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Generator placement?

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by kast, Dec 13, 2008.

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  1. lass442

    lass442 New Member

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    Kast, let me try to clarify a little bit. If you're running your generator through the breaker box, you need a switch. If you're running appliances directly from the generator, by-passing the breaker box and plugging directly to the generator, there is nowhere else the electricity can travel to.
    Think in terms of a path. Create a map for your electricity and direct it to where you want it to go. When you wire a generator to a breaker box without a cut-off switch, the electricity will travel through all the open paths, one of which leads back to the wire on the pole on your street. What the switch does is cuts off that path, containing the electricity to the connections you have chosen (well pump, sump-pump, frig, stove, etc.... whatever your priorities are). The switch acts in the same way that your breaker switches work. If you're going to install a new kitchen light, you go to the breaker box and cut off that switch to the kitchen. You perform the install with all the wired dead.
    So , let's say for example, you're going to run your well pump from your generator in an outage. Your well pump does not have a plug; it works directly off your breaker box. So you'd need to run your generator through your breaker box to power the well pump, right? Without a cut-out switch, electricity will flow back into the lines outside your home, creating a safety issue for anyone working on those lines on your street. That's what 'back-feeding' is.
    If you're going to run an extension cord to a self contained generator, plugging your stove directly into the unit, there is no risk of back-feed. You just need to match need for feed, which a whole different subject.

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  2. Xena

    Xena Minister of Fire

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    lass442 jeeze enough already, we get it so can you please give it a rest.
    Kast is not and was not interested in connecting to the house circuity,
    do you understand that?

    He, and myself would like to hear from people who are using portables
    DIRECTLY CONNECTED TO THE APPLIANCE VIA AN EXTENSION CORD
    and how they have them set up.
  3. kast

    kast New Member

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    lass442 I understand now, didn’t realize that people hooked the generator threw there home wiring when I posted, was just going to run some 50ft heavy duty extension cord to my sump pump and stove :)
  4. lass442

    lass442 New Member

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    Zeta, are you sure you don't want me to explain the equations related to voltage, amperage and wattage so that you don't fry your appliances?
    You might want to be really sure before you display your lack of manners again!
  5. Xena

    Xena Minister of Fire

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    Rotflmao. Ha! I thought I was pretty nice with my request to give it a rest all things considered!
    And I even said please...so how bout your manners missy?
    Next time please read the thread Einstein before turning it into something it's not.




    Now that ignore feature on this forum is a beautiful thing.


    Some air freshener for the room..... [​IMG]
  6. eernest4

    eernest4 New Member

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    hi zita!

    When running wiring to generator, try to keep the length of the extension cord as short as practically possible and make sure to use a gague of wire big enough for the current and wattage of the appliance that you need to supply. I suggest 12 gague for heavy loads of up to 20 amps and up to 25 ft. You can run a 12 gague wire further if the current is lower, say 15 amps for 50 ft and 10 amps for 100 ft.

    12 gaugue wire is rated for 20 amps.
    14 gague wire is rated for 15 amps .
    16 gague wire is rated for 10 amps.

    P=EXI

    POWER IN WATTS=VOLTAGE X CURRENT
    where W=watts
    E = volts ,AC
    I = current ,in amps.

    The longer an extension cord is, the higher its resitance is, in ohms per foot, and so a longer length of extension cord has more resistance to the flow of electric current than a shorter length of the same gague of wire.

    a 16 gague wire has more resistance per foot than a 14 gague wire and a 14 gague has more resistance per foot than a 12 gague.

    For heavier current flows or longer runs, 10 gague, rated for 30 amps or even 8 gague wire,rated for 40 amps can be used.

    I became an electrician through need (not wanting to pay for one) over the years & have rewired several homes that I owned at one time or another. I also have an degree in electronics from 1968 & ran a major appliance repair shop for 25 yrs. I have also studied dc to ac inverter systems and solar cell systems as I was going to build a house so far out in the wilderness as to be inacessable to the electric grid & was going to wire it myself. I currently have 3 generators. one 1000 wt, 120 v & 2 - 4000wt ,120v jobs.

    The lower the wattage output of the generator ,the more important it becomes to know the current & wattage of the load vs the rated output of the generator.

    Never try to supply more load current than your generator can easily handle.

    Voltage at the end of a long extension cord under load may not be 120 volts, as it should be , but instead could be as low as 95 to 100 volts & this is bad for the appliance & will probably damage the appliance.

    I would not want to run a appliance at less than 110 volts ac under load(that means to measure the voltage while the appliance is running & pulling current. Use a vom (volt, ohm, milli amp meter. The vom costs $10 to $20 depending on the bells & jingles.They come with directions that must be read first before attempting to use the vom.

    To sum up it is best to keep the wire run between the gen & the load as short as possible because this may allow you to get away with using a thinner gague wire which is cheaper.

    If you need to run a longer distance, you should go to the next higher gague wire to insure that you get full power to the appliance.

    A cheap extension cord can be made up from 12-2 WG Romax , but you will have to put the ends on yourself.

    If you have never installed a plug on a lamp or extension cord, you can buy a book at home depot about wiring basics, well worth the money, as you will be able to repair your home wiring
    & never need an electrician again.

    ALL APPLIANCES HAVE A RATING PLATE ON THEM that gives the volts ,amps and watts & this plate should be refered to before hooking anything up to a generator or a 12volt dc to 120 volt ac inverter to insure that the proper wire gague for the current & length of wire run are used
    for the rated output of the generator or inverter.

    Generator weather protection,

    Anything that is weather proof, (this means at least a waterproof roof) is good. Generators should not be allowed to get wet. (this is mostly a gasoline engine thing more than a generator
    thing, but applies equally to both.

    You can use pallets to build a shed for the generator, but use roll roofing & plastic roofing tar for
    the roof. Some protection against sideways rain is an excellent idea but the gas engine needs air for the carb & needs to vent the exhaust.

    The last consideration isthe distance, how far from the house , with regard to opperating noise of the generator at 3600 rpm.

    You will want to decide what is more important to you, quietness during opperation or a shorter wire run which will subject you to more noise.

    If money is not a problem, move the generator off just far enough so that you don't hear it when opperating & plan to spend for the supply wire accordingly.

    I should mention that generator gas motors seriously hate to get their gas tanks wet or their carbs wet, not to mention the spark ignition system.
    one drop of water(rain) in the gas or carb will stop your generator engine dead,dead,dead.
    Same with the ignition system.

    so word 2 the wise & writing on the wall.
  7. ResOps

    ResOps New Member

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    OK I gotta respond..
    All I can say is WOW! Ever see a generator used on a construction site? I never seen a shelter built for it. And they're in the rain alot. And I have spent many years around these sites. A generator isnt quite that fragile and by code here gennys run outside need to have GFCI protection but even if it isn't there in this day and age a gfci plug is a cheap investment.
    Zeta and Kast by all means plug into your generators directly to devices you can plug into. Make sure the genset is capable of supplying enough wattage. In all the posts here on attaching the generator into the home circuits no one has mentioned the issue of ensuring the generator neutrla isn't bonded to ground of tied into the house panel. Thats and important issue to look at and why an electrician should perform any install that joins into the home circuit.
  8. kast

    kast New Member

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    Well if anything this post has been very informative, and hope it will be for everyone in future searches! :)

    Thanks everyone!

    -Erick
  9. krooser

    krooser Minister of Fire

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    My brother has a small Guardian mounted on a pad next to his place in Arkansas. Runs on propane. He paid $2K for it a few years ago.... best investment you could make in an area that loses power a dozen times per year.
  10. kast

    kast New Member

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    I just bought my house in May 08, so I have to speak with the neighbors about losing power, and how often it has happened to them. In the 7-8 months I have been here twice the power has gone out, but in 30-60 seconds later the power comes right back on (lucky), and those where two pretty good storms, one of which was last weeks and then one a month after we moved in.
  11. Xena

    Xena Minister of Fire

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    Kast I've been here over four decades and rarely lose
    power and when I do it's not for very long... a few
    minutes at best. It has gone out for a couple hours but
    the last time that happened was years ago and it was
    in the warmer weather so no worries about heat.
    Longest I can recall was in the 80's when that hurricane hit.
    Bought this genny new and have not yet had to use it for
    a power outage.

    Anyway, thanks you guys. I am aware that I can plug directly in to a portable
    as I do it all the time outside for powering electric yard tools,
    was just hoping to hear more from people who actually use one
    set up this way and the particulars of their set up. Oh well.

    Have you seen the local Craigslist? Holy batshit batman! 3 pages worth of generators for sale.
    Many are overpriced and look like they have been dragged out of a swamp.
  12. kast

    kast New Member

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    I can only imagine what great deal’s are out there! ha-ha
  13. ResOps

    ResOps New Member

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    Northern Ontario Canada ya it's cold out here
    Zeta we're currently in freezing rain right now but I will take some pics of my setup -I have the furnace, the well pump and now the pelletstove on plugs in the house. These 3 units also have another receptacle next to them. These receptacles are all wired to a 4 circuit breaker panel beside my main panel. The genny is plugged in out on my porch under a pressure treated box. In the event of a power outage I simply start the genny and unplug from the utility receptacle and plug into my genset. Its kinda like just plugging into the genny except its permanent- and wire gauged for the job -and safe! As someone else stated most extension cords are 16 gauge and not up to the job...
    The thing to watch with generators is the manufacturer. Can't understand why ping electronics out of china can make a generator so cheap? Buy one and you soon find out. MY honda is 24 years old.
    One day I too like macman will have a Generac Auto. A good investment of your tax return indeed.
  14. RPK1

    RPK1 Member

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    I'm not sure if anyone answered the question about a portable generator out in the elements. I ran my Honda EB400 for years on job sites and at home. Rain snow whatever. I always tried to make a lean-to of some type out scraps of plywood etc. But it really won't hurt a good generator to get wet. Just make sure you don't totally enclose it. Keep the exhaust free and clear facing away from the house.

    RPK1
  15. Lance1

    Lance1 Member

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    I back feed my house when I need temporary power, I like the connivance of having half of the receptacles live in the house. But I turn off the main breaker at the meter first. Perfectly safe as far as I'm concerned with the 6 amp draw I do.

    I run the generator in a detached garage.
  16. LeonMSPT

    LeonMSPT Minister of Fire

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    From Maine, now living in Alaska
    From http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/story.php?id=227076&ac=PHnws&pg=2

    Cumberland County dispatchers received close to 200 emergency storm-related calls this morning, many of them for car crashes and downed trees and powerlines. There were no major injuries reported with the exception of a Gorham couple that was taken to Maine Medical Center for carbon monoxide posioning. The couple had been using a generator located in their basement, and the fumes reached potentially fatal levels before they called emergency workerscomplaining of symptoms.

    They were very sick, and had the time of day been different, they may well have simply gone to bed not feeling well and woke up dead.

    Don't even put the darned thing next to a window that will open, or a door. Should never smell exhaust from the thing in the house.

    On connecting... the right way is with a switch, or directly plugging into it.

    During the ice storm, we ran a cord from the generator to the dryer plug, and threw the main breaker in the box before we plugged it in. Worked like a charm, but not recommended. Especially with all the sensitive electronic stuff we all have today...

    Nasty old generator/welder on wheels... sprayed it full of ether and pulled the battery out of the tractor to start it. When it lit off, it exploded and blew the muffler about 25 feet in the air... my mother was up there with it... dad fell down, laughing so hard he had tears in his eyes.
  17. ResOps

    ResOps New Member

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    RPK1 - I said basically the same thing in another thread about my EB3000 -a good genset handles weather....
  18. ResOps

    ResOps New Member

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    Sure it is Lance...but if you forget to open the main just once during an outage and you can kill someone. Not something the linemen want to bet on.It's also contrary to code.
    There are several much safer ways to hook in temporarily
  19. lass442

    lass442 New Member

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    So what happens when the main is closed and the power is restored to your area? You don't get a surge when you open the main?
  20. wilbilt

    wilbilt New Member

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    Turning the main back on is no different than flipping a transfer switch or interlock from "generator" to "utility".
  21. ResOps

    ResOps New Member

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    In a perfect situation when restoring power from generator to utility you would do the reverse of load shed. Turn everything off and then when the switch is made turn devices back on one at a time. As I said...in a perfect situation.
  22. lass442

    lass442 New Member

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    I guess I'm worried about my own personal lineman who is still out there working his butt off restoring power to those customers who have been out since Friday morning. When the guys get tired they're less apt to remember every little step in safety protocol.
    So I'm just going to post this link here http://brassmein.com/articles/lineman.htm for anyone interested. If you're sick of hearing about generator safety, don't read it. I don't care whose panties are in a wad over me preaching safety to generator users... I don't want my husband ending up like this lineman in GA.
  23. Xena

    Xena Minister of Fire

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    That's cool but I still want to make some sort of enclosure to house it just
    so it doesn't take a beating and look ten years old when it's only two.
    One of my friends said he can weld up an extension on the exhaust pipe
    and route it outside of the enclosure and further away from the house.
    I have a 50ft 10 gauge extension cord so will be able to get
    a good distance away from the house anyway.
    Should work out fine. [​IMG] Have never needed
    it and probably won't but it's good insurance to have it. Appreciate the input.
    [​IMG]
  24. Lance1

    Lance1 Member

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    ResOps,
    Turning off the main is the first step of the procedure in putting my generator on-line. Back feeding may not be to code, but it safe how I'm doing it. A low 6 amp total draw on the generator for what I run on temp (house wiring is good for 15 amp), breaker on the generator, UL approved connections, oversized wire (30 amp) between the generator and main (this was done for a welder) and my back feed goes though breakers before it reaches the house receptacles.

    Linemen are suppose to ground and/or short the power lines before they are work on them in case of a back feed. There is also in-line knife switches on power lines so they can turn off sections. If they forget to do their safety procedures, they deserve to be zapped.

    lass442,
    You have your terminology backwards. Closed = power on. Since I have the main open (off) nothing happens when the power grid is turned back on.
    Unlike allot of people, when I have a black out, I turn off or unplug everything in the house to eliminate any surges to appliances. The other reason I turn everything off is when changing over to a generator, it not fully loaded at start up.
    A breaker is no different than a light switch as far as surges. Surges are produced by the electric company or lighting strikes.
  25. firewarrior820

    firewarrior820 Feeling the Heat

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    you are profoundly stupid
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