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Country Discussion Topics
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Hooking up a generator to house
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guess who    Posted 11-27-2003 at 09:16:59       [Reply]  [No Email]
I want to hook up a generator to the house occasionally when the power is out. I dont want to go thru the trouble and expense of running the power thru the main service entrance box and installing a transfer switch. My question is is it ok to install seperate outlets in the house with their own circut breakers in the cellar and run the power cord out side to the generator. I will use different colored receptacle and the wire will have a different color outer housing than the original wiring. When needed the power cord will be plugged into the generator and to use a item like the referigator I would just unplug the fridge from the dead socket and plug it into the generator fed recepticle. The only thing in common with the electrical systyme powered by the electric co would be that both would have a seperate ground rod driven in to the same mother earth. Any one know of any problem with suck a set up.


guess who    Posted 11-29-2003 at 13:23:00       [Reply]  [No Email]
I have the outside and inside boxes and cord in place already The square d six place box cost 18 dollars and the breakers were free. I had the recepticles left over from another job and the wire and small work boxes cost me about 60 dollars. I will add the circuits one at a time when the spirit moves me. The first two will be to power the freezer and another one for the fridge.


the oil burner will come next. I have a wood stove for heat and some coleman lanters for light. I just wonder if my 3000 wattrun and 3500 watt surge rated generator is enough to run my one half hp submergible well pump. It is a 220 volt unit. I spoke to some one who works for the local electrical utility co last night and was told Im not doing anything wrong and it will work all right.


Hal/WA    Posted 11-28-2003 at 18:53:10       [Reply]  [No Email]
My solution to this problem was to isolate my "emergency" circuits--well pump, gas furnace blower, freezers, refrigerators and a couple of lighting circuits in a separate panel. I put a 40 amp breaker in my main panel and wired it up to a regular range receptacle. The emergency panel gets its power from this range receptacle through a standard electric range cord. For conditions where I would need to use my generator to power the emergency panel, I installed another range receptacle near the emergency panel and wired it to a weathertight box on the side of my house that has a locking extension cord receptacle in it. So if I am going to energize the emergency panel, I have to remove the range plug from one receptacle to the other, eliminating the possibility of energizing the pole wires. Completely fail safe! I have less than $100 in the materials to do this, but it was a bit of work.

I never had this work inspected, but I talked to an electrical inspector I know before I did it. He said it should work fine, but to be extremely careful about grounding. I used cable that has 3 insulated wires and an unsulated ground and used 4 prong locking extension cord plug ends. The panels are grounded to eachother with a large wire between their ground buss bars.

A person could run a separate system all over his house to use a generator, but it would seem to me to be a ton of work, especially in existing construction, and very expensive to add the second system. You might want to get the book Wiring Simplified, that is sold in most large hardware stores for under $10. It is a good one. Good luck!


rhudson    Posted 11-28-2003 at 09:59:35       [Reply]  [Send Email]
well i'm kinda working on the same thing. i want to energize the whole house which is gonna cost to do it correctly and safely. but if you are only interested in energizing a few loads:

how about placing a gang switch box near the breaker panel. load the gang box with 20 amp hd three way switches. disconnect the load wire at its orginial breaker and reconnect the wire at the common leg of a threeway. run one wire from one switched leg of the switch to the orginal breaker, run a wire from the other switched leg of the threeway to the 120volt generator outlet. do the same with the other threeway switches. now the threeways become the transfer switches (line power in one position, generator power in the other). the problem i have is with the insurance companies. i think if they saw something like this they would go balisti,,,or ever worse deny coverate.

anyone know anything about generators/engines like at utterpower.com?


Brian-2N    Posted 11-28-2003 at 05:23:27       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I can't see how you would think fishing wires for separate receptacles would be easier than a sub-panel.
There are 2 legitiamte ways of doing it. Companies like Gen-Tran make generator panels. You hook up the generator to one side and the main feed through the other. It has a transfer switch built in. You wire in 4-6 circuits to run just what you need.
Other companies like Square D offer devices that allow you to feed the generator into your main panel. A safety interlocked switch allows you to safely switch power sources. You now have full access to any circuit in the house. You obviously won't be using every outlet and switch at once, so you won't overload the generator.
Talk to an electrician or visit your local electrical wholesaler (not Home Cheapo-they'll just give you a dumb look).


Harley    Posted 11-27-2003 at 21:44:38       [Reply]  [No Email]
I wired my father-in-laws, by putting a welder plug in his garage with 8gauge wire. It goes to a 40a, 220v breaker in his box. When we have power we plug it the welder. When the power is out, he kills the main, and all the breakers. Plugs in the generator (5000W), after starting it he hits on all the breakers he needs. Just remember to keep the main off to keep the lineman safe (back feed)


Willy-N But!    Posted 11-27-2003 at 23:43:52       [Reply]  [No Email]
I hope telling this you will think about what you are doing. It embarases me to tell this but it needs to be said.
Being a Electrician for over 30 years I did the same thing. I used this set up for 18 years at 2 differnt homes. At my home now I have a 400 amp service with 2 mains to turn off so I can back feed both services. Well when we had our big fire things were pretty wild around the place and I was afraid we would lose power so I warmed up the generator just in case. During the excitement I went in and turned off the main in the house and forgot the one in the shop! I thru the main to the Generator and back fed the power grid which was live! It blew my generator windings!! If I had forgot and did that when the power was off and a Lineman was working on the Power I could have killed him. In 18 years of doing this it became routine to me no problem at all till that one day. I even have dirrections on the panel where the Generator breaker is. I ruined my 1700.00 generator saving a few bucks doing it the wrong way it taught me a lesson and I was glad it was only my generator and not someone being killed by it. Remember you could be drunk, on medications or not thinking like I was under stress and make a mistake. Do it the right way, it is fool proof no matter what. Mark H.


Spence    Posted 11-27-2003 at 17:45:38       [Reply]  [No Email]
Make sure you pull the switch for the main breaker before you do anything.

Assuming I have a 120V output of the generator, the way I'd do it is connect the output of the generator to any outlet (120V) circuit for the appliance I want to supply, provided the amperage rating of the gen output doesn't exceed 80% of the amperage wire rating for that house circuit, and, the gen output is breakered. If not breakered, I could tap the gen directly into the panel for that circuit before the breaker and that will offer the protection needed. That I think would be a safe setup. Better explained in a schematic.

Actually, I was thinking of wiring in an input feed outlet outdoors for the two primary appliances I think I would need in a blackout, 1/furnace 2/well pump. (Well, maybe not the pump, that's 220 I think.). They sell those 1750 watt
12vdc/120AC converters which i think would be handy, cept restarting the car with another battery would be a pain I guess. Oh well can't have everything.


deadcarp    Posted 11-27-2003 at 13:25:05       [Reply]  [No Email]
(in an emergency) if you do lose power and wanna use the generator for a few things, simplest way is to just pull the meter clear out (eliminating any powerline power), wire in a generator-specific plug and cord (double-males are certainly illegal & hazardous but work like a charm), plug it in securely and fire up the unit. remember that way you can't overload house wiring cuz everything still goes past breakers.


if i had a generator, think i'd just add an extra breaker box and breaker pre-wired to a generator-specific box big enough to hold written instructions and a cord to match the generator.
and the last instruction would be "in my absence don't use this - call an electrician instead"


Redneck    Posted 11-28-2003 at 03:44:58       [Reply]  [No Email]
A friend wired his to power company specs,just ask and they will let you know.His can't back feed because the only way it can power the house is if it is disconnected from the outside thru the box mounted beside the meter.That sounds simple but he is a certified industrial electrician.Leave it to the experts.


Charles(Mo)    Posted 11-27-2003 at 13:47:11       [Reply]  [No Email]
I don't think pulling the meter is a good idea. Most electric companies frown on this. The seal at the meter is to let them know if it has been tampered with. The meter is the property of the electric company and you could be liable for a lawsuit.

The best way to use a generator is to use a transfer switch. Talk to your electric provider on the specs.

You do know that if you don't do it correctly, the power from the generator can back feed thru the transformer and get a lineman killed trying to restore your power.

Charles


Stan TN    Posted 11-28-2003 at 08:49:16       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I'd bet your generator would burn up, trying to feed the entire neighborhood, before the power company got out to the problem. But you do open yourself up to liability issues.

The system you propose would work, of course, but would probably cost more than an interlock on your main panel.


deadcarp    Posted 11-27-2003 at 15:35:54       [Reply]  [No Email]
don't mean to sound stubborn but that's why i wouldn't hesitate to pull the meter - that way i know no strangers get hurt while i'm tryna keep my meat frozen. haven't ever heard of a power company getting all legal for somebody pulling a meter - they've reminded me not to but i remind them it was hangin on my house - not like i'm trying to alter the thing - just getting it outa harm's way - besides the mgr lives on our lake :)



Charles(Mo)    Posted 11-28-2003 at 04:58:07       [Reply]  [No Email]
Also Deadcarp, I don't think telling everyone to do something that could be harmfull to themselves or others is rigtht.

I work for an electric coop, and have seen a few things over the years. It bothers me when people do something that is wrong and dangerous and then tell others that it is alright. You might think that pulling a meter is alright, and is a simple thing to do. But unless you know what all the facts are, chances are you are going to get hurt or get someone else hurt.

I don't want to sound like a jerk. I just want you to be safe and I can't stress that enough.

Charles


Charles(Mo)    Posted 11-28-2003 at 04:41:32       [Reply]  [No Email]
Deadcarp, If you insist on pulling your meter, which I still say you shouldn't, be sure that your main breaker is off when you pull the meter and when you reinstall it. Those meters can and will explode when they are under load and you break the contacts. Not very often, but it does happen. And the position of the meters are often eye level, so you face and upper body will take the flash.

Charles


Willy-N    Posted 11-28-2003 at 07:07:50       [Reply]  [No Email]
You can also short out a meter pulling it wrong. You can bump the jaws into the sides of the can working it out. Some times they are stuck pretty good in the jaws and require hitting the glass to knock it free. I have seen the glass break befor removing them. Certain metters do not disconect the power either they are on C.T. Services and are only hooked to the Current Transformers to figure out how much power you are using like on your larger services or a Awalt 360 used to feed 2 panels and having circuit closeures or bypasses. Around here it is against the law to cut the seal and remove it. Mark H.


Charles(Mo)    Posted 11-28-2003 at 09:38:05       [Reply]  [No Email]
I don't like messing with c.t. metering. I don't know enough about them. About 3 years ago, a coworker that has been a journyman lineman for 20 + years, had a volt meter blow up in his face when he was trying to get a voltage reading at a c.t. meter. The volt meter had alligator clips for the test leads intead of prongs, and I think he got one of the clips across 2 of the terminals. Burned his face and hands pretty bad. But he recovered. I tell you, you better be carefull and and have some respect around this stuff, or it will get you.

Charles


Lazy Al    Posted 11-28-2003 at 12:15:19       [Reply]  [No Email]
If you don't keep those ct's shorted out they produce a very high voltage .
I hope every one that does this generator thing will take the time to do it right or don't do it . You might not be there when the power goes out and some one else hooks it up and kills some one .
Al


Willy-N    Posted 11-27-2003 at 09:54:50       [Reply]  [No Email]
If you are going to go to that much trouble you can buy a GenTran Panel for about 250.00-350.00 that has up to 12 circuits and you just tie them into the circuits you want to power up with the generator. They have a series of switches that you either run the power from the generator or house panel. Then you just plug your generator into this panel which is mounted right next to your house panel and switch on all the loads your generator can handle depending on how large it is. Mark H.


Bob/Ont    Posted 11-27-2003 at 09:35:00       [Reply]  [Send Email]
If you go that route, use all extension cords from the generator to everything. If you wire an additional system through your house there is always the chance someone will hook it to the main service sometime. It would be good to have a transfer switch though, it would save you unhooking your furnace and wiring it to a plug if the power goes out in winter.
Later Bob


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