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Old 08-31-2009, 04:23 PM   #1
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Generator Install - A few questions...


I purchased a whole house 20kW Guardian Generator and have been mulling over installing it myself. Yeah, I know. Could be a suicide mission, but I am pretty handy and I am smart enough to kill the power before I begin. But I also won't take this project on unless I feel real confident that I can do it right. I have a few questions to help me decide which way to go. Also, I really want to know more about this, so if/when I do hire an electrician I can make sure he is doing the job right.

FYI, I have a 200A service panel. The generator is a whole house version, which doesn't require me to relocate breakers. It just splices in between the meter and my service panel, and takes over automatically when the power drops. It also prevents back feed, which the local power company worker will appreciate. My generator will be outside right next to the service panel (other side of wall) and is also a few feet from my gas meter. So access is good.

So I have looked over the installation guide from Generac and it looks "pretty good". However, I have some questions about neutral and ground. My service panel has both neutral and ground bars. I also see connections for neutral and ground on my generator. And I see a ground bar inside the transfer switch. It appears that I need to run a wire from the ground bar inside my service panel to the ground bar in the transfer switch, and also connection the ground from the generator to the ground bar in the transfer switch. There is also a bonding jumper in the transfer switch. The manual doesn't say what to do with this, but I am thinking there needs to be a similar approach with the neutral. Of course I am not sure which is why I stopped.

Everything else looks pretty basic. The utility wires connect to the transfer switch. The transfer switch connects to the generator and the service panel. Everything is labeled well. I am just a bit unsure about the neutral and ground bar. Of course, this is exactly the sort of area that can cause a disaster. So I am just throwing out the question to see if the answer is straight-forward or not.

Again, I am not going to try this unless I feel comfortable. But I also don't want to throw $1,500 away if it isn't that complicated.

Thanks for the help!

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Old 08-31-2009, 04:28 PM   #2
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Generator Install - A few questions...


You have a link to all the manuals?

If the gen is $5K and the install costs $1.5K you should only do the install if your chance of not smoking the whole thing is at least 35%. Do you feel lucky?

Along those lines, if you do the install it wouldn't hurt to put small (~3A?) fuses at critical locations. If they hold and you can draw some few amps at the right voltage and freq. then you can always remove them.


Last edited by Yoyizit; 08-31-2009 at 04:44 PM.
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Old 08-31-2009, 04:33 PM   #3
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Generator Install - A few questions...


Hey thanks for the reply. All I found was this.

http://www.electricgeneratorsdirect....744/p2445.html

and here...

http://www.generac.com/Residential/G...n_Series_20_kW

But I haven't found the identical manual online yet. Still looking.
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Old 08-31-2009, 04:46 PM   #4
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Generator Install - A few questions...


You make a lot of sense buddy. I will definitely keep that in mind!
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Old 08-31-2009, 04:51 PM   #5
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Generator Install - A few questions...


I hate to be that guy, but generator and transfer switches are generally not a DIY project, even those that are quite handy. Some utilities won't allow a generator setup without a licensed electrician doing the install.
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Old 08-31-2009, 04:58 PM   #6
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Generator Install - A few questions...


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Originally Posted by InPhase277 View Post
I hate to be that guy, but generator and transfer switches are generally not a DIY project, even those that are quite handy. Some utilities won't allow a generator setup without a licensed electrician doing the install.
Not a problem. I appreciate your frankness. I am seriously leaning towards hiring someone, but this is educational so I like learning about this too.
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Old 08-31-2009, 05:04 PM   #7
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Generator Install - A few questions...


Quote:
Originally Posted by robmypro View Post
But I also don't want to throw $1,500 away if it isn't that complicated.

Is that for a full install, with a gas hook-up and all the electrical work? Is so, it is likely a reasonable price.

If you don't have much experience with electrical work, this is NOT the project to learn on. You not only have your own safety to consider, but as you pointed out the linemans safety if this is not installed correctly.

Just splicing in between the meter and the panel isn't going to be all that hard for someone that has substantial experienced /and or a licensed professional. Unless you have a meter / disconnect combo, the meter has to be pulled or the powerco needs to cut it at the pole.

I personally feel that you need (should) to learn quite a bit about electrical systems before your ready to handle a project of this scale. When your installing this your going to be dealing with unfused service where there is no breaker that will trip if there is a short, it will just burn up whatever path back to the transformer it has available. I've seen what an unfused short can do to a piece of copper pipe, you don't want to find out what will happen if your the pipe.

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Old 08-31-2009, 05:10 PM   #8
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Generator Install - A few questions...


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Is that for a full install, with a gas hook-up and all the electrical work? Is so, it is likely a reasonable price.

If you don't have much experience with electrical work, this is NOT the project to learn on. You not only have your own safety to consider, but as you pointed out the linemans safety if this is not installed correctly.

Just splicing in between the meter and the panel isn't going to be all that hard for someone that has substantial experienced /and or a licensed professional. Unless you have a meter / disconnect combo, the meter has to be pulled or the powerco needs to cut it at the pole.

I personally feel that you need (should) to learn quite a bit about electrical systems before your ready to handle a project of this scale. When your installing this your going to be dealing with unfused service where there is no breaker that will trip if there is a short, it will just burn up whatever path back to the transformer it has available. I've seen what an unfused short can do to a piece of copper pipe, you don't want to find out what will happen if your the pipe.

Jamie
Hi Jamie,

Thanks for the opinion. I do have a meter/disconnect combo, so that makes it a bit easier (until I flip the switch!). Really the whole point of this post was to find out if this was a biggie or not. I am definitely not going to risk anyone's life learning on the job.

It is starting to sound more and more like a job I shouldn't take on. I guess that was what I was trying to ascertain. Thanks for the help!
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Old 08-31-2009, 05:30 PM   #9
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Generator Install - A few questions...


If you got the Model 5744 20 KW pre-packaged with the 200 amp SE switch(RTSE200A3) ?

Since pulling the meter will be required to do this, you may not be allowed to do it.

This switch will become your "service equipment" and your existing panel will become a sub panel. Meaning a 4 wire feeder from the transfer switch to your panel and neutral and grounds seperated.

You'll feed 3-wires from your meter base to the transfer switch. All grounding and bonding will need to be done in the transfer switch. The neutral in the switch already has a bonding strap so that will need to stay.

Neutral from the generator, neutral to your panel, and neutral from the meter will land on the neutral bar provided. Your ground from the cold water(if available) and ground rod(s) can go on the neutral bar and/or the ground bar in the transfer switch.

I pull control wiring in the same conduit if it's real close to the generator, otherwise I run them in a separate conduit.
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Old 08-31-2009, 05:40 PM   #10
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Generator Install - A few questions...


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Originally Posted by wirenut1110 View Post
If you got the Model 5744 20 KW pre-packaged with the 200 amp SE switch(RTSE200A3) ?

Since pulling the meter will be required to do this, you may not be allowed to do it.

This switch will become your "service equipment" and your existing panel will become a sub panel. Meaning a 4 wire feeder from the transfer switch to your panel and neutral and grounds seperated.

You'll feed 3-wires from your meter base to the transfer switch. All grounding and bonding will need to be done in the transfer switch. The neutral in the switch already has a bonding strap so that will need to stay.

Neutral from the generator, neutral to your panel, and neutral from the meter will land on the neutral bar provided. Your ground from the cold water(if available) and ground rod(s) can go on the neutral bar and/or the ground bar in the transfer switch.

I pull control wiring in the same conduit if it's real close to the generator, otherwise I run them in a separate conduit.
Hey wirenut, thanks for the help. You obviosly have experience with these things. Yep I have the model you mentioned. I have a meter/disconnect combo, so I can kill the power to my service panel easily. Was that what you meant by pull the meter? I understand my panel will now become a sub panel, but can you elaborate on the 4 wire feed comment? Also I am confused about the bonding strap in the TS. Do any wires get connected to it?

Thanks for the help!
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Old 08-31-2009, 05:48 PM   #11
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Generator Install - A few questions...


Since you already have a disconnect outside then your panel should already have a 4 wire feeder. 2 hots, insulated neutral and ground.

In that case, the bonding strap in the transfer switch will need to be removed. (It just bonds the neutral bar to the transfer switch enclosure)

You'll then run a 4-wire (Hot, hot neutral, and ground) from the disconnect to the transfer switch and from the transfer switch to your panel, and from the generator to your transfer switch.

All neutrals will land on those big neutral lugs. The grounds on the brass/copper ground bar. If you have aluminum wire, you may have to add some mechanical lugs for the grounds because the bar is pretty small for larger aluminum wire.
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Old 08-31-2009, 06:02 PM   #12
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Generator Install - A few questions...


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Originally Posted by wirenut1110 View Post
Since you already have a disconnect outside then your panel should already have a 4 wire feeder. 2 hots, insulated neutral and ground.

In that case, the bonding strap in the transfer switch will need to be removed. (It just bonds the neutral bar to the transfer switch enclosure)

You'll then run a 4-wire (Hot, hot neutral, and ground) from the disconnect to the transfer switch and from the transfer switch to your panel, and from the generator to your transfer switch.

All neutrals will land on those big neutral lugs. The grounds on the brass/copper ground bar. If you have aluminum wire, you may have to add some mechanical lugs for the grounds because the bar is pretty small for larger aluminum wire.
Thanks again for the help. I looked at the wires coming into the panel. I see 3. Two thick black wires and 1 black wire (not as thick) with a yellow stripe. Maybe there are 2 wires inside it, but I couldn't tell from where I looked. I also don't see the neutral lugs in the transfer switch. I see the ground bar, and the bonding strap. Where are the neutral lugs located?
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Old 08-31-2009, 06:08 PM   #13
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Generator Install - A few questions...


Okay I think I see the neutral. It is the block at the top. It says to remove the busbar to remove bonding. Is that the narrow metal piece that goes from the block to the enclosure?
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Old 08-31-2009, 06:08 PM   #14
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Generator Install - A few questions...


The neutral block is silver about 4 inches long with 3 or 4 big allen screws in it. It is mounted on black plastic blocks to insulate from the enclosure.

Are your grounds and neutral terminated on the same bars in your panel or does it look like they're separated? They should be if you have a disconnect outside.
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Old 08-31-2009, 06:25 PM   #15
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Generator Install - A few questions...


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Originally Posted by wirenut1110 View Post
The neutral block is silver about 4 inches long with 3 or 4 big allen screws in it. It is mounted on black plastic blocks to insulate from the enclosure.

Are your grounds and neutral terminated on the same bars in your panel or does it look like they're separated? They should be if you have a disconnect outside.
Okay I took off the cover on the panel and verified that there are only 3 wires coming from the disconnect. 2 big black wires and a thinner one with a yellow stripe. I see a "U" shaped bar that goes around the breakers. It has lots of connections on it. I also see a single long bar on the right that has a lot of copper connections. I also see a black wire with green that goes up out of the box, but I cannot confirm where that goes to.

Any of this sound correct?

BTW, I see the neutral block in the transfer switch. It is exactly as you described.

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