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My Gas Generator Set-up

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by Oldhippie, Feb 1, 2012.

  1. Oldhippie

    Oldhippie Minister of Fire

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    If you live in New England, in the country, chances are you have your own well and septic system, with water supplied by an electric power pump. Of course you also have all of the other electric needs for power, even though we can get heat and even cook on the woodstove.

    So a gas generator is great, but they are a pain to wire into your breaker box and can also be dangerous if you turn on your MAIN while the generator is turned on. You will either toast a utility worker out there on the line someplace. (frowned upon), or you will fry all the electrics in your home. So what you need is a fail safe switch capability that allows only the Main to be turned on and NOT the generator, or ONLY the generator and NOT the MAIN. It would also be great to have a power inlet you can easily feed your generator power into the house with. Something that is easily accessible and weather proof.

    Here's what you can do.

    Attached Files:

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  2. daveswoodhauler

    daveswoodhauler Minister of Fire

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    Steve, Did you make your own interlock kit or purchase one....I actually purchased one, but it was not an exact match so my electrician fabricated one....can't believe they sell those things for $175, lol
    Your hookup looks identical to mine, even the same generator....must have been that icestorm a few years back....will be glad not to see another one, but at least I am prepared now.
    Your neighbor to the south.
  3. Oldhippie

    Oldhippie Minister of Fire

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    Yep I bought it at Gettens electric in Fitchburg. I think it cost me $70. for those two pieces of sheet metal and the screws.

    Got the generator at Sears during the ice storm. Got sick of hot wiring the breaker box.
  4. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    The last few years everytime it would get windy I would lose power. All the lines in my neighborhood are underground, so I guess it was a main line that feeds to us.
    Got smart... I thought... and got a nearly free 4k gen set from a friend that just needed a little bit of work. Fixed it up, put maybe $30 of parts into it (oil, fuel filter, plug rubber mounts) and it runs like a champ.
    Got a pigtail setup using the cord I use for my welder (~100ft #8 SOOW cord).

    Power went out for a day or so not long ago... realized that the generator was in the back of my shed, buried by 2 kitchens worth of cabinets that I need to hang up in teh garage... D'oh!
    flyingcow likes this.
  5. Oldhippie

    Oldhippie Minister of Fire

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    Well, I was down two days during that little 18' storm we had on Halloween. Where's the snow since?! Suppose to be close to 50 tomorrow!
  6. Oldhippie

    Oldhippie Minister of Fire

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    Every year I have to do the "changing of the guards". I have to move the Harley and the Honda to the rear of the garage and the Ariens and the Generator to the front. I pull them all out of the garage and let them all sit and idle all at once. You can hear the engines rumble on Main St. 2 miles away. :)

    Attached Files:

  7. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Nice install Steve!

    The other option is a dedicated transfer panel - Reliance Controls panels are quite popular.... Its more expensive but I chose to do that because I had too many of the critical things I wanted to run on the same phase and I didn't want to rearrange the entire main panel to balance the generator.

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  8. Oldhippie

    Oldhippie Minister of Fire

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    Jeremy, cool! You lost me on the "balance the generator" statement? Help me understand the phase issues? I guess what you are saying is almost all circuits are using the same single phase and they could be better spread out across all 3 phases?
  9. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I think he meant on the same 120v leg of the panel, assuming he has single-phase power.
  10. ironpony

    ironpony Minister of Fire

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    correct
    you have 2 110 legs coming into the panel
    it is best to split the load so each leg has similar draw on it
    ex;

    220 20 amp equal both legs
    110 20 amp only on 1 leg
    add 110 20 amp on other side of panel-other leg to balance
    if you just go into main panel which is balanced
    the circuits you need might all be on one side of the panel
    overloading one leg of power
  11. EJL923

    EJL923 Feeling the Heat

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    Steve,

    Do you happen to know what the running whats of your well pump are? At the end of the Halloween storm, i was able to get my hands on the same generator. I later discovered that my running watts was 2400 and my app startup was over 9000. I took the generator back because i wasnt sure if it would run my well. I am not going to pay for a 10000 watt startup generator. If your running watts were similar to mine, i would feel better about purchasing the same generator. I only asl because estimating startup wattage is difficult without the right equipment. My well pump is rather large, almost 450' deep.
  12. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    I do like that setup and the outdoor plug. Its a bit overkill for my application, but I can see its purpose. I have very little that is critical in the need for zoomies. Well pump, fridge(s) and freezer is about it. Maybe a couple of lights for a longer outage, but I have to say, it has been years since any long term outage has happened around me (sure, watch us get hit by an ice storm and make me eat my words.)

    My little 10,000W genny:

    Attached Files:

  13. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I have 10,000 watts but I have to start all four generators to get there.
    flyingcow likes this.
  14. ironpony

    ironpony Minister of Fire

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    hey Jags I have one of those too
    1940's military genset????
    right??

    4 cyl. Hercules engine
    cool
    both have Challengers and generators........................
  15. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Yes, that's right... sorry about interchanging the terms by accident - I certainly dont have a 3 phase drop here ;)

    Anyway, yes there were only about a half dozen circuits that I would really want in an emergency, but a few of the ones that are big draw - septic pump, sump, microwave - happened to be on the same leg. I wanted to have one or 2 big ones and a few lighting circuits on each leg of the gen.
  16. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    Another way is to use a small sub panel for your desired circuits with an on/off/on switch between Gen and main panel.

    Ehouse
  17. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    My setup is similar and I use a 10 circuit transfer switch. Right now I run the generator cord through a window, but I have the box and outlet to move this to the outside of the house, just need to do it. The transfer switches activate key house lighting circuits, a kitchen outlet and microwave, the well pump, and the computer/TV/satellite/entertainment system circuits. If a power outage, need to keep up with the Hearth forums.

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  18. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    You got it. 1942 to be exact. Now the genny head has been changed over to a modern one, cuz I didn't have any use for a 3 phase 110v genny head. Converted to 12V also. Runs like a champ.

    And anybody that has/had a challenger is just cool. ;-)
  19. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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  20. maple1

    maple1 Minister of Fire

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    Can someone from Canada chime in on the ins & outs up here with respect to the lockout setups in the first post? I don't know of anyone with that setup, have never seen them for sale up here, and am thinking they are (for some likely non-sensical reason) against coding? It seems to me to be the simplest way to safely tie in a generator.
  21. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Man - thats pretty cool. 3000W would handle most peoples emergency needs pretty well. The only down side I see to it is that there is no 220V. That could be a deal breaker if the household has a 220v well pump.

    Looks darn economical as far as fuel usage as well.
  22. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    220V can be done, you just need to hook up a 220V inverter instead. There is a project called Pri-UPS that has done this with some hefty server UPS systems. For us 120v is fine. The only loads we really need are refrigeration and freezer. The rest is gravy.
  23. Retired Guy

    Retired Guy Feeling the Heat

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    I ran a 1/2 HP Jacuzzi submersible with a 4000W 240V generator - did a couple of lights and the furnace at the same time.
  24. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    It is not a big deal to move circuits from one leg to the other. You folks do realize that nearly all panels alternate legs right? Meaning that the right and the left "stack" of breakers are not fully on seperate legs? Every full breaker slot is on a seperate leg than the one beneath it. So every other 110 volt breaker in the stack is on the same leg? It is really easy to just move the breaker one position up or down to evenly load your service. Really, if you find that your panel is loaded with most of the loads on one leg you should be fixing that regardless.

    I have the same setup as the OP but with a panel that came from the factory equipped this way. It did not add much to the cost of the new panel and the whole deal is certified as a generator transfer panel that way so if you plan to swap your panel anyway, then use a whole house transfer panel.

    I am not a fan of those generator panels that only transfer 6 or 10 circuits. It adds a lot of complexity to what should be a very simple lock out tab.
  25. charly

    charly Guest

    My 4000 watt old honda should be good for me, 3500 watt constant. Our water is gravity fed to our farm house from a spring fed pond up on a hill behind us. That's been in use for generations. Good water pressure too. We still filter through a Berky filter system what we drink. So we just need power for a fridge, small freezer, and our 220 electric hot water heater which is a GE hybrid, we run it in the hybrid mode which is like a dehumidifier. Run a few lights and I think we're not overloading the generator. We could go all winter with out power and still have water and heat from our wood stoves. A nice feeling for sure, yup we can still use the toilets with no power.

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