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Portable Generator & transfer switch

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by basswidow, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    Finally bit the bullet and bought a portable generator for power outages.

    Now, I can just run extension cords to what I want (Frig, etc) , but my main reason for having it is for my well pump so we can have water and that is hard wired.

    So I'm looking into a transfer switch and having an electrician come out and this will cost more than what I paid for the generator. ARG!

    Or maybe I can have the well rewired to an outlet? Might be cheaper?

    Anybody have experience putting in a transfer switch and recepticle for a portable generator? Any tips or advice?

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  2. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    What did you have in mind, a double throw disconnect shuld not be all the expensive if you install it your self, how hard it is to install denpends on your set up. Putting a outlet on your well would be easy, mine is.
  3. Bad Wolf

    Bad Wolf Minister of Fire

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    Try this
    http://www.interlockkit.com/
    $150 and its a fairly simple install. Another $100 or so for an inlet box and breakers and Bob's your uncle.
  4. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    One thing you may want to check first is whether your generator has the capacity to run your well pump. The startup current required by the pump is significantly higher than that needed for constant operation. I underestimated that when I bought a generator and am now not sure mine will run my well pump.
  5. Gary_602z

    Gary_602z Minister of Fire

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    Yep!

    Gary
  6. Morgan

    Morgan Member

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    I have a 3500watt generator and a 1/2HP submersible pump, startup surge is pretty bad on my generator, in fact I leave the breaker for my pump off and only turn it on when I want to charge the pressure tank, making sure all other appliances/electronics are off (lights I leave on). My pressure tank holds enough to flush the toilet a few times and grab some water every now and then. Kind of a pain, but manageable and this little Makita generator (old, but runs great) seems top just sip gas. $15-20 of gas and it will run for a full day+, much better mileage (for lack of a better term at the moment) than my old 5000w Coleman generator
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    And determine whether the pump is 120 or 240v. Almost all small generators are 120V.
  8. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Since evereyone thinks you might have bought too small a gen., how big did you buy, I bought one and it was plenty big to run my well and the whole farm so it is possible to know what you are doing. Sometimes this site seems so negative.
  9. Morgan

    Morgan Member

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    Maybe a little negative but still, water pumps are high on surge wattage, 1/2 horsepower submersible pump can easily pull 5000-6000watts+ on startup, if you are running other electronics this voltage drop can be hazardous if your maxing out your genset, and it won't show up right away, it will show up as premature failure at the most inconvenient time. Bigger gensets burn more fuel though so try to find a happy medium, my setup can be a pain but works great when paying attention. Fuel usage is more than acceptable compared to the larger genset I was running before.
  10. Morgan

    Morgan Member

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    Guess I should mention you can also get "soft start" pumps, instead of "slamming" on like a regular pump, they slowly ramp up to speed, these pumps cost more to buy but are much much easier on generators, unfortunately I do not have one...
  11. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    Edit: Yeah, sometimes.

    [del]I'm just cautioning Basswidow not make make the same mistake I may have made and then further compound it by buying and installing a transfer switch for a generator that won't do what's needed. I wish someone would have warned me. I could have returned the generator and bought a larger one.

    [del]I hardly see that as negative[/del].[/del]
  12. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    I guess I was giving him credit for buying the right size.
  13. wetwood

    wetwood Member

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    Would also be good to know what kind of pump at the well. My well has a 1 hp 220v jet pump. I have a 6500/7500 surge generator that handles it just fine.
  14. willworkforwood

    willworkforwood Feeling the Heat

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    RANT ON - It's irritating when someone posts a question, and then isn't following-up in a timely manner on the answers that are coming in. People are spending their time to try to help out, and the OP should make him/herself available to respond and clarify if necessary. In this thread, some of the good folks here didn't end their day well yesterday, and a reply from the OP could have avoided all of those replies based on speculation. Sure, everyone gets busy with other things; but why not just wait until you will definitely have the time to reply before posting a question? - RANT OFF.
    I've posted in other generator threads on Hearth, but just would like to reiterate one thing. I've had a number of things happen with my genset which leads me to suspect that the "dirty" power produced by these non-inverters is probably having a negative effect on some of the things being powered. My very sensitive Wood boiler controller doesn't want anything to do with it (variable speed fan oscillation), and the microwave runs differently, and (if on), changes the sound pitch of the oil burner motor. After noticing that, I try to run the microwave with nothing other than lights drawing. This is not a case of insufficient wattage or motor start-up issues - the meters on my transfer switch show that usage, is always way under capacity, and the balance is also very good. Sometime soon, I'm going to borrow another similar sized genset to see if the HD on another unit might be better (no AVR adjustment on mine). So just a word of advice to be aware of any differences in operation or sound of what you are powering - might be better to avoid using a particular device if there's any question, or run it standalone if possible.
  15. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

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    +1 on the rant - I agree wholeheartedly!
  16. amellefson

    amellefson Member

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    I have wired pull behind gensets on jobsites in the past. Many of those have all types of adjustments, one of them being hertz (Hz). I know that smaller ones don't have that, but that may be your problem.

    PS is your genset grounded properly?

    Tony
  17. SlyFerret

    SlyFerret Minister of Fire

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    Wow... wound a little tight tonight!

    A sign that some relaxation by the fire is n order. STAT!!

    -SF
  18. carbon neutral

    carbon neutral Feeling the Heat

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    I put in a interlock. I gave up with running extension cords everywhere and had the same problem with a hard wired well pump. Many load center manufacturers sell interlocks for their load centers. My load center is a GE power mark, the interlock kit was only $40. So easy now, start the generator flip two breakers and the whole house is powered up. My wife said "that is so cool" when I showed her how to put the generator online, she was right.
  19. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    Ah it wasn't that bad. I know OldSpark from other posts in the Ash Can and elsewhere and he's a good guy. I just couldn't let his comment go without fightin back a little.

    I think it shows you just how classy Hearth is when you see that trying to help someone avoid pitfalls is considered "negative". This is not a dig on OldSpark or anyone else. Its just that what's "negative" on many boards would be considered totally unacceptable here.

    That's one of the reasons this is my favorite board.
  20. SlyFerret

    SlyFerret Minister of Fire

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    I think I am going to use one of those interlock plates. Very cool!

    It will save a bundle, considering how rarely we usually would need the generator. Simple is good.

    -SF
  21. willworkforwood

    willworkforwood Feeling the Heat

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    My Kill-A-watt shows hz to always be 60.0, the voltage is very good, and the unit is grounded properly. And it basically does a very good job running most of the things that we need during an outage. I've done some research on these things, and at this point I believe it's the nature of the beast. Most of the reasonably good quality, non-inverter gensets in the 5500/8500 group will do a good job powering MOST things. But, they all produce a distorted sine wave that may show up in various ways. The WB controller goes nuts from the genset, and the microwave definitely runs differently. Neither one of these ever blink running on line feed. But the computer and TVs run fine with the gen (as far as I can tell), and the deep well pump which needs 6600W startup, also appears to be fine. That being said, all of our electronics are fairly old, and it wouldn't be a big deal if something got fried. But, I would never run an expensive plasma, or anything else costing big $$ to replace. I would really like to find a comprehensive study of the short and long term effects of the non-inverter gensets on the various household products. Don't know if anything like that has ever been done. The good news is that we rarely lose power, so the long-term effect is likely to be nil.
  22. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Hell I might be the negative one. :lol:
  23. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    My cheap gen. runs everthing just fine, I have never heard of too many people having trouble with the cheaper gen. except on this forum, all sorts of people run these gens here in the midwest with very few or no problems what so ever. The sine waves on a gen are not that bad and they are a true sine wave. If I bought a gen. and it did not run my microwave correctly its going back to the store.
  24. wetwood

    wetwood Member

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    We have a 100-amp manual transfer switch on the pole along with a breaker box where I could turn off the well pump if needed. At the well house the pump is wired into another breaker box with an external throw lever. That said we have never had to shut off the well pump when running the house. It just takes common sense to not be running a lot of stuff when someone is in the shower or washing dishes and we never use the range or clothes dryer when on generator power. Our 6500/7500w generator was only $450. In the last 5 years we have been without power for over 3 weeks. That cheap generator has ran our plasma TV, Denon home theater system, all the family's computers and the appliances just fine. Not all at the same time of course.
  25. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    willworkforwood-I know you said the kill-a-watt reads 60hz all the time but that is the biggest problem with a regular gen., its usually when there is a heavy load on the gen and its load varies and drops the hz for a short period of time, I run everything on my place and never had a problem and this includes a 3/4 horse well pump motor. I used the computer several times with no problem, maybe I was just lucky. I do have a 7500 peak I believe and the only time the load varied was when the well kicked on.

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