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Generator Question for sparkys


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After seeing what many of my neighbors have gone through during Hurricane Irene I bought a small generator to power my sump pump, refrigerator and a few lights when there is another storm related power failure.

I was thinking about the best way ( and least expensive) to connect it to my equipment. I could run a few extension cords directly to the pump and refrigerator but I was wondering if I shut-off the main breaker could I back-feed the circuits by running an extension cord ( for each circuit) with plugs on both sides from the generator to an outlet that is closer to the generator (on the same circuit) and use the wiring in my house instead of extension cords to distribute the power.

Is there a problem with doing this?

The generator is grounded. There is a circuit breaker on the generator for each connection.

Feedback please.

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What you described is the most economical, quickest and easiest way to do that but that method leaves you one false move away from potentially damaging your generator or creating an electrical hazard.

You've invested in the generator, now invest some in some 20 amp combination transfer switches and breakers. They were mentioned here in the Forum recently. I'll look around.

Marc

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Well, I did mine on the cheap. I have two heavy extension cords which I have fed to two 15 amp breakers on one of my panels. Each feeds one side of the panel. I have painted all the breakers that I want on during a power outage red. I simply close the main breaker, flip off the other circuits, fire up the generator, turn on the two generator breakers and plug in the extension cords. Works like a charm. Of course, I have printed instructions on each of my panels to make sure I did all the flipping and closing before I turn it on. I have a 4000 watt coleman that does the whole house under this set up.

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I agree with Marc. Instead of creating a cord with suicide plugs on each end, buy a small Generac transfer switch and have it installed by an electrician. It is pretty simple. You place it next to your panel. A whip runs from the transfer switch panel to your existing panel. Inside the whip are wires for a half-dozen circuits. In your panel, the conductors to those circuits are intercepted and run to the transfer switch panel, and other conductors in that same whip make the connection back from the transfer switch to your breakers. The transfer switch plugs into your generator.

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What Marc and Douglas have said. Do not use your existing circuits unless you have a proper transfer switch or switches installed. The risk of someone, maybe not you, flipping a breaker and shocking a linesman up on a pole is just too great.

The cheapest way is to simply run a couple of good quality extension cords from the generator to the appliances, and just plug in what you need. Build a weather-proof gasket so you can feed the cords in from outside.

Cheaper than that? Go mooch off a buddy til the power comes back on. [:)]

I have seen the notes, "do this, then do that" where people have rigged up their own generator hookup. Now the house was being sold to a possible ignoramus with the potential to kill somebody. It may be illegal. It is certainly not permitted anywhere in our two countries.

Here's a note, how to run a 'genator'. If the duct tape comes loose, they would write the buyer new note, maybe? Which one is the main? And what if power goes off in the summer, not the winter?

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tn_2011912234434_Gen8tor.jpg

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Sorry if I came on a bit strong there. People assume they will be there to turn the generator off before turning power back on. That is the part not shown in any of the homemade instructions I've seen, BTW. Well, in an emergency storm situation, you could be away from home with the generator energizing the panel.

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Well, I did mine on the cheap. I have two heavy extension cords which I have fed to two 15 amp breakers on one of my panels. Each feeds one side of the panel. I have painted all the breakers that I want on during a power outage red. I simply close the main breaker, flip off the other circuits, fire up the generator, turn on the two generator breakers and plug in the extension cords. Works like a charm. Of course, I have printed instructions on each of my panels to make sure I did all the flipping and closing before I turn it on. I have a 4000 watt coleman that does the whole house under this set up.

I'm not sure what you mean here. To "close" the main breaker is to turn it on, i.e., to close the contacts.

To add to Mr. Kogel's point, when we write instructions on these things it is easy for us to use a vernacular that only makes sense to the person that wrote it, and which could mean the opposite to the next person to come along. Nothing takes the place of a transfer switch that breaks contact with one power source before making contact with the other power source.

Even with that idea in place, I once ran across a house that had a subpanel that was supplied through an automatic transfer switch that allowed a unique problem. The homeowners were experiencing lots of failures of electronics. They had frequent utility outages and their generator was used a lot. After much effort, we eventually discovered that the hot wire of one circuit from the subpanel was also connected to a circuit from a panel that was supplied only by the utility. When the power would go out, that circuit was backfeeding half of the house off the generator. When the generator would come back on, the transfer switch waits for five minutes of proven uninterrupted utility power before handing it back to them. During those five minutes, half the house was receiving power from two independent out-of-synch 60-herz sources, resulting in electronic mayhem. Blocking diodes in the generator are supposed to prevent this, but they didn't. Some 30K later, we ended up putting the whole house on the generator on a new transfer switch.

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I simply close the main breaker, flip off the other circuits,

Douglas was correct. And Jim was also correct. We do say "close" the light as well as "shut" the light. I said "flip off the other circuits", I should have also said turn off the main power. I considered a generator transfer switch. At $250. bucks and the time it would take me to wire it, I decided on the cheap method. But I would never leave this set up for someone with no knowledge of electricity. I should also point out that having lived in my house for 33 years I have only had to use this set up 4 times.

But enough of this, I am off to Eastern Europe for two weeks where I will have to deal with DC power and which plug works in which country.

Then there's that damn money thing. Not everyone uses the Euro.

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I simply close the main breaker, flip off the other circuits,

Douglas was correct. And Jim was also correct. We do say "close" the light as well as "shut" the light. I said "flip off the other circuits", I should have also said turn off the main power. I considered a generator transfer switch. At $250. bucks and the time it would take me to wire it, I decided on the cheap method. But I would never leave this set up for someone with no knowledge of electricity. I should also point out that having lived in my house for 33 years I have only had to use this set up 4 times.

But enough of this, I am off to Eastern Europe for two weeks where I will have to deal with DC power and which plug works in which country.

Then there's that damn money thing. Not everyone uses the Euro.

John,

If dealing with the money is a big hassle and it detracts from your enjoyment of the trip, I will be glad to accompany you (at your expense, in my own room, and with my wife) as your financial assistant so you can fully enjoy your trip without the distraction of converting currencies. I also minored in music as an undergraduate so I can advise you on which concerts to attend while travelling. I know that this is very generous of me to offer this service but I think it is important to give back to the home inspection community.

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I simply close the main breaker, flip off the other circuits,

Douglas was correct. And Jim was also correct. We do say "close" the light as well as "shut" the light. I said "flip off the other circuits", I should have also said turn off the main power. I considered a generator transfer switch. At $250. bucks and the time it would take me to wire it, I decided on the cheap method. But I would never leave this set up for someone with no knowledge of electricity. I should also point out that having lived in my house for 33 years I have only had to use this set up 4 times.

But enough of this, I am off to Eastern Europe for two weeks where I will have to deal with DC power and which plug works in which country.

Then there's that damn money thing. Not everyone uses the Euro.

John,

If dealing with the money is a big hassle and it detracts from your enjoyment of the trip, I will be glad to accompany you (at your expense, in my own room, and with my wife) as your financial assistant so you can fully enjoy your trip without the distraction of converting currencies. I also minored in music as an undergraduate so I can advise you on which concerts to attend while travelling. I know that this is very generous of me to offer this service but I think it is important to give back to the home inspection community.

Sorry, not this trip.

Actually was traveling with another couple. They had severe damage to their house during Irene. Service Master had the place stripped down to the studs and floor joists. My friends wife was at the house, dancing over the joists, slipped and fell. Over thirty stitches in her leg, bruises and a sore shoulder. They had to cancel. Always buy trip insurance. Like E&O, you don't need it until you need it. They will get a full refund.

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I simply close the main breaker, flip off the other circuits,

Douglas was correct. And Jim was also correct. We do say "close" the light as well as "shut" the light. I said "flip off the other circuits", I should have also said turn off the main power. I considered a generator transfer switch. At $250. bucks and the time it would take me to wire it, I decided on the cheap method. But I would never leave this set up for someone with no knowledge of electricity. I should also point out that having lived in my house for 33 years I have only had to use this set up 4 times.

But enough of this, I am off to Eastern Europe for two weeks where I will have to deal with DC power and which plug works in which country.

Then there's that damn money thing. Not everyone uses the Euro.

John,

If dealing with the money is a big hassle and it detracts from your enjoyment of the trip, I will be glad to accompany you (at your expense, in my own room, and with my wife) as your financial assistant so you can fully enjoy your trip without the distraction of converting currencies. I also minored in music as an undergraduate so I can advise you on which concerts to attend while travelling. I know that this is very generous of me to offer this service but I think it is important to give back to the home inspection community.

Sorry, not this trip.

Actually was traveling with another couple. They had severe damage to their house during Irene. Service Master had the place stripped down to the studs and floor joists. My friends wife was at the house, dancing over the joists, slipped and fell. Over thirty stitches in her leg, bruises and a sore shoulder. They had to cancel. Always buy trip insurance. Like E&O, you don't need it until you need it. They will get a full refund.

Have a safe trip! Enjoy!

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  • 2 months later...

What you described is the most economical, quickest and easiest way to do that but that method leaves you one false move away from potentially damaging your generator or creating an electrical hazard.

You've invested in the generator, now invest some in some 20 amp combination transfer switches and breakers. They were mentioned here in the Forum recently. I'll look around.

Marc

What he said,buy a generator switch panel
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