I too considered it, it is cheaper than hiring an electrician to install a
transfer switch. Just Google around a bit, and you'll see why it is a very
The problem is that if you forget to turn off the mains, or if someone
else turns them on, or if your box is incorrectly wired, you could kill a
utility worker. The transformers will work in reverse to step up your
generator current to thousands of volts.
Back feeding is a serious and willful code violation. That means if you
burn down your house doing it, your insurance won't pay.
"In accordance with the National Electrical Code, paragraph 700-6;
Transfer equipment shall be designed and installed to prevent the
inadvertent interconnection of normal and emergency sources of supply in
any operation of the transfer equipment. Automatic transfer switches shall
be electrically operated and mechanically held."
It is against code. You might kill somebody. It is my understanding that
you could be held not just civilly liable, but also criminally.
Due to spam, I\'m now filtering all Google Groups posters.
On Mar 29, 5:51ï¿½pm, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
has killed linemen who werent following the rules.
main breaker must must must be off!!!! not recommended!!
some breaker cabinets have safe backfeed alternatives.
the larger the generator the hungrier on gasoline, can you store 60
gallons or more at your home safely? it does spoil too, espically the
newer reformulated low volatile gasoline...........
if neighborhood power is out most gas stations cant pump
your better off with a smaller generator, run a couple lights or
fridge, or furnace, or whatever....... one at a time
the idle use of gasoline is less with smaller units.
generators can be noisey, a big issue in a dead quiet no power
neighborhood.extra points if you run a line to a neighbor
harbor freight sells nice cheap generators for occasional use. if a
generator sits too long it might not start when you need it the most.
I have a 1000 watt generator its gotten a good bit of use, a 1000 watt
12 volt inverter, nice for quick emergencies, returned home from trip
after bad storm but still saw survivor. quick quiet just my car
idiling. have a 4500 watt unit only used it once
the price on permanent natural gas auto connect have dropped a lot in
the last few years. check home depot.
the power companies arent maintaining things like they used too, have
cut trucks and crews slowing restoration of power during emergencies
Backfeeding is stupid and dangerous and leaves you wide open to criminal
liability. EVEN if its not you, how are you going to prove that it wasnt you
who sent a backfed charge out onto the powerline that killed the lineworker?
I can hear it now... "Oh i wont forget to shut off the main" Sure, sure.
Dont be so stinking cheap, go buy a transfer switch.
My unit is 5500 running watts (7350 starting) and plugs in through a
transfer box. It can run my furnace, well, refrigerator and freezers
with spare power for some lights and TV. Clothes dryer, electric range,
water heater and air conditioner were too much to add and are not needed
for few days outage as are the aforementioned items. Whole set up
including cost of generator and transfer box installed by electrician
cost about $1,000 two years ago.
I have a similar setup with a Generac 5500. It runs the whole house
without a problem, but there is a momentary 'brown out' when the 220 v
well pump starts up, but then returns to normal when the pump is fully
On our section of the electrical grid, there are several power failures
a year, but most are just short enough to reset all our electric clocks
and timers to a blinking 12:00. I believe that our section is connected
to the main grid by an extension cord that runs across some farmland,
and a cow occasionally trips over it and pulls it out of the outlet.
:-) Some failures do last an hour or so, and one time more than 72
hours, but that was due to a hurricane.
There's no problem with the generator noise, as most of my neighbors
have generators. One neighbor across the street does not have a
generator and he has a driveway light that's on all night, so when that
light goes on, I know the power failure is over.
I have a similar setup with a Generac 5500. It runs the whole house
My generator is a noisy one from HD, Powerboss with B&S engine and
generac generating unit. The guys at a Honda dealer actually told me
what to look for and told me to avoid Coleman as if it broke down parts
would be scarce. We're on acre lots and all neighbors have equally
noisy generators. Besides having surge protectors for practically
everything, I have battery backup for computers and even put an old
deteriorating one on a VCR so I don't have to keep resetting from scratch.
See the same momentary brown out when well kicks on. Similar to lights
in kitchen dimming when disposal is used. Watt requirement is highest
when engines first come under load. Even so, I've had furnace, well,
refrigerator and 2 freezers all running at the same time. I suspect if
all came on at once they would pop a circuit breaker.
Rich, I also live in the Midwest and went through the same thing about 1
year ago -- after a significant ice storm in the area.
I wanted to run an "average" refrig-freezer, a small chest freezer, the
furnace (natural gas with 1/3 hp blower), a small radio and/or light and
POSSIBLY a 1/3 hp sump pump.
Here's what I got and I'm VERY happy with it:
1. Honda EU2000i portable generator (2000 watt max, 1600 watt rated)
Here's a link to the specs:
2. Had a simple, manual transfer switch (15 amp) installed for the
furnace circuit so that I could use a regular (12 gauge) extension cord
from the generator to plug into the switch and run the furnace. Here's a
link to the transfer switch I got, a "Reliance Controls 15-amp Furnace
Transfer Switch" - they also have a 20-amp version:
Believe it or not, that little generator has run most of the above
appliances, at the same time, without overload AS LONG AS THEY DO NOT
START UP AT THE SAME TIME -- which has never happened in the approx. 45+
hrs of testing I've done in the last year.
The power required at start-up for resistive electrical motors (e.g.,
refrig, freezer, furnace blower, sump pump) is MUCH greater than that
needed to run them. I'd guess (it hasn't happened yet, though) that if
any two of those appliances tried to start at exactly the same time, the
generator would cut off; it has an overload cutoff.
This winter, I routinely tested with furnace, refrig-freezer, chest
freezer and radio all plugged in and with the generator in EcoThrottle
mode without problems. Just last week I tested with furnace, sump pump
and radio plugged in (again, using EcoThrottle) without problems.
In a real, extended power outage, I plan to "juggle" extension cords to
avoid overload and plug in the refrig-freezer and chest freezer only
when needed. I have a couple of cheap but very handy little thermometers
with probes that I'll put in the freezers and be able to determine when
they need to run without having to open them. I'll do that especially if
I need to run the sump pump with the furnace.
The EU2000i is VERY energy-efficient. This winter when I ran 4-hr tests
with furnace, refrig-freezer, chest freezer and radio plugged in, I used
approx. 1/2 gal (maybe less) of gasoline.
As for the break-in and maintenance of the EU2000i: I used Castrol
10w-30 to break it in and now use Amsoil 10w-30 Synthetic High
Performance Oil exclusively.
One other thing, plan to get yourself some high quality, 12 gauge
extension cords but only as long as you really need. I've also found the
short 3-outlet extensions handy. The EU2000i has two 120 volt outlets so
I run two 50ft 12gauge extension cords from the generator -- one to the
basement where the furnace, chest freezer and sump pump are located; and
one upstairs where the refrig-freezer, radio and lights are located. I
then put a short (2 ft) 12 gauge 3-outlet extension on each and plug in
the appliances needed either directly or, if necessary, using a 25ft
12gauge extension cord so that the max. length of 12gauge cord between
the generator and any appliance is 75 ft.
So, Rich, that's what I found seems to meet my backup needs -- hope you
found it useful. As you can tell, I'm very pleased with that little
Honda generator. It's approx 50 lbs fully gassed and can be stored
easily in a small space in the garage.
Best wishes -- with luck, we'll never have to use any generators "for
real" but I'm not counting on that ;-)
I use this generator and highly recommend it. It's very fuel efficient
and amazingly quiet.
Set on a high-quality scale with a full fuel tank, it weighs 54-lbs.
Anything larger probably shouldn't be considered truly "portable" by one
Your problem is in your approach. You are looking for the minimal machine
to perform marginally. You are allowing for no extras. It is wise to have
more power than you need in these circumstances, rather than not enough to
meet your needs. It is not necessary to overkill, but getting a unit that
is surely adequate is better than one that is borderline marginal. The
oversized one will not work as hard. It will last longer. You won't be
standing there with no power AND a DOA generator. This is the last thing
before darkness and spoiled food. Do you want to take that big a chance?
And buy a quiet quality unit, not an obnoxiously loud cheapo that will wear
You can get a 6 circuit transfer box for about 400 prewired from
Generac, Lowes gave me one free when I bought a 5500 watt Generac.
Best is a transfer box with meters as you can balance the load and
its alot safer. Backfeeding has alot of risks for an accident to the
generator and you. You can get a trifuel unit, or convert yours.
Something else to consider, is how you balance the load so you dont
burn our the unit, its two legs make 220, using only one is not
correct, thats where a transfer panel makes it work safely.
OK I've been looking at more units and switches and I think I'm going to use
my 16HP Briggs engine and get a 5500 watt PTO unit and make the generator
from that. Then use the money I didn't spend on an engine to get a transfer
switch and set this up properly.
Thanks for all who helped, Rich
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