Transfer switch blowing things up

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Old 11-03-12, 12:43 PM
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Transfer switch blowing things up

I had a Reliance 31410RK manual transfer switch put in by a licensed electrician about a year ago. Powering it with a Honeywell 7000 watt generator.

After a power failure the other day I started up the generator, connected the cord into the twist lock inlet outside that leads to the switch, then went inside and started one by one transferring load to the generator.
At first the overhead light in the cellar went on, but dimly. But after that I wound up blowing up (on different circuits) 3 power strips that had little or no load on them, blowing out 2 light bulbs, frying a TV cable box, and blowing out the igniter module of my gas boiler.

Sparks were coming out of the power strips and one caught on fire. After that the switch would not work at all and nothing shown on the meters when the generator is running.
Funny thing is once before when I used it when the electrician had put in about half the circuits- sparks flew out of the boiler igniter (the box that steps down house current to 26 volts to light the boiler).

After that time, the switch would not work, but after he returned to finish up wiring all the circuits, everything worked fine and we inspected it while using all the circuits. The same things were hooked up and everything worked fine.
But after the transfer switch failed now, I just hooked up the generator with a 25' long 30 amp generator cord that inserts into the very same twist-lock receptacle on the generator, everything works fine.
In other words, not using the transfer switch, just running a heavy generator cord into the house and plugging things into that, no problems.

My electrician is puzzled, he has not looked at it yet, what could cause this?
 

Last edited by GregH; 11-03-12 at 01:14 PM. Reason: Reformat body of post.
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Old 11-03-12, 01:00 PM
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Quite obvious to me that your "electrician" was way over his head (working beyond his sphere of knowledge) when he connected the transfer panel.

Next time you post please use paragraphs and do not bold the entire post. It will be much easier to read and you're more likely to get more responses.
 
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Old 11-03-12, 01:01 PM
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A break somewhere in the Neutral wiring could result in , say , 180 volts across 120 volt loads. With an "open" Neutral on a 3-wire , 120/240volt system places the 120 volt loads 'in series" across 240 volts , and with un-equal load resistances is series, the greater the resistance of a load , the greater the voltage across the load.

As a basic "measure " of the resistance of a load , the smaller the amp-rating of a load , the higher the resistance of the load.
 
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Old 11-03-12, 06:15 PM
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What are you running this cord to, if not to the transfer switch?
 
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Old 11-05-12, 06:00 AM
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connected with a 10/4 30 amp power cord with a twist lock connector into the generator 4 outlets on the other side:

the description off the Amazon page is:Generator Locking Extension Cord, Locking 20A 125/250V to Straight Blade 15A/20A 125V, With "T" terminal-fitting, NEMA 5-20R Flabellate connector, Quaternity Outlet, NEMA L14-30P male plug Max Power: 7500W Rating 30A 125/250V to 15A 125V or 20A 125V Cable STW 10/4 Cord Length 25ft Configuration NEMA L14-30P/NEMA 5-20R Approval Plug, Connector, and SJTW: UL, C-UL Warranty Limited one year warranty
 
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Old 11-05-12, 07:00 AM
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Posts pictures of the wiring at the inlet and transfer switch and maybe we can see a problem.
 
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Old 11-05-12, 09:28 AM
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My guess is that the "electrician" hooked up 240 volts to the 120V loads. Either that or probably like PATBAA said, an open neutral.

Pictures of the inside of the switch would probably tell the tale.
 
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Old 11-07-12, 07:10 AM
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Here are photos, hope this helps. I still plan to have an electrician experienced with these switches inspect this before I use it again. Inlet box is at the bottom


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Old 11-07-12, 08:33 AM
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Could you show us the other side of the inlet where the red and white wire connections are?
 
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Old 11-07-12, 10:01 AM
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I assume you mean this, thanks: Name:  IMAG1579.jpg
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Old 11-07-12, 10:30 AM
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Can you post a picture of the inside of the main panel? Specifically where the white wire from the inlet lands?

If you have a voltmeter, can you check the resistance between the ground prong of the inlet (the one that is "L" shaped), and the prong directly opposite it?
 
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Old 11-07-12, 11:23 AM
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The thicker white wire marked in green is the one that comes in from the inlet, into the transfer switch, then into the panel. Not good at getting resistance readings, the meter was jumping around as I tried to get good contact, the most resistance was about 17 ohms, at times a lot less, between the L shaped prong and the one directly opposite.

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Old 11-07-12, 12:15 PM
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Try getting a good reading by putting yor leads into the back of the inlet where the wires enter. The reading should be near zero. If not there is a open in the ground or (more likely) the neutral between the inlet and panel. I would check that wire nut on the neutral in the switch first.

If all that checks out then I would do a continuity check on the neutral of the cord that goes from the gen to the inlet.
 
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Old 11-10-12, 08:28 AM
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The most consistent resistance reading I get by holding the leads until the readings settle down is 00.6.
 
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Old 11-10-12, 10:10 AM
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00.6 is a good reading. That means th neutral is not open in the house wiring. The next thing to check is the "extension" cord that goes between the generator and inlet. Is it a factoy unit or did the electrician make it up?

Use the ohmeter to check for continuity on each individual wire of the cord. Also check to see that the wires are not shorted to each other.
 
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Old 11-10-12, 10:22 AM
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One more question. Are there any RED wires from the switch in the MAIN panel that are wire nutted to anything?
 
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