Are randomly selected portable home generator sets close enough in frequency
and voltage to be used in parallel feed situations?
All references point out that the gensets to be parallelled must match
frequency and voltage.
There's a ton of stuff through Google on parallelling generators. Most of
it, though, is for big plants, and multi-phase.
I'm just wondering if the portable gensets bought out of Home Depot,
Walmart, Lowes, etc, can be parallelled without problems? What I'm hoping
is to hear from someone who's done it, and that it works.
Simple answer is no
The controls to keep the voltage and frequency are not there. I guess you
could buy the controls. You would probably spend more than the cost of
getting a bigger home generator.
After the connection is made, they will be at same voltage and freq.
Other factors will determine direction & magnitude of energy flow.
The BIG problem is in parallelling them before making the connection.
If not done, there can be one serious electrical/mechanical jolt on
making the connection. You need to get phase-angle to zero, and one
traditional way of sensing this is with light bulb connected across
phase leads before connecting the leads.
Does this sound loony to anyone else? There is nothing in most
generators to keep the voltages or frequency the same. Well, okay,
sure, once you put the two wires together, yes, there is now only one
voltage in the system, running at some frequency (or, rather, some
combination of fequencies). The question here is: are the voltage and
frequency the one you want (120V, 60HZ), or are they something unusable
(varying voltage, pulsing frequency)?
The important part here is the _phase_. If the frequencies are even
slightly off, you can never get them to stay in phase, resulting in a
pulsing combined signal. Totally useless. If you could get the
frequencies to be perfectly matched, and stay that way (a physical
impossibility*, btw), you would have to then get the phases lined up.
Here you might be able to get away with the light bulb trick, since it
probably wouldn't matter for most devices if you got a perfect match.
* why is it impossible? Same reason that you can never tune a piano
wire to a precise frequency, or even match exactly to a reference
frequency. To get ever more precision, you have to wait ever longer to
hear the beats in the output signal. The only way around this is to use
some kind of active system, like the honda DC generator system. If I
remember correctly, they have electronics in the two inverters talk to
each other continuously, to keep them pretty much in sync. It is not
just a matter of getting in sync then letting go, instead they are
constantly readjusting the outputs to keep them from drifting away from
I don't know what gens HD.Lowes etc sell. I know Honda makes a genset that
can be hooked to another. It is a DC generator that provides AC though an
inverter. This allows it to be parallel with another gen. I really don't see
the purpose. Unless you need 2 generators at 2 different places but also
need one large. It would be better just to buy the size you need and not
mess around with hooking 2 together.
A lot of RVers have opted for two small Honda inverter generators (eu2000
mainly) because it's easy to pick up one of those and not very easy to pick
up, say, an eu3000. This way they can have portability and excellent fuel
economy or they can connect two together if they want to run their AC etc.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.