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Wiring furnace to generator - Please confirm what I did is safe

Wiring furnace to generator - Please confirm what I did is safe

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  #1  
Old 10-30-12, 06:21 AM
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Wiring furnace to generator - Please confirm what I did is safe

Hi,

I am an unfortunate victim of Hurricane Sandy. We have lost power completely, and I don't expect to get it back for another couple of days. Since we have a little baby in the house and temps dropped to the 50F now, I decided to wire my gas furnace to the portable generator we use as backup. I usually wouldn't mess with it, but this is desperate times.

So what I did is completely disconnected the furnace from the incoming electrical, all 3 wires, including ground. Then I used a 12 gauge 50ft throw cable, stripped an appliance cord I had, used wire nuts to connect the furnace to the appliance cord (all 3 wires), and plugged it into the throw cable going to the generator. Furnace seems to work fine.

What I am concerned about is anything leaking back to the grid. So what I did is (1) completely disconnect the furnace from the electric cables coming from the breaker panel and (2) turned off all the fuses on the breaker panel, including the main breaker. In that way, there should be no way that anything can go back to the grid, right?

To clarify, I did not do anything with the breaker panel (like install my own bypass there or something like that), but disconnect furnace from the house electric grid and then directly connect it to the generator.

Thanks
 
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  #2  
Old 10-30-12, 06:34 AM
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I'm glad to hear you are being responsible about back feeding power to the grid. Turning off the main breaker (the big one at the top that probably has a 100 or 200 on it) should take care of it but when safety is concerned a belt & suspenders is not a bad idea.

Probably the biggest risk will come when you are turning your houses electrical back on to see if you have power yet. I'm sure you'll be switching on/off many times over the coming days and forgetting and leaving something (breaker) on when you re-start the generator is probably the biggest risk. Luckily though you completely disconnected your furnace so you've made that almost idiot proof.

Just make sure in the coming days as you try to get power to some lights, coffee maker and TV that you run extension cords from your generator and NOT back feed power to your breaker panel. Using extension cords and bypassing the panel is safer in that you cannot inadvertently send power out to the grid when checking to see if your power has been turned on.

Finally, make sure the generator is outside and located so the wind does not blow it's exhaust (carbon monoxide) into your home. Also, watch your generator like a hawk. Around here people get crazy stupid after a couple days without power and many generators get stolen. Some have even attempted to steal them while they were still connected to houses and running. Not wise in rural NC where guns outnumber people.
 
  #3  
Old 10-30-12, 09:10 AM
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Thanks for your reply. I probably won't turn on the main breaker until I see that the street lights come back or the neighbors have power again. Regarding CO, my CO alarm already went off this morning so I made some adjustments to how I run the cables. And I got my dog guarding the generator outside so it doesn't get stolen. :-)
 
  #4  
Old 10-30-12, 09:14 AM
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With your furnace completely disconnected from the building wiring there will be no way for the power to backfeed onto the grid.
 
  #5  
Old 10-30-12, 09:25 AM
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With your furnace completely disconnected from the building wiring there will be no way for the power to backfeed onto the grid.
Thanks, that's what I thought. And with the main breaker off as well it should definitely be safe.
 
  #6  
Old 10-30-12, 07:21 PM
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What you did normally wouldn't be recommended, but desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures. It sounds as if you are being safe about it, but please, after your power is restored, invest in a proper manual transfer set-up or interlock panel cover so you'll be ready for the next storm that comes along.
 
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