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Old 11-10-2012, 10:48 AM   #1
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Furnace powered by generator


Hello everyone. This is my first post here. Just got my power back from Hurricane Sandy after 11 days without. Just received my new portable generator(1600watts) to run my furnace and fridge for the next outage and have a question about the furnace.

What is the simplest legal way to run a furnace on a generator without using a service panel transfer switch? Are single circuit furnace transfer switches like Reliance TF151W code compliant and diy installable in Nassau County NY? I really dont want a transfer switch at the service panel because of the distance between the panel and the running location of the generator.

Any suggestions would be really appreciated. Thank you.

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Last edited by ralphfr; 11-10-2012 at 11:15 AM.
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Old 11-10-2012, 11:10 AM   #2
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We are having this discussion on a profession electrician site. There are some electricians that will do something to accommodate this situation, it is technically against code, but not dangerous.

The product you cite is the only legal way of doing what you are proposing that I know of.

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Old 11-10-2012, 11:30 AM   #3
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Furnace powered by generator


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Originally Posted by k_buz View Post
We are having this discussion on a profession electrician site. There are some electricians that will do something to accommodate this situation, it is technically against code, but not dangerous.

The product you cite is the only legal way of doing what you are proposing that I know of.
Well my original plan was to install a plug on the furnace side of the circuit and an outlet on the breaker side so I could just unplug it and replug it into the generator extension cord. My wife who is usually right about most things, insists that it must be done to code or it won't be done at all. My problem with the current situation is I cannot get an answer from anyone here in my area do to the recovery situation. As Nassau County is a strange place there's no telling what the requirements are. I appreciate your response k_buz. Thank you very much.
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Old 11-10-2012, 11:35 AM   #4
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Well my original plan was to install a plug on the furnace side of the circuit and an outlet on the breaker side so I could just unplug it and replug it into the generator extension cord. My wife who is usually right about most things, insists that it must be done to code or it won't be done at all. My problem with the current situation is I cannot get an answer from anyone here in my area do to the recovery situation. As Nassau County is a strange place there's no telling what the requirements are. I appreciate your response k_buz. Thank you very much.
Using a cord and plug is not really code complaint. I know people get away with it, but listen to your wife

The little transfer switch you posted will work perfectly for you.
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Old 11-10-2012, 11:41 AM   #5
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Your wife is correct. The way you were thinking how to do it would be wrong and possibly dangerous. You need a mechanical means to isolate generator power from POCO power, otherwise you risk backfeeding the power lines endangering the linemen who are working hard to get your power back on. You cannot simply rely on manually turning off the breaker/furnace disconnect to isolate the power sources.
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Old 11-10-2012, 11:43 AM   #6
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Using a cord and plug is not really code complaint. I know people get away with it, but listen to your wife

The little transfer switch you posted will work perfectly for you.
I will Reg. The longer we're married the harder it is to ignore the evidence. Thanks for the response.
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Old 11-10-2012, 11:49 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k_buz View Post
Your wife is correct. The way you were thinking how to do it would be wrong and possibly dangerous. You need a mechanical means to isolate generator power from POCO power, otherwise you risk backfeeding the power lines endangering the linemen who are working hard to get your power back on. You cannot simply rely on manually turning off the breaker/furnace disconnect to isolate the power sources.
So even breaking the circuit by unplugging the furnace as I explained was my original plan does not isolate the generator power? So I'm guessing the furnace itself must be grounded to the panel somehow that is separate from the wiring coming from the furnace's emergency shut-off switch. Is that correct or at least on the right track?
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Old 11-10-2012, 11:50 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by k_buz View Post
Your wife is correct. The way you were thinking how to do it would be wrong and possibly dangerous. You need a mechanical means to isolate generator power from POCO power, otherwise you risk backfeeding the power lines endangering the linemen who are working hard to get your power back on. You cannot simply rely on manually turning off the breaker/furnace disconnect to isolate the power sources.
The way he suggested (cord and plug connected) isn't dangerous and there would be no way for his generator power to be backfed into the grid. It is however, as you mentioned earlier, not compliant with code.
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Old 11-10-2012, 11:56 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by ralphfr View Post
So even breaking the circuit by unplugging the furnace as I explained was my original plan does not isolate the generator power? So I'm guessing the furnace itself must be grounded to the panel somehow that is separate from the wiring coming from the furnace's emergency shut-off switch. Is that correct or at least on the right track?
That is true, I was interpreting that it would be hard wired but have a cord as well to plug a generator into. If the furnace is only cord and plug, then you are right, there would be no way to backfeed. However, the NEC does not list a furnace as able to be cord and plug connected.
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Old 11-10-2012, 12:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Regination View Post
The way he suggested (cord and plug connected) isn't dangerous and there would be no way for his generator power to be backfed into the grid. It is however, as you mentioned earlier, not compliant with code.
Quote:
Originally Posted by k_buz View Post
That is true, I was interpreting that it would be hard wired but have a cord as well to plug a generator into. If the furnace is only cord and plug, then you are right, there would be no way to backfeed. However, the NEC does not list a furnace as able to be cord and plug connected.
Thank you for the clarification gentlemen. As this simple solution would eliminate the possibility of backfeeding it would make sense if it met code. I can guarantee that going foward there will be many homeowners in the NE who will be doing exactly this as I just know that not having a generator will become the exeption rather than the rule.
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Old 11-10-2012, 12:27 PM   #11
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Using a cord and plug is an easy and safe method to get heat on when the power is out. But since there is a code complaint device that will work perfectly and only cost you $100, it's best to just do it right the first time.

A cord and plug connected furnace is probably the first thing that a home inspector would see and complain about to your perspective buyers if you ever go to sell the house.
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Old 11-10-2012, 12:35 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Regination View Post
Using a cord and plug is an easy and safe method to get heat on when the power is out. But since there is a code complaint device that will work perfectly and only cost you $100, it's best to just do it right the first time.

A cord and plug connected furnace is probably the first thing that a home inspector would see and complain about to your perspective buyers if you ever go to sell the house.
Can't argue with the logic. I just hope I can get an electrician here before the next outage. Thank you.
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Old 11-10-2012, 12:39 PM   #13
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Can't argue with the logic. I just hope I can get an electrician here before the next outage. Thank you.
It's really easy to wire up, it already comes pre-wired. Just order it online, take some pictures of your furnace wiring, and post them here. Between the instructions that come with the switch and the people here, you will have no problem wiring it up yourself
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Old 11-10-2012, 01:01 PM   #14
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It's really easy to wire up, it already comes pre-wired. Just order it online, take some pictures of your furnace wiring, and post them here. Between the instructions that come with the switch and the people here, you will have no problem wiring it up yourself
Actually it's already on it's way. I called the company that sold me the generator yesterday and they had one more in stock so I grabbed it along with an extended run fuel system. I will definitely take you up on your offer to help with the installation. Thank you so much!
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Old 11-23-2012, 12:26 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Regination View Post
It's really easy to wire up, it already comes pre-wired. Just order it online, take some pictures of your furnace wiring, and post them here. Between the instructions that come with the switch and the people here, you will have no problem wiring it up yourself
So after receiving the switch I got to looking seriously at my furnace wiring. Originally and logically I think, I thought the junction box that was in plain sight fed everything which includes the control box, burner and two circulators. However upon further inspection I see that that junction box does not feed the circulator for the main floor of the house. There is another j box attached to the boiler that feeds that circulator. Also, each j box is fed separately by two hot leads coming from the emergency on\off switch. So installing it near the burner isn't going to work. I can't believe my oil company installers left the wiring like this when the furnace was replaced. It's a mess.

Unless I get the entire wiring redone I'm not sure how to proceed. Would it be possible to install the xfer switch on the other side of the emergency switch so I'm only dealing with one circuit? It won't be easy because of the layout of the hallway where the switch is located but it might be doable. Any input is appreciated. Thanks.

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