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Portable Generator & transfer switch

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

  1. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    Great idea. In the end the real goal is keeping linemen safe while they're out trying to get us power again.

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  2. wetwood

    wetwood Member

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    We let our electric company know we had a transfer switch installed at the pole. The next day they came and inspected it themselves. I don't blame them a bit, there would be a major liability issue feeding 220v back into the main line that was suppose to be dead and someone was hurt or killed.
  3. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Last year we had a major power outage and the power company came around and unhooked the transformer at the pole if you had a gen., they did not care what you had at the time.
  4. John_M

    John_M Minister of Fire

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    About 5 years ago I installed a UL approved transfer switch in my basement. The Transfer Switch is positioned about 10" from the main panel. Followed NEC throughout. A Honda 6500is power inverter w/eco throttle provides the back-up power. It connects to the Transfer Switch via a 30(?) amp/240 volt twist lock receptacle w/circut breaker in the garage. When needed, the Honda EASILY runs the refrigerator/freezer, 220volt/30 amp, 3/4 hp "soft start" well pump, microwave, toaster, coffee maker, TV, computer, printer, garage door openers, garage lights, basement lights, lights and fans in two bathrooms, propane cooktop w/o oven, propane boiler, smoke detectors, a lamp and at least one receptacle in each bedroom. However, the 6500 watt Honda probably would not run all these appliances at the same time.

    Four suggestions: 1) If you and a buddy will be doing the installation, be certain you know the correct way of completing the project before taking the first step; 2) For safety and insurance purposes I would recommend using UL approved appliances and parts throughout; 3) Use the correct size wire throughout; 4) Know the exact sequence of steps necessary to properly connect the generator to the transfer switch and follow those steps precisely.

    Our rural area has had approximately eight power interruptions in the last five years. The convenience and health benefits provided by a properly installed back-up power supply has been worth every penny spent many times over.

    Good luck!

    John_M
  5. Retired Guy

    Retired Guy Feeling the Heat

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    Number of years ago a friend machined some beautiful junction box covers and installed them in his finished basement. He failed inspection because they were not UL labeled.
  6. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Wow, a 6500is! Cool. I also wish I had a soft start well pump.
  7. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I bet that 6500 honda inverter genny was not cheap.

    I installed my siemens 200 amp main panel in my home to replace a crappy Zinsco panel. I chose to pay the nominal upgrade cost to make it a gentran panel meaning the little metal sliding tab is part of the standard green cover and there is a breaker slot marked "generator". The panel has stickers all over it demonstrating it's compliance and certification as a generator transfer panel. Super easy and simple.

    I chose a 30 amp generator breaker and ran the 10/3 to an exterior male twistlok plug. Twistloks are usually 30 amp plugs anyway and it matched the generator I use which is a 3500 watt Champion. Remember that for this scheme to work that you must have a 220 volt genset.

    My job was all inspected and legit. I bought the 20 foot extension cord to attach the genset to the twistlok plug and it works great. Just remember to shut off automatic devices like the water heater and hot tub.
  8. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I've rigged up an adapter plug so I can plug in the 120 volt generator to the inlet receptacle. It feeds 120 v. to both legs. Can't use any 220 v. appliances, but can use fuel sipping generators and I think more of the ultimate capacity of the generator is utilized since there are no balancing issues. I've used it-it works.
  9. steviep

    steviep Member

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    southeast NH
    I have installed quite a few generator tranfer switches and transfer panels. The transfer switches I think are the way to go. As far as making your own No way, as pricey as the interlock kit may be if there is no ul approval and something happens ussally the insurance company won't cover you.
    Just so you know the interlock might be expensive but the are thicker and heavier then the picture show.
    Could you let know how much you were quoted for hook up. Just want to compare my prices to other parts of country I am ussally around $800.00
  10. wetwood

    wetwood Member

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    My transfer switch install was somewhere between $800-850. So you'd be in the ballpark around here.
  11. John_M

    John_M Minister of Fire

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    A quick response to the cost of the Honda 6500is generator/inverter: I did much soul searching and tweaked every penny of my budget to afford the cost of the Honda and the UL approved Transfer Switch. My thinking was that this would be the last generator I would need to purchase and it appeared to be the best for MY application. So, I bit the bullet and made the purchase. Here I am five years later and have not considered the cost of the Honda or Transfer Switch since a month after they were installed. Am I happy to have spent the money? NO! Am I happy with the performance, reliability, safety and convenience of the entire back-up power supply? Absolutely YES!

    If, in the future, I am required to consider another electrical back-up system in another house, I would make exactly the same decisions I did five years ago.

    Disclosure: I have no financial or other interest in Honda or any other company. :)

    steviep: If I recall correctly, a reliable and trusted electrician quoted me a price of a little less than $1.000 to purchase and install the UL approved Transfer Switch. I chose to do the installation myself because I had the time, some electrical experience and needed to save some money. ;-)

    John_M

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