Generator twist-lock question

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Old 02-13-14, 08:30 AM
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Generator twist-lock question

I have a Champion 4000 watt generator that has the female L14-30 twist-lock plug/receptacle, which is a 4 prong plug.

I have about 25 feet of heavy-duty 10 Gauge extension cord wire. This wire has 3 conductors, colored: black, white, and green.

I have a newer Square-D electrical panel and 150 AMP home service. I have plenty of empty breaker space. I have a double-pole 30 AMP breaker that takes up 2 spaces in the panel, like what you'd have for a clothes dryer. This will be my backfeed breaker.

If I make up a male twist-lock L14-30 connection on one end of the 3 conductor wire, I know I need two "hots" to feed 240 Volts to my panel and power all panel circuits.

My question is, since my extension cord wire only has 3 wires but the generator L14 plug has 4 (Hot Hot Neutral Ground), would it be better to wire the 3rd (green) wire to the "neutral" on the male end of the plug and then connect to the neutral bus in the panel, or should i connect it to the "ground" slot in the male connector and then to the ground bus on the panel? I assume I should use the two hots and go neutral from the male connector to neutral bus on the panel to feed all my 120 Volt stuff properly and such. I believe the ground is not TRULY needed because until a few years ago most dryers etc only had a hot hot neutral 3-prong and no ground, until the safety police started mandating it.

Also I know this isn't technically "legal" but it is only for emergencies and I'm not dropping big $$$ on safety equipment, permits, electricians etc for something only getting used once in a blue moon.

Also will not having the ground connected trip the generators internal circut breaker?
 
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Old 02-13-14, 08:41 AM
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"Legal" is for your safety and the safety of POCO workers. You have no business asking for advice here on how to complete an illegal installation. Try reading the sticky thread "so you have a generator" at the top of this forum.
 
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Old 02-13-14, 09:20 AM
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Also I know this isn't technically "legal" but it is only for emergencies and I'm not dropping big $$$ on safety equipment, permits, electricians etc for something only getting used once in a blue moon.

hello and welcome to the forums....

Advice here on this forum will only be what is to code. You will not get help otherwise...

What is you and your family's safety worth????

IMO get a 4 wire cord, a proper inlet box and transfer switch... Do it once and do it right...

If any advice not to code is offered I will close this thread....
 
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Old 02-13-14, 09:24 AM
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My old neighbor was a retired, 30 year veteran JCP&L lineman and he said chances of killing a lineman with home genny backfeed jury-rigs were zilch. Even if you accidentally leave the main breaker open, forget etc, the genny stalls out immediately by trying to backfeed the entire town thru the power lines. Unless the lineman was working right outside you house (like on your own service), there is no problem. And if he saw the genny running he would door-knock first anyway and tell u to "shut er don."

I know times are tough and electricians need work, but the heavy fear-mongering and such get a little stale. I don't see the plumbers here warning everyone not to pipe their sewer lines into the fresh water supply after all, but electricians like the "change your own light bulbs and get fried like a death-row convict strapped to ol' Sparky" routine.

The real problem is that USA has a 3rd world infrastructure with power lines from like the 1800s lashed all over to trees and dangling everywhere instead of underground where they'd be bullet-proof. Besides, Obama will soon outlaw electricity anyway and bring us to Keyna levels so it feels more like home to him. Watch that movie where they interview his brother who lives in a mudhole in 3 sheets of rotten plywood leaned together LOL.
 
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Old 02-13-14, 09:32 AM
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Vynter, it does not matter what you neighbor says... Code is code...

Your comments are way off topic with regards to your political beliefs and your walking a fine line with this thread being closed...

If your going to do your project not to code please state that. We can close this thread and move on..

If you plan on doing whats right we can help you accomplish that goal...

I am giving you the benefit of the doubt here and trying to be a nice guy..
 
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Old 02-13-14, 11:16 AM
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Generator

Having worked as a Lineman for a major utility I can tell you that safety is a major concern every day when working with energized lines. Having to deal with necessary hazards in order to provide a reliable source of power to customers is a full time job. Having to deal with unnecessary hazards, especially when knowingly created in the name of saving a buck is dangerous. Here is a link to a NJ utility about generator installations that may be of help: Electric Generators

I would think the minor cost of a new cord and a manual transfer switch would be far lower than the cost of a Lawyer and having to live with knowing you may have killed someone.
 
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Old 02-13-14, 11:28 AM
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It can and does happen:
https://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/accide...l?id=200451870
As with most accidents, there were contributing factors, but it still goes to show that codes are there for a reason.

There was some conversation about something similar... I don't know that there was a specific solution, but it may be useful reading
http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...ety-issue.html
To be honest, I never really got my head around the whole discussion and when and when it's not applicable, but it may be useful.

There are interlock kits made for most if not all Square D panels. Some locales have issues with them, and most non-manufacturer interlocks are not UL approved, but at least it's a more appropriate installation.

I'm not sure where you are in NJ, but many locales have become much more strict with generator installations after Sandy. For me at least, I like knowing that I've done things up to code and as safely as they can be. Of course, YMMV.

Good luck!
 
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Old 02-13-14, 02:40 PM
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OK so I'll buy this interlock for my panel:

SQUARE D HOMRBGK2C : HOM GEN INTLK KIT OUTDOOR HIGH AMP RPD | Gordon Electric Supply, Inc.

With that there is 0 chance of anyone flipping the main on while backfeeding (although I live alone so there was 0 chance of that happening anyway).

Now, back to my original question. My thoughts are that 240 Volt outlets such as for dryers had 3 wires and took 3 prong plugs until about 15 years ago.

Now dryers have 4 prong plugs, and are wired for hot hot neutral and a separate ground wire. I assume when installing a new dryer plug from your panel you'd get a 30 amp double pole breaker and run orange 10/3 romex from the panel like this:

Red and Black wires to the two hot screws on the side of the breaker
White wire to the neutral bus on the breaker
Ground (green) to ground bus on the breaker

And then at the outlet hook those wires to the right screws/holes per the directions on the outlet.

Back to my question: the L14-30 twist lock on my genny had 4 prongs and 4 wire holes: 2 hots, a neutral, and a ground.

If I use my 3 conductor 10 gauge extension cord wire, I know I would insert the black and white wires into the "hot" holes on the plug, and at the panel end fasten each of the hots to each side screw on a 30 amp double pole.

My question is, would I hook the green wire to the neutral prong of the twist lock and then to the neutral bus on the panel, or would I hook it to the ground prong on the twist-lock and then to the ground bus on the panel? The way I see it is that omitting the separate ground wire/ground prong on the twist plug would be a bit of a safety issue, but probably no worse than any 15 year old or older dryers installation. I mean, 240 Volt stuff worked pretty well with no separate ground wire for a long. long time. I at least never heard of anyone getting zapped/killed by their clothes dryer.

So in closing, if I do 2 hots from twistlock to panel to two hot screws on the side of a 30 amp double pole breaker, and then the last wire in my cable from neutral spot on the twist lock to nuetral bus on my panel, it SHOULD power my entire panel, right? And all my 120 volt stuff light lights, lamp, fridge etc should work properly? I just won't have the added safety of the separate ground wire going to the panel's ground bus if there was a short, etc. which I see as unlikely.

BTW I know to only turn on the essential breakers. All I plan to run off this genny is ONE fridge, my ordinary lights, a TV, and that's it. I have woodstove for heat 24/7 (my house is small and has no furance or central heat), and HW heater is standing poliot older unit which requires no electric.
 
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Old 02-13-14, 03:12 PM
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Vynter I moved your other post to this thread... I see they were duplicates so i deleted one...

Wait for the electricians to chime in with regards to you additional questions....

Just a note not all municipalities allow that interlock...(especially NJ.. Ask me how I know.. ) IMO I would call the township first and inquire....
 
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Old 02-13-14, 04:29 PM
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Here are a couple statements from you operating manual:
Using a generator or electrical appliance in wet conditions, such as rain or snow, or near a pool or
sprinkler system, or when your hands are wet, could result in electrocution.
Grounding
The generator system ground connects the frame to the
ground terminals on the power panel . The generator (stator winding) is isolated from the frame and from the AC receptacle ground pin . Electrical devices that require a grounded receptacle pin connection may not function properly
To begin with the old dryer circuit you mention was back when the neutral was bonded to the frame of the dryer and served as a ground. Turned out that having that parallel path back to the panel created some shock hazards so we now use four wires to make a long story short.

Without the ground conductor your generator and all the receptacles on it have no ground reference because as you can see by the quoted text the generator winding's are not bonded at the generator frame. The generator frame would get it's ground protection through the ground wire in your cord. The Generator neutral would be connected to your panel neutral bus which is bonded to ground and the ground conductor in your cord bonds the generator frame to ground. Without a ground at the generator the generator breakers will not trip from a ground fault at the generator, only from an overload. The reason is if a ground fault occurs at the generator there is not path back to the bonded neutral so the generator breaker would not detect the fault. The generator neutral should not be grounded at the generator when used for optional stand-by power with an non-switched neutral transfer switch for the same reason we don't bond the neutral at the dryer anymore, it creates a parallel path making the ground into a circuit conductor which it is not. Why play the odds, use the 3-wire cord for a 120-V system and spring for the 4-conductor.
 
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Old 02-13-14, 04:49 PM
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OK so if I get the 4 conductor 10 Gauge heavy duty extension cord, the hook up from the L14-30 twistlock to the panel would be:

Red & Black wires from the X and Y holes on the twistlock to the 2 hot screws on the side of a 30 amp double pole breaker (breaker that takes up 2 panel slots and has one switch that throws the whole breaker, right?)

White wire to the "W" (neutral) on the twistlock and attached to the neutral bus in the panel,

Green to the ground prong in the twistlock and then fastened to ground bus in the panel.

This should provide power to every breaker in my panel, correct? And all my 120 volt stuff like TV, lamps, cell chargers etc should work fine?

BTW when power comes back on I plan to disconnect the two hots from the breaker and wire-nut them off inside the panel and leave my extension cord coiled up near the panel. That way when I need it, i can open panel cover, attach the 2 hots to the breaker screws, replace cover, and be all set). This seems like a pretty safe and professional install vs. a "suicide cord"

thanks
 
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Old 02-13-14, 05:04 PM
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Generator Connection

You will connect the White to the Neutral and the Green to the ground of your cord cap and the same at the cord body. The Hots can go on either of the line terminations because its single-phase. At the panel you will install your breaker so it will work with the inter-lock between it and your main breaker (only an either or function that your utility company will accept). You install your black and red on the breaker, your white will terminate on the neutral bus bar and since this I assume is your main panel and the neutral is bonded to the enclosure, you can terminate the green ground on the neutral bus. You should see other bare grounds on that bus, if you do not, then there should be a ground bus for termination of the green conductor.
 
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Old 02-13-14, 05:55 PM
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I have a Champion 4000 watt generator that has the female L14-30 twist-lock plug/receptacle, which is a 4 prong plug.

I dont know of any champion 4k that is 240v....


Here are a couple statements from you operating manual:
Using a generator or electrical appliance in wet conditions, such as rain or snow, or near a pool or
sprinkler system, or when your hands are wet, could result in electrocution.
Grounding
The generator system ground connects the frame to the
ground terminals on the power panel . The generator (stator winding) is isolated from the frame and from the AC receptacle ground pin . Electrical devices that require a grounded receptacle pin connection may not function properly
Where does it show that its unbonded? Can you link this info?
 
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Old 02-13-14, 11:27 PM
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Generator Connection

I dont know of any champion 4k that is 240v....
I don't either, but since I assume the poster who was quite specific about everything else knows what receptacle he has I can only assume he may have a larger generator than he thinks. I had to look at a 6.5kw to find that configuration. Here is a link to that unit:
http://www.championpowerequipment.co...al-english.pdf

Grounding
The generator system ground connects the frame to the
ground terminals on the power panel.
The generator (stator winding) is isolated from the
frame and from the AC receptacle ground pin.

Electrical devices that require a grounded receptacle
pin connection will not function if the receptacle ground
pin is not functional.
Since the Stator is where the generator windings are and it says the winding is isolated from the ground pin I would say the neutral of that winding is not connected to the frame but isolated as stated. This same statement appears in the smaller units that only have 120V receptacles also.

Here is some information from Champions FAQ as to how Champion handles the neutral:

Most Champion Power Equipment generators have a "floating neutral", meaning that the neutral circuit is not connected to the frame or to earth ground. This also means that both legs on the receptacle are hot legs, which is normal for floating neutral generators. As a result, there is no specific hot leg and neutral leg wiring arrangement for the generator winding connection to the receptacle. The floating neutral configuration is common for applications such as connection to a recreational vehicle and connection to home power where the transfer switch does not switch out the neutral to ground connection.
The floating neutral eliminates the potential of being shocked by contacting a hot leg and the generator frame at the same time, which could occur if an electrical device such as a hand held tool suffered from an internal short circuit.
Meters or other devices intended to indicate polarity may not properly indicate polarity on a floating neutral circuit. Polarity indicators generally measure the voltage across the neutral and ground connectors. In electrical systems where the neutral is bonded to ground, the voltage will be zero and correct polarity will be indicated. In systems where the neutral is not bonded to ground, voltage is also not expected across this connection. However, in a portable generator some very small current voltage readings can be recorded by sensitive volt meters. This voltage may be induced in the frame by the magnetic field of the generator. The current associated with this induced voltage and the risk of electrical shock are negligible. However, very sensitive polarity meters may interpret this voltage as an indication of reversed connections.
If you have an indication of reversed polarity, please check with the manufacturer of your meter to determine if that reading capability applies to the floating neutral output from a portable generator.
 

Last edited by bahtah; 02-14-14 at 12:28 AM. Reason: Added Information
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Old 02-14-14, 03:52 AM
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Generator

Attachment 26717
I dont know of any champion 4k that is 240v....
With some additional searching I did locate a 4k with the 30amp 240v, here is the link.

http://www.championpowerequipment.co...al-english.pdf

Interesting that Champion states (my previous post) :Most Champion Power Equipment generators have a "floating neutral", meaning that the neutral circuit is not connected to the frame or to earth ground.
The generator that I just found and linked, does not have a "floating neutral" the manual states:
Grounding
The generator system ground connects the
frame to the ground terminals on the power
panel. The system ground is connected to
the AC neutral wire.
Looks like Champion generators can be either way, so if this is the unit the poster has, the neutral bond needs to be removed for his installation.

Name:  Portable Generator Standby .jpg
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Old 02-14-14, 06:52 AM
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That is the EXACT model Champion I have. Got it at Tractor Supply about a year ago.

But I have no idea what "remove the neutral bond" means or how to unhook it.

My understanding of an electric setup such as this is:

2 hots from the twist lock to 30 AMP double pole will electrify all legs of the panel (120 per leg).

The neutral is the "return path" for power that the appliance (fridge, light, etc) didn't use/consume.

The ground sends stray power from shorts etc to ground. It provides an easier path to "drain" stray voltage to ground, rather than having someone touch say a wet clothes dryer that's shorted out and become the ground thru their body.

Since we're talking about removing the neutral bond, does this mean I can use my 10 gauge 3 conductor wire and skip the separate ground wire running from twist-lock ground connection to the ground bus in the panel ?

Or can I simply hook up the two hots on twistlock and the ground from the twistlock and connect same to the to ground bus in panel, the 2 hot screws on the breaker in the panel, and have no neutral wire hooked up period?

I'm a bit confused, as my panel has a neutral bus on one side and a ground bus on the other side. It's a square D 150 amp panel, only about 5 years old.

Champion has directions online to unhook the bond at the genny:

http://www.championpowerequipment.co...-6_10_2007.pdf
 

Last edited by vynter; 02-14-14 at 07:26 AM.
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Old 02-14-14, 10:48 AM
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Generator

does this mean I can use my 10 gauge 3 conductor wire and skip the separate ground wire running from twist-lock ground connection to the ground bus in the panel ?
No.

If this is your main service panel then the neutral is bonded to the enclosure either with a jumper wire or a green ground screw. If it is not your main service panel than the neutral is bonded at the service main location, Either way connect your green to the ground bus.

But I have no idea what "remove the neutral bond" means or how to unhook it.
The link you posted tells you how to remove the bond jumper. If it's confusing, call Champion and I am sure a tech can walk you through it.
http://www.championpowerequipment.co...-6_10_2007.pdf
 
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