weird manual transfer switch issue

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  #1  
Old 06-27-15, 06:44 PM
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weird manual transfer switch issue

Wired new manual transfer switch for my generator today. it's a
Reliance Controls 30-Amp (4-Prong 10-Circuit) Indoor Transfer Switch - 30310A
it works great it was super easy to install. here's my basic install
ignore this next part if you're not interested, skip to after the dashes

connect green ground wire to one "neutral" rails. connect white neutral to same or other rail. In my case both "neutral" rails had white wires connected to them but one of them had all of the bare copper ground wires also. So I chose that one for my green wire and the other for my white.

now you remove the black wire to the breaker you choose , replace that with a red wire from the switch and tie your old black wire to their black wire labeled with the same letter as the red you just inserted.

repeat this x10 and you're good.

============================
installed without issue. tested all 10 circuits in LINE mode, power to all ten circuits from city power, as expected. switch each circuit to off. Power lost to each circuit. Switch to GEN and each circuit is off, until generator started then all powered up BUT ONE.

checked my wiring, all is correct. plugged in a light and went through all variations of LINE, OFF, GEN and all works except hen on GEN then nothing on that outlet (plan is for it to run my fridge, but it should run my lamp easily). ran the generator on that plug only and with other 9 live as well.

So, I wondered if it was that particular on/off pole on the transfer switch box. so I swapped it from pole D to pole E and retested. Same issue. so it's not the transfer switch because pole D works now with a different circuit but pole E won't power that outlet either. Now D and E are on the same leg of the switch but everything else on that leg works.

so my thoughts are
1. somehow a bad breaker in the fuse box. works fine without the transfer switch but something isn't working with it?
2. grounding issue? again the other 9 poles are working fine so not sure it's that. but it is something with that circuit and that plug.

its a 20amp breaker and I've got it on a 20amp on the transfer switch.

any ideas?


thanks

Shawn
 
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  #2  
Old 06-28-15, 01:39 AM
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Did you try resetting the pushbutton circuit breaker for that circuit on the transfer panel?

Do you have a multimeter and know how to use it?
 
  #3  
Old 06-28-15, 04:35 AM
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I did reset the breaker on the main box just for completeness. the push-button breaker on the transfer box is not flipped. But I did push it as well. it works when I switch it to Line so it's not like it's flipping the breaker. I can use a multimeter.
 
  #4  
Old 06-28-15, 08:52 AM
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Note: When using this style of transfer switch box the main panel breakers do nothing when you are in generator mode.

Therefore the transfer switch box must contain built in breaker(s). Correctly there must either be an individual 15 or 20 or 30 amp breaker matching each pole or there must be a master breaker of 15 amps inside the box.

Check all of the receptacles on the circuit in question to be sure there is no appliance that draws a lot of power plugged in and switched on and which could be tripping an individual breaker inside the transfer box where pushing the single reset button resets any and all individual breakers.

Try jiggling the exposed wires while alternating (several back and forths) between generator power and utility power. This may point out a bad connection or even a broken wire hidden inside the black or red insulation.

For good measure get a third pole of the transfer box involved, namely try the circuit in question using pole C, pole D again, and pole E (one at a time). Do you still get perfect behavior on city power and at the same time no generator power to the circuit in question? And the poles work correctly with other circuits all the time? ( I would not get a fourth pole involved, that's just me.)
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 06-28-15 at 09:27 AM.
  #5  
Old 06-28-15, 10:32 AM
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yes, it does have breakers for each pole and they are not tripping.
nothing else on this circuit except a refrigerator. i unplugged it and put on a LED worklight just for low draw and ease of identification when switching between line,off, gen.

your right the breaker in the main box should be out of the loop so that can't be it. everything works fine with line power so it really narrows it down to transfer box, (unlikely since the other 9 poles work even on that same leg and same outcome on different poles). or wiring in some way. Only thing that makes some sense is the neutral/ground wiring. why it works on the other leg but not on this one I'm not sure but the instructions say to put ground and neutral on same neutral bar and their video shows them NOT putting it on the ground bar. since they are connected with a brace across the bottom I'm not sure how it matters but I will switch it and see if that fixes anything.


scratching my head
 
  #6  
Old 06-28-15, 11:14 AM
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Did I miss you replacing the problem breaker?
I'm not sure but the instructions say to put ground and neutral on same neutral bar and their video shows them NOT putting it on the ground bar. since they are connected with a brace across the bottom I'm not sure how it matters but I will switch it and see if that fixes anything.
Just a guess: Treat the transfer panel as you would a subpanel and see what happens. Install a ground bar and isolate the neutral bars. I say this because from what you write you do not have a ground bar. "Since they are connected with a brace across the bottom" Those are both neutral bars. Neither are ground.
 
  #7  
Old 06-28-15, 02:48 PM
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can't tackle that tonight but I do have a little plug in tester for the outlets and . the 2 outlets on that circuit tested "good"

interestingly the only 2 things on this circuit are my 2nd fridge and a washing machine. but despite that fact, no GFCI on that circuit at all. there is a GFCI in the room but it's on another circuit that covers the light switches and one plug over a sink. would've thought a plug sitting behind a fridge and right next to washing machine water supply would warrant a gfci?

oh well, I guess it's easier for me to troubleshoot this way. I'll call Reliance tomorrow and see if they have any ideas.
 
  #8  
Old 06-28-15, 04:18 PM
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For this style of transfer switch box the hidden end of the single white neutral wire coming from the box alongside the red and black pairs connects to (should connect to) the neutral pin of the generator feed inlet on the box and nothing else. If you unplug the generator cord from the box and unhook the box white wire from the bar in the breaker panel then you should not get continuity between the white wire and anything else besides the feed inlet neutral pin.

The hidden end of the single green ground wire coming from the box is attached to (should be attached to) the box itself and the ground pin of the generator feed inlet.

For now do not open up the transfer switch box. You will not be able to return it to the store if you opened it up even if you proved that the box was defective.

Something else to do while you are at it ... Find the cable coming into the main panel for the circuit in question. The cable whose black wire you unhooked from the main panel breaker and connected to the "D" pole red wire at first. Trace the matching white wire (from that cable) and make sure it is tightly fastened to the neutral bar in the main panel. Also tighten up all the other small screws and set screws in the panel. Turn off each breaker before tightening its terminal screw.

If you have not fixed the problem yet then instead of rearranging all the white and bare and green wires on the two neutral bars in the main breaker panel, try unhooking the green wire coming from the transfer switch box and then repeating your tests. I am expecting that all of your tests will have the same results.
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 06-28-15 at 04:46 PM.
  #9  
Old 06-28-15, 04:52 PM
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so you're thinking a bad connection inside the transfer box?
I thought since I moved the from D to E and had the same results yet D now worked but with a different household circuit that essentially ruled out the transfer box since the other 9 poles worked and it only seemed to be that one circuit. I will check the white wires coming from the plug side and see if I can verify they are indeed tight.

not sure how reliable the little plug-in testers are but it's supposed to be able to detect an open neutral or open ground. it said all was OK.

i'll call their support line tomorrow.they have a good reputation for support. so we'll see.
 
  #10  
Old 06-28-15, 05:12 PM
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not sure how reliable the little plug-in testers
Not that much. For real testing you need an analog multimeter.
 
  #11  
Old 06-28-15, 05:45 PM
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Digital multimeter is best I can do
 
  #12  
Old 06-28-15, 06:21 PM
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Digital multimeter is best I can do
It will work but just be aware anything less than 90 volts may be an error caused by induced or capacitive voltage.
 
  #13  
Old 06-29-15, 04:46 AM
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To prove whether an odd voltage is a phantom voltage, get a lamp socket with a 25 watt lamp and with alligator clips on the ends of its leads. Attach the socket leads to the two respective meter leads when doing your measurement. Now a voltage you read on the meter will be actual and, if it is more than about 40 volts, the lamp will glow.
 
  #14  
Old 06-29-15, 09:54 AM
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RESOLVED

OK so I called reliance and spent some time on the phone with them. very good support.

As we started testing, we had no power through the E circuit with the generator on. so it was the switch.
then to find the cause. tracing my wiring back I evidently never fully switched D-E (and they may have been swapped partially in the beginning, that or in all the swapping I changed it but never changed it fully back)
so while my plan was good in troubleshooting the switch, my execution was poor. So I straightened out the incorrect wiring. anyway with it correctly wired it was apparent the E circuit was bad.

So they agreed to send me a new breaker and switch and told me ow to troubleshoot when the parts arrived. He tells me the box is meant to be user serviceable and it's easily done even though mine is not a surface mount.

Hearing this I immediately pop the face on the case and find that the common neutral running between the breakers had popped loose on circuit E. I'm so excited at this point I can't hardly put it back together to test it.

it works!!
they are still sending me the parts as back-ups but problem solved.

THANK YOU everyone who helped me work through this. The benefit is now I have a much better understanding of this box/switch and feel much more confident should something happen in the future.

in the image below it is the bottom left breaker, you'll see the popped spade connectorName:  2015-06-29 09.54.59.jpg
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