Emergency Generator Circuit

We own a 5000/6260 Watt generator that is used for temporary emergency service during electrical outages. In our area (SE Kansas). Outages related to thunderstorms and ice storms are fairly common. Outages can last from a couple of hours to more than a day.
Being a lot Irish, I really don't want to spring for the full $600 - $1,000+ plus for a full up transfer switch installation. A am also opposed to the old Dryer Plug approach. Remembering to isolate the house with main breakers might work now; but as our brains age it looks like a good way to kill a lineman. Here are needs and a proposed approach:
Main Needs are: 1) Sump Pump main control circuit (basement) 2) Backup Sump Pump battery charger circuit (basement) 3) Furnace (central heat NOT air conditioning - basement) 4) Freezer (basement) 5) Refrigerator (main floor)
These five items are well within normal and surge capacity of the generator so I should have some capacity to run a few lamps.
Planned Approach:
1) Install a standard four prong female generator connection box so that 10/4 wire passes directly through the sill plate of the house. This will be done outside, or just inside of the garage door. (In either case the generator will, of course, be located well away from the house).
2) The 10/4 wire, from the box, will enter the basement and be routed down to about four feet above the floor via conduit.
3) At the bottom of the wire/conduit I will install a fourplex box and split the circuit into two 120v circuits with a standard two-plug receptacle on each. This will serve items 1) through 4) above via direct connection or extension cords. The longest cord run will be 15-20'
This circuit will be "dumb" and will not be hooked to the main house circuit.
When needed, we will move the generator outside of the garage and use a standard 4-blade, 30 amp, 30' generator cord to connect the generator to the dumb circuit which will serve basement needs. The fridge and lights will be served by a couple of the four standard 120v circuits on the generator.
Anyone else done something similar - or better? I do want to keep cost down and keep it safe. But it is a solution that MIGHT get used once every year or so.
Thanks RonB
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

It'll work, but it's kind of a Rube. Always a pia to have to drag cords out, especially if it turns out to be a short outage. If you have a garden variety circuit breaker panel, you can probably install an interlock kit, which cost around $150. Personally, I'm pretty cheap, so I built my own. Cost about a buck. Here's a link to the interlock kit: http://www.interlockkit.com/?gclid=CNiE7N6xs6gCFYg65QodWSKgCA
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

It is an infrequent enough event that dragging cords is not an issue. I am just trying to control the cord tangle. This approach lets me hit all of the basement items with short runs; and a relatively short run from the generator to the upstairs fridge. Otherwise I would have to run into the house, down a stairway, and then nearly the length of the house to get to the basement. There is a basement window near the basement items but that requires removing a window bubble -- not exactly what I have enjoyed doing during a downpour.
Regarding other comments:
1) The next owner is not an immediate concern. This is our retirement house and I don't plan on selling it --- Our Kid's issue :^) 2) Inspection and building standards are not a real issue. I want it safe, but in our rural community there are no inspectors. The electrician who wired our home 2-3 years ago originally lived in KC and is KC code conscious and I was happy with that.
Actually, I considered boring a big enough hole in the garage wall, through the sill, to accept a direct routing of a standard generator plug to the basement. The cord would be fed to the basement when needed; and then use an octopus plug from there. The hole would be covered with a simple, sealed cover to keep bugs out. However that requires boring a 3" hole and I am not comfortable with putting that large of a hole in the sill. RonB
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Cheapest way I know of for a safe system is to use Kirk locks. place them on the main breaker and the breaker used to connect the generator. The locks allow only one of the breakers to be ON at a time.
Jimmie
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

** Another fairly inexpensive method is a self contained generator transfer switch like this one from Reliance. It's a complete kit, and only takes a few hours to install: (Amazon.com product link shortened)03587946&sr=1-1
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I made some long extention cords out of 12/3 wire. I put male plugs at the generator end, where they plug into the generator outlets. They end up in outlet boxes located so that I can unplug the refrigerator and freezer from the wall outlet and plug them into the generator outlet. I have plugs attached to the lines to the water pump, furnace, etc., and just switch from house to generator when needed. Not elegant but it's cheap and it works.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 4/23/2011 5:05 PM, Pavel314 wrote:

If I feel rich enough to buy a generator this year, that is how I plan to do it. Maybe put a piece of PVC with a threaded cap on it through the band joist above the sill, so I have a ready-made hole to pass the extension cord through.
-- aem sends...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
RonB wrote:

Whatever you decide, spend some quality time with the local electrical inspector. You might find that an extension cord "bolted to the structure" is no longer an extension cord. Even stuff that's not permanently energized might be under the jurisdiction of the local authorities. "Safe" and "Legal" may not be equivalent. YMMV
The disturbing part was that the inspector said he'd approve stuff that appeared to be specifically prohibited by the NEC. Depending on with whom I talked, if I messed with the breaker box, I may or may not have to bring the whole primary side up to current code. That's PROHIBITIVELY EXPENSIVE.
Last thing you want is for your fire insurance provider to find a loophole. Better to have the inspection sticker.
I found a great deal on a generator at a garage sale. Found another great deal on a Reliance DIY transfer switch. No doubt in my mind that I could make a safe and reliable installation. By the time I talked with the local electrical inspector and found out that the permit and inspection fees cost more than the generator, I scrapped the project. Easier to put a doggie door in the wall and poke the extension cord thru when needed. No muss, no fuss.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

(snip)
I am working on this problem also. Generator will be propane fueled. Remote switch for starting..Will add outlets near freezer, refrigerator and heat system. These will only be connected to the generator. Safe and easy to move plugs from one outlet to others. WW

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You will need a lot of propane, far more than 1 or 2 gas grill 20 pound tanks.
buy the smallest generator you can get away with, because big generators use lots of fuel even at idle
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
RonB wrote:

A couple of people have mentioned interlock kits. Here's how and why they work:
You add two breakers to your box. These breakers are connected to a 220v male plug into which you connect the output of your generator.
Under normal conditions, these two new breakers are OFF. When the power fails, you plug the extension cord from your generator into the male plug attached to the two new breakers. You switch the MAIN to off and the two new breakers to ON.
What an interlock switch does is guarantee that when the MAIN is ON, these two new breakers must be OFF. When the two new breakers are ON, the MAIN must be OFF.
All this is done to prevent your generator from backfeeding the distribution system and presenting a safety hazard to the linemen.
You may dispense with the interlock switch is you're careful.
Your cost for this set-up is maybe $20 each for the breakers and $40 for the male plug.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

It really depends on how your panel is arranged. If your main is back fed and opposite of or next to another breaker slot, the interlock is cheap. Just a simple toggle.
If the main is separate above or below the rails where the branch circuit breakers plug in, you can get a cumbersome interlock kit but it may end up being more than a small transfer switch panel. (over $100) You would have to do some rewiring tho, to move your emergency circuits to the new panel.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 4/23/2011 10:59 PM, HeyBub wrote:

Uh, NO! You aren't wiring for you, you are wiring for the next owner, or the helpful neighbor that comes over to help while you are in the hospital because of the tree limb that fell on you. Safety-critical stuff has to fail safe, and be idiot proof, or as close as we humans can get.
--
aem sends....

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Nice thing about the Kirk locks is he would only need to install a 50amp 240 vac breaker for the generator the rest of the mod is just fastening the Kirk locks to the panel. On a residential panel room for the locks will be limited and the generator breaker will have to be mounted at the bottom of the breaker column .
Jimmie
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

So you have a generator and adapter cable to power home in a ice storm......
what if your not home when the power fails?
in the summer no biggie:)
In the winter with freezing temperatures?:(
Have you recently priced home depots auto transfer generators ....
prices have dropped dramatically. very convenient too
just something to consider while your planing this.
do keep the generator far away from home so exhaust gases cant get back in house. lock and chain the generator so it cant be stolen.
not long ago in a weater emergency a dad and his daughter died after exhaust gases leaked back into their home.
other neighbors had generators stolen so he kept his by the garage, and 2 people died
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
you must also have a fuel supply on hand, most gas stations dont have generators, if the power failsd you cant just go buy gasoline, and worse gasoline ethanol mix is very not tolerant to long term storage.
even with stabilizers. and if you buy gas for storage do it in the dead of winter. summer gas has very little volatiles..which make for tough starting.
if you doubt this just put some gasoline in a tin can, it does not evaporate....
I found this after cleaning some bearings, a werek later its barely evaportated at all, low volatile fuels:(
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 4/23/2011 2:22 PM, RonB wrote:

You need a way to connect the furnace to an extension cord. One of the better ways is to install an "inlet" (a male plug that mounts like an outlet) at the furnace. An added double pole switch connects the furnace to either normal wiring or the inlet. An extension cord connects the inlet to your emergency receptacles.

If your generator circuit breaker is not 20A you need 20A protection for the basement receptacles.
I like the interlock from RBM. You would have to make sure the loads you want are balanced on both legs of the panel. Check the cost and convenience of different methods.
--
bud--


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

**I know you know this, and just mis-typed (double throw switch)
An added double pole switch connects the furnace

An extension cord connects the

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

CY: Actually, a double pole double throw switch would be

The transfer switch having to be single pole or double pole depends completely on the neutral/ground bonding system of the particular generator being used. In either case it needs to be double throw
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

A transfer kit is easy to install you can do it yourself. I got a complete kit like the one RBM shows mine is a Generac kit from lowes and includes everything. it it safe and has built in amp meters so you can monitor the load. You might get one for 2-300.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.