I had a 90 minute power loss last week and I noticed that my Weil
McLain oil fired boiler did not going on for the entire period. Up
until then I was under the foolish assumption that if there was a
blackout in the middle of winter my hot water boiler would continue to
heat the house. How can I protect against an extended power outage in
the middle of winter leaving me without power. Even if I had a
portable generator my electric oil pump is hard wired so there is
nothing to plug in. What do other people do in this situation?
Assuming you need 120v to run your furnace?...
You feed power from the generator outlet into your house by plugging it
into an house outlet. That outlet will feed the breakers through the
panel box. Make a 20A cord with two male ends.
IMPORTANT and LEGALLY REQUIRED. ALSO MORALLY SANE. You are required to
have a "TRANSFER SWITCH". This disconnects your panel box from the meter
while your generator is running. Besides the generator feeding your
house, it will feed power back to the "pole" or wherever. If someone is
working on the line trying to restore power and thinks the line is dead,
your generator could hurt/kill them. You would be liable. And even if the
lineman scenario didn't happen, I think things would get nasty when the
power came back on and the generator was running too.
For 120v, the generator must be plugged into an outlet that is on the
same side of the panel box bus (not physical side of breakers) as the
furnace. Power will be supplied to all house outlets/hardwired things on
that side of the bus. Make sure everything is turned off so it doesn't
bog down the generator. Someone running like a hair dryer will bog it
down and maybe trip generator breaker.
No personal experience but I've heard you can't plug the generator into a
house GFCI outlet like say in a garage.
DO NOT have anything on in the house that is 220v. It will only get 120
and burn stuff up.
I've never done this part but if you do this with a generator that has
220 output and can plug into a 220 house outlet, you should get power to
both sides of the panel box and all house outlets.
Hopefully some more savy electrical people in this group will shoot holes
or add good info to this post. This is welcomed from my POV so no one
gets hurt and you don't cause any damage on your end.
You dont plug it into a house outlet-backfeed a house, a transfer
panel has its own exterior box and plug. My 7500w uses 4 prong, 8ga
wire, weatherproof box, Look at a Generac Transfer Panel kit, its all
included at about 2-300. But if you want real cheap put the boiler on
a plug in outlet and unplug the boiler and gop to the generator with
an extension cord. Backfeeding a house is dumb and probably illegal
oh more costly but nice, a natural gas or propane automatic back up
generator, will run most stuff in house for about 4 grand.
if your away and a major storm takes out power in freezing weather
your entire home could freeze, ruin bolier, burst pipes etc.
such things can happen and today power companies take much longer to
restore service, and more storms appear to be occuring.
auto backup is looking more attractive
If you live in an area that gets at least one 24hr outage a year then
it might be a good option in just the food you could loose in your
frige and other apliances needing power. But I wonder on the life and
cost to maintain these basicly lower grade exterior units. They
automaticly cycle every month or so, there is an added cost for that,
and oil changes, battery. Having a generator and all the electronics
stored outdoors cant be good over a period of 10 years for the relays,
bearings, connections, and any component that will over many years be
affected by weather and corrode. I imagine alot of no starts after
5-10 years where a repairman is necessary. I keep my portable in a
garage where its not affected by rain and high humidities. If it does
not start one day there is no provision to plug in a portable to an
exterior box on the auto units, I bet its alot extra. I just have a
simple weatherproof exterior box any portable could be plugged into if
my gen breaks, and a 6 circuit with 2 V meter transfer switch. At
least getting a 2-300$ transfer switch and box instaled might be a
better idea to do now rather than buying a Gen first. I can always
borrow one for a few hours or get a cheap 400$ one at 3am at wallmart.
4000 is alot and I guess maintenance and testing could cost 50-200$ a
year, and how long do those units realy last or cost over 10-20 years,
with salt air not long, but for many they are great.
That was impossible during the storm.
or get a cheap 400$ one at 3am at wallmart.
Absolutely no store had any. HD had some scheduled to come in. The day
people were told the truck would arrive, there was a large crowd and a
couple of local police cars to discourage any issues.
Good hearted people/businesses were donating some to the farmers in NY to
keep their animals alive & milked.
Many scumbags were going way out of the northeast where they were able to
latch on to a bunch, load on a truck and drive back to these desparate
farmers to offer them like $500 generators at rumored $4000-5000 because
they knew farmers losses without them was much more costly.
Illegal? Not where I was anyway. Power company said as long as I was
disconnected from the meter it was not illegal. I was in northern VT just
south of Montreal in the January 1998 ice storm. No power for 5 days. Few
miles north and they were out for weeks. Montreal had huge transmission
I had limited power backfeeding. Enough to keep furnace running, some
lights, frig, microwave, etc. Dumb? Maybe, maybe not. You try no power
for a week in the middle of winter in that location.
Years ago, I cut an electrical cord off a junk appliance. Three wire cord.
When the power was off, four days, in year 2003, I wired the furnace to a
power cord, for temporary use.
Switch off the breaker, to the furnace. Side of the furnace, is a connection
box. Open the box. Remove the wire nuts, and wire the wires coming out of
the furnace to the wires on the power cord. Match the colors. Black, white,
green. Run an extension cord under the front door, and plug into the
generator. Securely chain the generator to a tree, and a mean pit bull dog.
Generators are a high theft item during blackouts.
The generator will power the boiler. When the electric comes back on,
reconnect the wires. Close the junction box, and then turn the breaker on.
The simplest and least expensive remedy is to install a double pole
double throw switch as the oil burner service switch. That is the
switch located quite close to the oil burner that the service technician
would use to cut off the power supply to the equipment during servicing.
The common contacts of the switch supply the oil burner. The switch
can be center off, thrown to a flanged inlet that will except a regular
extension cord from the generator, or thrown to connect to the supply
conductors coming from the panel were the branch circuit Over Current
Protective Device is installed. A flanged inlet is a plug blade
assembly rigidly mounted for installation in a box.
"This alternating current stuff is just a fad. It is much too dangerous
Any electrical supply house will order you one for about twenty dollars
for the public and somewhat less to an electrician that they deal with
regularly. They're a stock item at RV repair and parts outlets but they
price them outrageously. Leviton # 1286 is one twenty ampere model that
is readily ordered through a supply house.
"This alternating current stuff is just a fad. It is much too dangerous
There are problems with portable generators; they have to be
regularly maintained and the fuel kept fresh. (People have
a tendency to store them away and forget about them).
So the alternative is a portable kerosene or propane heater.
Jonathan Grobe Books
Browse our inventory of thousands of used books at:
I agree. A lot of people fail to handle those generators, even fixed
units, properly and either have serious safety issues or spend a lot of
money and find it will not work when needed.
BTW be very careful of those portable heaters. Follow all the
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