Originally Posted by axxe55
Dillinger, i have a question for you and would like your or anyone else's input on how to do it. the wife and i are going to buy a generator for emergency power outages. mainly to run the fridge, the freezer, a few lights and a few box fans to keep cooled off. i am thinking of about a 5000-6000 watt portable one, gasoline powered. now here is my question, how would you go about hooking it up to the house? do i need a transfer switch? if not what other ways can it be hooked into the house?
Well, there are several ways to go about what you want to do, so I will cover them and give you my suggestion.
You don't need an ATS (Automatic Transfer Switch) because you will not have a generator that will fire up immediately. What is important for your safety and the long life of your electrical components (and your house
) is that you need to go to your main breaker panel and turn the MAIN LINE IN
breaker to the OFF
This will isolate your house from street power, so when the power comes back on, it won't try to power up your house and compete with your generator.
Electricities' number one goal is to get to ground, that is how it is made to do all the stuff it does, by using it's innate ability to get to ground. If the line power comes on to your house, and you have power already from your generator, you are going to have two different phase arcs that could cause a very realistic problem for you resulting in blown breakers (best case) and/or an electrical fire (much worse).
Now an electrician, or you if you are handy, can wire a direct connection for the generator directly into your house main breaker panel. This would be a power outlet looking box off to the side, clearly labeled. With the small size of the generator you are talking about you would then turn off all non essential breakers, connect the power cable from the generator to the connection box you wired up, fire up the generator and voila! Up and running.
If you don't want to do that, there are two more, more primitive ways to go about what you want to do.
First one is pull your electrical meter from the meter panel outside. This isn't the best option, but it will get you up and running quickly, so it's more of an emergency DIY job. Take your extension cord from your portable generator, strip it back to bare wire and wrap the positive and neutral around the house side of the meter, there should be a ground bolt in the cabinet for the third connection. MAKE SURE IT'S THE HOUSE SIDE, which is usually the bottom. Fire up the generator and you are off and running.
The power company in most parts of the country own the meter, so pulling it is technically a no-no, but if you are cold and the power is out, no one is going to file charges.
The other way depends on your house wiring, but for current electrical code it's technically safe, if done properly. Grab your generator, grab your extension cord and plug it into a GFI (Ground Fault Interruptor) outlet in your house. Once again close off the circuits you don't need, open the MAIN LINE IN from the street, fire off the generator and you are good to go. Most houses have one, or more, of these outlets in the bathroom closest to the garage/location of your electrical panel. These are the outlets that have the little push button that says "Test" and "Reset" on them.
These provide surge protection from the panel into the house, so if anything happens, they collapse and save your components. A lot of newer houses have them in the garage right by the electrical panel because this method has become "popular" with home owners over the years.
Because electricity doesn't recognize wire direction the generator can "back feed" through the GFI and power up the house. The GFI will provide protection if you accidentally load more than you should (figure about 12 to 14 amps plus loop resistance for the wire on the average 15 amp breaker).
Of the three I would recommend wiring up a specified "plug in" for the generator above the other two, but if you are cold, wet and pissed off at having to do this on a work night, the other two can get you inside and warming up quicker.
USUAL SAFETY WARNING: If you don't feel comfortable playing with electricity - DON'T! It's not something to mess around with and it can cause severe damage to you and your home. Always call your local power provider to report an outage and remember it's best to be prepared BEFORE
the event than to try and scab something together DURING