How to Determine If Main Power Comes Back On in Generator Use

How to Determine If Main Power Comes Back On in Generator Use

In times of power outage, a generator is your most treasured asset to ensure the continuity of all essential electric services. However, knowing when your main power comes back on is equally important so that you can safely transfer back to the main power. Restarting your system without knowing the condition of the main power might be fatal. This is a complete guide on how to determine if power comes back in the middle of using a generator:

Installation of Power Transfer Switch

    1. Any generator user must use a power transfer switch. This is a device that will enable you to safely switch from utility power to generator power and back. There are two common types of transfer switches:
  1. Manual Transfer Switch:
          • Operation: It will require you to safely switch back to utility power manually once it is restored.
          • Setup: This switch is set up to be located beside your main electric panel. It can be wired to your utility line and your generator.
  2. Automatic Transfer Switch (ATS):
        • Operation: This device will automatically sense when the restoration of utility power has occurred and automatically switch back to utility power from the generator.
        • Setup: It relies on using a transfer switch beside your main electrical panel but integrates sensors that monitor the power state.

    Installation of Power Restoration Notification Device

    1. These are special electrical gadgets that will alert you when your power comes back at the mains. They are quite useful, especially with no ATS. 

    Here are a couple of notification devices:

    • Voltage Sensing Relays: These are installed on the incoming line and raise an alert once they pick up voltage from the utility company.
    • Smart Home Devices: Most smart home systems and apps can be used to send you notifications regarding any change in the power status. The systems will monitor your utility power and have the capability to send you notifications on your smartphone.

    Monitor the Utility Company's Updates

    1. Many utility companies have real-time updates in case of a power outage or restoration. The following are ways to follow this up:
      • Online Monitoring: In most cases, utility companies maintain web pages that have outage maps and restoration status on their websites.
      • Phone Alerts: One can subscribe to text or email alerts by their utility provider to realize when their power is restored.

    Observe Neighbors' Houses

    1. A simple but pragmatic way is through observation:
      • Street Lighting: You may check if the street lights or traffic lights are back on.
      • Neighbors' Houses: Check to see if some of your neighbors' lights or other electrical equipment have power or not.

    Portable Power Indicator

    1. A portable power indicator is a small, plug-in device that you can use in your home to know if utility power is restored. Here is how to use it:
      • Plug the Indicator into a Wall Outlet: This should be done on a circuit that is powered by the utility and not the generator.
      • Monitor the Indicator: When the power is back on, the indicator will light up, which means the main supply has been restored.

    Safety Measures to Follow While Switching Power Sources

    Avoid Backfeeding: Backfeeding is the act of connecting a generator to a household outlet. This is dangerous for you and your house. It can also damage your electrical system and is an electric shock and fire hazard for utility workers and yourself—hence, always use a transfer switch.

    Follow Manufacturer Instructions: Always follow your manufacturer's instructions for your generator and your transfer switch. Each type of device may have specific steps for safe operation.

    Turn Off Major Appliances: Before switching back to utility power, you should turn off major appliances to avoid a power surge that could eventually damage them.

    Check Fuel Levels: If the power outage is prolonged, watch the fuel levels of your generator and take appropriate steps to ensure that it is properly maintained.


    Knowing when the power has come back on while using a generator is crucial for managing your electricity supply effectively. By following these tips and using the right equipment, you can easily determine when it's safe to switch back to the main power source. Keep these methods in mind next time you're using a generator during an outage.

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