Generlink – Startup Procedures in a Power Outage

January 30, 2018

The worst time to figure out how to properly get yourself up and running with a generator is during a power outage. Usually the weather sucks and most often you’re in the dark. It is best to be prepared long before the power goes out.

The most important thing to know if you are using a Generlink switch is what combination of circuits you can use at any one time so as not to overload the generator. Generlink gives you the flexibility to run most things on your electrical panel. I emphasize the word “most” because you certainly cannot run things like electric furnaces, your stove/oven with all the elements and oven running at once, most hot tubs, and any other circuits that exceed 30 amps/240V for the 30A Generlink and 40 amps/240V for the 40A Generlink. If you want to get a better idea of how to calculate how much you can run at any one time read my previous BLOG post “Convert Your Generator to a Toaster” (https://wattsource.ca/convert-your-generator-to-a-toaster). There are also ample sources on the Internet for this type of information. Your Generlink manual may also have a worksheet.

I highly recommend that you properly label your panel if you have not already done so. It is difficult to know what combination of circuits you can run if you don’t even know what breaker does what. Keep in mind that you will be using a flashlight in an outage so make sure the breaker labels are well written (or better yet typed) and have large lettering. Most panel labels don’t give you a lot of room to write what’s on the breaker so do yourself a favour and recreate a large breaker table in excel or just just with a pen and ruler. After it is filled out tape it to the inside of the panel door. A lot of huffing and puffing and a good bit of cursing will be avoided if you do this.

When the power goes how here are the steps I recommend you take to get yourself up and running. You can vary a little however, I find this to be the safest and most efficient way to do it. To make your life easier when doing this you should purchase a good LED headlamp, the brightest one you can find. It is so much easier get your generator running with both hands free. I guarantee this will be the best $20 – $30 bucks you’ll ever spend. Ok, here are the steps:

  1. The power goes out. Relax, take a deep breath and get prepared to get into action. Wait a couple of minutes while relaxing as sometimes the power will come back.
  2. If it is cold or wet outside get properly dressed and get your flashlight or headlamp.
  3. Go to your electrical panel and turn off all of the breakers except for the main 200A breaker. The main breaker needs to be on for Generlink to work.
  4. Go outside and get your generator setup where you will be running it. Before starting it hook up the Generator power cord to the generator and then to the meter. It is always best to handle the electrical components like power cords while the generator is not running.
  5. Make sure your generator has a full tank of gas and then start it up. Let the generator run for a few minutes to let it get up to proper running temperature.
  6. Make sure the main breaker/switch for the generator is on and then go back to your electrical panel.
  7. Turn on the circuit breakers you plan to be running one by one.

Regarding step 7, during an outage you may vary which circuits you will be running. Again, it is very important to know what you can run so as not to overload the generator. Also, if your generator runs out of fuel and you have to restart it you MUST go back to the electrical panel and turn off all of the breakers. The Generlink switch will not switch to generator power if any breakers are on. It is also a good idea to refuel while your generator is off so again you will need to turn off the breakers before restarting it. The same thing if you shut your generator off at night. GENERAL RULE OF THUMB: ANY TIME YOU SHUT THE GENERATOR DOWN DURING A POWER OUTAGE BEFORE RESTARTING YOU MUST TURN OFF ALL OF THE CIRUIT BREAKERS.

When the power returns here are the steps to restore utility power:

  1. Wait at least 5 minutes to be sure the utility power does not go out again. This can sometimes happen.
  2. Go to your electrical panel and shut off all of the breakers. (** you can skip this step if make sure to shut the main breaker on your generator as explained in step three)
  3. Go out to your generator and turn off the main breaker so it is no longer providing power to the house but still remains running. Confirm that the Generlink status lights indicate you are back on utility power and no longer on generator power. You want to let the generator run for a few minutes with no load so it cools down.
  4. After a few minutes shut your generator down and then disconnect the power cord at the generator and the meter.
  5. Go back to your main electrical panel and turn on the rest of your circuit breakers.
  6. Relax and take a deep breath.

You can test your Generlink switch even when the utility power (ie. NB Power at the pole) is present. As long as you turn off all of the breakers the Generlink switch will switch to generator power. I highly recommend you do a test with anybody in the house that may be required operate the generator when the power goes out. Take the procedures above and print them out and leave a copy near the panel and by the generator. Copy and paste them into a word processor and enlarge the font.

Having a generator is really convenient when the power goes out and sometimes a necessity as we recently experienced in the heavy rains in New Brunswick a couple of weeks ago. I heard of a few homes that got flooded because they could not run their sump pump when the power went out. That being said, having a generator and properly running them are two different things. Become an expert with your own generator so when the power does go out you’ll be prepared.

Attila Fust

Owner, Red Seal Electrician

Wattsource Electrical