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Portable Generator & transfer switch

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

  1. drewboy

    drewboy New Member

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    Another question related to this thread- how do you guys ground your gensets properly? I previously used a threaded steel rod pounded into the ground about 2 feet deep connected to the genset ground with a heavy gauge jumper cable. Does that sound acceptable? The only thing I've ever had to use our generator for has been to brew a pot of coffee a few years back during an ice storm...it just sits waiting for a substantial power outage.

    Rob

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  2. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

  3. willworkforwood

    willworkforwood Feeling the Heat

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    The first time I tried the WB and saw the fan oscillation, I also though it was a loading issue. But after flipping all of the other breakers, it still ran the same way, even with no other load on the gen. Same for the microwave. Even with no other load, it runs with slightly reduced output. And then whith the microwave on, the oil burner motor changes pitch. None of these things happen with line power. In reading about this, it sounds like most of the units similar to the one I have (B&S 5500/8500), and in the same general price category (1K and less), have enough harmonic distortion to cause these things to happen. If I ever have the opportunity, I'll try one of the Honda-powered brushless gensets, which claim to have much less HD. But that's just for giggles, because there is no way I'm going to actually buy one of these for 2-3K. Everything else runs fine with the B&S, and for the very few outages we have, the WB gets to take a break. I'm not saying that anyone is going to have a problem using their generator - I'm only relating what I've seen with mine, and folks can take it FWIW.
  4. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    I think your gen has a problem, I really do.
  5. 72Rover

    72Rover Member

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    Thanks! That's exactly what I've been looking for! All the other ways that I've researched were way more expensive and took a whole lot more work.

    I've got a 13 horse, 8kw, tri-fuel generator that will run on petrol, propane or natural gas.... It's nice not to have to fuel the thing every couple of hours. Now to get rid of the bloody extension cords....

    Cheers
  6. Bad Wolf

    Bad Wolf Minister of Fire

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    72Rover, is that like a series III 72 Rover?
    I've got you by 4 years.
    '68 IIa bugeye 88"
  7. 72Rover

    72Rover Member

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    Yup...owned it since new! (It'll turn 40 this May and it is my daily driver.) Had one to drive in Africa with the Peace Corps, but I had this one first.

    Been to any the the rallies? I've got a few friends in CT with Rovers, too....

    Cheers
  8. Bad Wolf

    Bad Wolf Minister of Fire

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    There's a British by the Sea in June with a fairly good LR showing. I'm in the SE corner of the State and know a few folks. Mostly I hang out on the GunsnRovers site.
  9. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    sooooooo, 3 pages long, we haven't heard from basswidow since post #1 and we are nowhere near generator hook-ups.

    Basswidow, you around or did you get electricuted?

    pen
  10. 72Rover

    72Rover Member

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    Small world...I use the same 'handle' over there as well....

    Cheers
  11. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    HA!

    I'm here, and alittle entertained. Sorry to all. I posted this at work, went home, got wrapped up in all the wildcard games and chores, and didn't check back in until today. Plus, my kids rule the computer at home. I rarely get any time on it unless I stay up past their bedtime!

    OK,

    The generator I got is a Champion from costco:

    http://www.costco.com/Browse/Produc...4&Ntx=mode matchallpartial&Nty=1&topnav;=&s=1


    I hope 6500 watts will do for me. My neighbor said don't go any lower than 7000 watts, but I am tight on funds. The house was built 5 years ago and I think there should be room in the panel box for the interlock, which would be less than a transfer switch. I like the idea of not having to deal with cords. I am not under the illusion that this Gen will power my whole house. I just need something to allow us to run water (pump) and maybe the breaker for the kitchen or TV. I would flip everthing off except for the bare essentials. I don't know the size of my well pump. The tank is in the basement and it's not really big. The wire going down to the well pump is attached to the inlet pipe and to a junction box. I thought if the interlock and recepticle or transfer switch were too costly, I could have the pump set up to an outlet cheaper, so that during an outage, I could simply unplug it and use an extension cord. If the pump is 220 - I don't think an extension cord (110) would suffice.

    We lose the power once a year - sometimes more. This past year we lost it during Irene and the Oct snow for 3 days. With kids, no water is a bad situations. We fill the tub when we know a storm is coming. It would be so nice to have water and some lights. I don't fret anything else - because the wood stove keeps us warm and we can always cook on the gas grill.
  12. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    I think that is the same as mine, even made by the same company but I think mine is 7500 peak and 6500 continueous, runs my acreage fine and only tripped breaker once in over 3 days of running full time, went through a lot of gas though, be nice to have a small one when you dont need to run everthing.
  13. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Just checked and mine is 6000 watts and 7500 peak so I think you will be fine.
  14. Bad Wolf

    Bad Wolf Minister of Fire

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    6,500/8250 should run your house just fine. Your well indeed will be your single biggest draw (short of the dryer or oven).
    I have a 7,550/11,000 watt and I ran everything I needed during Irene. I was out for a week. Once I started the gen, the first thing I turned on was the well pump. You could hear the gen labour slightly as it came on, but then run just fine. After that most of your loads are only going to be a few hundred to a thousand watts. Lights, especially CFL's are only 7-13 watts each so you could run hundreds of them.
    You can get/make a 220 extension cord but it will be expensive, your best bet is the interlock so you can pick and chose what you want to run.

    I like that remote start, wish I had that on mine.
  15. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    Thanks, I think the interlock is the route I'll have to go. I will call my township to see if an interlock will pass for them. Still, the cord, convience recepticle, breaker/interlock, permit, and electrician is gonna cost me more than the generator. I think I can do it myself with a homeowner permit, possibly. Doesn't look too hard.

    Oh well, it is what it is.

    The thing I object to is the cost. $ 150 for a metal plate that attaches to the front of my panel box to keep me from flipping on a breaker to feed in the GEN without throwing the main breaker. Looks like something I could make myself - it's a total rip off. I don't mind the cost of the convience outlet, breaker, or cord, but $ 150 for the interlock devise is rediculous. Looks like something a high schooler could make in metal shop.
  16. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    I suspect that that generator will handle the pump load easily as long as you don't have a very large pump.
    It figures out to approximately a 35 amps max surge capacity at the generator (8250 watts / 240 volts).
    I'd bet the breaker feeding your well pump (which should be larger than the max surge pump load) is a lot smaller than 35 amps.

    The pump at our place is 1.5 or 2 HP which would be pushing the limit on your generator.
  17. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    Wonder where I could look to find out what size well pump I have and what its needs will be? Would there be any markings at the well tank? I will check the panel box tonight and see what size breaker it's on. I still think I should have enough to run water with this size GEN. (fingers crossed). Once I get it and have everything set up, I will conduct a test of the well water first. Bucket flushing for a week is not fun.

    The other pain for the interlock is you have to rearrange the breakers some to get the Gen breaker up top. I've already got a call in to the township inspector to get his take. Gonna make sure I set it up to code.

    Anyone know of anyother suppliers of recepticals and pigtails for hooking a generator to the house? At Interlock - they are a bit pricey IMO.
  18. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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  19. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Get a amp clamp (borrow one) and see what it pulls on start up and running.
  20. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    I used an older analog once on mine. The needle was moving so fast it was hard to read the max.
    I think at digital would work better at picking up the max current
  21. 72Rover

    72Rover Member

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    Exactly what I was thinking. I mean, the kit doesn't even include the double breaker you need for the genset. Great idea, but exhorbitant asking price....

    ...umm, did you see a copyright or patent mark anywhere? ;-)

    Cheers
  22. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    Actually, I've been digging around more and it seems Interlock is not the only game in town and there are other makers to include (as someone previously posted in this thread) the main panel maker. When I get home from work, I will see what I've got and do alittle more research. Might even be able to find some of these items locally. I asked at HD and they said they have interlocks but were out of stock on transfer switches. I also found several other vendors who sell the cords and recepticles drastically lower in price then interlock. So I think this will work out after all - IF my local codes allow it. I've got a call in to our township Electrical Inspector and hope he's on board with an interlock rather than a transfer switch. We'll see. The fact that HD is out of transfer switches but has interlocks doesn't bode well......

    Looks like I can use a L14-30R cord 10 ft for $ 50 and I'll get an outdoor recepticle $ 50. The breaker should be $ 35 ish and the Interlock $ 50 -100.
  23. Bad Wolf

    Bad Wolf Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, $150 is a lot. Thats why I made my own.
    Really its only a piece of sheet metal that forces you to turn off one breaker before turning on the other.
    Don't see any reason to talk to the town about it, its no different than adding another couple of breakers.

    Attached Files:

  24. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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  25. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    My panel is a Seimens 200 amp service and another 60 amp sub panel that's mostly for the garage.

    In the 60 amp panel, there is a 30 amp breaker that goes to a L14-30 female recepticle. Perhaps the previous owner used that outlet for some big machinery or a camper, but I wonder if he used it as a (male - male) backfeed for his generator? It's not code, but it would work. I could change that outlet to the right one I need for about $ 27 and simply make sure I throw the main and remaining breakers before I backfeed and it should work - allowing me to flip on what I want. Still wouldn't be code without an interlock.

    I'd like to set it up to code and with a permit - just to cover myself and for resale. I would want my insurance to cover me - should something go wrong.

    Greg - your homemade interlock device is perfect. What did it cost ya? Couple bucks? I can't see spending $ 150 to buy one. Seems easy to fabricate. Nice job.

    I think Seimens sells an interlock for this box. It pairs a main breaker to a breaker for the generator on a manual locking device that wont allow both on at the same time. It just requires some cutting on the panel face. I think it's reasonable in price $50 or less.

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