OT hurricane power

This is way off topic. I just feel a couple of y'all know a little more than me and most of y'all probably know a lot more than I do. While I was winding up the tangled mess of drop cords, that I had connected to a portable generator, I had a thought. The generator was a life saver,but after a week of tripping over cords I think I may have come up with a better idea. If I turned off my main breaker as well as the breakers to my large consumers (AC, Close Drier etc.), would it be safe to connect my portable generator to my fuse panel. I think as long as I am careful about what we turn on or plug in, it really shouldn't be a problem. One thing I want to be sure of is that there is no potential for back feeding power into the power lines. The linemen working their butts off , have enough to worry about. They don't need to get zapped by some idiot just trying to find a better way to keep his beer cold.
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Mostly safe if done correctly. Definitely NOT up to Code, and possibly illegal as well.

Exactly. As long as your main breakers are off, there's very little possibility of backfeeding; just the same, the *right* way to do this is with a transfer switch. A properly installed transfer switch allows only one physical connection at a time to the breaker panel: either it's connected to the generator, or it's connected to the mains, and backfeeding is impossible.
This subject has been cussed and discussed to the moon and back on alt.home.repair -- suggest you Google-search the archives on that group for more information; there's lots there.
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
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ron wrote:

With the main breaker off backfeeding isn't an issue. The trouble is that if you once forget to do it, that's going to be the time that the lineman gets zapped. The right way to do it is with an automatic transfer switch, which can either go on the "hot" side of the main breaker or between the primary breaker panel and a subpanel.
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"ron" wrote:

............................................................................. First thing you want to do is change the oil.
If you want to keep that eng-gen happy, change the oil every 40 hours MAX.
BTDT, worn out a couple of eng-gens because I didn't change the oil frequently enough..
Second, stay happy, stay alive and save some money.
Forget about tying into existing panel.
If you have a standard 10HP-5KW generator, the inrush from a heavy load can stall it.
Need to be careful adding heavy loads.
Using a small eng-gen for power is a convenience thing. It is far less efficient than the utility generation, even at $2/gal, much less $4/gal.
Based on the questions asked, without some on site help from a skilled electrican, you could have a real problem.
BTW, glad to see things are starting to get back to normal.
Lew
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Ron, I've done it just the way you're talking about. I turn off the main breaker AND the disconnect at the meter, then backfeed the panel through a 240 outlet that goes outside. It has worked fine the couple of times I've used it. With that said, I'm looking to change to a transfer switch. Since the setup you're talking about is pretty manual, you don't necessarily have to go with an automatic transfer switch. I was just looking at a Gen-Tran 3028 manual transfer switch. It handles up to 30A on up to 10 circuits. One of its nice features that I had never really given much thought to is that it tells you the pull on each leg of the 240. It's best if the load is fairly well-balanced across each leg, and the 3028 has gauges that show the load on each leg. The nice part is that you can do all of the balancing (as long as you don't mind working in a hot panel, I suppose) while utility power is on. The wiring looks pretty straightforward. Of course, if you're uncomfortable with the wiring, by all means contact a qualified electrician. The cost of the 3028 on Amazon is $263, although it's currently out of stock there. It seems like a small price to pay to a) do it right and b) eliminate the chance of backfeeding the line.
todd
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Ok - so, you really got me thinking with this. I currently just backfeed through a 30A breaker in my garage sub-panel and shut off my main. I also have a 200A disconnect on my meter pole, but I don't go as far as to turn that off also. Overkill.
Anyway, your comments got me to embark (again...) on the search for a manual disconnect. All I want is a simple manual disconnect that will accept my 200A utility service, and a 50 input from a generator. No household circuits, no automatic mode, just a basic outside transfer. Should be able to find one for $100-$200, right? Ummmmm... not even close.
Boy if anyone does come across an exterior transfer switch that is a simple transfer - whole house, then for sure - let me know. Oh yeah - in the price range I mentioned.
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-Mike-
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ron wrote:

Back when Dad was dairy-farming, we had a PTO driven alternator. it connected to the homestead power lines through a large mechanical transfer switch. With the transfer switch, there was no way to backfeed into the power line with the alternator running.
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If you're going to be dumb, you better be tough

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What happens if you screw up? What happens if someone else comes along and turns on your main breaker and it's live? IMO, it's just too much risk to do without doing it properly.
Running your cords with a little more forethought wouldn't be a bad thing. 1 1/2" wire nails installed around the top of the room would support an extension cord quite nicely, and when you get power back the extension cords could be removed and the nails remain. In many rooms you wouldn't notice them. (It'd give you something to do during a blackout too. Hammers don't need electricity. :-))
Here's a thought... before you lose power, buy some ice and store it in the freezer. As you need to chill beer & other things that taste better cold but aren't temperature sensitive, move the ice from the freezer to a cooler. You'll not only have cold drinks, but if you need drinking water you can just scoop it out of the cooler.
Puckdropper
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To email me directly, send a message to puckdropper (at) fastmail.fm
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You can have a switch installed that allows you to isolate your house from the grid and provides a plug to feed power from your generator to your house. I checked and the electrician quoted me about $500 to install one. Small price to pay for the labor, parts, permits, and inspection (required to keep insurance valid). Gotta meet code or insurance won't pay in the event of an insurable event.
Puckdropper wrote:

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Installing one is advisable, but your last statement is incorrect and a common misconception. Did the electrician quote you an outside switch, or an inside switch? With our without branch circuits? Do you know the model number and manufacturer?
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-Mike-
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"Puckdropper" <puckdropper(at)yahoo(dot)com> wrote in message

Some things are worth worrying over and some things fall outside of reasonable expectation. I do believe a transfer switch is valuable to prevent both power sources from being active at the same time, so in part I agree with you, but there are ways of dealing with that even without using a transer switch. There are blocks that won't allow you to energize both the generator breaker and the main breaker at the same time.

You already have those cords run throughout your house - your house wiring. Some care and common sense, and it works quite well.

Ha! Not in most coolers I've ever seen (or smelled...)
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-Mike-
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A safe alternative is the small generator connection box with 4 or 6 breakers that can be wired to power selected loads (instead of the whole house). The breakers used are isolation switches, so the loads are connected to either the line or the generator and there is no possibility of back feeding. I have a small one that powers only essentials: furnace blower and thermostat, refrigerator, mcirowave oven (and gas range controls).
These are in the under $200 range, depending on the amp rating and the number of breakers. (There are some 5KW, 6 breaker units available on Ebay now for under $125 - search for GenTran or generator transfer.) A 3KW generator can typically handle 4 loads; a 5KW generator can typically handle 6 loads (not all at once unless you sequence the starting of motors).
Depending on where you are, you may be able to install one of these yourself (the county I live in allows you to do your own electrical work if you get a permit and have it inspected by the county electrical inspector).
John
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