Hurricane Power Out / Generator Setup w a twist


Old 09-13-17, 12:59 PM
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Hurricane Power Out / Generator Setup w a twist

*Note: I looked through threads in this forum and others for the answer, but none I found had the 2-panel setup w extra well pump breaker that I do. Sorry for duplicating if they're out there! The responses to other similar questions from this forum seemed to be the most professional, so I'm hoping you can help.

I have 2 boxes (panels?). The feed comes into 1 exterior box that has a horizontal 200 amp 4-pole main (service disconnect). Below that are 2 columns with slots for breakers. One 20-amp 2-pole breaker is installed there for the well pump (3/4 HP, I believe). Then, the line goes into the house (about 25 feet away) where the main panel with all the breakers is. At the top is another 200amp 4-pole main switch (seems redundant), then all the various breakers down below.

I want to be able to plug into my generator (7k running / 9k starting watts -- L14-30R) and power both my well pump AND stuff in the house, without having to unscrew wires, etc. I've read online about transfer switches, interlocks, backfeeding, etc. I lean toward interlock because it is most versatile, but I want to be safe. Lots of varying opinions, so I want to be sure what I do is safe. The guy at local electrical supply said it can't be done without piggybacking and manually changing wires every outage, but my neighbor has done it and said that guy doesn't seem to understand my setup.

My neighbor, who has the same 2-panel setup (well pump, etc) I do, has his wired this way: Generator to L14-30R mounted outside next to exterior panel (via male-to-male 4/C 12AWG cable). From L14-30R box, a line feeds into his exterior panel, where he has his 2-pole 20A breaker for well pump at top of right column, and a 2-pole 30A breaker installed at the top of the left column. The L14-30R box from generator feeds into the 30A breaker, then he has the other 2 copper wires (one with plastic sheath, the other with nothing) going into what I believe is a ground column.

When his power goes out, he flips off all his breakers on the INSIDE panel, then goes out and flips OFF the main 200A service disconnect and his well pump breaker. Then he fires up his generator, connects it to his L14-30R, and turns on the 30A breaker. From there, he loads the generator as needed by flipping the well pump breaker and ones from the inside panel, without going over his max output of about 7k watts.

Aside from the male-to-male extension cable issue (I plan to use male to female), and assuming I'll never flip the service disconnect on while my generator switch is on, is this setup adequate and safe? I think it would be better to use an interlock to avoid backfeeding, but I haven't found one that accommodates my panel and setup yet. The transfer switch method is safer, but also much more limiting as what is plugged where throughout the house will change over time. For this thread, please assume everything is legal where I live and none at my house will make the mistake of flipping the wrong switch to backfeed the line to the grid. I've seen other threads go way off topic with varying opinions on those 2 issues.

I'm hoping the combined community expertise can steer me right, here. Thank you.
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Old 09-13-17, 01:07 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

assuming I'll never flip the service disconnect on while my generator switch is on, is this setup adequate and safe?
NO.... it is not safe by any means. You cannot assume that some one else won't do it.

Move the well circuit to the inside panel and use a proper lockout device on that 200A panel.

Last edited by PJmax; 09-13-17 at 01:26 PM.
Old 09-13-17, 03:24 PM
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The male to male cord is called a suicide cord. You need an inlet on the house.

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