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Old 05-29-2009, 07:32 PM   #43
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You shouldn't connect a generator to your house through a backfeed arrangement. You must use a transfer switch, otherwise you are pumping electricity back through the grid... and could zap a lineman who believes he is working on a cold wire.

I wonder if the 12.8 full load amps is the normal operating draw or the starting amperage? Worth checking with an ammeter. I would want to ensure that things are okay at startup, when the load is highest. The startup condition will occur every time the unit cycles, which is often enough to cause a problem with low voltages.
************************************************** ***

I'm not arguing with you, I just don't understand this! I haven't done it, but am thinking about it so I want to be sure what I am considering is safe!

If you pull the main fuses coming into the house, how is it possible to backfeed down the incoming line with a small generator that you have connected - lets say to the dryer connection socket?

I have to repeat that I'm not trying to be a smart ass, just trying to get better educated as to whether this is safe or not!

Brian.
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Old 05-29-2009, 07:39 PM   #44
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a little off topic but worth clarifying...

any time I connect my generator to the house, the main supply switch (200A) is switched OFF. This is so I'm not powering all of my neighbors nor am I zapping anyone working on the lines.

I claim to be electrically stupid, but I have learned some things along the way...
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Old 05-29-2009, 07:49 PM   #45
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I guess the biggest reason not to backfeed is that its ILLEGAL. You need to have an isolator transfer switch like described by dmac.

Gee, I wish John HD was here more often..
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Old 05-29-2009, 10:22 PM   #46
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There is no answer?

Hi, so far, unless I missed it, we still haven't got a definite answer on the original question. So my guess-timate is anything below 100 volts is bad. And this must be done for long periods of time to become fatal. Like I said earlier, my in-house portable air conditioner stopped cycling one day so I turned it off. I checked my house voltage and it was down to 88 volts. We were having a brown out. Nothing in my house was damaged due to this and the only thing I did turn off was my portable air conditioner. It has been determined that a poor connection that will melt the plug and or the receptical can and will destroy electrical items regardless of voltage.
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Old 05-29-2009, 10:37 PM   #47
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The rule-of-thumb is 120volts +/- 10%, which is 108v to 132v.
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Old 05-29-2009, 11:14 PM   #48
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One other thing to think about. Read the back of your RV voltage gauge. If it's like mine, it may say that the reading is subject to a variance +- 10%. Means if it's showing 105 volts, the actual voltage available may be another 10% lower. Check out the owners manual on your A/C unit. It will give you a voltage range at which the unit can run at.

Buy yourself a digital meter with better tolerances. The analog unit I have is for glancing only. If I see it on the low side, I'll get my digital unit out and get an accurate measurement.

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Old 05-30-2009, 08:24 AM   #49
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I've been informed that it is not illegal to backfeed power from your generator through a welding outlet, without a transfer switch, in Ashland County, Ohio, so I'll avoid making blanket statements about places like Ashland County in the future.
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Old 05-30-2009, 11:54 AM   #50
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If the poster is talking about using a plug to backfeed power into his home, this plug is commonly called a "dead man's plug" for very good reason. It has exposed prongs that are hot, and one touch of the prongs can cause death.

I think such a device is absolutely forbidden by any code anywhere in the country. Not only does it present danger to anyone touching the device, unless precautions are taken it also allows electricity to leave the home, be upgraded to thousands of volts by the nearby transformer, and sent for many miles to potentially harm people and property.

The only way to sanely power a home with a generator is by a properly installed transfer switch, or to plug the various appliances directly into the generator and bypass the home's electric system alltogether.

I can safely say that any insurance agent in the country, given the facts, would not condone a deadman's plug backfeeding power into any home he/she insures. Being happy about not paying claims due to thawed meat is one thing. Being unhappy about paying claims on dead clients or their victims is another.
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Old 05-30-2009, 12:34 PM   #51
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So my question is: how low of AC voltage is too low? My plug-in gauge shows that the 105V lies in the "red zone", but is this conservative? If it only dips that low when the A/C is on is it really a concern? I anticipate that the A/C will only be on at night when we're trying to sleep, so shouldn't be much else running to draw current.
106-135 VAC according to my Dometic instructions is the acceptable operating range.
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Old 05-30-2009, 12:37 PM   #52
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I've been informed that it is not illegal to backfeed power from your generator through a welding outlet, without a transfer switch, in Ashland County, Ohio, so I'll avoid making blanket statements about places like Ashland County in the future.
That would require two exposed plugs. By the NEC (National Electrical code) this is "illegal". Your county code may allow it but I can guarante your insurance company will not.
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Old 05-30-2009, 01:01 PM   #53
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Electrical safety

Electricity, within itself, is very safe.

It's the person who unsafely uses it, that is the crux of the problems, electrical fires and deaths from it.

As they said in class in high school, electricity is a shocking subject, alway has and always will.

But even more shocking, is how a few fight the obvious.

Andy
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Old 05-30-2009, 07:53 PM   #54
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I assure everyone that my welder outlet has no exposed or bare connections. You can all sleep easy tonight.
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Old 05-30-2009, 07:58 PM   #55
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Check out the owners manual on your A/C unit. It will give you a voltage range at which the unit can run at.

Buy yourself a digital meter with better tolerances. The analog unit I have is for glancing only. If I see it on the low side, I'll get my digital unit out and get an accurate measurement.
I tried to see what Carrier recommends, but the info available on their website doesn't call out a min limit, it just calls for a supply of 115V and 12.8A. I'm not concerned enough about this to write / call / email them about it.

I will check it w/ my multimeter when we're back home, good idea.
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Old 06-02-2009, 10:13 PM   #56
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Buy yourself a digital meter with better tolerances. The analog unit I have is for glancing only. If I see it on the low side, I'll get my digital unit out and get an accurate measurement.
I shudder to respond here for fear that I will once again incite a string of responses which tell me what a danger to society that I am. Call me a masochist, but here we go...

I plugged my trusty Radio Shack multimeter (a relatively high dollar one, might I mention) into the AC-current outlet just above where my $10 RV-store analog voltage meter was plugged in.

I'll start by saying that the suggestion to check things w/ the multimeter is probably the best, most useful, and most learned-from piece of advice that I've been given on this thread. The results of my "experimentation" are summarized below. Keep in mind that the conditions for the test were as follows: my AS connected via a 100' extension cord to a 15A outlet in my garage.

condition; multimeter V reading; plug-in volt gauge reading
nothing running; 121.5; 122.5
low fan; 118.9; 120
high fan; 117.9; 119.5
low A/C; 104.4 (after 5 min); 104-106 fluctuating

an important point to mention: when first turning the knob to "low A/C" the voltage recovered to about 110. But, it dropped about 1V per minute until it got to 104.4 and I decided to end the test. I immediately inspected the entire length of elec. supply for heat / melting. I felt SLIGHT heat at the end of the 100' cord where it connected to the 15A to 30A plug converter at the AS. By no means could I not hold on to the connector and if my coffee were the same temperature, I would have been microwaving it to warm it up.

So, what do I conclude from this experiment?

1) my analog plug-in gauge is close enough to trust as a reading of voltage in the AS.

2) since the rated V of my A/C unit is 115V, I can run my unit (fan only) on low or high fan without concern for damage to my A/C unit.

3) IF, IF, IF my electrical connection is via a 100' standard-duty extension cord and connected to a 15A service, I should NOT use my A/C. However, if my connection is better than that, a test run can be made and I can trust the reading from my analog gauge as valid and true.
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