generator transfer switch

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Last year we bought a generator. We did not get a transfer switch but did talk about it in estimated costs ... so this year when I started asking about buying one and getting it installed, the price has gone up a lot and there is a big variation according to whom I am asking ... for a 5000 horsepower generator - what should the average price be. We only expect to have about six outlets (120). And what should we expect to pay to install it - garage is concrete block so it would have to be mounted on the wall with screws. Thanks. I am in Tampa Bay area.
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You really are lost, a 5000 horsepower gen would power a small town, so ill guess its 5000 peak watts and maybe 3500 w full time load, or maybe enough to run a frige, lights and tv safely. Generac has 6 circuit prewired complete kits for about 3-350, I put mine in, in a day. By the way, costs have come down unless you live in one of those rich oil producing countries like Dubai. You should be able to get one done complete with kit for maybe 500 US$. Learn about what you have, 5000 means nothing, its going to safely run less than you think. Hondas site has a good load calculator.
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I'd expect one to handle that size would be well over $20,000. Do you have a diesel tanker parked outside to fuel it?
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Hope you mean 5,000 watts otherwise you can power you house and neighbors with that much horsepower.
It's been a couple of years but electrician did mine as well as replace old house panel which was deemed hazardous for about $1,100. Retired friend in the business thought it was very reasonable. Price included both boxes and extra wires for generator which I run outside garage where box is located. My generator is 5,500 running watts, 7,500 start up and can handle 2 small freeezers, refrigerator, well, furnace several lights and TV.
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In a moment like this. I open the phone book, and call half dozen listed electricians. I choose the one who is reasonably priced, and sounds like he knows what he's doing. And who doesn't try to intimdate me.
--
Christopher A. Young
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Here is a link to a typical manual transfer switch with 6 circuits max. This one is rated for 7.5 KW. Your generator is probably 5KW, so one like this will be fine. I can install one of these in about an hour, give or take, so in my area of NY the installation would be no more than $200. http://www.islandgenerators.com/browseproducts/30216A-7500-Watt-Generator-Switch-Pane--Inlet---Wattmeters.HTML
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Sorry - there is a lot going on here! I should have typed 5000 watts - slightly higher start up number. Thank you for your help...
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.
Dotty Don't worry about the simple mistake in wording. Some people can't resist giving the folks who come here for advise a hard time for needing advise.
Your best solution is a main breaker interlock kit that interlocks the main breaker with a breaker for the generator so that it is physically difficult to close both at the same time. I use the word difficult deliberately because anytime you think something is fool proof a new and improved model of fool will show up and prove you wrong. Here in the Washington, DC / Baltimore, MD area the cost to install a main breaker interlock, the supply wiring, and the generator inlet box would run about three hundred dollars ($300.00). The reason that I like this solution is that it gives you a lot of flexibility in what you can choose to run from the generator. It allows you to operate any electrical load in the house that is within the capacity of the generator. Whether there is such a kit for your panel can only be determined by calling a supply house that is a stocking distributor for your brand of panel. If you provide them with the panels part number they can tell you whether an interlock kit is available for it.
If there is no interlock kit for your panel then installing a main breaker feed through lug panel ahead of your existing panel with an interlock kit would work but the cost will rise to about six hundred dollars ($600.00). Some of the additional cost is in the labor and parts to convert your existing panel to a feeder supplied panel that is no longer wired as service equipment. That remedy also provides ten or more additional breaker slots for other loads and is a cost effective way to install a heavy up were there are multiple feeder supplied panels in the home already. The biggest draw back IMUHO is the additional space that the new panel will take up either inside or outside of the home.
-- Tom Horne
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Dottie wrote:

Whatcha got, a railroad engine? You gonna run a circus?
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Dottie wrote:

Put an ad in the Tampa Craigslist under "Wanted" (electrician).
As you found out, a transfer switch is not really needed - you CAN operate with long extension cords.
Further, depending on the circuit-breaker box you have, you may be able to forego a transfer switch altogether by a simple attachment to the circuit-breaker box. This "attachment" is called a "Generator Interlock" and relates the two twenty-amp breakers that go to the plug for your generator and the main power disconnect.
This pair of breakers are normally OFF. When the power fails, you plug in your generator, flip OFF the main disconnect, and flip ON the two breakers. Viola! Power to the whole house.
The "Generator Interlock" mentioned above is a sliding bar that prevents the MAIN disconnect switch from being on at the same time as the pair of breakers leading to the generator. This interlock-thingy protects drunk or fatigued linemen from getting tickled by your generator while they are working on what they believe to be a dead distribution line.
Here's a set of examples for Square D breaker boxes: http://www.interlockkit.com/squareDmain01.htm
If you study the instructions for each, you'll discover that you'll be paying $150.00 for a single piece of metal and four piddly bolts.
Once this is in place, a power-outage involves the following steps:
1. Hook up the generator and start it. 2. Turn OFF the MAIN electrical service switch. 3. Turn OFF the circuit breakers that lead to huge electrical loads (Range, Water heater, A/C, etc.) that might overload your generator (if any). 4. Slide the "Generator Interlock" business out of the way, 5. Exclaim "Let There Be Light!" 6. Turn ON the paired circuit breakers that lead to the generator.
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HeyBub wrote:

har har!

That is NOT a transfer switch. You forget to "flip OFF" the main and when the elec comes back BOOM!
Or worse, you electrocute a line worker!

That's the way to go!

This is very interesting - it might work for me - I'd have to replace the feed to my generator hookup and change the order above...
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-snip-
I like this better- for $160 shipped; http://www.apelectric.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode 216V Gen-Tran 20 Amp 6 circuit 5000 watt prewired manual transfer switch
The planning on what needs to be on gets done before the lights go out. You've got meters to monitor loads.
I guess the downside is that it might be tough to decide you want a 7th circuit during an outage.
Jim
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5000 HP (Horsepower) is a railway locomotive, or small ship, sized engine. For example; a small car may have 100 HP engine, larger ones perhaps 200 to 300 HP. Gasoline or diesel consumption for a 5000 watt (that's 5 kilowatts) would probably be around one half to one quarter gallon per hour? Depending to some extent on load. Such a unit may weigh several hundred pounds. .
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I didn't snip anything because for the life of me I have no idea what you're getting at or responding to.
On Mon, 22 Jun 2009 11:33:49 -0700 (PDT), stan

OK-- but the space shuttle produces many millions of HP. [12-37 depending on who does the math]

Aw, c'mon a good muscle-car has 6-700hp. The 68 El dorado had 400.

You're pretty close here-- but what does that have to do with a transfer switch?
Jim
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Jim Elbrecht wrote:

Right. You can make the decisions ad-hoc with a properly-labeled circuit-breaker box. You may decide you've GOT to have the hair-dryer run for ten minutes and the fridge can just wait.
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RickMerrill wrote:

Right. It's NOT a transfer switch - it's a "Generator Interlock." You can't forget to flip the main to OFF because you can't flip the generator circuit to ON until you do. The device is a sliding metal bar that forces the switches into their safe positions in order to work. There are three permitted combinations:
MAIN - OFF Generator - ON or MAIN - ON Generator - OFF or MAIN - OFF Generator - OFF
It is not physically possible to have both the MAIN and the Generator both ON.
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No - if you follow the link you'll see that the setup includes a slider that prevents both breakers from being on at the same time. Quite clever really and way cheaper than a transfer switch - especiall the ones that force you to designate which breakers can be fed by the genset.
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Robert Neville wrote:

Yeah, but it ain't $150.00 clever.
I made my own from a flat piece of plexiglass.
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HeyBub wrote:

I have the Square D interlock on my panel, and it was not $150. I seem to recall it cost about $35 when I ordered it from my electrical supply place.
It is by far the least expensive transfer device available, particularly considering it can handle up to a 125A / 30KW generator connection (125A max branch circuit breaker size, ~$90 breaker).
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Pete C. wrote:

Ho! I didn't check the price at an electrical supply house; I just looked at the SRP on the Square-D web site and what the things were being offered for on Ebay.
Thanks for the tip.
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