generator wiring conversion


Old 03-22-05, 02:34 PM
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generator wiring conversion

I have a portable generator for power outages. I run a cord from the generator directly to the dryer outlet to backfeed my whole house, after disconnecting service from the street of course. It is a 3 wire plug. Problem...I purchased a new portable generator but the outlet on the panel is a 4 prong plug. (New code) Question: Can the 3 wires in the old cord from the house be connected to the 4 prong plug? Someone told me that I just wouldn't wire anything to the ground prong. 2 hots and the neutral get wired, the 4th prong stays empty?

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Old 03-22-05, 02:53 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
Do not connect your generator in this manner no matter how many wires it has or doesn't have. It is dangerous.

Have a transfer switch properly installed and use the transfer switch.
Old 03-22-05, 05:15 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: USA
Posts: 1,839
Never thought of that, but sounds like a really bad idea.

Couple of options that would be better, safer and legal..

First, call your power companies engineering department, ask if they offer a device called the 'GenConnect'. This is a device that installs between the meter and meter can (which is why the power company must approve it), after that, you simply connect your generator cord to it and power it up.
Once it senses power from the gen, it disconnects power from the utility, and you can power everything in the house (up to the limit of your genset, obviously) without any extra wiring.

Second, install a transfer switch, or panel (ie get an electrician to do it). has a good selection of panels if you can't find one locally.

PS: Not sure why that url was edited out, PM me if you want it.

Last edited by Pendragon; 03-23-05 at 10:41 AM. Reason: modify url
Old 03-22-05, 05:29 PM
Speedy Petey's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 2,455
Mr. Moser,
I doubt you will get any different answers than what you have gotten here or on
What you are doing is HIGHLY UNSAFE and is not only not recommended, but highly illegal! If anyone gets hurt due to an installation of this nature someone WILL go to jail.

No one on these boards will answer questions of an illegal nature. Regardless of the fact that "Everyone else does it, why is it wrong?".

Please, do yourself and your local utility workers a favor and have a transfer switch/panel installed. I saw your car brake analogy on the other site and it holds no water. Car brakes don't have to ability to kill line workers and burn your house down at the same time.

If you have any other questions about having a transfer switch installed I/we will be happy to answer.

Last edited by John Nelson; 03-22-05 at 06:38 PM. Reason: modify url
Old 03-22-05, 06:13 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 132
I know here in Florida this type of thing was overlooked after the hurricanes we had last year, but it was an emergency situation, not just a normal power outage. If a hurricane or some other disaster had just ripped through your area and you were without power for days, I can understand why you'd hook up a generator like this. But for short power outages it's not worth the risk.
Old 03-22-05, 07:24 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: USA
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Not sure where you were, but it wasn't overlooked here. Unless you were off a main feeder line, if the power crew heard or saw your generator they were requiring you to disconnect it before they would restore power.
Not only for thier safety, but they said when they restored power, it COULD jump the breaker and feed into the generator, destroying it. They also suggested turning off all the breakers in the box to keep surges from killing appliances for the same reason.

I bought a 6 circuit transfer switch after Ivan, hooked it up long enough to get power back and then took it out when power was restored. It didn't power enough circuits for my wants, but it was enough for hot water, lights and a window a/c, and the price was right ($200), and it was the only one they had, literally (and had to go 150 miles to find it).

I'm looking at a whole house panel now, either as an exterior transfer panel, or a replacement breaker box with generator connection for inside.

If that wasn't enough, after driving 300 miles round trip, spending nearly $1900 on a generator, transfer panel and 20 gallons of gas.. power was restored a day and a half later. But hey, I got a good generator for next time (FEMA even paid for half of it).
Old 03-22-05, 08:21 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: NA
Posts: 1,065
Garou, believe me the power crews didnt overlook those generators, they work as if the lines are hot since a house to house look see for generators isnt feasible. However if they detect backfed voltage on their lines they will find where it is coming from and disconnect it. You all in Florida had a rough go with all those Hurricanes so hope everyone is better prepared next time. Dont worry the politicians will make sure you are safe...LOL.
Old 03-23-05, 09:17 AM
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Generator Wiring

OK....I understand.

Nobody wants to hurt anybody. I did not realize all of the risks associated with this. I do think the prices are inflated. No one will convince me otherwise. Any regulated industry's prices are high. I appreciate those helpful suggestions from you folks who gave them.
Old 03-23-05, 11:39 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Eastern USA
Posts: 1,038
I wouldn't say the pricing is inflated in all cases. Electric company at the cabin is a Coop and they offer generator switching hardware at cost to protect there employees. Thats the hardware, you need to get someone to install it.

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