Thanks for the many response guys. I'll try to answer all of the question and clarify what I'm intending to do. This is simply so I don't need to look out my window and see if the neighbors lights are on if the outage is during the day.
I don't have a automatic transfer switch so when the lights go out I have to walk out to the breaker box (about a 20 ft breezeway walk into my detached garage), and flip the main breaker off. Then I can slide my the little aluminum plate that is blocking my 40 amp breaker that is connected to the 10Kw generator 240V output to the ON position. I switch off the big load breakers and leave only the lights switched on. then I have to go out to the generator and fire it up then enable the output switch. this energizes the light load (pun intended). Then once the generator has warmed up a little I switch in the higher current loads including the air conditioner (I have a Hyper Engineering soft start installed to reduce the startup current surge and make it generator friendly).
Once that is done, the wife and kids are happy.
Meanwhile I find myself walking outside to spy on the neighbors to see if they are still outside or have migrated inside. The biggest question when the lights go out is "are they back on yet?"
Looking at my breaker box I have easy access to a foot of each leg. The enter the box near the bottom and travel up each side then loop down towards the top of the bus bars that the breakers snap into.
I can easily wrap or tape insulated wire to this to "sniff" the AC coming in. My concern (I haven't done this yet) is the house circuit wires to cross the mains wires in the box. These circuit wires will have voltage from the generator which couple into the mains wire (not sure what the impedance if a mains line during an outage is. (open ckt at the meter or connected to transformer) set a threshold. All of this can be worked out during implementation phase.
At the end of the day I do not want to electrically connect to the mains but I'm OK taping insulated "sniffer" antenna wires to them. These can be brought out to a box that has the rest of the detection circuit. I was planning on adding a pigtail to my door level switch and simply velcro that switch to my new box and connect it in. This will give me a green or red light in my kitchen that I can just glance it and tell of the power is on.
I'm just pinging you guys for either a kit somewhere out there that does that same thing or another approach that is simpler. I will not electrically tap into the main line before the main breaker.....because I chicken. :) Anything connected to that, that fails and catches fire could burn the house down. Witness the 10 lizard carcasses in the fuse box. :) I left a few in there is a warning to self. EE degree only needs to be overuled by stupid for a short period of time before something bad can happen. :)