Refrigerator Backup

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On 7/7/2011 11:40 AM, jamesgangnc wrote:

I wondered when someone would post a link to what I consider the simplest, most effective and safe transfer switch on the market.
TDD
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On Thu, 07 Jul 2011 11:29:08 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@neo.rr.com wrote:

Putting a plug on the fridge is the best way. I just went through 2 power outages a week ago due to storms. One 71 hours, the other 12 hours. Not common around here. Last outage was maybe 10 years ago, for a few hours. We had to toss out what we had in the fridge with the 71 hour outage. Maybe $50 worth of food max. Beer was still good. If we had any steak or shrimp in there we would have cooked it on the Weber and ate good. The 12 hour outage didn't even start to melt the ice cubes. Anyway, I've given this some thought. This is just my opinion, and the methods I examined for powering during an outage. I don't want a generator for infrequent outages. Cost/benefit doesn't work. If I had a boat or job site where I would use it that would be different. But not for a fridge. For running a fridge you can get an inverter to hook to your car. Some inverters will power most of your house systems from your car. My cars have alternators with about 105 amps, which is pretty typical. Just running your car every few hours to cycle the fridge will keep your food healthy. You can charge your rechargeables at the same time. If you need gas, drive to the gas station. No extra tanks, no generator maintenance and noise. A good 2000 watt inverter is about $300. Xantrex is one. For a fridge that's overkill. You can do it all cheaper to run a fridge. Small package, about 15 pounds, and you can keep it on a shelf. Then to do it right you want a permanent fused wiring setup on the car, where you can plug it in. About $50 bucks in parts. Then a HD extension cord, which you might already have. You can google all this and price it out. That's what I did. My decision was no generator and no inverter. Almost went for a battery TV, but decided my radios were good enough. Had flashlights, candles, and a couple battery radios. Only thing I'd do different is if I knew that first outage was going to be 71 hours, I'd have gone to a hotel/motel with my wife and just come home a couple times a day to tend to the dogs until the power was back. That would cost far less than a generator or inverter and be more fun. Except all the traffic lights were out, so I'm not sure about how much fun it would be. Luckily the temps were nice when the power was out. This is just me, so I'm not saying others see it different. If I was in a hot place I'd want to power some A/C for sleeping. Or drive to where there was power and sleep there. A lot depends on how often you lose power. It's worth giving it some thought before you buy stuff you won't use much.
--Vic
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snipped-for-privacy@neo.rr.com wrote:

I just went thru this exercise. I found a new generator for dirt cheap at a garage sale. I found another great deal on a DIY transfer switch that hooks between the outputs of the breaker box and the house wiring. I wish I'd been able to do the math before making the impulse purchase.
I discovered a couple of interesting things. The NEC is subject to considerable interpretation. There are at least two people you need to worry about. 1) the local electrical inspector. 2) the adjuster for your fire insurance carrier. If you bypass #1, then #2 has grounds to deny your claim when the place burns down. God help you if sparks burn down the neighbor's house.
Life is a lot easier if you assume that the place will never burn down. I've only been burned out twice in 63 years...what are the odds????
The code pretty clearly states that anything ATTACHED to the structure has to be permanently wired. I asked my local inspector if I could put a plug on the furnace so I could run the fans during a power outage. He said, "I don't see why not." When pressed, he vacillated. I think he's the only one in the office, so probably not an issue. In bigger offices, it may be a crap shoot depending on who shows up for the inspection. In your case, you could make a case for the built-in fridge not being attached in the sense anticipated by the code, but the socket in the wall is CLEARLY attached. Putting a plug on the other end of the wire might be an issue. You'll find many "projects" on the web that put regular wall switches in circuits to facilitate generator connections. As I recall, you must have switches actually rated for such service. Regular wall switches ain't! I was gonna put a combo switch/socket and back-feed just the furnace. I never found a combo SPDT switch rated at the 20-amps required by that circuit. Would never have passed inspection anyway.
When I had central air installed, I was amazed by the inspector. He didn't look at the wiring at all. All he cared about was that the breakers and switches all had the right stickers on 'em. He failed the system and made the contractor replace a breaker with one with the right sticker. So, it don't matter whether the switches can actually do the job. What matters is that they have a sticker that says they can do the job.
When I contemplated the transfer switch, I discovered that my house has 30 feet of wire between the meter base and the first breaker. This violates current code, big-time. There's some question about what changes inside the breaker box might require bringing the whole service entrance up to current code. Even if everything turned out best case, the cost of the permits/inspection was about the same as the cost of the generator. Power doesn't go out much here. And I have an unused freezer in the garage that could be pressed into service in a food emergency.
If you have room, pick up a free fridge at a garage sale and use it for emergencies on the generator...and for beer when it's not an emergency.
Anybody wanna buy a new 5KW generator and an 8-circuit self-installable transfer switch?
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Andy comments:
Well presented, mike...
Personally, I would just put an extension cord on the generator and unplug the fridge from the wall and plug it into the generator. There should be enough capacity to run a fridge, a TV, a couple CFLs, and maybe an electric toothbrush ---- necessities of life.
The idea of trying to make the entire house "normal" is just too much trouble. Just pretend you are roughing it on a camping trip that will end in a few days max......
It isn't the end of the world, and it's just too much trouble to plan for it.....
Mike's opinion of the diversity of thought in building inspectors is right on. And his caution regarding insurance coverage is also good....... Just use an extension cord, of suitable rating, and one won't have to worry about such things...
Andy in Eureka, Texas
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The point to having the right "sticker" is that it means it's the right one and can do the job, no?

Curious as to what part of the NEC this violates? While I think most panels are located closer than 30 ft from the meter, I would think there would also be plenty of situations where it was not practical and they were not. Cases like a seperate meter for an upstairs apartment that has it's own panel located there for example. I also don't see what exactly the big safety issue would be having it be 30 ft as opposed to say 10 ft, as long as the wiring was done correctly.

Did you see the post in this thread about using one of the add-on interlock systems?

That's a point I always come back to. Here in NJ the power just doesn't go out that much or for long enough to make it worthwhile to worry about. In about 35 years, I only had one outage that was close to ruining frozen food. And that time the power came back on just as I was returning with $25 worth of dry ice.

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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

look at ANY of the wiring to see if it was the correct size or routed and secured properly. Stickers on the breakers was the only thing he seemed to care about.

Good point. Maybe it's a local thing. A friend just upgraded his service. They wouldn't let him put the first breaker more than one stud-spacing away from the service entrance. Seems they're worried about some contractor driving a nail thru the cable. The first current limit is on the other side of the transformer on the pole at 8KV or some such. Something about arc-fault. If you get an arc started, it just keeps burning itself back until it reaches a place where the separation is great enough to extinguish the plasma. The house is well up in flames long before that happens and there's nothing you can do but watch it happen...assuming you weren't blinded in the initial flash.
While I think

The key is "were"...my house is 40 years old when they didn't regulate that. So, yes, "most" houses are older than that and weren't affected.
I think I could fix mine by installing a combo transfer-swtich and meter base/breaker at the service entrance. Then the existing wire to the main breaker box would be ok. Still WAY too much hassle and not exactly a DIY thing==> $$$$$
Cases like a seperate meter for an upstairs

As I understand it, the interlock system are not allowed by the code, but are often "passed". Problem with my box is that the breakers flip the opposite direction from the breakers anticipated by the interlock systems. I'd have to have fingers that reach around the switches and lock out on the outside edge. Other problem is that there's no room in the box for the extra breakers for the generator inputs. It's just much easier/safer to leave it alone.

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If that is the concern, metal conduit between the meter and panel would solve it. Seems you have some very strange inspectors. Where is this?

Based on what? Interlockit says they meet NEC. I've heard lots of people using and recommending them here, including electricians and haven't heard of any being failed.

What panel do you have?

Could you replace a couple with half size breakers?
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Code doesn't have much room for "would solve it". It's all about rules and compliance. Trying to understand is futile. Arguing with the inspector is futile. Just comply. Oregon I've got no facts, just the word of someone I trust.

So, we're in agreement?

At the risk of repeating myself
It's just much easier/safer to leave it alone.

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A good start would be to be able to cite the rules. From what I've seen so far, what you've claimed isn't backed up by the NEC. The NEC has no rule that says the panel breaker must be within one stud bay of the service meter. You claimed that the local concern might be with someone driving a nail into the wiring between the meter and panel. In which case, that would be solved by using metal conduit and one would think that if that were the local concern, the local inspector would be OK with using metal conduit as a solution.
I can assure you that there is plenty of wiring going on in Oreqon and everywhere else where the panel breaker isn't one stud bay away from the meter.
It would seem to me the real problem is someone needs to sit down with the inspector, the NEC and find out exactly what the issues are, rather than speculating. You claimed that having 30 ft of distance between the meter and the panel breaker violates current code "big time". IF it does, the inspector should be able to point to the NEC or local rule that specifically says that. Which is only reasonable, because if 30 ft is no good, then what is? 20? 10? 5? You have a right to know.

If that were the case, it would be very hard to wire up anything, would it not? Most inspectors I've talked to were willing to explain exactly what the issue is, the reqts, etc. and possible ways to solve their concerns. Did you actually talk to the local inspector about this?

Before you can comply, you need to understand what the actual rules are.

And that may be the whole problem.

No, we're not. You said the Interlockit system does not meet code, but is often passed. I said:
1 - Interlockit specifically says their product meets the NEC
2 - Plenty of people here have reported using them, including electricians, at least some of them have been inspected, and I've never heard of a single one being turned down by an inspector.
3 -I'd like to see what specifically in the NEC leads you to believe the Interlockkit product is in violation?

One, I don't see any safety issue. Two, it sounds more like you just took some word of mouth from a friend and called it quits as opposed to looking at NEC and/or consulting with the local inspector.
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On 7/9/2011 4:07 AM, mike wrote:

The restriction is not on length of service wires from meter to disconnect but length of service wires inside the building.
The code section is: "the service disconnecting means shall be installed at a readily accessible location either outside ... or inside nearest the point of entrance of the service conductors." (230.70 A-1)
With minimally protected service conductors you want problems kept on the outside the house. If the disconnect is distant from the meter the service is run most the way on the outside the building then inside and immediately to the disconnect.
Or the disconnect can be adjacent to the meter.
Or the service wires can be under a concrete floor and they are considered outside the building.

The interlock system linked to by james should be code compliant. So are the listed transfer switch units, some of which only handle a few circuits.
Another method that has appeared here before is to install a double pole double throw switch (not single pole) that switches to an "inlet", which is the reverse of an outlet. Switch ratings of 15, 20, and 30 amps are not hard to find. An extension cord from the generator plugs into the inlet. The switch, technically, would have to be rated to switch between power sources.
--
bud--

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That's what I am worried about with #2. #2 is also less desirable if I add circuits later. After the frig, the gas water heater controls and exhaust fan, and the gas furnace air handler would be my next priorities. I would hate to have three circuits with plugs/sockets in line.

Thanks for that tip. I will look into it further.
<snip>
Pat
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On Thu, 07 Jul 2011 11:29:08 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@neo.rr.com wrote:

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On Fri, 8 Jul 2011 08:32:50 -0400, "Stormin Mormon"

I am looking into someone else's suggestion of an inexpensive generator interlock product. (See www.interlockkit.com).
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snipped-for-privacy@neo.rr.com wrote:

There is no such thing, or at least one that I can find.
$150 for a six-by-six inch flat piece of metal is obscene.
Nevertheless, I'm considering buying one, using it as a template to make my own, then selling the original on Ebay. I figure my net outlay, then, to be about $10 which is a more reasonable price.
Heck, I might even make more than one, sell the copies for $50 each and retire to a mobile home in Bakersfield!
If I decide to do that, members of this group will get first crack at the product.
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wrote:

you factor in the cost of insurance? having your product tested and approved by Wyle Labs (probably 10's of thousands of dollars)? ...writing installation manuals? ...paying employees? ...paying federal, state, and local taxes? ...and last, but not least, making enough money to live on?
Maybe you can run a hobby business where your labor is free, but I doubt you can run a real business at those prices. If the raw materials cost $10 and they sell it for $150, trust me that they aren't left with $140 in the bank at the end of the day.
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On Jul 9, 9:47am, snipped-for-privacy@neo.rr.com wrote:

Not to mention, based on his long history of posts, HeyBub is the last guy I'd expect to be bitching about a company being free to sell their product at whatever price the market will bear and reaping the rewards of their efforts. And that's exactly what they do. Products aren't priced based on the cost of materials. They are priced based on what will maximize revenue for the company.
To price figure that out, they would be looking at alternate solutions. A full transfer switch and installation is going to cost many times that $110. Which makes it looks like a good value proposition to me. If he wants to bitch about something, there are certainly far better targets. An example would be repair part prices for many appliances. $25 for a black plastic knob that goes on the end of a mechanical thermostat in a cooler, for example.
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