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Wiring a generator to a furnace.... was I given the wrong info.?

Wiring a generator to a furnace.... was I given the wrong info.?

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  #1  
Old 01-31-11, 08:59 PM
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Wiring a generator to a furnace.... was I given the wrong info.?

I need some help....... I thought I had things pretty much under control, then did a little more research and found that I may have the wrong switch and some grounding issues.

I want to wire a 4200 watt portable generator to my furnace. (this will be the only thing I want connected to this switch, so I don't need a gang transfer switch box.) I had an electrician in the house to run a new computer circuit and asked the helper how to connect a generator to the furnace.... he told me I needed a DPDT Center off switch and he drew me a diagram of how to connect it. I bought the switch, then became confused because the instructions that came with the switch were different than what the helper had drawn and way more confusing.

He drew; (hots to one side of switch.... neutrals to the other side)
a. Top lugs - power from Public Svc. panel.
b. Center lugs - furnace hot and neutral
c. Bottom lugs - Generator pig-tail. (a 3 wire pig-tail)
d. Green ground screw - to nothing.

The house wiring to the furnace is: (2 wire BX - it's an old house)
1 BX cable from the electric panel.
1 BX cable from the 'emergency shut-off' switch at the basement entrance.

Both of these BX cables go to a junction box. From that junction box, another old 2 wire BX cable (used from the previous furnace when it was replaced) exits the box and goes to another 'emergency shut-off' switch on the furnace.

Exiting the 'emergency shut-off' switch on the furnace, there is a newer 3 wire BX, but the 3rd. wire (a red one) has been cut off.

My questions:
Is the DPDT center-off switch correct for what I need?
a. If so, is the wiring diagram from the electricians helper correct?
b. If not, what switch do I need and how do I wire the correct switch?

What about grounding... do I need to ground the generator, the switch and receptacle box, or both? (I read something about a danger in grounding both the generator and the house in certain situations). I bought a ground clamp so I could ground the switch to the metal switch receptacle box and then the box to a copper water pipe.

What do I connect the pig-tail ground wire to if the switch receptacle box isn't grounded?

My furnace isn't computerized (unless the battery powered thermostat is considered a computer), so I don't have to worry about "dirty power" issues.

I'm very much an amature at eletrical wiring, but comfortable with doing it. I'm not afraid of it.... but I do respect it.

Any detailed help will be greatly appreciated and the sooner the better.... our area is due for an ice/snow storm over the next 2 days and I know the power will go out, it always does.

Thanks..... Picture Taker
 
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  #2  
Old 01-31-11, 09:23 PM
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Ok, first thing's first, what kind of switch did you get? (a picture would be great if you can swing it). The diagram he drew you would be correct for a typical silver 'bat handle' type switch that you would mount through a hole drilled in a blank plate, or rocker switch. DPDT is correct, and the "center off" is VERY important for a transfer application.
 
  #3  
Old 02-01-11, 04:07 PM
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Thanks for the reply...... How do I attach a picture? When I try to insert an image, I get a box that asks for the pictures URl. If that means I have to have a website.... I don't. Can the "Private messages" be used? I'm not even sure I have the correct priviledges to use the that feature, or how to get them.

To answer your question..... the switch looks like a slightly beefed-up version of a standard wall mounted light switch and not something that's more 'industrial'.

If the switch is okay and the wiring diagram I was given is okay to use, What do I need to do about grounding. Keep in mind that the house is wired with old style 2 conductor BX. Do I need to ground the switch to the receptacle, then ground the receptacle to a water pipe? Do I need to ground the generator? The 'pig-tail' from the DPDT switch that will plug into an extension cord from the generator is a 3-wire cord, what do I do about that ground wire?

Here's how (wish I could send a picture of this) the junction box is wired:
a. the back wires from both the Public Svc. BX and the 1st. 'emergency shut-off' switch BX (the one at the basement door) are wire nutted together.

b. the white wire from the Public Svc. BX is wire nutted to the white wire going to the
2nd. 'emergency shut-off' switch on the boiler.

c. the white wire from the 1st. 'emergency shut-off' switch is wire nutted to the black wire going to the 2nd. 'emergency shut-off' switch on the boiler. A black wire to a white wire doesn't sound right to me, but every thing works.

With that in mind, when I split all of this apart to connect the switch, do I connect the blacks from both the Public Svc and 1st. 'emergency shut-off' switch together on the same top lug (per the diagram I was given) and then do the same with the whites from these two BX cables? (that would be different than what I described above). Then connect the boiler white and blacks to the center lugs and the generator to the bottom lugs?

The thing that's throwing me off right now is why a white and black wire are spliced together and if it's correct, how does that get wired to the switch?

Hope you can make sense of all this...... being able to get a picture of the switch and the junction box to you would would make things so much easier. If you know how I can do that, please let me know.

Thanks...... Picture Taker
 
  #4  
Old 02-01-11, 05:01 PM
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  #5  
Old 02-02-11, 01:37 AM
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I'm still curious as to the actual switch you have, because I've never seen a DPDT center off the likes of a regular light switch (again, the center off part is very important, because it will prevent any possibility of the male plug becoming energized, or the generator backfeeding..

But here's how you'll have to hook it up.. The white - to - black connection is the result of the electrician using a 'switch loop'. It happens when you need a 'remote' switch, but there is only a black and a white in the cable. The white wire is SUPPOSED to be painted or taped black to identify it as a hot, but this step was often skipped. Also, I used a red wire for clarity in the one segment, but it's not necessary. And as for the ground, since the original wiring is BX, you just have to ground it to the two boxes (I ran out of room in the first box, so it isn't shown in the diagram going to the second)

 
  #6  
Old 02-02-11, 04:24 PM
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Ray,

I'm not one for putting lots of personal info. on the internet, so I wouldn't use a photo site. I remember seeing something about putting links in a post but don't remember where I saw it.

Can I ask the person I'm replying to, to Google a specific Mfg's. site and direct that person to the specific product in question? Or can I just include a link to that product page in my reply?

Thanks.... Picture Taker.
 
  #7  
Old 02-02-11, 04:35 PM
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I'm not one for putting lots of personal info. on the internet, so I wouldn't use a photo site.
You don't have to be a member of ImageShack® - Online Photo and Video Hosting to use it so no personal information is needed.

Or can I just include a link to that product page in my reply?
Yes.
 
  #8  
Old 02-02-11, 05:13 PM
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Thanks for the diagram. This is different than the diagram I was given.... I guess that electricians helper wasn't aware of the 'switch loop', which appears to make a difference.

I see that a moderator has supplied a post on how to add pictures and I replied to his post to find out if I can have you Google a Mfg's. site so you can see the switch. I don't want to mention a product name here until I'm sure it's ok to do so. I don't like using social sites for sharing photos, etc. and having to put personal info. out there. Call me old fashion, paranoid, etc., but I do every thing possible to guard against identity theft. It happened once and not fun trying to recover from. Anyway, I'm waiting for a reply from the moderator to see if I can either send you a link to the product page of the switch, or the Mfg.'s name so you can Google it.

We had the ice storm and somehow managed not to lose power this time. Due to other commitments, I'll now have to wait until this weekend before I can wire this up. I'll stay in touch here about the moderators reply and if I have any problems wiring this switch.

I just thought of something and maybe this would be the easier way to do this........ Since I have the 2nd. 'emergency shut-off' switch mounted to the furnace, which I think is dumb (if there was a fire emergency at the furnace, trying to get to that switch wouldn't be a good idea), could I replace that switch with the DPDT switch? That way I have the correct 2 wires entering the switch from the junction box (to the top lugs), the correct 2 wires leaving the switch for the furnace (the center lugs) and just add the pig-tail (the bottom lugs). This would eliminate doing anything with the junction box and the switch would still act as an 'emergency shut-off' by switching it to the center off position.

Picture Taker
 
  #9  
Old 02-02-11, 05:22 PM
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Thanks for your quick reply, I appreciate it. As I mentioned in my reply to the ongoing thread, I got burned once with identity theft and I'm pretty 'gun shy' now about putting any info. on the internet. I'll check out the 2 sites you listed here.

Picture Taker.....
 
  #10  
Old 02-02-11, 05:43 PM
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I just got the ok to send you the link to view the switch...... http://www.hubbell-wiring.com/Press/...g/page0153.pdf
On the page, look for product # HBL1386L.

If for some reason the link doesn't take you to the page, I Googled Hubbell Inc. I selected the first entry of the Google results and selected "Products". On the web page I 'searched' for HBL1386L and on the page that opened, I chose the first result.

Picture Taker......
 
  #11  
Old 02-02-11, 08:20 PM
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Thought I should give people a heads up...... I went to the ImageShack#174.... site and got a bogus virus alert. It said it was from "Windows Web Security", which there is no such thing, and said my computer was infected with a bunch of Trojans. From what I've been told by several people is when this happens, do not click on anything to try and close the pop-up or move your cursor over it, as this can actually install a virus. Push the shutdown button on your tower and then restart. Don't know if this will happen to others, but it popped up for me.

You wrote..... "I'm right except when I'm wrong". If you're married, that's incorrect because no matter how right you are..... you're always wrong!! :-(

Picture Taker....
 
  #12  
Old 02-02-11, 09:20 PM
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Imageshack (imageshack.us) is a legitimate site. I use it for all of my posting here, and I have never encountered the rogue software popup that you say you did on there. You may actually already have a virus that is redirecting your clicks. But as Ray said, you do not have to sign up in order to use it. You have the option to register an account if you want advanced features, but it's free for everyone.

As for the switch, I've seen that kind, but only in momentary contact. I didn't know they came in sustained contact as well. If you have the "L" version, which is 'Locking', then you can not use it to replace the switch that is already there. If it is a regular toggle version, then I don't think there would be an issue. (Edit: Just realized that if you do it that way, you would lose the use of the stairwell emergency switch while running on generator. That might be a code issue.)

The reason there is a switch on the furnace is because Code requires there to be a disconnect switch that de-energizes the entire system within sight of the furnace for servicing. One is also required on the outside of the utility room fire door or at the top of the stairwell for emergency purposes. These switches can not require a key or tool to operate.
 

Last edited by JerseyMatt; 02-02-11 at 10:26 PM.
  #13  
Old 02-02-11, 09:48 PM
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Thought I should give people a heads up...... I went to the ImageShack#174.... site and got a bogus virus alert. It said it was from "Windows Web Security", which there is no such thing, and said my computer was infected with a bunch of Trojans.
Actually usually it is spam. They're trying to sell anti-malware. I find them hilarious when they start talking about infections on my C drive or registry since I have no C drive or registry.
 
  #14  
Old 02-02-11, 10:03 PM
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No, it's actually a serious threat. It's called scareware. The program itself is a virus, which is part of a scam to get you to send them money. And the virus itself is a real b!tch to get rid of once you have it. They come from a malicious website using a technique called 'drive-by installation', and a lot of times you do get redirected through such sites simply by clicking on results on Google/Bing/whatever that are disguised as a legitimate result. And unfortunately it's not even just anti-spyware. It got me one time disguised as a Java update, which I gave no thought to installing until my antivirus went nuts.

Rogue security software - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is not to be confused with some sites that simply have banner ads with an animated .gif of a scanner that runs in a loop. Rogue software is an actual popup that if you click anywhere on it (even the close button) installs the virus. It's nasty stuff.
 

Last edited by JerseyMatt; 02-02-11 at 10:20 PM.
  #15  
Old 02-02-11, 10:23 PM
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I actually just noticed something that concerns me. How much did you spend on this switch? Just a quick look around says that particular model switch is around $100. For the same $100, you can get a listed transfer switch that is designed specifically for furnaces and would be a lot easier to install.
 
  #16  
Old 02-03-11, 05:43 PM
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The first thing that tipped me off was it mentioned AVG..... I do not use AVG. Then the "Windows Web Security". I'll try again over the weekend to check the site out and see what happens....... I'm all for anything 'Free'!
 
  #17  
Old 02-03-11, 06:33 PM
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The switch was $72.00. I wasn't expecting that figure when I bought it, but it sounds like, from what you say, I got a bargain!

I just replied to Ray that I'd try to check out the website again over the weekend.... if it's free - I'm there!

My Avira and Zone Alarm firewall didn't pick up the pop-up. After I pushed the button on the tower, I ran full system scans with my AV, Malewarebytes and Spybot and nothing was found, so I don't think I have any virus.... but then again, with the way nasties can hide, who knows?

After sending my last post and thinking I might be able to replace the 2nd. emergency switch with the DPDT, I realized that there are extra wires leaving that switch (circulator pump, low water sensor, etc.), which I'm sure would make wiring the switch more complicated, so I'd be better off with the original plan of eliminating the junction box and replacing it with the DPDT.

Guess I now know why there's a shut-off switch on the furnace.... thanks for that info.

My switch is the "L" version. Since I'm not all that electrically inclined, what is the "locking" feature? The info. sheet that came with the switch didn't mention anything about that.

Later.... Picture Taker
 
  #18  
Old 02-03-11, 06:45 PM
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I keep forgetting to ask...... does it matter which side of the switch I use to connect all the hots to?

Picture Taker
 
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Old 02-03-11, 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Picture Taker View Post
The switch was $72.00. I wasn't expecting that figure when I bought it, but it sounds like, from what you say, I got a bargain!

It is cheaper than I have seen, but my concern was that for approximately the same price you can get a pre-wired switch/power inlet designed specifically for what you want to do.


After sending my last post and thinking I might be able to replace the 2nd. emergency switch with the DPDT, I realized that there are extra wires leaving that switch (circulator pump, low water sensor, etc.), which I'm sure would make wiring the switch more complicated, so I'd be better off with the original plan of eliminating the junction box and replacing it with the DPDT.

Assuming this is a 4" square junction box, you are going to want to leave that in place, and just install the switch into it using a 'mud ring'. This switch will add a lot to the box volume, so you want to use a large box.



Guess I now know why there's a shut-off switch on the furnace.... thanks for that info.

No problem!

My switch is the "L" version. Since I'm not all that electrically inclined, what is the "locking" feature? The info. sheet that came with the switch didn't mention anything about that.
It means it needs a special tool ("key") to operate. Notice that it doesn't have a toggle, only a slot. The 'key' fits into the slot and moves the mechanism This is the type of switch you normally see in public buildings and schools so that people can't turn the lights off unexpectedly and cause a safety hazard. I honestly wouldn't recommend using it for this application.

And no, it doesn't matter which side gets which color, as long as you have all the black on one side and white on the other.
 
  #20  
Old 02-04-11, 09:06 AM
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Wish I had seen this type of switch before I bought the one I have. No big deal though, the place bought it at isn't close to where I am, so I'm not going to waste the time and gas to return it, especially after I've put you through all the questions and answers!

Thanks for the info. about "locking". I've seen those type switches but didn't put 2 & 2 together. The model number of my switch has an 'l' after it on the box, but it's a toggle type switch.

I bought a regular switch receptacle box, but I'll pickup one of these "mud rings" (strange name for something electrical!), which will keep me from having to deal with removing the BX from the junction box..... love 'couch potato' mentality! I can always find another use for the switch receptacle.

I didn't think it mattered which side of the switch I used for the hots, but since I've never wire a switch like this, I had to ask. [I][COLOR="red"]I had the 'zzzzttttt' sound and the sound of circuit breakers tripping!

I guess, for the moment, I'm all set to wire this up over the weekend...... I'll let you know what happens.
 
  #21  
Old 02-04-11, 09:59 AM
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Ray,

I tried again, using the link you posted, to go to the ImageShack photo sharing site and got the same virus alert.
Just tried my original link again and I don't get anything but then I don't have any AV software or malware detectors installed because I don't need them. Must be a Windows thing. Glad I got smart years ago and stopped using it.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 02-04-11 at 11:36 AM.
  #22  
Old 02-04-11, 12:54 PM
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Mind sharing what type of system you're using that you don't need AV software, etc.? (I know this isn't a forum for virus stuff, but now you've got me curious)

I don't know why I get the problem when I click that link, but I've tried the Wikipedia link in one of the replies and also the one I posted about the switch (along with several others in emails) and they all open fine. Ain't technology just wonderful!(?)
 
  #23  
Old 02-04-11, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Picture Taker View Post
Mind sharing what type of system you're using that you don't need AV software, etc.? (I know this isn't a forum for virus stuff, but now you've got me curious)
I run Linux, PClinux OS to be specific. Note there are no viruses that run on Macs either but Macs cost a lot more then Windows and of course most flavors of Linux are free.
 
  #24  
Old 02-04-11, 02:08 PM
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When I click it, I don't get it either.. I'm running Windows 7 with Firefox.


Just for shiggles, put your mouse pointer over the link but don't click it. See what the URL shows up as in the bottom bar of your browser. It should show up as http://imageshack.us. If it shows up as anything else, then you have a virus that is redirecting your clicks.

I would also recommend using basically any browser BUT Internet Explorer (I have privacy concerns about Google's Chrome too, so I wouldn't suggest that either). Firefox, Opera, and Safari are all fantastic alternatives.
 
  #25  
Old 02-05-11, 01:49 AM
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Guys .,

Just don't get too far off topic otherwise the off topic will move to the proper spot to contindue on the discussion with that subject.

Merci.
Marc
 
  #26  
Old 02-05-11, 06:27 AM
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Originally Posted by french277V View Post
Guys .,

Just don't get too far off topic otherwise the off topic will move to the proper spot to contindue on the discussion with that subject.

Merci.
Marc
Sorry........ not to worry, I just slapped my own wrist.

Merci.
Picture Taker
 
  #27  
Old 02-05-11, 06:30 AM
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I just tried the cursor thing... I'm good!

I'll be wiring the switch later today and let you know the outcome.
 
  #28  
Old 02-05-11, 07:11 PM
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I'm not sure of what I'm doing with the ImageShack uploads. I don't know how to get the pictures large like yours were. I resized them to a 19" monitor, but this is how they show up here. Double clicking the picture takes you to ImageShack and the pictures are large there. Clicking on a picture there will zoom in on it. I only have the two pictures, so anything else on the ImageShack page isn't related to this post.

I wired the switch per your diagram and when I turned the breaker on, the furnace did not start (I had the thermostat set very high to make sure the furnace went off when I threw the breaker and not because the thermostat shut it down.). I did not have the generator plugged in at this time, but thought that maybe something was wired backwards, so I threw the DPDT switch the other way, but still nothing. I triple checked all the wiring and it was per your diagram.

This is a picture of the switch. The lugs are not the same on both sides. There are 2 blacks, 2 brass, & 2 copper lugs, and the ground. The 2 black lugs are reversed (end for end), but the brass and copper lugs are not in the same order on each side. I don't have any idea what the L-1&2, A-1&2 and B-1&2 mean next to the wire holes.




This picture is the junction box before installing the switch. The BX at the top right is coming from the breaker panel. The BX at the bottom right is coming from Emergency shut-off #1 at the basement entrance. The BX coming into the bottom is from Emergency shut-off #2 on the furnace.



Why can't things be easy?

Picture Taker
 
  #29  
Old 02-05-11, 08:13 PM
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Ew that switch is weird. I've never seen a DPDT with terminals arranged like that. With this one you're going to put the furnace leads on the "L" terminals, the circuit breaker feed on the "A" terminals, and the generator feed on the "B" terminals. All black on one side, all white on the other.
 
  #30  
Old 02-06-11, 01:11 PM
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Were the pictures large enough on your screen or did you have to double click them and go to ImageShack to see them blown-up..... I'm trying to figure out what I need to do so I can include larger pictures (like yours were) for future posts if needed.

I'm assuming that this new wiring scheme now cancels out the 'Black to White switch loop' you told me about? You didn't mention anything about emergency shut-off switch #1, how does that get wired?

Would you suggest using the wire holes on the back of this switch or hook the wires around the lugs?

About grounding (again)..... should I connect the pig-tail ground wire to the ground lug on the switch and also connect a ground wire from that lug to the receptacle, then ground the receptacle to the incoming water pipe?

Sorry I have such a messed up switch!
 
  #31  
Old 02-06-11, 01:50 PM
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I had to click them. Basically Imageshack gives you several types of links that all do different things. The one you used is the "Forum Code", which is easy to use because it has the img tags already on it. What that does is give a small clickable picture (thumbnail) which links to the full size image to save page space on forums. For instance if you upload a high res picture, you don't want to post it directly because it messes up the word wrap on smaller screens like laptops (you wind up having to scroll left to right to read posts, and that's annoying. There are also still people who use dialup, and a 1MB picture would take several minutes to load. So if you post a pic that is bigger than say 800x600, you use a thumbnail. In order to make the full size picture appear on the forum, you would copy the "Direct Link". Then click the button on your post and paste the link into the box that pops up.

For the switch, you would still be wiring it the same way as the diagram, except you just have to adapt the terminal locations. The center terminals on the diagram are going to correspond with L-1 and L-2 on the actual switch. The top terminals on the diagram are going to be A-1 and A-2, and the bottom terminals on the diagram will be B-1 and B-2.

So the 'black to white' connection between the furnace and emergency switch 1 is going to stay as-is. You are going to connect the white from the breaker to A-1, black from the breaker to A-2. White from the generator plug to B-1, black from the generator plug to B-2. White from the furnace to L-1, black from emergency switch 1 to L-2.
 
  #32  
Old 02-06-11, 02:52 PM
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Thanks for the picture info., I guess the way I did it was correct because all of my pictures are high res..

This switch wiring sounds simple enough, and, just to be sure, the 'black to white' switch loop does not go through the switch, it just gets a wire nut and taped?

I may be able to do this at some point during the week, if not, it'll have to wait until next weekend, but I'll let you know what happens.
 
  #33  
Old 02-06-11, 03:15 PM
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You got it.. In the picture of the box you posted, it's the left most wirenut - that stays connected and does not go through the switch.

I also missed in your last post, you can go either way, but by all means you can use the holes for wiring in this case. That switch uses what's called 'backwiring', which means the screw is connected to a clamp, and tightening the screw tightens the clamp (notice the screws seem very loose when they are out like that - because the threads are in the clamp inside the switch, not the terminal pad under the screw). This ensures a tight connection.

Not to be confused with 'backSTAB' holes that you would find in regular cheap switches and receptacles. Backstab devices have holes that you simply push the wire in and it is locked in place by a spring. These are trouble, because not only is the connection made by a tiny point between the spring and wire, but the spring weakens over time, resulting in a loose connection. Loose connections can cause gremlins at best, or a fire at worst. When wiring a device that has backstabs, don't use them, always wrap the wires around the screws.
 
  #34  
Old 02-07-11, 07:30 PM
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Thanks......
I asked about using the wire holes because I wired a switch that way in the past and thought it was a pretty lame way to do it.... that must have been a backSTAB type switch. It seemed like the wires were not very secure, so I made sure I taped it. I see what you mean about this switch clamping the wire, thanks for that info., that's good to know for the future.

Now all I need to do is find the time to do this, hopefully before this weekend. When I do,
I'll let you know the results!
 
  #35  
Old 02-13-11, 03:32 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 20


Success....... it's a wonderful thing! Now all I have to do is get my generator tuned up. For some reason it stalls out when I take the choke fully off, but that's not for this forum (Merci!).

I do notice that when I throw the switch to the off position from the breaker panel, I can see an arc (a small flash) in the small space between the switch lever and the switch body..... don't know if that's normal. I had already put the generator away before I noticed this, so I don't know if it happens while using the generator and going to the off position.

I'm assuming that for the amount of times this switch will ever be used (hopefully never), I shouldn't have to worry about a small arc. I'll just have to remember to throw the switch to the 'off' position and wait for a second before throwing it to the generator.

And, for anyone who might be curious about the "403 Forbidden" (earlier in these posts, I removed the pictures from ImageShack.... there wasn't any violation of Terms of Service.

Thanks for all of your help, just wish I could have posted the pictures for you sooner and made things easier. I'm sure I'll have other projects in the future that I'll need help with... when I do, I'll shout for you.

Many thanks again...... Rich (Picture Taker)

For the moderators/administrators..... This subject can be considered solved (unless I get a reply about the arcing that I see being a problem).
 
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