go to the plug for your generator
and the main power disconnect.
This pair of breakers are normally OFF. When the power fails, you plug in
your generator, flip OFF the main disconnect, and flip ON the two breakers.
Viola! Power to the whole house.
The "Generator Interlock" mentioned above is a sliding bar that prevents the
MAIN disconnect switch from being on at the same time as the pair of
breakers leading to the generator. This interlock-thingy protects drunk or
fatigued linemen from getting tickled by your generator while they are
working on what they believe to be a dead distribution line.
Here's a set of examples for Square D breaker boxes:
If you study the instructions for each, you'll discover that you'll be
paying $150.00 for a single piece of metal and four piddly bolts.
Once this is in place, a power-outage involves the following steps:
1. Hook up the generator and start it.
2. Turn OFF the MAIN electrical service switch.
3. Turn OFF the circuit breakers that lead to huge electrical loads (Range,
Water heater, A/C, etc.) that might overload your generator (if any).
4. Slide the "Generator Interlock" business out of the way,
5. Exclaim "Let There Be Light!"
6. Turn ON the paired circuit breakers that lead to the generator.
I like this better- for $160 shipped;
Gen-Tran 20 Amp 6 circuit 5000 watt prewired manual transfer switch
The planning on what needs to be on gets done before the lights go
out. You've got meters to monitor loads.
I guess the downside is that it might be tough to decide you want a
7th circuit during an outage.
5000 HP (Horsepower) is a railway locomotive, or small ship, sized
For example; a small car may have 100 HP engine, larger ones perhaps
200 to 300 HP.
Gasoline or diesel consumption for a 5000 watt (that's 5 kilowatts)
would probably be around one half to one quarter gallon per hour?
Depending to some extent on load. Such a unit may weigh several
Right. It's NOT a transfer switch - it's a "Generator Interlock." You can't
forget to flip the main to OFF because you can't flip the generator circuit
to ON until you do. The device is a sliding metal bar that forces the
switches into their safe positions in order to work. There are three
MAIN - OFF
Generator - ON
MAIN - ON
Generator - OFF
MAIN - OFF
Generator - OFF
It is not physically possible to have both the MAIN and the Generator both
No - if you follow the link you'll see that the setup includes a slider that
prevents both breakers from being on at the same time. Quite clever really and
way cheaper than a transfer switch - especiall the ones that force you to
designate which breakers can be fed by the genset.
I have the Square D interlock on my panel, and it was not $150. I seem
to recall it cost about $35 when I ordered it from my electrical supply
It is by far the least expensive transfer device available, particularly
considering it can handle up to a 125A / 30KW generator connection (125A
max branch circuit breaker size, ~$90 breaker).
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