What is a Generator Interlock Kit - Nature's Generator

What is a Generator Interlock Kit

Learn what a generator interlock kit is and how it safely connects your home generator, preventing backfeed and ensuring secure power during outages.

Imagine you're hosting a backyard barbecue on a beautiful summer evening. The grill is fired up, festive lights are on, music is playing, and everyone is having a great time. Suddenly, the lights go off, the music stops, and the fun pauses. Don't worry, though. You've got a backup: a generator interlock kit. This handy device keeps your outdoor party going even when the power goes out. It's like the master switch, smoothly transitioning from regular power to generator power, so your party stays bright and fun. Plus, it keeps your home safe and out of harm's way, so everyone can relax and enjoy the night worry-free.

Interlock Kit Square D by Nature's Generator
What is a Generator Interlock Kit?

During a power interruption or sudden blackout, a generator interlock kit steps up as your go-to for safely hooking up a generator to your home. This little device, a small silver plate, makes sure you can't accidentally power up your generator and stay connected to the grid at the same time. Whether it's a storm, a blackout caused by an equipment failure, or any other reason, this kit blocks power from flowing back into the utility lines. It keeps your home safe and ensures utility workers fixing the grid stay out of harm's way.

Below are the typical steps involved when you have an interlock kit and a solar generator:

When the utility grid shuts down:

  1. Find the interlock kit near your main breaker panel.
  2. Slide in the interlock plate to prevent generator use while the grid is down.
  3. Turn on the interlock breaker to power your home with the solar generator.

When returning to utility power:

  1. Turn off the interlock breaker to disconnect the generator.
  2. Slide the interlock plate back to its original position.
  3. Turn on the main breaker to reconnect to the utility grid.
What is the Purpose of the Interlock?

The primary purpose of an interlock is to ensure safe and reliable power transfer between a generator and the main utility supply. It ensures that either the generator or the utility power can be active, but not both at the same time. This mechanical barrier ensures that when the generator breaker is on, the primary circuit breaker is off, and vice versa.

Transfer Switch vs Interlock Kit
Transfer Switch vs. Interlock Kit

A transfer switch lets you connect a generator to your home's power easily. An interlock kit stops you from turning on both the main breaker and generator at the same time. Let's look at it closely.

What is a Transfer Switch?

A transfer switch is a critical component for managing backup power. It ensures a smooth and secure transition between the main power source and a backup generator. There are different types of transfer switches:

Manual Transfer Switch (MTS): Requires manual operation to switch power sources.

Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS): Automatically switches to the generator when utility power fails.

Can I Use an Interlock Instead of a Transfer Switch?

Yes, you can use an interlock instead of a transfer switch, depending on your needs and local electrical codes. An interlock kit is a more economical option and is simpler to install. However, it requires manual operation to switch between power sources. Transfer switches, particularly automatic ones, offer a seamless transition and enhanced safety features but are generally more expensive and complex to install.

Choosing Between an Interlock Kit and a Transfer Switch

Transfer switches, especially automatic ones, are easier to operate and offer clear indicators of power source status. Interlock kits, on the other hand, require more effort to switch between power sources and may lack intuitive indicators, which may potentially lead to confusion.

Transfer switches provide a dedicated, standard-compliant solution for safely transferring power that prevents dangerous backfeeding. Interlock kits, while effective, may lack some safety features of transfer switches.

Interlock kits require specific breaker configurations and panel designs to work properly, whereas transfer switches offer greater flexibility and compatibility with various setups.

Interlock kits are generally cheaper than transfer switches, making them a budget-friendly option for homeowners. However, considering the long-term value and potential safety benefits of a transfer switch is important when weighing the initial cost.

Key Considerations: 5 Questions to Guide Your Decision
  1. How comfortable are you with manual operation during power outages?

  2. Are you concerned about the safety risks associated with backfeeding during power outages?

  3. Do you have specific breaker configurations or panel designs that could limit your options?

  4. Are you looking for a budget-friendly solution, or are you willing to invest in more advanced features?

  5. Have you consulted with an electrician to assess your electrical system's needs and compatibility?

After considering these things, check If you prioritize ease of use and safety and have specific breaker configurations. If this is the case, a transfer switch may be the best option for you.

If budget is a significant concern and you're comfortable with manual operation, an interlock kit could be the better choice.

However, it's crucial to consult with an electrician to ensure the selected solution meets your home's electrical needs and it follows safety standards.

Commonly Asked Questions
  • Can I use an interlock kit or transfer switch with a portable generator?
    Yes, both devices are compatible with most portable generators. Ensure that the generator matches your home’s electrical requirements.

  • Do I need a professional to install an interlock kit or transfer switch?
    It is recommended to have a licensed electrician install these devices to ensure proper and safe installation.
  • Can I run my entire house on a portable generator using an interlock kit or transfer switch?
    Yes, as long as the generator can handle your home's electrical load.

Deciding between an interlock kit and a transfer switch for your generator requires considering cost, convenience, and safety. Interlock kits are budget-friendly and suitable for occasional use, whereas transfer switches offer greater safety and seamless power transitions. Both options ensure safe integration of generator power with your home’s electrical system.

You may also contact us for more information on choosing the right backup power solution for your needs. Nature’s Generator offers solutions like generator interlock kits,  transfer switches, and solar systems that ensure your home remains powered and safe during outages.



* We want to give credit where credit is due. Professional writer, Shobe Cruz, contributed research and content to this blog titled: What is a Generator Interlock Kit thank you, Shobe, for your contributions!