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Old 07-04-2012, 06:29 PM   #21
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A generator is only the beginning of your issues. Most power companies now require connection boxes at your meter leg which disconnects you from the grid. If you fail to have a service disconnect, and your juice runs down the line and "bites" a power worker who is attempting to repair a down, then you are looking at big trouble. First thing,,,contact your power provider for their rules,,,I will bet that they will do everything in their power to dissuade you from having a generator. They will probably come running out and install a service detector on your line so that if it detects any power coming from your side of the meter, it will kick the circuit. Of course they will charge you strongly for that.

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Old 07-04-2012, 10:28 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 12fretter View Post
Dillinger,


Did I read that right? That seems so simple it's pathetic! I have a 9 year old house with a GFI in my garage as you suggest. That is a great solution! The question I have is this: I don't have the generator yet but when I do, to what "extension cable" are you referring? Does the generator come with some special cable that you can use to plug it into an outlet? The generator supplies outlets, but how to you hook outlet to outlet? Second question is about load. What happens when the requirements by whatever breakers you keep on exceeds the load capability of the GFI? Will it trip? In that case, the maximum load you can run through your house is the max of the GFI which may not be nearly enough. I'm no electrician though, so help!

The other general question I have is a quality question. At Lowes, they have a Troy Bilt with a Briggs and Stratton. Is that a reliable partnership? Should I instead look for a different name brand or engine?

Thanks for all your info, and for the rest of the conversation. I'm ready to pull the trigger.
Yes, you have that theory correct and yes, you are also correct concerning the number of amps of draw. It's not ideal, but it will work in a pinch. I wouldn't plan on doing it on a regular basis, but if you are cold and in the dark, this will get you up and running.

First you have to shut off the MAIN LINE IN because you will be powering up the house in reverse, so you could potentially be feeding voltage back into the outside power lines. This is an important step and needs to be done for safety.
While I have never heard, in my 8 plus years working with the power company, of the company "going after" a home owner with intent to do financial damages or get them in trouble as indicated above. .

Now the GFI circuit will only handle a preset number of amps of draw, so if it's rated at 15 amps to trip, you can expect to be able to load about 12-13 amps through it. Maybe a little bit more, but the voltage flux will probably cause it to trip on a fairly regular basis.

Your average house panel is 200 Amps, and it's probably loaded at 50-60% with room to handle voltage surge for motors starting up. Quickly doing the math you can see there is NO WAY you are going to be able to power up the whole house. Close out (turn off) the breakers that you don't want/need to have powered up. This conserves the available power and minimizes voltage drop due to the length of wires.

Any motor is going to have an in rush of current to get off dead stop (called Cold Start) , so this connection won't allow you to start a dishwasher, the oven, or something like that. You might be able to get by with the microwave, but don't try to get fancy or CLICK, you'll be back in the dark.

As for the cable. A portable generator will have a plug in for a standard electrical extension cord. To make this type of connection you need to cut off the female end and replace it with another male connector.

You need to get a short, thick gauge, wire for this purpose. Long enough to allow the generator to be placed outside so you don't poison yourself or your family with the carbon monoxide from the generator motor. But you don't want 100 foot cable because every additional foot of wire, including in the walls, leads to voltage drop.

The best option is to hard wire a connection box to your house panel, which allows you to dedicate a larger breaker and take better advantage of the generator you are about to buy.

A word of caution: DO NOT change the breaker on the GFI outlet to allow you to put more load on it. While it will be tempting, you risk overloading the wires in the wall & that could cause an electrical driven fire. This is important, so please trust me and don't do it.

As for the generator itself. I don't have any direct, hands on experience with a Troy-Built, B&S engine powered generator, so I can't say for sure. Of all my time on storm duty I am sure I have come across them, but the most common household portables have always been Honda first and Briggs second.

I think the Honda is just owner loyalty honestly because in these parts they are probably 2:1 over any other portable brand.

Maybe check out consumer reports and some sites like that for real reviews on that particular model?

Lowe's and Home Depot have pretty good return policies so you could always roll the dice.

Hope that helps.....

JD
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Old 07-04-2012, 10:53 PM   #23
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Gotcha! Thanks for all your help. I think I know what I'll do. I can run my Man-Cave through the GFI as you stated, because there is not enough stuff to exceed that capacity, but then run the freezers and fridges right off the generator because they will be within 25 feet of it so a 12/3 extension cord should handle that length just fine.

I'm also thinking about installing a tri-fuel conversion kit being that Propane is much cleaner burning and could be used in my attached shed while exhausting outside with a good sized window fan. That adds not only a layer of protection from the potential roving masses, but also minimizes the noise footprint.

Thanks again.

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Old 07-04-2012, 11:50 PM   #24
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I looked into 3pt generators for the tractor as well and decided after doing some research and reading on tractor forums that this option wasn't for me, for one thing if power is out for an extended period due to bad weather, odds are I will need my tractor for other things, I ended up buying a 5000 watt Homelite generator used from my buddy because it was cheap. I wired up a 240 plug on a wire going into my main breaker box so when power is out I just plug the whole house in and turn the main breaker off, this is the most important part so as not to backfeed into the powerlines. It runs everything I need to run including the 240v well. I obviously take care not to run everything in the house and I don't have electric range or water heater, only a light or 2, the tv, water if I need to shower or flush, I have even run the microwave, and of course the fridge, freezer when they decide to kick on and in winter it runs my forced air heat. The way I look at it is all that stuff isn't likely to be running at once so I don't really need a huge genny. I would like a quieter one though.

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Old 07-05-2012, 12:05 AM   #25
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I did kind of as JD stated, I installed a 220/20 amp circuit to an outside weather proof box under the back porch. I have the breaker clearly marked in the panel. I made a nice flexable rubber cord to go from the generator ( 8k 13.5k surge ) to the outside box. I found this to be easier than runnning cords in the house and movign the dryer or stove whenever the power goes out, which in maine is pretty often in the winter lol

When the power goes out I first switch main breaker to off then turn all the breakers to off. Then I plug in the generator and fire it up , turn on the generator breaker to power the panel, then as needed turn on the breakers for stuff you need but make sure you dont turn on too many at once to overload the cuircuit or genny.

Its really simple but you have to be very cautious and aware of what you are doing at all times

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Old 07-05-2012, 12:38 AM   #26
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They also sell disconnects which screw onto the cover of your main breaker box, they are little metal toggles which ensure that the main breaker is shut off in order to turn on the generator backfeed breaker and vice versa, we installed these on generator installs for customers who didn't wish to have a standy automatic type generator. We put this device on the panel cover then ran a cord outdoors which was stored in a weather proof junction box, when power goes out, go down and flip off the main, on the genny breaker then go out and start the genny and plug in the house, if you use the GFI method mentioned above you will need to make up a cord with 2 male ends, make sure to plug into the genny after plugging into the gfi as if you plug into the genny first and the genny is running you could potentially zap yourself with the other male end if you aren't careful.

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Old 07-05-2012, 12:06 PM   #27
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Actually, it's against code and ILLEGAL to back feed any generator with out some safety device. (That would be a transfer switch, a disconnect switch, or disconnect from the grid.) Just turning off the main and turning on the generator breaker doesn't count. I have the disconnect switch. It costs less to buy, less to install, and gives you access to your WHOLE panel. It's just not stupid-proof. YOU have to figure out how much you can run W/your generator, and flip breakers accordingly. But, you can turn off all of them, and then turn on 1 heavy draw item, (well pump, maybe), and run it no prob. We got an 8K electric start Generac. The gen., all the parts, and the labor to install came to $2K even. I did a lot of research and a little fabrication myself to lower the cost a little.

I was under the impression Generac was made in the US. I think the OP mentioned they were not.......where did you come up with this info?

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Old 07-05-2012, 12:39 PM   #28
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Generac made in USA:

I ran across a review from someone about the Generac I was considering at Lowes:

"...I purchased this unit due to maneuverability, ease of starting, low oil shutoff, and published run time of 12.5hours. Additionally, I like the idea that I was purchasing something "made in the USA."

While most of Generac's units are made in the USA, the smaller units use "generic OHV" engines which they "outsource" which translates to China! Further investigation, after purchase, I discovered that these engines have a plastic camshaft which does not bode well for longevity..."

This is not proof, I understand. But when I was at Lowes, I was reading through the manual for it, and the manual says "Printed in China". So I got to wondering why they would have the manual made in China if other things weren't. I came to my own conclusion that the whole thing came over on a boat. I may be wrong.

I also found out that Briggs owns Generac, along with others. Peoples reviews of Generac has a common theme that the tech support is awful, oftentimes fumbling to look up part numbers and not being able to find them. Briggs customers have nothing but great things to say about their products and service.

That's why I landed on the decision to buy something with specifically a Briggs engine installed.

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Old 07-06-2012, 10:13 AM   #29
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None of that is proof. "outsourced" can easily mean in the USA, but not from Gernerac. Additionally, Generac may be one of those companies that makes cheaper stuff for the big box stores. I bought my 8KW Electric start from a Generac dealer, and I find it hard to believe that there would be a plastic camshaft in the motor. The overall impression is very good quality. Also, mine says it is "Built by GENERAC specifically as a generator motor."

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Old 07-06-2012, 11:02 AM   #30
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I'm pretty sure I stated this was not proof right up front.

But since you seem to have been offended, please explain why the manual would then say Made in China. You think Generac is saving a dime by getting their printing done in China while the rest of it is "outsourced" to another company in the U.S.?

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