is there a whole-house automatic generator transfer switch?

hello all, we will soon have a modular delivered to our rural area and want to have a liquid-cooled, propane, automatically kicks on, one-phase, standby electric generator sufficient (prob ~30kw) to power the whole house without restriction (200amp service- incl well pump; electric range; frige & freezer; TVs; computers; geothermal heating/cooling/water heater equipment; etc). all the electricians the construction supervisor has contacted have all quoted $5,000+ labor to hook up our supplied materials- supposedly to wire the individual circuits to be powered. isn't there a way to have an automatic switch in line after the meter and before the house's panel- thereby bypassing the labor to install individual circuits? if so- what brand of switch, would i need to get an even bigger generator to avoid any overloading... thanks in advance, kurt
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Just about every gen manufacturer has an automatic transfer switch that could be used to do what you want. For example http://www.generac.com/industrial/products/auto_transfer.asp If it will be the first item after the meter (and before the main disconnect), the ATS must be service rated.

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5000 hook up? HD sells and installs Generac Auto transfer panel ligued cooled propane generators for alot less than 5000 hook up cost. The Liqued cooled motors last longer , the 1800 rpm last 4 to 5x longer than 3600 rpm. 3600 rpm can last between 2500 and 6000 hrs. Shop wisely. Also auto test units cost 2- 6 dollars a month to auto test.
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Kurt: That is exactly how our Onan diesel/electric generators worked in a number of our small telephone exchanges some 30-40 years ago. I can't recall the size of our generators but IIRC they were less than 30 kVA (Kilovolt amps) which is approximately the same thing as kilowatts, depending on the phase angle load factor. Phase angle depends on the type of electrical load; would you have many electrical motors in fridges, freezers, air conditioning units, milking machines, air compressors, swimming pool pumps, maybe a motorized stair lift for seniors etc. etc. that you would wish to power during a commercial power outage? If so these would determine the size of generator unit you require. In our installations, normally the commercial power went straight through the automatic Onan transfer switch to power the whole building. When a commercial power failure occurred the transfer switch released; very heavy relay contacts changed over the building load to the out put of the generator. Another set of contacts within the transfer switch started the generator which was standing ready with an automatically and fully charged starting battery in a special room fitted with IN and OUT ventilation. I can't recall exactly but in winter if the room temperature dropped I think there was an electric heater in the sump of the generator engine to ensure engine starting? There may have been a slight delay to of say 10 or 20 seconds? allow the engine-generator to get up to speed. Various other things happened, such as the moment the generator started it opened the ventilation louvres in its engine room. If the louvres did not open the engine room might overheat and or the motor might starve for lack of air! So there was another circuit for that which would shut down the generator unit!. Also I recall that there was either a time delay circuit or one had to manually shut down the generator once it had fully and properly started and taken up the electrical load of the building. This was so that if the power came back on again quickly or the commercial power was 'swinging' off then on again, due, say, to a broken and hanging transmission line wire it would not damage the installation. Some commercial power company line reclosers will try at least three time to restore power and that could result in three 'hits' of partial voltages before the commercial power finally switched off! Once installed I recall that we did not have too many problems and the generators did not have much running time. I do recall that the worst problem was when the AC mains supply voltage did not fail .i.e. go off completely, but only dimmed to say half voltage or something, The transfer switch needed almost full line voltage to operate but, like most electromagnetic relay devices, would not release until the voltage dropped to around 40%. Hence we could have devices in the building dropping out, not operating correctly and the lights either dim, or if fluorescent, they went out and the generator did not start! The solution was for a technician to dash downstairs to the generator room; manually start the diesel whereupon it would stay operating until it was understood the power commercial power outage was over. AFIK transfer switches are not unusual item. Today there may be available ones more sensitive or adjustable to the commercial voltage; that could be good, or might mean that the generator would run at every little twitch or variance of supply; especially on a long rural line! A 30 kVA generator is no small unit and is a considerable investment. It will also generate quite a bit of 'waste' heat when running. You could add to complexity by making use of the wasted heat from the radiator fluid of the engine? Also the hot air from the genertaor room or enclosure? In a cold climate both 'waste heat' sources could be could be useful. I would respectfully suggest that proper design and consideration of all factors will ensure proper operation and avoid damage to the unit and the building systems. The other aspect, which could be most embarrassing, was when we installed one such unit in a crucial location and it failed to start during an ice storm! We were about to mount an INVESTIGATION when it was found; I can't remember exactly but it was something simple such as someone flipping a switch not realising it was 'Disable Automatic Start' or had the fuel stop turned off after reconnecting a fuel line, or something equally ridiculous. Some of our installations were three phase but the principle of operation was the same as single phase, with a slight added complication that I made a modification for, but won't go into here. If a manual transfer switch were to be used many of the considerations are exactly the same; manually one would observe loss of commercial power, manually start the generator, when up it is to speed manually operate the transfer switch to transfer the house load to the generator and then manually monitor the operation for a while to ensure nothing is amiss, no overheating, lack of ventilation etc. You don' want to use up all the air and asphyxiate people for example because a louvre/shutter hasn't opened! Momentarily after power failure many of the house load items will have stopped due the loss of commercial power and will restart as the generator provides the power this means that the just started and still cold generator has to be large enough to handle these starting loads, not just sized to carry the load when everything is running normally. For example a fridge will stop and then restart as the generator picks up the house load. I have no idea now what a transfer panel costs; but if the $5000 is to design, obtain and install the additional materials including the transfer panel/switch to ensure operation as above that might be quite reasonable? One could infer from your post that you only have the uninstalled generator itself and maybe the propane tanks etc.? There is a considerable difference between having a generator sitting in a shed or barn on the property that you plug things into on an ad hoc basis if and when needed and a generator properly integrated into a building's electrical system in a safe an insurable manner. You may need for example Carbon Monoxide, Propane gas, engine overheat and other detectors linked to alarms within the house to meet insurance requirements? Hope this helps. Terry.
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One thing bad in reality about auto start generators is the immediate load factor on a cold unlubbed motor. The motor hasnt warmed up yet, internal tolerances will cause more wear when cold due to dissimilar materials. Also although probably figured in some designs Oil filters go into bypass mode , on cold thick oil at high rpm. 3600 is high rpm. Letting a manual gen warm up 5 minutes at idle is smarter as a majority of wear occurs on cols start, cold running, high load, incomplete oil circulation.
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have a liquid-cooled, propane, automatically kicks on, one-phase, standby electric generator sufficient (prob ~30kw) to power the whole house without restriction (200amp service- incl well pump; electric range; frige & freezer; TVs; computers; geothermal heating/cooling/water heater equipment; etc).

all quoted $5,000+ labor to hook up our supplied materials- supposedly to wire the individual circuits to be powered.

and before the house's panel- thereby bypassing the labor to install individual circuits? if so- what brand of switch, would i need to get an even bigger generator to avoid any overloading...

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It helps immensely Terry. That is an example of the type of automatic action i was thinking is possible. The generator will be located outside and i plan to have an engine block heater running for cold weather. We plan to buy most all the hardware ahead of time and just have the generator hooked into the system via the automatic transfer switch between the electric company's meter and our main panel.
We are usually away from home when the power goes off. 1) The house is up in the hills (work is down in the valley). 2) Our electric feed comes directly off the utility's main transmission lines that cross our wooded property. No one else around is on the same utility grid so we can't gauge if we are without if they are. 3) If it snows/ices REAL bad we can't always get into/out of the house-- but such a sweet spot to be stuck when we are.
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A 500 watt engine block heater costs apx 50$ a month to run at average US rates .12 KWH. Use synthetic oil
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