Whole House Generator - Outlet ok for IN / OUT power?

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  #1  
Old 08-08-18, 07:04 PM
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Whole House Generator - Outlet ok for IN / OUT power?

Not something I want to test without some better info, hoping you all can help!

The house I bought 4 years ago is wired for a whole house generator, with a 50amp outlet on the outside wall of the house (next to the generator pad). The instructions given to me were, turn off house-main, start the generator, and flip the 50amp circuit breaker to ON to power the house. Did this last year after hurricane Irma, and all was well.

The question is - if I am on regular city power, and I flip that 50amp breaker to ON, will it power the outside 50amp outlet for use on, let's say, an RV? Not sure if it's designed for IN power only, or if it will work both ways. THANKS!

-Bryan
 
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Old 08-08-18, 07:33 PM
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First it should be an inlet and not an outlet. Secondly it should have either a transfer switch or an interlock to prevent both sources being energized at the same time.
 
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Old 08-09-18, 02:01 AM
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Unless you have a very small house, a standby generator with a 50A breaker is not a size for a whole house since most homes have a 100A power panel or larger. Agree with pcboss about needing a automatic interlock. Could you provide a picture of the device you are calling a 50A outlet? Can you see where the 50A outlet is connected inside the house?
 
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Old 08-09-18, 03:36 AM
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Receptacles (AKA outlets) are female. What you should have is an inlet, male.

Inlet:
 
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Old 08-09-18, 05:39 AM
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No section of wiring works both ways (no section of wiring in a house is bidirectional).

The line by which a generator feeds the electrical system may never receive utility power at the other end even after a generator is unplugged. Transfer switches and interlocks are used to prevent this.

Also you should not create, possess, or use an extension cord or adapter with two male plugs therefore it should never be possible to connect a generator to the house via a female receptacle on the wall.

For a generator intended to be able to power any house circuit, the feed should run from the male receptacle nonstop (aka as a home run) to the vicinity of the panel where the utility feed for the whole house enters. A transfer switch and other equipment for connection of the generator power to the house electrical system is located here.
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 08-09-18 at 05:58 AM.
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Old 08-09-18, 08:34 AM
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Is this an interlock setup? Is there an interlock on the "house-main"? If so the concern should be to use circuit breakers to unpower circuits that might overload the generator, before turning on the generator CB.


A better description of what is meant by "whole house" and the type of generator in this case might avoid some bad advice.
 
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Old 08-09-18, 04:14 PM
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Wow! Great responses!

Thanks all, really good info. I bought the house four years ago, and it sounds like maybe things were not installed correctly (?).

I have a female outlet outside, which connects to a 50amp switch on the panel - see attached.

As I mentioned, I used the generator as the previous homeowner explained to me last year, and it did work fine... I just had the main turned OFF the entire time I was using it. When city power came back, I shut down the generator and unplugged before turning the main back on. The generator cable is male on both ends.

-Bryan
 
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Old 08-09-18, 05:03 PM
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The two items you have pictured are not legal or code compliant for use with a generator as shown although they could remain as is to provide power for a recreational vehicle or a welder or other equipment that uses that many amperes.

Your setup as is is not rare despite its noncompliance.

A whole house transfer switch (with one big handle as opposed to a dozen or so little handles) is easy to use but can be awkward to install. You connect the generator feed to the "A" terminals, connect the utility power (fat wires you wrestled out of the top of the panel) to the "B" terminals, and connect the panel (using new fat jumper wires) to the common terminals.

The most common interlock kit requires that the generator feed breaker be the top left of the branch circuit breakers. Re-arranging the breakers is usually not difficult.

Not all makes and models of panels have interlock kits made for them.

The interlock is a slider or cam or linkage that forces you to switch off the main breaker (for utility power) before switching on the generator feed breaker and vice versa.

You should immediately remove one of the two male plugs (the one I take it you put on yourself) from the generator cord you have been using.
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 08-09-18 at 05:22 PM.
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Old 08-09-18, 10:46 PM
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That cable is commonly called a suicide cord. It really is a danger.to anyone.
 
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Old 08-10-18, 05:06 AM
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Thanks again

Actually, the cord came with the house/generator - so I had no idea how dangerous this was, but it totally makes sense. I am fairly handy, but tying a transfer switch into the panel is not something I would tackle. Looks like I'll have to call an electrician out.

In the meantime, based on the (incorrect) setup, does it look like that outlet will be powered, if the Main is turned on?

-Bryan
 
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Old 08-10-18, 06:10 AM
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Yes. .
 
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