I live in an area (New England) where we have had extended AC power
interuptions. I just bought a back up, Generac 6500 watt generator.
Now awaiting the next hurricane, with a bit less trepidation !
I would appreciate any advice on how best to use the generator.
Obviously I could use the 4 generator AC plugs, providing a direct
extension cord feed to my key appliances. (The unit came with a 30
amp/ 4 plug "extension" cord.)
I have no idea how difficult it is to install a transfer switch (or
similar option). There i could energize specific circuits. If that is
the recommended option, any suggestions as to the install process.
Thanks for any/ all advise -dave
I had a transfer box installed by an electrician but if you are good at
it you could do it yourself. Circuits to my well and oil furnace are
220 v and don't have plugs. I had my freezers, refrigerator, well and
furnace and on some of their circuits a few lights, TV and computer put
on the transfer box.
Transfer switch is the ideal setup. You either need some knowledge of
working in the main panel, or you need an electrician. Not sure of the
cost, but it is over $500 installed.
If you are going to use cords to the refrigerator, freezer, whatever, be
sure they are heavy enough for the load at a distance. I'd set up my oil
burner with a plug too.
On Saturday, May 24, 2014 7:18:33 PM UTC-4, Ed Pawlowski wrote:
If you have a modern panel, that has slots available, no need for a separate
transfer switch and all the cost. Many panels have lockout slide kits available
from the manufacturer, which would be my first choice.
Or you can get one of these:
A lockout together with a breaker, and an inlet and you're good to go.
You can either put the inlet near the panel or outside. Total cost
of the parts ~$200.
Setting up the oil burner on a cord/plug has been discussed many
times. It's a violation of NEC, although apparently some AHJ's allow
Being too cheap to buy a transfer switch, I did the
multiple-extension-cord thing through maybe a half-dozen outages.
I finally wimped and got a "Smart" transfer switch from APC and now I
can't figure out how I put up with the extension-cords-at
With 6,500 watts, you probably don't need a "Smart" switch - but I've
got a dinky little 2KW gennie and the smart switch makes life a lot
easier: it senses which circuit wants how much when some circuit wants
more than the gennie can supply, it takes selected circuits offline for
a few minutes until the problem circuit's load drops back.
Smart or dumb... I'd call a transfer switch extremely worthwhile. OTOH,
maybe it's like a bicycle or kayak paddle: you buy junk, use it for
awhile, then when you buy quality you appreciate it soooooo much
more.... So maybe a few outages with extension cords would be a good
Our house seems to cruise on 800-1,200 watts depending on how hard the
furnace blower is working, but every so often we want to run a micro
wave (1,200 watts by itself) or, heaven forbid, a toaster...
The attraction of a small generator is gas. Last outage was about five
days and we got trough it with stored gas while the neighbor was driving
long distances to feed his Home Depot monster.
If you have natural gas service, I would recommend adapting the
generator to use nat gas. It's not a one-way thing: you can run it
either-or.... but with nat gas there's no gasoline storage/procurement
issues. Ditto propane from the storage angle. We have nat gas, but
I'm thinking it will cost an arm and a leg to run it out to the garden
shed where the gennie lives. Still, I'm thinking seriously about
getting a propane adapter just for the peace of mind fuel-storage-wise.
First, a 6500 is probably noisy. I'd want to plan
so as to run it for an hour after dinner to rewarm
the house, and help keep the refigerator cold. One
power cut near me, a guy on the next street over
ran his generator all day and night, and that got
irritating to the rest of us. Under full load, that
machine can use a gallon an hour of fuel, so that's
another reason to run it for an hour after dinner.
So far, I agree with the others advice. Transfer switch
is good, smaller quieter generator is good. And less
gasoline. Natural gas conversion is excellent idea.
Oh yeah... and propane doubles as cooking fuel. Dunno how much an
electric stove or electric oven pulls, but if you have those and/or an
electric hot water heater I'd start testing/figuring.
might be a starter.
I have a similar setup that I installed myself. My only regret is that
I didn't talk to somebody who had one/installed one YEARS ago. I'm a
very handy guy with electrical, home repair, remodeling but I just
figured "it had to be too difficult (especially based upon the location
of my 200amp panel in a finished wall.
Well, I did speak with somebody who installed one and immediately bought
a Pro Tran by Reliance, manual transfer panel.
Piece of cake. The only difficult task I had was running the 10ga
feeder from the external power plug (which connects to the backup
generator in its own enclosure about 20' from the house.
Once you have the generator feed line run to the transfer panel, all you
do is figure out which circuits you want to power when the grid fails you.
Then you 1) remove the hot wire feeding that circuit from your circuit
breaker, connect it with a wire nut to a numbered wire feeding into your
service panel from the transfer switch, 2) connect the matching numbered
wire of that pair to the existing circuit breaker, 3) connect the common
to the common buss. That circuit is done.
My transfer switch has 6 120v breakers and 2 240v breakers.
Repeat as necessary.
When power fails, connect the umbilical cord from the generator to the
plug on the outside of the house, fire up the generator and go inside
and activate the circuits one by one and you're in business until the
power company decides to repair the problem.
The transfer switches are BREAK before MAKE so that you will never be
able to backfeed your generator power back into the grid. We have one
centrally located circuit (for some wall outlets) that are NOT supplied
power through the transfer switch. We leave a light or radio plugged in
and turned on to let us know when the power comes back on and we can
shut down the generator.
Still a bit hesitant after speaking with the guy who convinced me to go
ahead... I shot an email to customer service at Reliance on a Saturday
morning and received a detailed answer to my question that same day.
Great service for a Saturday.
Imagine my shock when a company VP (family owned company in the
Milwaukee area) called me by phone first thing Monday morning to make
sure that my question had been answered and asking if I needed anything
Bottom line: If you can get the standby power feed to the vicinity of
your circuit breaker panel AND are handy enough to swap out a dead
circuit breaker, you can install your own panel.
Check Reliance and some of the others. Pretty sure there are videos
that will walk you through it as well.
On Sat, 24 May 2014 19:35:50 -0500, Unquestionably Confused
You SO closely desribed my situation. I routinely fix/ install most
everything in my house, and for a few neighbors.
Actually I am a degreed electrical engineer, albeit my microwave field
is far afield from 60 Hz. I was previously hesitant to personally
install the xfer switch. I will take your suggestion, and all whom
replied to my inquiry.
Thanks to all, most informative responses - REALY appreciated -dave
Dave C posted for all of us...
And I know how to SNIP
Why don't you set up a microwave transmitter at the genny then use microwave
dishes to receive all the power? Your rooftop festooned with s series of
dishes and waveguides to your devices will be a source of pride and joy. No
need to worry about heating or cooking.
I installed a 6 circuit transfer switch. If I had to do it all over again,
I would definitely install a generator interlock kit.
Why? My 6 circuit transfer switch only powers select circuits (fridge, 2 c
ircuits for the well pump, kitchen lights, living room lights, furnace). W
ant to go into the basement or upstairs bathroom or garage for a sec? Sorry
, no lights because they're not on the 6 circuits.
With a gen interlock kit, use whatever you want as long as you don't overlo
ad the gen. The only plus to my current situation: I keep the bedroom ligh
t on during an outage so that when power returns, I'll wake up and switch b
ack to utility power (and no, I never sleep with the gen on).
On Saturday, May 24, 2014 8:36:03 PM UTC-4, email@example.com wrote:
n, I would definitely install a generator interlock kit.
circuits for the well pump, kitchen lights, living room lights, furnace).
Want to go into the basement or upstairs bathroom or garage for a sec? Sor
ry, no lights because they're not on the 6 circuits.
load the gen. The only plus to my current situation: I keep the bedroom li
ght on during an outage so that when power returns, I'll wake up and switch
back to utility power (and no, I never sleep with the gen on).
Ahhh, another who has seen the light! No installing anothe panel, moving c
ircuits to it, then still being limited to only being able to power
those circuits with the generator. With the above approach, you can
choose what you can choose anything in the house you want to power.
You can actually just power almost all circuits and leave them on,
eg the lights, escpecially if you have CFL/LED and then just selectively
manage and power the large loads, as needed.
My genset is out in my shop . When the power goes out , I fire it up and
plug the breaker that I have hooked up and waiting into the panel . The
shop is on a sub panel , and I can <and do> backfeed the main panel . I cut
the feed from the meter - and when the power comes back on , the LED readout
on the meter comes on to tell me that I can go back to "shore power" . When
I finish moving electric service to the new main panel in the house there
will be a transfer lockout so I can't energize both at once .
On Sat, 24 May 2014 19:35:50 -0500, Unquestionably Confused
Depending on your panel, there is a much simpler solution, called an
"interlock" You add a backfeed breaker to the panel with a linkage
that prevents both the main and generator breaker from being closed at
the same time. You install the Generator breaker to reflect the
maximum capability of the generator. Advantage is you don'r have to
guess what circuits you MAY want to energize ahead of time. You can
still dissable certain circuits you do not want to be able to draw
from the generator. Connect the generator by hard-wire connection or
gen-cord exterior plug, same as with a transfer switch.
On 5/24/2014 9:44 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Point taken. In fact, I looked at that system but rejected it because I
did not have room on my 200amp panel to spare for the transfer circuit
IIRC, those lockouts were pretty expensive for what they were. By the
time you buy them and the related breakers, you're north of $125.
Still, it would be nice to have EVERY 120v circuit available.<g>
Stripped bare to the basics, either the manual transfer switch or the
interlock can work quite well for the OP and that was my point. I'm
still kicking myself for the 30+ years I've lived her without a backup
generator to supply the house simply because I "assumed" it would be too
much to install the transfer switch.
BTW, I also run an umbilical to the detached garage and shop because of
the spare refrigerator and freezer out there. Had room on that 100amp
panel to do the interlock but found a used transfer switch (another
Reliance) locally on Craigslist for $50 which made it a no brainer.
If/when the power goes out the first breaker to turn off will be the
electricwater heater . Much as I hate the tiny shower in the camper annex
<we still cook and sleep there> it does have a gas/or electric water heater
My generator is big enough to power everytrhing I have here except the
water heater , including AC units . Those probably won't be turned on though
, I can adfford to be hot more than I can afford the fuel bill for runnin'
We are fortunate to have a Gas water heater/ stove and oven. In the
past, have "tapped" into a generous neighbor's feed, whom has had a
generator for years.
With hurricanes Irene and Sandy (actually both were tropical storm
while over CT) we were without power for 8 days. I wanted some back
up, and Home Depot had a good deal on the Generac.
Now I am, ala these posts, figuing out how to best configure the unit.
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