Generator Connection

Hi, In the event of a power failure I would like to be able to power my fridge as well as my furnance... those are really the only two requirements. Is there a cheap way to do this? Fridge, obviously I can run an extension cord... but what about the furnance?
I don't suppose it's safe to 'backfeed' an electrical system.. ie flip the main off, and then plug the generator into say a 20Amp outlet, and then run the furnance through the backfeed of the electrical system as long as I don't use anything more then 20Amp circuits?
~ Matt
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Matt wrote:

Please read the thread on this group which has been raging for weeks: " Electrical/Generator question"
For your furnace, break the hardwired connection to it and equip the thing with a cord and plug. Provide a receptacle on the furnace ckt where you would normally have it plugged in. To run it off genny, plug furnace cord into extension.
Jim
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A transfer panel is best
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I recently saw a small transfer panel at the local Menards which handled 4 or 6 circuits. It basically mounted near you existing panel. Each circuit that you want to transfer is then routed into the transfer panel first and then to the main panel. When you are in the transfer mode, there is a mechanical interlock which prevents backfeeding the main panel. If the home is wired with romex, the job is fairly easy ... with conduit, a bit harder.
Matt wrote:

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Generac at Lowes has a complete kit for 2-300, buy it seperatly at menards it is 400+ The kit is often free with a gen purchase
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Matt wrote:

You will need: 1. An old lawnmower. 2. An 12v auto alternator. 3. A car battery. 4. An inverter (12vdc => 120vac) 5. Wire, bolts, plugs, pulley, belt, other small stuff.
Check the web for plans.
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I bought a "battery isolator" and connected it to my jeep's alternator to charge a second battery which powers a 3500 watt inverter. The isolator prevents the main battery from draining so the car can be restarted. A car can safely idle for hours to charge the battery and run the inverter, while consuming little fuel.
When hurricane Isabel hit and power was out for over a week, I had plenty of power to run the refrigerator for several hours a day (the ice never even melted). I could run flourescent lights and my computer all day. Among the advantages of this is it's MUCH quieter than a generator (silent when the car isn't idling), lots easier to store and very portable.
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You need a transfer switch. Couple hundred bucks for most small generators, but you may need an electrician to install it (check local code requirements).
Alternatively, an electric space heater or portable propane heater will cover those needs.
Of course, why do you need a fridge *and* a heater? If it's cold enough to need a heater, just toss the fridge contents out in the snowbank... :)
Jeff
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Jeff Cochran wrote:

Jeff, Very good observation :) so basically it looks like my easiest plan of attack is to wire an outlet down by the furnance... if it's warm outside I can run the fridge.. if it's cold the furnance.. just route 1 or 2 orange extension cords to the correct appliance and bingo :)
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Good transfer panels have 2 watt meters to balance each leg of the generator. A 6 circuit Generac is a complete kit with cable , plugs , exterior box , sockets and it is pre wired and labeled, an easy install. 200 for the kit and apx 200 for the instal. Worth the money for flexibility and saftey
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He was either joking, or has never been through a power outage. Get yourself a transfer switch if you can afford it, and some extension cords if you can't. As long as we are on the subject, Any but the best generator can burn out a new furnace. I have a Honda that gives better power than the utility, but my HVAC tech recommended against using it without putting it on a scope first to confirm the quality.(Since I don't have a scope, I am going to live dangerously; but it would be a good idea.)
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A furnace has lots of components - what exactly would a generator "burn out" and why, and what would one be looking for on a scope?
The only thing I could think possibly is THD which would be mighty hard to eyeball on a scope (unless you drew a perfect sinewave on the face to compare and even then it's only an estimate). That or extreme continuous voltage or frequency variations or spikes - in which case it wouldn't be a good power source for practically anything.
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That's exactly what I was thinking. However, some newer furnaces, like my 10 year old unit, have electronics. BTW, I have run my furnace on my cheap 4KW Coleman genset with no problems.
John Harlow wrote:

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Art Todesco wrote:

Electronics would be the least of my worries; anything worth a crap would have varistor protection and decent brownout and overvoltage protection. Harmonics would be most injurious to motors, and it'd have to be pretty severe - motors can run fine on MSW inverters which have gobs of harmonics.
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If that's your worry, then go down to your local computer junk store and pickup a power filter... at least here we have a local prison that has the inmates work on old DOJ stuff that is offloaded.. great stuff.. huge UPS systems for like $50... power filtration boxes (little things that you can lug around).. good enough to put in line with a generator and run a computer off of even.
If the furnance was THAT suseptable to power flux, then I petter put a surge protector on it anyway!!!
John Harlow wrote:

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