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Old 07-27-2012, 06:56 PM   #1
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Hooking up my genny to my house

I don't think this is too far afield as a lot of us have generators. Can anyone tell me what would be involved in using my portable generator for some basic power for my other home (the one permanently attached to the ground) in case of a power outage (or I forget to pay my bill)?
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Old 07-27-2012, 07:07 PM   #2
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To do it properly you need a transfer switch wired into your house. This provides proper protection for you and anyone that is attempting to work on the lines feeding the house. There are other ways but they are illegal and dangerous.

FWIW we happen to have a permanent stand by generator with an automatic transfer switch. The manual switch is what you are looking for, depending on the size of your generator will determine the size switch you need and what you can run.

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Old 07-27-2012, 08:21 PM   #3
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The manual switch is what you are looking for, depending on the size of your generator will determine the size switch you need and what you can run.

Aaron
Thanks Aaron. I will be using 1 or 2 (parallel) Honda eu2000i generators.

Am I correct in assuming wiring in the transfer switch requires working with hot primary juice at full strength as it comes off the pole? I have done basic wiring but that makes me a little nervous.
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Old 07-27-2012, 08:55 PM   #4
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Even two Hondas would be woefully inadequate for household electrical loads. Best to run the Honda outdoors, and run a heavy extension cord into the house. Plug into it for your emergency power needs.

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Old 07-27-2012, 08:56 PM   #5
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Thanks Aaron. I will be using 1 or 2 (parallel) Honda eu2000i generators.

Am I correct in assuming wiring in the transfer switch requires working with hot primary juice at full strength as it comes off the pole? I have done basic wiring but that makes me a little nervous.
Unless you're putting in a BIG generator that could carry the whole house, I think the transfer switch will generally be on your house side of the main breaker. The set of circuits you want to be able to run off the generator in an outage would be powered from the mains in one position, isolated from the mains and powered by the generator in the other.
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Old 07-27-2012, 09:00 PM   #6
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The proper way to do it is having one small breaker-box/transfer switch that contains the circuits that you want to run on the generator, and a switch that isolates the power from the pole from the small box. When you flip the transfer switch, it turns one breaker on and one breaker off (uses a pivot) which isolates the small panel. In that panel is just the essential curcuits you want to run - in my house it is the kitchen, furnace, and some lights.

This is the safe and legal way to do it. This can be wired like any other curcuit in your house - turn off the main breaker coming in, move whatever circuits you want to the transfer switch, run your cable for the generator, and turn it back on.

The illegal way is to get a male-to-male plug, turn off all the breakers you don't want powered, and plug your generator into any unused outlet. If you have a big generator, you can melt your house wiring, start a fire, and maybe get lucky and kill a lineman by backfeeding into the grid.

I'll take some photos when I get home - it is simpler than it sounds to do it the right way.
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Old 07-27-2012, 09:09 PM   #7
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Honda Generators - Connecting a generator to your home

This is the best, shortest explanation I could find. Your generators will keep a fridge, deep freeze, TV and a few lights running at the same time... if you had to, you could individually run a microwave, toaster or similar...

I run a Honda 6500 for more than 40 hours a year of power outages... it works pretty hard if we have everything than can run on the switch turned on...
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Old 07-27-2012, 09:36 PM   #8
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While all of this is good and safe advice - and a transfer switch is required by code - can you not accomplish the same thing simply by shutting of your main breakers before you turn on the generator?

I thought that all a transfer switch does is to make sure the home's electrical system is connected to either the main or to your generator, but never to both at the same time. And at the same time it also ensures your generator is never connected to the mains.

I don't understand the bit about burning down your house, melting your wiring etc. How would that happen - if you were plugged a large generator into a 15 AMP wall outlet with a much greater than 15 AMP load on the system? But even then, wouldn't your existing breakers cut the circuit?

I've got a 50AMP 240 VAC circuit for my air compressor, why could I not feed the house safely through that as long as I'm feeding 50 amps or less through it (and I had the main breakers turned off so I was disconnected from the grid...) I know it's not code without a transfer switch, but why would it cause a problem?
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Old 07-27-2012, 09:50 PM   #9
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I just talked to a friendly electrical contractor. An issue he also brought up is I live in an older house most of which is the original wiring.

We will have a power outage here a couple of times a year that lasts a couple of hours or so. So I think until I know more about the subject I will focus on limited use of an extension cord to essential appliances until the power comes back on.
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Old 07-27-2012, 10:59 PM   #10
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I would look at getting an electrical contractor to hook up a transfer switch (manual will do since you've got to get the genset out and connect it and crank it)

The reason I say this is that last years April Tornado's we had no power for a week, and having electrical cords running all over the floor in the house got real old real quick.

For 1 or two Honda EU2000's in parallel, you can get a 30amp 110volt transfer switch that will let you select something like 5 or 6 (or up to 10) circuits to run. You still will have to do some "power management" no matter how new your electrical system is. I mean most generators can't run 5 or 6 circuits "full time" at "100% load". For example with two small Honda generators, if you're going to run your microwave, you might have to turn off your AC window unit (for example).

To run my coffee pot every morning, I had to unplug both my fridges from my 2000 watt generator.

our house is for sale right now, but next house will have a transfer switch to essential circuits. (at least one kitchen counter outlet. fridge outlet, 2nd fridge/freezer, TV outlet. gas furnace fan, plus maybe one den outlet. I say the Den outlet because we always had a power strip of cell phone chargers for all the neighbors cell phones. I was the only one that had a generator and others asked us to charge their phones).
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Old 07-28-2012, 04:45 AM   #11
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Mike S.....In south La. we know all about being without power for an extended time. After Rita we were out for over a month. My wife and I arrived the day after the storm made landfall with a 6KW gen. and enough gas to blow up half the neighborhood in the back of our Expedition. I rigged the gen to the waterwell, freezer, frig and ran a small window AC I stuck in a dinning room window. Neither neighbor had a well so we ran a water hose to each and gave them a time they could use water each day since I had to cut the AC off in order to run the 220V on the well. It's amazing how neighbors can come together and figure out ways to survive after such an event. Hope you guys are all recovering. Getting back to normal will take a long time. On the subject I would recommend putting in a home generator if you can afford it. Expense will be less if you have a friend who is a good electrician. We have natural gas which was maintained during the power outage. Now there are a lot of nat. gas house generators in our subdivision. My 2 cents..steve
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Old 07-28-2012, 08:22 AM   #12
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Best way: Whole house transfer switch with extensive understanding of power management as to what you can run, when, and for how long.

Next best way: partial transfer switch system where only certain circuits are able to connect to the generator. Again power management is essential in most cases.

Only other safe way for all involved: Extension cords from the generator to what you feel is essential. When you overload the generator it will tell you by tripping out. That is a great way to start to understand power management if you are a bit of a novice.

I have a whole house transfer switch and three possible generators. For a short outage in the daytime, the Honda 1000 works well. For a longer outage, especially at night the Honda 3000 is called into service. For times when everything including the 240 volt well pump needs to be used, the ancient Craftsman 6000 120/240 1800 rpm two cylinder run forever and never fail gen set is hauled out and started with a hand crank! I think I had to use it in a 4 day outage about 8 years ago.

And always have a good flashlight where you can find it in the dark, so you can see the stuff you are looking for, including the transfer switch....LOL.
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Old 07-28-2012, 08:26 AM   #13
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Mike S.....In south La. we know all about being without power for an extended time.
Yes... I agree you guys do. ....

I've talked to people down there after hurricanes that were without power for 4 to 6 weeks and ran off generator the whole time.
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Old 07-28-2012, 08:55 AM   #14
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If you have any amount of power outages or just want to be prepared it is hard to beat the whole house automatic systems, they aren't cheap, but can often be found at a deep discount. We purchased ours new in the crate for ~$1000 at a bankruptcy auction, brand new retail is about ~$4500. It is one of the Generac air cooled, LP powered ones. Mine happens to be 17kw and hooked to a 500 gallon LP tank is going to provide me with power for a good 6 months or even longer with some planning.

We don't loose power that often, but when we do our house becomes the nerve center for our area. Last go around was after the tornadoes of April 2011. Power was out for 48 hours, life went on as normal... well normal for us anyway.

Aaron
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