Home emergency generator hookup

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  #1  
Old 05-30-12, 07:57 AM
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Home emergency generator hookup

I am picking up a generator from my father tonight to be used in case of emergency at my home.

Long story short, I currently looking for the most cost effective PROPER method to connect a portable generator to the house when needed.
I know I can do the improper, unsafe method. This is not what I am looking for as it's unsafe and illegal.

Link removed -unsafe

My father installed a sub-panel with a special double throw braker where only the grid or the generator panel can be connected the house at any given time. I'll be looking at it tonight when I pick up the generator.
When he installed it a few years ago, all the supplies set him back about $1000.

I know with the big home solar push, there probably are a dozen or more new products or methods that have been introduced to the market since my dad did his install.

I will be doing most of the wiring/setup, with a licensed electrician doing the final connection and inspection.
 

Last edited by pcboss; 05-31-12 at 06:30 AM. Reason: removed unsafe procedure
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  #2  
Old 05-30-12, 09:00 AM
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How big is the generator? How many circuits are you planning to back up? Is the generator portable or permanently mounted? Will you need to start it when you need it, or can it be controlled to start automatically when the power fails?

Regardless, THE way to integrate generator power with utility-supplied power is with a transfer switch. If the generator can be permanently mounted and supplied with fuel, then choosing an automatic transfer switch is preferable. If you have to connect it or fuel it or anything else when it's needed, you might as well use a manual transfer switch; they're less expensive and you've got to fool with the system anyway.

My father installed a sub-panel with a special double throw braker where only the grid or the generator panel can be connected the house at any given time.
That sounds like a manual transfer switch panel.
 
  #3  
Old 05-30-12, 09:15 AM
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Nashkat1,
It's a portable 6500W(?) unit (30A), so ya, manual wheel out of the garage (or it's dog house), plug into the external generator plug (plug to be specifically installed for the generator) on the outside of the house.

The setup my dad is using is a transfer switch (had a brain fart when I posted the original thread), attached to a 30A braker in the main pannel.
I'll grab a bunch of pictures and draw up a skematic when time permits.

After doing a bit of googling, I also found these interlock systems. Looks like it would be a cheaper alternative, but would be depended on the availability for my panel and potentially local laws (CSA/ESA certs). It would also require a bit of a shift in braker possitions within the pannel as the setup requires the feed breaker to be in a certain position.
 
  #4  
Old 05-30-12, 10:39 AM
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It's a portable 6500W(?) unit (30A)
That's not big enough to power everything in your house, of course. If your dad used
a transfer switch attached to a 30A braker in the main pannel,
I'm guessing that breaker is to feed the utility power to the transfer switch.

For your application, it seems that installing a combination manual transfer switch and sub-panel would be the cleanest option. Relocate the branch feeders for your critical loads to that panel and feed it with your specifically installed generator plug on one side and an appropriately sized (30A) 2-pole breaker in your main panel on the other lugs.

After doing a bit of googling, I also found these interlock systems.
Link?
 
  #5  
Old 05-30-12, 10:59 AM
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Here is the first link I found which sent me off looking for interlocking kits and rough pricing.
Interlock vs. Transfer switch - YouTube

Now, the big issues would be that I need to have a name brand pannel with a CSA/EAS certified interlock kit. I don't remember the brand of panel I have in this place (just move in a couple months ago), so I did a quick check for a siemens interlock kit (brand of the pannel in my previous house), and found a matching kit for ~$169 (US, so CSA cert unlikely).
Ignoring the CSA certification requirements, a quick search based on the pannel at my old house would set me back ~$350 for all the parts (cables, plugs, outlets, etc). Some of this I can probably source seportately and reduce the over all pricing.

Here is a link to a shop that sells the interlock kits ($149 plus shipping).
Generator InterLock Kit - Siemens Kits
Again, the kicker is that I am in Canada, and these likely won't be certified by our safety standards.
 
  #6  
Old 05-30-12, 11:47 AM
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Very interesting - I never saw an interlock kit before.

It appears that an interlock kit switches the power source for the entire panel. Since you don't have a big enough generator to power everything, it looks like the MTS/sub-panel is really your best option.
 
  #7  
Old 05-30-12, 11:56 AM
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Or as indicated in the youtube video, have my critical breakers pre-marked so that I can only turn them on.
In my case, the boiler, sump pump, well pump and maybe a couple lights would be on the must have list. Everything else would be extras and marked based on priority.

Given that I am playing with roughly 30A of available power, other then the few large power suckers, I wouldn't really have to give up too much and only be smart about what I use and when (i.e no coffee maker and microwave at the same time, don't use the air conditioner, hotwater tank or range stove).

I just need to find out what make/model of pannel I have and then source the parts with the CSA stickers.
 
  #8  
Old 05-30-12, 12:13 PM
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OK. I'm guessing an interlock kit must be a lot less expensive than a transfer switch. Since I couldn't hear the sound on the video I bailed out of watching it, so, happy hunting!
 
  #9  
Old 05-30-12, 02:09 PM
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How many 220 circuits do you have?

Just a thought the gen you have is really two 3000 watts 110v circuits. At 50% load thats 1500 watts each leg.

Just make sure to balance each leg properly.

I have no 220v loads and modified my gen to run both coils in series at full wattage at 110v.

Not sure what the code states on that. In the transfer switch I tied both legs togther.

Then there is the whole bonding issue.

Mike NJ
 
  #10  
Old 05-31-12, 05:13 AM
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I picked up the generator from my parents last night. It's actually a 5000W and not the 6500W I thought it was. As for the power requirements, I do require one 220V feed to fire the oil boiler.

As for the interlock idea... After looking at my father's transfer switch setup, I don't know if the interlock (plate) system will meet code or at minumum satisfy the power company.
The problem with the interlock is that the main breaker does not disconnect all the lines when it's off. Your neutal bar is still live to the grid, even with the main off. There is only the phase 1 and 2 disconnected.
With the transfer switch, the two phases and neutral are disconnected (all 3 in total).
I would love to go with an interlock unit (a whole lot simpler and cheaper), but I don't think it'll pass local code.

I tried to find a quick diagram online to visually demonstrate this, but had a bit of a tough time.
This was about the best I could find that shows how the main does not disconnect the neutral, so technically the generator would not be 100% isolated from the grid.
 
  #11  
Old 05-31-12, 06:35 AM
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I emailed the company with the interlock posted above. They said the interlocks are field tested, but not approved by a recognized testing agency. While they look foolproof I would still check with your inspection agency to see if they would allow their usage.

Nash, the interlock kits require manual load shedding be done to not overload the genset. They are more versatile than a subpanel as the entire panel is available within the genset output and circuits can be rotated on and off. You could run a WH to get hot water, and turn it off and turn on the bedroom lights later.
 
  #12  
Old 05-31-12, 06:50 AM
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Just to add to pcboss's post, the cost is a lot less for the entire install.

The kicker with the interlock kits is that if they are not to local codes, it's really no better then just being mindful and flipping the main off then the generate feed on and save the $$ on the interlock.
 
  #13  
Old 05-31-12, 07:11 AM
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But with the interlock you cannot have the genset supplying power with the main on. Other methods are not as safe nor legal.
 
  #14  
Old 05-31-12, 09:40 AM
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Nash, the interlock kits... are more versatile than a subpanel as the entire panel is available within the genset output and circuits can be rotated on and off. You could run a WH to get hot water, and turn it off and turn on the bedroom lights later.
That's true, and could be quite handy. But
The problem with the interlock is that the main breaker does not disconnect all the lines when it's off. Your neutal bar is still live to the grid, even with the main off. There is only the phase 1 and 2 disconnected.
As I was following some links about these, I found user comments about the problems they had encountered when the POCO neutral was "shorted" after a major outage that included damage to the power distribution system.

I don't know what that was about, but it makes me wonder if that's why transfer switches, with their full disconnect from the POCO lines, are approved, while none of the interlock kits appears to be
approved by a recognized testing agency.
I agree that the clear course is for the OP to
check with [his] inspection agency.
 
  #15  
Old 05-31-12, 10:08 AM
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I started looking into transfer switch kits and found a small company a couple hours from me that carry Reliance Control kits. They are decently priced ($350-$450) for everything needed (external plug, extension cord, etc is included.
The only issue I can see is these kits appear to be setup in a way that you have to pre-select the items that will get power when running on the generator. This really won't work for me.
I need/want to use the main panel to select what should and shouldn't get power. The reason this is important to me is because during the winter, the boiler has priority. The summer time, it's turned off.
My requirements during the winter and during the summer will be fairly different. A 4-10 beaker sub panel won't cut it.
 
  #16  
Old 05-31-12, 10:37 AM
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I need/want to use the main panel to select what should and shouldn't get power. The reason this is important to me is because during the winter, the boiler has priority. The summer time, it's turned off.
My requirements during the winter and during the summer will be fairly different. A 4-10 beaker sub panel won't cut it.
Can you find a transfer switch with no breakers and with feed-out lugs sized to accept the wires needed to feed your panel?
 
  #17  
Old 05-31-12, 10:39 AM
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Based on all the reading I have done on this and my requirements, the below sketch is what I think I need for a setup. Only the transfer switch panel would be added to my already exiting setup. The primary main breaker panel would remain so that I would not require the power provider to cut and reconnect my power to install. Alternatively, the transfer switch could replace the primary main.

(Pardon the poor CAD skills. I was/am trying to eat my lunch while doing the sketch.)
Name:  transferSwitchSketch.jpg
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  #18  
Old 05-31-12, 10:39 AM
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You could tie the transfer switch to a large enough subpanel to handle all anticipated loads. Move those loads to the sub then just remember before using the generator to shut off all unneeded loads.

Edit: Mike we both posted at the same time and basically the same thing.
 
  #19  
Old 05-31-12, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Nashkat1
Can you find a transfer switch with no breakers and with feed-out lugs sized to accept the wires needed to feed your panel?
I'm looking. If I can find one, I'd be able to set things up like my above sketch. Would make install simple and add the ability to select priorities.
 
  #20  
Old 05-31-12, 11:11 AM
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There were several threads concerning generators, transfer switches with sub-panels, interlock kits and transfer panels late last summer or early fall.

As for a transfer switch to use in the diagrams posted you could always use one of these.

Generator Manual Transfer Switch - 100 Amp

They used to carry a 200 ampere model and the prices used to be lower.

Northern Tool also has a fairly wide selection of switches and transfer panels.

transfer switch from Northern Tool + Equipment

(I have no connection with either of the linked suppliers and there are other sources for these items. The links are for reference only.)

As for the necessity of disconnecting the neutral conductor...that is a huge debate. Most residential generator setups do NOT switch the neutral so in accordance with the NEC they are not considered "a separately derived system". Some utilities may require switched neutral but others may not. The requirement also hinges on the way the generator itself is internally wired. It is a complex subject.

PC, you have your private messaging turned off. As for your question, I don't have any code past 2002 and the interlock is a fairly recent requirement. As I recall it is in Article 702.


Here is a very interesting pdf on Article 702.

http://www.schneider-electric.us/doc...-iaei-news.pdf
 

Last edited by Furd; 05-31-12 at 11:45 AM.
  #21  
Old 06-01-12, 10:11 AM
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What make is your panel N. Mike? Most panel manufacturers make a interlock system for thier panels. I put a new Cutler Hammer deadfront with interlock installed from the factory on my main panel. It has a big "UL" sticker on the front of it. Other manufacturers such as square D, GE, Seimens have similar products.
 
  #22  
Old 06-01-12, 10:34 AM
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There are also genset ready panels from some manufacturers. Both Square D and Cutler-Hammer have them.
 
  #23  
Old 06-01-12, 11:30 AM
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Auger01,
I have a Siemens. The age of the pannel is unknown beyond the fact I know it wasn't the previous owners who installed it. That would make it 5yrs old minimum.
I have seen that they do make pannel specific lockouts, but I may be hard pressed to find one for this specific panel.
Here is a couple pictures of the panel. I already know I need to clean up the wiring around it so don't abuse me for the mess created by the other owners.
Name:  French River-20120530-00602.jpg
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Name:  French River-20120530-00603.jpg
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Size:  27.8 KB
 
  #24  
Old 06-01-12, 12:14 PM
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1215 or 1410???

Generator InterLock Kit - Siemens Kits

( Oh I see you have this link in your original post)

Mike NJ
 

Last edited by lawrosa; 06-01-12 at 02:47 PM.
  #25  
Old 06-01-12, 12:38 PM
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Here is the siemens catalog page:

http://cmsapps.sea.siemens.com/contr...7/17_09-10.pdf

Got a model number for your panel?
 
  #26  
Old 06-03-12, 11:54 AM
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Looks like you need the ECSBPK04 kit from siemens. Its 57.00 on Amazon:

Amazon.com: Siemens ECSBPK04 Generator Standby Power Mechanical Interlock: Home Improvement
 
  #27  
Old 06-04-12, 06:46 AM
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Thanks for the link Auger01.

I just need to find out how legal it is here as it's only double pole and leaves the neutal tied to the grid.
 
  #28  
Old 06-04-12, 12:27 PM
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Mike, I have no idea of what your local ordinances or power company has to say about switching the neutral but the main reason for neutral switching has to do with the way the standby generator is wired internally. If your generator has a "floating" neutral then not switching the neutral at the service is probably not a big deal. However, if your generator has the neutral and equipment ground "bonded" at the generator then NOT switching the neutral makes the equipment ground a parallel path for neutral currents back to the gennie. If you have GFCI protection at the generator it will not function properly.
 
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