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Brandon Whitmore

Something I haven't run into before.

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I inspected a condo / townhouse that is a foreclosure. I was told that everything was de- winterized, so I rolled in to do the inspection.

The first thing I noticed was that there wasn't 240v. of power to the dryer outlet, but that there was 120v. at each wire.

I attempted to turn on the Cadet wall fan heaters, and no go.

This got me to wondering what was going on, so I opened the panel and checked for 240v. across the service wires-- no 240v, but there was 120v. if checked from either lug to ground.

I went outside to the meter, that had a digital meter socket installed, and it was off/ blank.

I found this device outside, but can't see how it would be supplying any power to my panel. It is tapped off of the neighboring units meter-- what is this device called? I was in a rush, and didn't spend much time looking for a model number or any other info. on it.

So to recap, there is 120v. throughout the house, but no 240v. anywhere. What am I missing?

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It's a badass battery with an inverter. It must have been installed incorrectly.

When those things are installed properly, you should get 240v wherever you need it.

Jim Katen, Oregon

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Thanks for the reply Jim.

It is hooked up to the neighbors meter, so how do we have power. My condo is the one on the left, that is not tapped into. I shut the breaker off in the inverter, and I still had power??

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Thanks for the reply Jim.

It is hooked up to the neighbors meter, so how do we have power. My condo is the one on the left, that is not tapped into. I shut the breaker off in the inverter, and I still had power??

Do you have any other key words I can type in to look up the spec's on this gadget? I really wanted to open it up more to figure out how it worked, but figured I'd better not since I didn't have time before my client arrived.

Which only underscores the fact that it was amateurishly installed. Your clients need a straight-talking, knowledgable electrician's advice now.

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Thanks for the reply Jim.

It is hooked up to the neighbors meter, so how do we have power. My condo is the one on the left, that is not tapped into. I shut the breaker off in the inverter, and I still had power??

I don't know.

Those things are generally used by PGE to provide temporary or emergency power to a house in lieu of a generator.

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I wonder if there is a break in the underground feed somewhere before it splits off to those two meters. By providing power to the lines feeding the neighbor's meter they would then also be powering the feed to this meter. (that make sense?)

It may be a "badass" battery...but it ain't that big. Something that size wouldn't power a regular 240 volt home appliance for very long. So, might it not be a regular 120-volt inverter connected to both legs meant just to provide minimal emergency power to the fridge, the furnace blower, and a few lights in both homes?

And...what the hell is up with that deck "framing"?

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I wonder if there is a break in the underground feed somewhere before it splits off to those two meters. By providing power to the lines feeding the neighbor's meter they would then also be powering the feed to this meter. (that make sense?)

That would explain it except for the lack of 240v power.

It may be a "badass" battery...but it ain't that big. Something that size wouldn't power a regular 240 volt home apppliance for very long. So, might it not be a regular 120-volt inverter connected to both legs meant just to provide minimal emergency power to the fridge, the furnace blower, and maybe a few lights in both homes?

I've done inspections where the power company rigged up that exact setup. I was able to power up the range, and run the air conditioner for about 20 minutes. It never flagged.

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OK, clearly, your inverter was supplying 240-volts and it looks just like the one in Brandon's photo's. I now have zero idea how he, seemingly, got both buses on the same leg.

I'm no expert on this, and might have this wrong, but let's say you had one very fancy 12-volt battery on that cart from which you could actually use 1000 amp-hours. Now let's put that through the ultimate no-loss-at-all inverter to create 2 120-volt legs. At 240-volts we would have 50 amp hours to play with...right? So, yeah, I can see how you could run the AC for 20 minutes and briefly turn on the various range elements, but I suspect you really cut into the useful charge on that battery. I don't see the utility company hooking that up and then telling the homeowner it's OK to do the laundry and cook a roast.

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OK, clearly, your inverter was supplying 240-volts and it looks just like the one in Brandon's photo's. I now have zero idea how he, seemingly, got both buses on the same leg.

I'm no expert on this, and might have this wrong, but let's say you had one very fancy 12-volt battery on that cart from which you could actually use 1000 amp-hours. Now let's put that through the ultimate no-loss-at-all inverter to create 2 120-volt legs. At 240-volts we would have 50 amp hours to play with...right? So, yeah, I can see how you could run the AC for 20 minutes and briefly turn on the various range elements, but I suspect you really cut into the useful charge on that battery. I don't see the utility company hooking that up and then telling the homeowner it's OK to do the laundry and cook a roast.

Certainly. They're a very temporary fix, but they're perfect for a home inspection.

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I wonder if there is a break in the underground feed somewhere before it splits off to those two meters. By providing power to the lines feeding the neighbor's meter they would then also be powering the feed to this meter. (that make sense?)

I don't know if this matters any, but I couldn't figure out how I was getting power, so I shut the breakers off to the inverter...... the condo still had power.

The client is going to contact the power company and find out what the heck is going on.

I was feeling a little hesitant about posting this question. At least I don't feel quite a dumb now.

Richard, in regards to the deck framing.........

The agent and client looked at the place and made an offer about a week prior. When they looked at it, the deck was fully installed. When they came back for the inspection, it was partially disassembled. I told her to look on the bright side.....she could have the framing installed correctly before re- installing the surface boards that were neatly stacked off to the side.

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Jim,

What's the reasoning behind installing the power inverter instead of just temporarily turning power back on through the meter?

I think they use them when there's a problem with the service conductors, so turning on the power is not an option.

As I recall, the one in my pictures was a house where the underground laterals were damaged. PGE slated a repair for the following week, but we needed to complete the home inspection sooner. So they rigged up the inverter for us.

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I think they use them when there's a problem with the service conductors, so turning on the power is not an option.

Ah, that's interesting. I'll have to follow up on this one to see what was up.

Thanks Jim.

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