Hard Wiring for Portable Emergency Generator?

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  #1  
Old 11-02-11, 10:39 AM
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Hard Wiring for Portable Emergency Generator?

I am awaiting delivery of my new 3200 Watt protable generator, which will have 4 x 120 V outlets. I plan to use it only to operate a few lights and the refrigerator periodically in the event of a power outage. Fortunately, I have a gas water heater, a gas fireplace for heat and a side burner on the propane grill boils water for coffee. A hot shower and a cup of coffee is 90% of blackout survival.

So, instead of running 4 expensive heavy duty extension cords from the generator to the appliances, I am wondering if there is a safe way to install electirical wire that runs from my garage to dedicated emergency outlets indoors. I am not talking about a transfer switch set-up. I am talking about mimicking extension cords with permanent electrical wire.

For example, is it possible to run 4 shorter heavy duty extension cords from the generator (running outdoors, or course) to 4 outlets in the garage, then run appropriate household wire from the 4 outlets in the garage straight to 4 emergency-only outlets in the house? Would this not be the same as using extension cords? Are there any other considerations? Or is this just a stupid idea?

Thanks,
James
 
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Old 11-02-11, 11:03 AM
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Hi James, I'm not an electrician but we used to have a name for the type of jumper cable you are describing. Designed with male plugs on both ends to jumper from a source to another outlet. We called them suicide cords.

Installing emergency outlets (I'm not even sure they would be allowed by code) seems to be more trouble than either extension cords or a transfer switch.
 
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Old 11-02-11, 11:07 AM
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Deleted, I read the original post incorrectly.
 

Last edited by belgarid; 11-02-11 at 11:29 AM.
  #4  
Old 11-02-11, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Wayne Mitchell View Post
Hi James, I'm not an electrician but we used to have a name for the type of jumper cable you are describing. Designed with male plugs on both ends to jumper from a source to another outlet. We called them suicide cords.

Installing emergency outlets (I'm not even sure they would be allowed by code) seems to be more trouble than either extension cords or a transfer switch.
As Wayne said, do not use suicide cords. No one here will help with that.

One option would be to install 4 inlets and run cable to the emergance outlets but I don't know if this would be allowed by code. I pro should be along shortly to give more advice from the NEC point of view.
 
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Old 11-02-11, 11:56 AM
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Since there would be no interconnect to the power grid I don't see any issues.

The inconvenience would be having to run the cords whenever the power failed. The fire rated barrier to the garage would be compromised by the cords running through the doorway. They could also be a trip hazard.
 
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Old 11-02-11, 12:05 PM
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Thanks, all.

Since posting, I came across the Powermate 30-Amp Convenience Cord (4-Prong):
Powermate PA0650193 - 30-Amp Convenience Cord (4-Prong)

I think this is a better solution. But it raises another question. Is running one of these cords from the generator and plugging in 4 loads inside the house the same as running 4 separate simple extension cords from the generator?

Thanks,
James
 
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Old 11-02-11, 12:16 PM
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Unless I missed something you will not be able to use the 30 amp twistlock in a regular duplex receptacle.
 
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Old 11-02-11, 12:17 PM
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A simpler and in my opinion, better, method would be to run the wiring from the standby receptacles (no code problem with these) to a stand alone circuit breaker panel and then use a single 240/120 volt inlet connection to power the panel. Use a standard 240/120 volt four-wire interconnect cable between the generator and the inlet connection. This is, of course, predicated on your generator being a 240/120 volt model.
 
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Old 11-02-11, 12:23 PM
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You did not miss it, I neglected to include that the generator has:
(4) 5-20R 120V outlets, (1) L14-20R Twist-Lock 120/240V outlet.

It is this one:
Sears: Online department store featuring appliances, tools, fitness equipment and more
(I am purchasing from Northern Tool, but the Sears web page is better)
 
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Old 11-02-11, 12:29 PM
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The cord you linked to has a L14-30, not an L14-20 like your generator.
 
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Old 11-02-11, 01:09 PM
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PCboss: yes, I will get the 20 amp cord.
Furd: thank you for that suggestion. It does sound more sensible.

So, thanks to all your help on this forum, I think I will just go with the extension cord.

Is running one cord with 4 outlets the same as using 4 outlets on the generator, each with one inlet (male) and one outlet (female)?
 
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Old 11-02-11, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by j1260 View Post
Is running one cord with 4 outlets the same as using 4 outlets on the generator, each with one inlet (male) and one outlet (female)?
Yes as long as the cord is of sufficient gauge and short enough length to handle the amps.
 
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