Wiring a Generator

Medic21

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2017
677
Northern Indiana
The neutral and ground are bonded in the same bar to provide a safety if something happens to the neutral line. That way you don’t become the ground path conductor.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
16,861
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
I backfeed often, because the power in our area is sketchy. My first step is to throw the main. Then I hook up my generator to a welder outlet. with the neutrals and the and the grounds all attached to the same bar how can this push current back into the line?
As long as you remember to throw that main, it's fine and safe but not legal. The interlock simply forces you to shut off the main before engaging the inlet circuit and makes the backfeed legal. The inlet circuit has just a male plug. which can be used with a regular extension cord from your genset that has female receptacles.
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,705
SW Virginia
As long as you remember to throw that main, it's fine and safe but not legal. The interlock simply forces you to shut off the main before engaging the inlet circuit and makes the backfeed legal. The inlet circuit has just a male plug. which can be used with a regular extension cord from your genset that has female receptacles.
I may not always be around to make sure that things are done right when the grid goes down. I plan like I'll have to explain how to do it to my wife by text or phone call. I also have written instructions.
Still, the last thing I want to do is injure or kill someone that is working, likely long hours and in poor conditions, to restore my power.
Why risk it? An interlock just makes sense.
 

DouglasB12

New Member
Jan 19, 2020
15
Minnesota
.....I will make sure that I switch the main feed from the power company off when I run the generator. (I'll probably make a reminder on the garage breaker box since the main feed is in the house)
This to me is the biggest red flag issue I'm seeing. If I'm understanding it correctly - his plan requires him to *remember* to turn off his main breaker to avoid energizing the power grid. This is inherently risky. A breaker interchange panel automatically disengages your house from the electrical grid. You can draw power from the grid OR from your generator. There is no way to have both connected at the same time.

I don't see how he can safely hook this up by backfeeding a generator into a sub panel in the garage. The generator interchange has to be connected between the electrical meter and the main breaker panel. He can still use the idea of keeping the generator in the garage, but he would need a cord capable of reaching from the garage to the interchange panel that is between the meter and main breaker panel.

I'm sure it doesn't matter where you live, having any system that requires human intervention to avoid accidentally energizing the grid is going to be illegal and likely fatal to the lineworkers who are out trying to fix the power outage in the first place.
 
  • Like
Reactions: sloeffle

walhondingnashua

Burning Hunk
Jul 23, 2016
217
ohio
I like that idea. Maybe I will just install one of those and move the generator just outside the house. For the amount of times I will be using it, it shouldn't be that big of a hassle.
 

Medic21

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2017
677
Northern Indiana
This to me is the biggest red flag issue I'm seeing. If I'm understanding it correctly - his plan requires him to *remember* to turn off his main breaker to avoid energizing the power grid. This is inherently risky. A breaker interchange panel automatically disengages your house from the electrical grid. You can draw power from the grid OR from your generator. There is no way to have both connected at the same time.

I don't see how he can safely hook this up by backfeeding a generator into a sub panel in the garage. The generator interchange has to be connected between the electrical meter and the main breaker panel. He can still use the idea of keeping the generator in the garage, but he would need a cord capable of reaching from the garage to the interchange panel that is between the meter and main breaker panel.

I'm sure it doesn't matter where you live, having any system that requires human intervention to avoid accidentally energizing the grid is going to be illegal and likely fatal to the lineworkers who are out trying to fix the power outage in the first place.
line workers actually ground the system they are wiring on or treat it as live. They run into this constantly and plan for it.
 

DouglasB12

New Member
Jan 19, 2020
15
Minnesota
I like that idea. Maybe I will just install one of those and move the generator just outside the house. For the amount of times I will be using it, it shouldn't be that big of a hassle.
That's why I like that idea. It is far simpler than other options that include powering select circuits in your house. I bought a Predator Generator from Harbor Freight that puts out 8750 watts. That should be more than enough to run my 1400 sf house and the well. I have to run some more numbers, but I think I can even run the central AC as well - as long as the dishwasher or dryer isn't run.
 

Medic21

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2017
677
Northern Indiana
No, we don't.
Every accident scene I have ever been on where a pole was taken down, there have been hundreds is 25 years, they have grounded the wires after isolating the circuit. All before we could do our thing. Specifically for the possibility of a generator coming on.

I figured that was an industry standard since it was two different companies.
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,705
SW Virginia
Every accident scene I have ever been on where a pole was taken down
At least where we live, the outages are rarely caused by a pole being taken down. Usually, its ice/wind/trees taking down some wires or causing a short.
 

burnham

Member
Oct 19, 2007
181
central massachusetts
Every accident scene I have ever been on where a pole was taken down, there have been hundreds is 25 years, they have grounded the wires after isolating the circuit. All before we could do our thing. Specifically for the possibility of a generator coming on.

I figured that was an industry standard since it was two different companies.
On an accident pole, yes, usually. During a storm, not always. It's two very different situations. Yes, we are always supposed to either work something like it's live, or ground it. That works on an accident pole, or during the first couple days of a storm. But after working three or four sixteen hour days in a row, a lot of that goes out the window. Guys are still wearing rubber gloves, but end up coming in contact with wires, or handling wires on the ground that aren't grounded. I'm not saying it's right, but that is what happens. In a storm situation we're trying to restore power to as many people as fast as we can. You're always thinking of those who don't have heat, or water. Or someone with kids, who's losing a freezer full of meat. We always will de-energize, test, and ground a circuit before police/fire have to extract someone, or work on them in a car.

I see a lot of people who don't really know what they're doing hooking up generators. A lot of them are of the opinion that the lineman is just going to plan for a backfeed. That's not always the case, and it's a poor attitude. Nevermind the fact that they can backfeed lines on the ground that the general public has to deal with.

When I was a kid, we didn't have a generator, and lost power often. It wasn't a big deal before the internet came along. Now everybody under the sun has enough money for a 65" TV on the wall, and a generator. Nobody wants to pony up for a proper transfer switch to run the generator. I can't count how many people I've talked to who know just enough to be dangerous.
 

Medic21

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2017
677
Northern Indiana
On an accident pole, yes, usually. During a storm, not always. It's two very different situations. Yes, we are always supposed to either work something like it's live, or ground it. That works on an accident pole, or during the first couple days of a storm. But after working three or four sixteen hour days in a row, a lot of that goes out the window. Guys are still wearing rubber gloves, but end up coming in contact with wires, or handling wires on the ground that aren't grounded. I'm not saying it's right, but that is what happens. In a storm situation we're trying to restore power to as many people as fast as we can. You're always thinking of those who don't have heat, or water. Or someone with kids, who's losing a freezer full of meat. We always will de-energize, test, and ground a circuit before police/fire have to extract someone, or work on them in a car.
.
Really? You just admitted that the safety rules are ignored when your busy. That would be like me just jumping in because I think power is dead. Not too smart.

and you proved what I said was right. You’re supposed to do it but, you don’t...

The reason I have a job in emergency services...
 

DouglasB12

New Member
Jan 19, 2020
15
Minnesota
Really? You just admitted that the safety rules are ignored when your busy. That would be like me just jumping in because I think power is dead. Not too smart.

and you proved what I said was right. You’re supposed to do it but, you don’t...

The reason I have a job in emergency services...
May I point out that Burnman was talking about introducing human error after working long hours, day and night, in harsh weather conditions. Mistakes can and do happen. We are also talking about human error that can happen when a generator is back fed into a homes power supply. To condemn one situation, but excuse the other one is..... beyond stupid. Especially when people are back feeding because they are either too lazy or cheap to hook up their generator properly.

Really - what *valid* justification is there for someone to not hook their generator up properly and safely?
 
  • Like
Reactions: MTASH and jatoxico

Medic21

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2017
677
Northern Indiana
May I point out that Burnman was talking about introducing human error after working long hours, day and night, in harsh weather conditions. Mistakes can and do happen. We are also talking about human error that can happen when a generator is back fed into a homes power supply. To condemn one situation, but excuse the other one is..... beyond stupid. Especially when people are back feeding because they are either too lazy or cheap to hook up their generator properly.

Really - what *valid* justification is there for someone to not hook their generator up properly and safely?
I didn’t read human error. I read being lazy not following safety rules, and trying to justify it. When in the end all it is is a way to get yourself killed. I showed this to a local lineman and his response, And he’s a safety manager, was it that was one of his employees he be fired for a post like that.

That would be no different than me as a firefighter ignoring safety practices because I’m tired and don’t wanna follow them during overhaul. As a chief that would’ve been an automatic suspension. There is never an excuse to bypass safety.
 

Medic21

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2017
677
Northern Indiana
Not to mention OSHA is not gonna blame the dumbass homeowner. They’re going to fine the company, blame the employee, and good luck getting any benefits out of it
 

burnham

Member
Oct 19, 2007
181
central massachusetts
Really? You just admitted that the safety rules are ignored when your busy. That would be like me just jumping in because I think power is dead. Not too smart.

and you proved what I said was right. You’re supposed to do it but, you don’t...

The reason I have a job in emergency services...

Aren't you the one here stating you backfeed your service by opening the main, and using a double male cord (not chord)? You know your set-up is not legal, and they refer to that as a suicide cord for a reason?

I'm not ignoring any safety rules, and what I do would be nothing like you jumping in because you thought the power is dead because I know what I'm doing, and you know just enough to be dangerous. Even a grounded line can have potential during a backfeed or a fault, because the ground is just a parallel path.
 

Medic21

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2017
677
Northern Indiana
Aren't you the one here stating you backfeed your service by opening the main, and using a double male cord (not chord)? You know your set-up is not legal, and they refer to that as a suicide cord for a reason?

I'm not ignoring any safety rules, and what I do would be nothing like you jumping in because you thought the power is dead because I know what I'm doing, and you know just enough to be dangerous. Even a grounded line can have potential during a backfeed or a fault, because the ground is just a parallel path.
I do use a double male cord. I have a switch to kill the outlet I plug it into. And it feeds the circuit I need fed to have heat and the fridge work. I don’t need to open the main since I open the breaker
For that circuit. As long as I shut off the outlet and the generator at the same time it’s safe. It’s not about legal or illegal it’s about code. There are no laws about it.

I installed a dual lug meter base this fall with a 100amp sub panel in my basement. Yes, I installed it because I do know what I’m doing. Plans are to move the essential circuits and switch to a standby generator with automatic transfer switch.

As far as your choice to violate safety rules, because “you know what you’re doing.” I had an EMS run a few years back. By the time we got him down from the bucket and to the trauma center he lost both arms and had died on me three times. I’m sure he knew what he was doing also But, that was an accident, Equipment failure, not willful disregard for set standard safety rules. I’m sure you check your gloves and equipment everyday right? But it wouldn’t matter since you admitted you know what your doing and choose to not treat downed lines as live, after a few shifts that is.