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.
Mostly safe if done correctly. Definitely NOT up to Code, and possibly illegal
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.
Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
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.
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
BTDT, worn out a couple of eng-gens because I didn't change the oil
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you're going to be dumb, you better be tough
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.
If you're quiet, your teeth never touch your ankles.
To email me directly, send a message to puckdropper (at) fastmail.fm
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.
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?
"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...)
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
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