Whats A Good Cheap Simple Generator Hookup?


Old 10-02-05, 01:32 AM
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Whats A Good Cheap Simple Generator Hookup?

I lose power all the time here and have a generator 3500 w Gemerac. I know its small but managed during the ice storm of 98 here in the NE with it directly wired into the panel and the main off. I tried backfeeding through my arc welder outlet in the garage but it doesn't seem to run all portions of the house. It is a tad far out there, 80' of #2 wire into my electric box with 20' of #10 running from the gen to the arc welder plug. Maby its too far but when I tried to fire up the boiler it drew down way too heavy on the gen which had run it happily during the ice storm direct feeding into the box via a piece of #10.
Whats wrong with this set up I have now and if unworkable what is a simple easy and cheap rig to feed the box directly? I don't want to spend $200 for a separate box and type specific rig. All I want to do is be able to roll out the gen and plug a single line into the 200 amp main panel and run any combination of appliances anywhere in the house within the capabilities of the gen. I am well schooled on high startup surge requirements in the boiler and well, fridge ect.
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Old 10-02-05, 08:09 AM
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Unfortunately, you have a code violation.
You need to install some type of transfer switch, whether it be a formal double pole double trow disconnect switch, or pair of interlocked circuit breakers.
The code does not permit you to rely on your memory, to shut off the main breaker.
By chance, do you have a Square D panel with QO breakers? If so, you could purchase an interlock to install in your existing panel. Other manufacturers have them too, but it has to be for your specific panel.

Old 10-05-05, 02:44 AM
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I have a square D box

Ron, What is a Q O breaker and how much approx is that interloc? Mine is a square D vintage 1995 . Thanks for the help. Any idea why my backfed rig would lug out the gen so badly? I was guessing that it is the distance. Not much else to go wrong that I can think of. It ran the furnace fine when I had it direct wired to the panel years back.
Old 10-05-05, 05:01 AM
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Your backfeed "setup" is not only a MAJOR code violation but an EXTREME safety hazard! If you are found to have this setup in use in NY State you will face fines and possibly evev jail time. If a utility worker is injured or even killed because of a setup like this you can be guaranteed jail time.

Sorry, but spend the $200 for a Gen-Tran type tansfer panel or as Ron said get a main breaker interlock for you panel. I am not fond of a main interlock for such a small generator since you do have the capability to run the whole house and some people forget they are on a genset and tend to run more than the genset can handle.

Reliance transfer panels Main breaker interlock kit
Old 10-05-05, 08:34 AM
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In recent years as prices have plummeted and made generators widely affordable, disasters have skyrocketed! There has already been one family of five killed in New Orleans by CO ( running generator in the living room). We can only assume that thousands are hooked up as this gentleman wanted to do, and injuries and deaths due to downed lines backfed by home generators are sure to happen.

Please, everyone, THINK about what you do!
Old 10-05-05, 08:44 AM
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Ten or so years ago we had a storm come through one Saturday morning. The weather service called it a windburst. It took numerous trees down, including one which ripped the service wires from my house and my neighbors house. Power also went out all over the area.

I watched the power company come though later and remove all the downed service drops. Even though power was out they treated the lines as if they were live. I assume they were concerned about back feed from generators improperly hooked up.
Old 10-05-05, 11:52 AM
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The standard practice for electric utility personnel is to treat everything as energized unless it is short-circuited AND grounded (not the same thing).
Old 10-05-05, 05:51 PM
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Apart from the illegal backfeed, you are trying to power your entire house with the 3500W genny.

In addition to having a safe legal connection, a sub panel type transfer switch will only energize the essential circuits really needed in an outage.

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