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Author Topic: Hooking Up Generator To house for Emergency Power  (Read 5554 times)
Fred Mc
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« on: May 11, 2007, 01:15:11 PM »

Last year this board helped me in getting 220 V power from my generator.

Now I want to be able to hoop it up to my house for emergency use.(thats how I convinced my wife we need a generator).

I need to run a well that has a 220 v pump and also a few 110 v needs( fridge and freezer and 1 or 2 lites) The generator is 6500 W.

What kind of wiring would I needed to go from the bus to the house.

I was thinking that 10/2 might work as that gives me 2 hots and a ground but the guy at the borg said I need 3/10 with 2 hots, a neutral and ground.

I understand you need a special switch to prevent backfeed to the grid.

And, if I just wanted to hook up the water pump direct (220) can I  use 10/2.

Thanks

Fred Mc.
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« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2007, 01:39:59 PM »

Part of the equation is the length of wire you wil be running. Longer means you should go the next larger wire size.  I concur, you definitely need 4 wire conductor.  Don't skimp on this wiring job, the codes are there for you and your families safety. 
« Last Edit: May 11, 2007, 04:29:11 PM by H3Jim » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2007, 01:42:27 PM »

Fred,

A few questions first....

Where is the main disconnect for commercial power at?  By the meter outside, inside....etc

Where is the bus parked?  In a shop with power fed from the house, other, etc..

Cliff
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« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2007, 01:51:36 PM »

During Hurricane Katrina, my bus genset saved our freezer full of food and kept us cool at night and we had a tv to watch. 

My advice, use long extension cords and plug in the things you need. 

Every year, some power company employee somewhere is electrocuted because someone has incorrectly hooked up a generator to their house.  If you don't know how to do it properly, please get someone who does to do it.


NEWS STORY:
Worker Electrocuted In Flomaton By Live Power Line

FLOMATON, Ala. -- An electric lineman was killed just before 5 p.m. Tuesday when he came into contact with a live power line. It was energized by a generator that was hooked up improperly.

The man -- whose name has not been released -- was transported by LifeFlight to Jay hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The man worked for Pike Electric, Inc. in Mount Airy, North Carolina.

Alabama Power spokesman Bernie Fogarty says the company is "Deeply saddened and distressed by this tragic event."

Alabama authorities say they're looking for the person responsible for hooking up the generator.

NBC NEWS CHANNEL 13 (Birmingham, AL)
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« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2007, 02:08:19 PM »

During Hurricane Katrina, my bus genset saved our freezer full of food and kept us cool at night and we had a tv to watch. 

My advice, use long extension cords and plug in the things you need. 

Every year, some power company employee somewhere is electrocuted because someone has incorrectly hooked up a generator to their house.  If you don't know how to do it properly, please get someone who does to do it.


NEWS STORY:
Worker Electrocuted In Flomaton By Live Power Line

FLOMATON, Ala. -- An electric lineman was killed just before 5 p.m. Tuesday when he came into contact with a live power line. It was energized by a generator that was hooked up improperly.

The man -- whose name has not been released -- was transported by LifeFlight to Jay hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The man worked for Pike Electric, Inc. in Mount Airy, North Carolina.

Alabama Power spokesman Bernie Fogarty says the company is "Deeply saddened and distressed by this tragic event."

Alabama authorities say they're looking for the person responsible for hooking up the generator.

NBC NEWS CHANNEL 13 (Birmingham, AL)


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« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2007, 03:56:00 PM »

My view on DIY electrical work is that if you have to ask what to do, you shouldn't be doing it yourself.
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« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2007, 04:24:21 PM »

I would talk to the electrician that installs your transfer switch and the inspector that signs off on it.  They are the only ones I would listen to.  I wonder if the inspector will want the whole thing, generator and everything, hooked up before he signs off on it. 

As others said, the distance from genset to transfer switch must be taken into account when choosing wire size. 

Good luck
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« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2007, 04:51:12 PM »

Hello.

I support tonylee's way of thinking too.

Everyone can safely run a couple extension cords.

Get the right plugs for your 220v, and have the wire to your water pump changed from hard wired to connected with a plug and socket.

Cost benefit analysis might suggest the time and resources spent hard wiring a transfer switch and the associated switching might be spent better elsewhere for the time it might be in use.

And from whom will you get the right info in order to decide which of several strategies of execution that you want to follow? This topic might be much the same as asking how to build a bus conversion. Lots of "right ways", all different executions.

Good luck!

happy coaching!
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« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2007, 03:55:11 PM »

Fred, don't do this its against all the rules. My power meter servs as a disconnect switch and isolates my house from the grid. I take it off the side of the house. I have a 50 amp wall outlet that I use for the buzz box and an adapter cord that is against all the rules with a male connector to plug into the welder outlet and another male connector on the other end to plug into my genset. (2 male ends, very dangerous and very against code). This illegal and wrong setup allows me to power up my entire house in an emergency in just a couple of minutes. There may be a way to hard wire the welder outlet to a 50 amp circuit breaker that meets code. I almost prefer removing the meter to having a master switch that someone could turn on and send my power down the line. I'm sure this is not an approved way of hooking up your genset, so don't do it.
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« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2007, 05:39:41 PM »

Pulling the meter makes the power company charge you a $1000 fine for tampering with their security locks.

They don't think it's funny at all. They don't have a sense of humor...

If a fireman pulls it that's a different story but the power company has to re-install it and charge accordingly.

The best advice is buy a transfer panel and have an electrician install it. The panels run about $600
and will divide off the necessary items that will run on the generator.

Have it done by a professional and to code. You will be a little more poor but fairly safe that way.
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« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2007, 12:07:52 PM »

If it were me I'd give the man who works for the power company the answers to the questions he asked! Then I would very closely follow his advice as I am 100% certain that Florida Cliff would not steer any of us wrong!  FWIW BK  Grin
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« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2007, 02:40:15 PM »

Cliff.

By main power disconnect, if you are referring to the main panel it is a few feet from the meter(the meter is on an outside wall). It is located in the furnace room which is accessed through its own door to the outside.

The bus is normally parked in a carport remote from the house but will be moved close to the house in the event of emergency power. It is about 80-100 feet from the main panel.



Thanks

Fred Mc.
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« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2007, 10:22:18 AM »

Fred,

Several ways to do this;

First and safest would be to put a manual two position transfer switch between your power meter and your main panel. 

On the transfer switch one input would be from the meter, the other from the generator.  You would simply switch to the generator when emergency power was needed.  This isolates the commercial power and your generator.  You would have to make up a power cable to the generator or an outside box that you could connect too.

Second, If your power meter feeds straight into a main breaker in your main panel.  You could add a breaker in that panel that was wired to connection point outside.  This breaker would act as the input for the generator to the panel.  When you wanted to run off the generator you would have to turn off the main in from the power company, then turn on the main input from the generator.  This set up is not fail safe as you could accidentally leave both feeds on and hurt someone else or yourself.   I know a lot of people who have used this exact setup.  Most of them painted the two breakers red and put a sign on the door that they can both never be on at the same time.

I did mine a third way.  I have a 50 amp plug were the bus is parked.  It is fed from a 100amp service in my shop that is fed from the house.  I turn off the main at my house panel(disconnects the commercial) I then have a short cable with a twist lock on one end and cam lock ends http://www.nationalsupplyonline.com/Cam_Lok_1015.html  on the other to go from the generator to the shop power.  This allows me not to use the dual male extension cord which is very dangerous.

Its nice to be able to use the coach power in the house after the hurricanes down here.  We raise our own beef and to loose 500-600lbs in the freezer would be a real mess.

Yeah, I know what the rest of you are thinking, power out at Cliff's equals Busnut BBQ time.  LOL   Grin

Just be safe.

Cliff
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« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2007, 08:37:56 PM »

Cliff, your setup is somewhat similar to NJT's setup except whereas you flip the main breaker he takes out the meter.And he uses a double male plug also.

I wasn't aware that you could actually put two main breakers in a box but just looked at mine(Sq. D) and it looks like a second would fit.
I'm sure this discussion will make some people set their hair on fire.

We live on a small farm and have a small house that we rented out. Wouldn't you know it but the renters decided to start a grow-op so we evicted them and decided to renovate including all new wiring. I had never seen a meter removed before and was surprised at how easy it is-like unplugging a large plug.

Anyway, thanks again for the info.

Fred Mc.
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« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2007, 05:28:49 AM »

Fred wrote: And he uses a double male plug also.

Fred, 

I dont use the double male plug.  I use a female cam lock on the end that connects to my home electric.

They are a little pricey, but work great.  Also, order them color coded and you cannot put the wrong one in the wrong cam.(someone got smart)  This eliminates the live end with prongs on the double male.

I use them at work on back up generators to back up the back up generator. We love redundancy! LOL

Cliff
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« Reply #15 on: May 15, 2007, 05:40:09 AM »

Square D makes a transfer switch that has two 2-pole breakers adjacent to each other.  One is sized for the panel (60-100 amps) and the other is sized to the generator (usually 20-30 amps).  There is a piece of metal that ties the two together with a rocking 'arm' .  It allows for only one of the breakers to be on at a time.  It's possible that this could be retrofitted to a larger existing panel.  I have an old house with most of the normal loads on an inside panel and the larger loads outside in the 'main' box.  This would work great for me, but there's one problem: I have a GE panel and I can't find a similar setup for it (GE, ITE, Siemens, etc would work).  I'm sure I can make something that would work for me, but for now, I turn off the main outside and lock that box.  I have a section of 10/3 cord with a male plug on one end and a 20 amp breaker on the other.  I pull the cover off the inside panel and snap the breaker into place.  It works really well, but is somewhat of a pain.  The good thing is that the three times I've had to do this (we live in Hurricane Alley), the power comes back on within an hour!   Wink

David
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« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2007, 06:12:11 AM »

Quote
Fred wrote: And he uses a double male plug also.

Fred, 

I dont use the double male plug.  I use a female cam lock on the end that connects to my home electric.

They are a little pricey, but work great.  Also, order them color coded and you cannot put the wrong one in the wrong cam.(someone got smart)  This eliminates the live end with prongs on the double male.

 Is this so wrong?? Except for the danger of having the exposed male plug??
  I was figuring on doing the same thing. I would throw the main and any other circuit breaker I didn't want to power. Plug the cord in the house receptacle and then in the generator.
  Then when I learned the power was back, reverse the whole scenerio.
  I agree that a double male can be dangerous and I wouldn't have that sort of set up if I wasn't the only one doing it, but I am. I was just curious if there was any other reason to not do it besides the exposed male end.
  By the way, I have a small Honda Gen. for the house so I can't power allot of stuff in the house. Fridge and maybe the TV and one light would be plenty.

  Thanx for the insight!
    Chaz
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« Reply #17 on: May 15, 2007, 07:59:15 AM »

Chaz wrote: Is this so wrong?? Except for the danger of having the exposed male plug??

Chaz

Functionally they are the same, safety wise a big difference.

But if you are the only one dealing with it, you know whats going on, no problem.

I tend to be a little on the overkill side, plus I like a little Oops factor built in.  LOL  Grin

Cliff

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« Reply #18 on: May 15, 2007, 08:04:54 AM »

I totally understand, Cliff. I just felt this would be an easy, down and dirty way to do it. I'll be careful as I understand electricity somewhat. (FT in the Navy, and a welder for 26 years)
  Thanx!!!!!!!!! I appreciate your time!!!
    Chaz
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« Reply #19 on: May 15, 2007, 09:12:22 AM »

As Cliff said, the safest and most foolproof is a disconnect between the meter and the panel. The power company people are much happier with a system that is either connected to the meter or to the generator; no breaker to remember to flip, no hot plugs with exposed tangs, etc. That is the system I had installed so I favor it. The only problem I have encountered is power management if I don't switch off the forced-air electric frunace before switching to the generator is the sudden stop of the 10 KW generator.
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« Reply #20 on: May 15, 2007, 11:11:29 AM »

Quote
I'll be careful as I understand electricity somewhat.
    Chaz

Famous last words for somebody somewhere.

The thing is Chaz, I would never be comfortable with this setup as I have a very inquisitive 5 year old.  He knows not to play with electrical cords and such, but he also knows not to smear pancake syrup on the chairs (but occasionally he does things he knows he shouldn't do).

There is ALWAYS the potential for electrocution using the double male plug.  That's enough for me to say, JUST SAY NO!

I once took a survivor claim for a young widow whose husband was an electrician.  He was crawling around in an attic and he set his knee down in on an exposed wire.  Dead instantly and he knew exactly what he was doing.

It would be a shame to think of a world without your art in it! Cry
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Dallas
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« Reply #21 on: May 15, 2007, 12:20:04 PM »

Chaz....
When I was about 15-16 years old I built my first camper.

I first built a trailer out of a pickup bed and a 3/4 ton pickup axle, then built a box in the bed. I know, not elegant, but it kept the rain and snow off of me.
There was no insulation and no refrigeration, just a box with a bed across one end.
I decided I wanted some light other than a kerosene lamp and wanted some refrigeration besides a cooler so I proceeded to "wire" it up for electricity  Cheesy
I got everything put together using extension cords plugged into a 4 receptacle box, then it dawned on my young brain, I needed a way to plug it in.
I'd never heard of an RV receptacle, so I just wired the end of an extension cord to my box and left the end hanging out through a hole in the side.
My next job was to hook it to a cord. Hmmmmm, I'd used the wrong end of the extension cord! No problem! just wire two male plugs onto a long cord!
It worked pretty good, except for when the ground was wet and I forgot to unplug from the pole or generator first, then it would bite the peewaddin' out of me. But I lived with it until one night It was snowing and I had my little heater going and the cord pulled out of the side of the camper, disconnecting my power.
I quickly jumped out onto the tailgate of the trailer, in my bare feet, and jumped to the ground.

All of a sudden I saw lots of stars and lightning bolts, and heard popping and cracking, and felt the most awful sensations from my hand, (still on the tailgate), and my feet, (planted firmly on the wet ground.

When the cords had come apart, the power cord with it's male end had fallen onto the bed of the trailer, and I became the path of least resistance.

Let me tell you! I don't like being the resistor in a Circuit! It ain't no fun.
It didn't take me long to find a way to make the corrections to that setup!

Now, I'm not saying this will happen to you, but, it does show that anything can happen and usually at the most inopportune times.

By the way, I've never heard my mom and stepdad laugh as hard as they did that night! I was certain they were totally EVIL!
My step dad still laughs about it 40 years later.

Dallas
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« Reply #22 on: May 15, 2007, 12:20:17 PM »

Fortunately, I don't have any kids........... I ate 'em all!!! Tongue LOLOLOLOL Tongue I also live alone. (either I run too fast or they do Huh Grin)
  
  Accidents happen. You can do your best and they still do. I just figure in the 15 years I have lived in my house, I have yet to use a generator. If I was more prone, that might be different.
  I've been welding for 26 years and been bit (HARD) once. I was careful but I guess I could have been more so otherwise I wouldn't have been bit. But then, I could wear a Michelin Man suit in the shower too. (I think I'd be a little stinky if I did  Wink)
  I *truly* appreciate your concern, but I guess I live one lane closer to the edge. I am a careful person and would NEVER risk someone else, but I will weight the risks and sometimes take them. Plus, if I follow my own directions, it will work fine. (Just like flipping a breaker before working on a circuit) But if somewhere I come across a connection of which we speak, I would probably pick it up. It just doesn't take a high priority right now.
  As far as my art - I really thank you for the compliment!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think people like it, but it would be worth more when I'm gone!   Cry Figures!!  Wink
  
  Occasionally looking over the edge,
        Chaz
  
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« Reply #23 on: May 15, 2007, 02:51:29 PM »

Wouldn't it be easier to just stay in your bus?
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« Reply #24 on: May 15, 2007, 03:07:19 PM »

Just a few of the things that can go wrong with a less that correct/legal system.

A simple brain fart. Zap

Hooking it up with the stress of a natural disaster. Zap

We are all getting older and sometimes more forgetful. Zap

Someone else trying to hook it up because they know you do. Zap

Generator dies when you are away and someone tries the main beaker unbeknown to you.  You restart the genny.  Zap.

God forbid you become incapacitated or die and someone tries to hook it up.  Zap

I rely on the power company to tell me when it's safe for me or my firemen to move lines.  Don't want to get ZAPPED or have to live with getting one of my men KILLED.

Someone gets zapped.  When they go looking for generators running they find yours with a less than legal hookup.  You could be charged, innocent or not.  Really Zapped.

We are not just talking a minor oops here. 


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« Reply #25 on: May 15, 2007, 09:45:00 PM »

First of all Cliff, I didn't mean to suggest that YOU use a double male plug. sorry my grammar was bad.

And to DavidinwilmaNC, you might be interested in the generator interlock device that you can get here
 
http://www.interlockkit.com/faq04.htm.
 
It is a sliding device which only lets you select EITHER the main breaker or a second breaker for energizing the system from the generator. I am thinking of building one for my panel. It doesn't look too difficult.
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« Reply #26 on: May 15, 2007, 09:58:04 PM »

Cliff, I have one more question. Are you using 2 wires plus a ground for your "extension"?

Thanks

Fred Mc.
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« Reply #27 on: May 16, 2007, 09:31:03 AM »

Hey cliff, let see pictures of what you did, you know a picture is worth a thousand words.

WvaNative
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« Reply #28 on: May 16, 2007, 09:40:23 AM »

Might have been asking for trouble, but I just back fed the house panel through a spare 50A breaker.  When on grid power that 50A was shut off.  If the power went out, shut off the house main, turn on the 50A going to the genset and start the genset.  When grid power came back on, reverse the process.  Genset off, 50A breaker off, house main back on.  I only had to do this a couple times, but it worked fine.

Ross
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« Reply #29 on: May 16, 2007, 09:55:32 AM »

Ross, that is exactly how I did mine and it worked great.
 Power was off here for several days after an ice storm and I was really glad I had the backup with three refrigerators and one large freezer. Also had plenty of power for lights, TV and the forced air gas furnace.
Richard


Might have been asking for trouble, but I just back fed the house panel through a spare 50A breaker.  When on grid power that 50A was shut off.  If the power went out, shut off the house main, turn on the 50A going to the genset and start the genset.  When grid power came back on, reverse the process.  Genset off, 50A breaker off, house main back on.  I only had to do this a couple times, but it worked fine.

Ross

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« Reply #30 on: May 16, 2007, 10:10:04 AM »

Might have been asking for trouble, but I just back fed the house panel through a spare 50A breaker.  When on grid power that 50A was shut off.  If the power went out, shut off the house main, turn on the 50A going to the genset and start the genset.  When grid power came back on, reverse the process.  Genset off, 50A breaker off, house main back on.  I only had to do this a couple times, but it worked fine.

Ross


Yes that does work fine until you get the order wrong and backfeed the power company's transformer and the lineman thought they were working on a dead circuit suddenly have 2,200 volts or more.
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NJT 5573
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« Reply #31 on: May 16, 2007, 09:57:43 PM »

I think you should always pull the meter if you are going to play. My power company just reseals it after a power outage. I tell them the lights were flickering and I pulled the meter for safety and thats really pretty much what happened..... If I had all the fancy transfer switches I still would not put generator power to my house without pulling the meter. Its the only way I know for sure, Its kid proof and tamper proof.
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