Generator Circuits


Old 11-16-09, 08:24 AM
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Generator Circuits

It's getting to be power outage season, and I am thinking about a better way to set up my generator. Right now, whenever the power goes out, I set up my portable generator outside and run extension cords to inside the house for all my emergency needs. I would like to have a solution that is quicker to hook up, but I don't want to spend a ton of money.

Here is my thought. I propose to run a series of circuits that are completely independent of the existing circuits. I would plug my generator into a plug on the outside wall near where it gets set up. That plug would be connected to a small panel. That small panel would have perhaps two or three circuits for my sump pump, septic tank pump, refrigerator, and general use. These circuits would be completely separate from the regular panel. I would even have a separate ground.

Is this doable within code? Should I just forget about this and spend the money on a transfer switch?
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Old 11-16-09, 08:40 AM
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While you thought would probably work as there would be no chance of backfeeding power onto the utility grid I think the transfer switch would be a better solution.

Using your idea you would also need to install new receptacles for items like your sump pump and refrigerator. You would also need to switch the power cords over to the generator receptacles during your power outage and then switch them back after utility power is restored.

BTW, the proper fitting for the power cord from a generator is called a power inlet.
Old 11-16-09, 09:25 AM
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What you're proposing sounds reasonable, but here's another option for you...

Once you account for your efforts in running all these new circuits, the wire, and other materials needed to complete the task, you may find it easier to put in an interlock on the main panel so you can use the existing circuits.

The interlock ensures that you can only have either the main or the generator supplying power, not both.

Typical interlock kits seem to be between $40-200 (depends on panel). You'll need another breaker in your panel (as well as some space), maybe $20, some wire, usually #10 for a 30 amp generator, to run to your inlet which costs about $50.

So, less than $300 or so, you're only running wire to the inlet, and you can select any load in the house to run. No unplugging the fridge, just flipping a switch.

How would you handle something hardwired, like the furnace/boiler?
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