Generator cover and grounding questions

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  #1  
Old 12-05-06, 01:23 PM
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Generator cover and grounding questions

I have a portable generator that I use to power my house during power outages. I wheel it out behind my garage. Is it OK to run it during rain or snow? Is there any kind of cover available that I can leave on it while it running? I've seen others set a cardboard table over theirs but I'm wondering if there's something a little better than that.

Also, is there a way to ground a portable generator? When I hook mine up to my house, none of my GFCI circuits will work.

Thanks,

Mark
 
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Old 12-05-06, 02:11 PM
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Last edited by 30yearTech; 12-05-06 at 05:44 PM.
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Old 12-05-06, 05:23 PM
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I've moved your post to the electrical forum as being more related to your question.

Mark,

Your generator must be protected from the weather.
You could get a shock or it could be damaged if it gets wet.
I have my generator stored in a shed and brought outside for use.
I will use two sawhorses and a piece of plywood on top if I need to keep the inclement weather off of it.

As far as not being able to use the GFI circuits if you describe in detail how you hook up the generator to your house wiring our experts here can help.

Are you using a transfer switch or some type of direct hook-up?
 
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Old 12-05-06, 07:22 PM
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A ground is not required for a GFCI receptacle to work.
 
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Old 12-05-06, 07:28 PM
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I bet he means he cannot trip them.
 
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Old 12-06-06, 06:17 AM
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Thanks for all the replies (and sorry for posting in the wrong forum). I too keep mine stored in the garage and only bring it out when needed, which has been twice in the 2 months I've had it. Sawhorses with a piece of plywood is a good idea - and something heavy to put on the plywood to keep it blowing away here in windy Buffalo.

I currently hook up the gen to my house by first turning off all the breakers in my panel (including the main feed coming in from the street), then I connect 2 heavy duty extension cords to 2 different outlets in my house (yes I made some cords with male ends on both ends). Then I open up the 2 breakers that I plugged in to, then I open other breakers on the panel to provide power to them. I can run pretty much the whole house this way (being careful not to run to much at once). For my sump pump, I plug it directly into the gen with a series of heavy duty extenion cords. So in total, I use 3 of the 4 120 outlets on my gen. It also has a 30 amp outlet that I assume I would connect to a transfer switch if I had one.

As for the GFCI outlets, the first time I had to use the gen, I tried plugging into a GFCI outlet in the garage, but then as soon as I opened that breaker in the panel, the Reset button on the outlet popped out and I couldn't get it to stay in. So now I plug into 2 non-GFCI outlets (as described above) and I can power the house, but I can't use any circuit that has a GFCI outlet in it (garage, kitchen and bathroom plugs mainly).
 
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Old 12-06-06, 06:50 AM
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> Sawhorses with a piece of plywood is a good idea

I've posted basic information on how to construct a generator 'hut' in another thread.

>I currently hook up the gen to my house by first turning off all the breakers >in my panel (including the main feed coming in from the street), then I >connect 2 heavy duty extension cords to 2 different outlets in my house

Uh oh.. Here we go... <>stands back<>

Ok, I'll say it.
What you are doing is ILLEGAL, EXTREMELY DANGEROUS and GETS PEOPLE KILLED EVERY YEAR.

You could afford a generator, spend the other $250 on a transfer panel.

Sorry, but until you correct this, I doubt anyone here will help further with your 'problem'.
 
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Old 12-06-06, 07:12 AM
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The GFCIs are tripping because they are backfed. They cannot and will not work in that manner.

DO NOT RUN YOUR GENERATOR IN THE MANNER YOU HAVE DESCRIBED.

I will second what Pendragon said.

WHAT YOU ARE DOING IS ILLEGAL AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS.

Should you forget to shut off your main breaker and inadvetently put power onto the main lines, you could electrocute someone. If this happens you will be charged with manslaughter and you will go to jail.

Please disassemble those extension cords. They are an electrocution waiting to happen.

Do not backfeed your panel. The only approved way to back feed your panel is to get a main breaker interlock and backfeed a properly installed male socket, which will feed an appropriate sized 240 volt breaker in your panel. The main breaker interlock, when properly installed, will prevent the main breaker and the backfeed breaker from both being on at the same time.

Another option is to install a proper transfer switch.

But no matter what you do,

DO NOT RUN YOUR GENERATOR IN THE MANNER YOU HAVE DESCRIBED.
 
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Old 12-06-06, 08:18 AM
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Actually I can't afford a transfer switch right now. I was quoted $500 parts and labor. Actually couldn't afford the gen when I bought it but since power was going to be out for a week and we now have new baby, I had to do something. Trust me, I know it can be dangerous and I want to connect it the right way.

This forum is where I first heard on an interlock which I'm looking into. I've also contacted my town's electrical inspector to see if an interlock will meet code or if I have to go with a transfer switch. The thing I don't like about transfer switches is it seems they can only run 6-8 circuits, but the way I connect my gen now, I can run any of my circuits and I'm not limited to just 6-8.

For the GFCIs tripping because they are backfed, so does that mean even if I had a transfer switch I wouldn't be able to use them?
 
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Old 12-06-06, 08:43 AM
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You mean that you can't afford NOT to hook up your generator properly. What is your new baby going to do if you are in jail for manslaughter.

Do it properly or don't do it at all. Until you have a proper setup, just use extension cords from the generator. Unsightly, yes. But much safer.

I paid $150 for my interlock kit, from http://www.interlockkit.com. I highly recommend them. They will work with you to make sure that you get the correct kit for your panel. They can even sell you the proper equipment to backfeed to your panel (generator cord, socket, etc.).

A properly installed interlock kit meets code and is safe

You cannot backfeed through a GFCI. Your GFCIs will work just fine when they are properly fed FROM the main panel, regardless of where the main panel gets power.
 
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Old 12-06-06, 08:54 AM
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So with an interlock, I'd be able to use all the circuits in my panel right? Obviously not all at the same time, but I'd be able to pick and chose which to turn on and off, unlike a transfer switch where I'd have to pick only some at the time of installation, right?
 
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