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-   -   Generator Subpanel Question (http://www.diychatroom.com/f18/generator-subpanel-question-154501/)

robyneller 08-22-2012 04:50 PM

Generator Subpanel Question
 
First off, I'm going to hire a licensed electrician to do this, but for planning purposes I want to find out if this scenario is possible. I'm just a home owner who had very basic knowledge of electrical type work.

I currently have a 7000kw rated portable gas generator wired to a sub-panel in the basement with all my essential circuits wired in.

I want to install a 10kw standby natural gas generator (as my primary backup power) with a pre-wired automatic transfer switch (or a manual switch if that would work better with my proposed scenario). I'm a worrier, so if for some reason natural gas service is disrupted (or pressure drops or something), is there anyway to keep the sub-panel I have currently that is hooked to my gasoline generator available as a back up to my back up?

I'm sort of thinking no way to do this since the same circuits I would want tied to the standby generator would be the same circuits I currently have tied to my gasoline generator.

Or should I just convert my existing gasoline generator to a tri-fuel! Maybe that is the answer.

andrew79 08-22-2012 05:19 PM

put a transfer switch inline with the generator feed and run two inlets outside. One for the big genny and one for the smaller one. That way you can pick what generator you want to feed the generator panel. This is assuming the 10kw unit will be hardwired. If it's not and they both have the same size plug (most likely 30A twistlock) then you can just plug whatever you want into the existing inlet.

raylo32 08-22-2012 05:25 PM

I went with a tri-fuel conversion for my generator connected to a manual transfer switch panel. I see no reason to have a fully automatic backup unless you have some essential equipment that you can't afford to be without for the time is takes put a generator online. And for those there are cheaper and simpler alternatives like simple battery powered UPS's.

Quote:

Originally Posted by robyneller (Post 994104)
First off, I'm going to hire a licensed electrician to do this, but for planning purposes I want to find out if this scenario is possible. I'm just a home owner who had very basic knowledge of electrical type work.

I currently have a 7000kw rated portable gas generator wired to a sub-panel in the basement with all my essential circuits wired in.

I want to install a 10kw standby natural gas generator (as my primary backup power) with a pre-wired automatic transfer switch (or a manual switch if that would work better with my proposed scenario). I'm a worrier, so if for some reason natural gas service is disrupted (or pressure drops or something), is there anyway to keep the sub-panel I have currently that is hooked to my gasoline generator available as a back up to my back up?

I'm sort of thinking no way to do this since the same circuits I would want tied to the standby generator would be the same circuits I currently have tied to my gasoline generator.

Or should I just convert my existing gasoline generator to a tri-fuel! Maybe that is the answer.


robyneller 08-22-2012 08:27 PM

Thanks guys. This is great info because now I have a choice of what I can do. Also, Raylo, you are right. Why do I need a standby generator really. I don't.

Bugman1400 08-22-2012 10:35 PM

Perhaps you figured it out already but, you would have to add another xfer switch to the one you already have and you would be able to switch the primary xfer switch between the utility and the alternate source. The secondary xfer switch would be connected to the alternate source of your primary xfer switch and it would switch between your NG and Portable gens.

raylo32 08-23-2012 06:20 AM

Hey Roby, another thing you can do short of a fully auto system is put a remote start kit on your generator if it has electric start. That's what I plan to do with mine. That way you can start it up first thing in the morning or shut it before bedtime w/o having to run outside.

robyneller 08-23-2012 03:48 PM

Great suggestions everyone!! I'm going to print this out so I can actually visualize the set up. It seems like I have some very workable ideas.

I do have an electric start on mine so I will look into the remote start. I was just wondering though about the circuit breaker on the generator. Would that shut on and off too with the remote start. Not good to start it with the load of course.

So much to think about it makes my brain smoke a bit but I managed to get my current set up planned out on my own and its working great. I just need some kind of upgrade after the "Derecho" that left me without power for almost five days. I did very well though even had tv and internet :-)

raylo32 08-23-2012 04:40 PM

Where do you live, Roby? I am in Germantown MD and *somehow* I did not lose power in the derecho. It's still a mystery to me how that happened. But it reminded me of all those other outages from Snowmageddon, Irene, too many others count so I went out and got a generator. Now I am better prepared. Better late than never, I guess.

robyneller 08-23-2012 05:00 PM

Oh cool. I live in Fort Washington MD. I lived like a queen for those 4.5 days compared to most. I was in homedepot just doing normal shopping one of the days because I was so bored and the sheer panic on peoples faces trying to buy generators was so sad. I knew they were in for a rude awakening when they got home and tried to figure out to get it set up with oil and in a sheltered area, etc, deal with extension cords. OMG! I've been totally preparing for the Derecho for like four years so all I had to do was gas up and turn it on and flip everything over. I just got worn out changing the oil and gassing up every 8-10 hours. oh and running to the gas station every morning to beat the crowds.

raylo32 08-23-2012 05:30 PM

Good to be prepared. My brother lives down in FL (I took a genny down there for my parents after Hurricane Ivan, but that's a whole other story) and he bought a genny a few years ago. It's never been out of the box. I told him I was installing a transfer switch and getting my setup ready and he just laughed that he'd figure it out when the time comes. He has no idea. I am surprised he doesn't recall after Ivan when every gas station in town was shutdown w/o power. He also knows nothing about electricity or how to connect the thing to his house. I guess they will run the refrigerator with an ext cord and that's about it... until they run out of gas. I hope Isaac doesn't pay them a visit.

Quote:

Originally Posted by robyneller (Post 994884)
Oh cool. I live in Fort Washington MD. I lived like a queen for those 4.5 days compared to most. I was in homedepot just doing normal shopping one of the days because I was so bored and the sheer panic on peoples faces trying to buy generators was so sad. I knew they were in for a rude awakening when they got home and tried to figure out to get it set up with oil and in a sheltered area, etc, deal with extension cords. OMG! I've been totally preparing for the Derecho for like four years so all I had to do was gas up and turn it on and flip everything over. I just got worn out changing the oil and gassing up every 8-10 hours. oh and running to the gas station every morning to beat the crowds.


robyneller 08-23-2012 08:13 PM

oh wow. That kind of attitude drives me crazy because I'm just the opposite, prepare, prepare, and then prepare some more! haha I'm not a survivalist by far, but I've got enough sense to know that our infrastructure is not nearly as fail-proof as many naieve home owners think. Tell your brother again to get it set up and to put a lot of thought into it if nothing else. Its TOOOOO late when you actually need it. I expect things to fail so I've got a back up plan. There is SOOOOO much planning required to get your generator set up right and to do the things you expect it to do. When I first bought it i didn't do the transfer switch the first year and I would almost have a heat stroke trying to get it set up and everything plugged in and I had cords running all over and I couldn't even shut my front door because of the power cord!!! That wasn't safe! I immediately got the subpanel put in and I thought and thought about EXACTLY what needed to be hooked in like even the thermostat even though I have gas heat, I have an electric thermostat so if no power, no heat even though heat is gas! Also smartest thing ever to add in my Verizon Fios!

I'm glad you reminded me that I don't really need the super expensive standby generator. I like the remote start idea. I will definitely look into that. I'm looking at the Powerland 10,000kw Tri-fuel generator. The price is so low though it seems suspect BUT it looks identical to the one I already have but mine is blue and a different brand name and only 8500kw, but all the components and even the gas labels and stuff are exactly like mine and its been very reliable so far for four years.

My mom lives in Panama City Beach and its like ground hog day talking to her. I got the expected paniced hurricane call today and I gave her my canned speech of you need to plan ahead for a place to evacuate to and then I get her canned response of its not possible to evacuate because no where to get gas or sleep, etc. Then she tells me she wants to move up here and then i tell the same thing i always do and we never accomplish anything. She will wait until she underwater and swimming for her life to actually make a decision. Never met anyone like her in my life. She could be on fire and not be able to make a decision.

raylo32 08-24-2012 06:31 AM

Wow, small world. My parents live on Pensacola Beach. They are getting on and my dad is ill so I really hope they aren't impacted. Even doing the "evacuation shuffle" when the storm ends up missing is difficult.

Interestingly generators are not much of a help in their situation because the island almost always gets evacuated and if there is serious damage they don't let you back on for days or weeks. Too late to save you food and often you have bigger problems. With Ivan their house was totalled. It mostly held up structurally but the roof shingles failed. House had to be gutted and rebuilt.

One thing about cheap generators... they tend to be noisy. Might not matter if you have a single family and noise doesn't bother you. But I live in a townhouse so went with one of the smaller Japanese RV type sets. Much quieter but way more $$. I don't want to antagonize the neighbors too much.

robyneller 08-24-2012 10:36 AM

wow it is a small world! Thats a real shame your parents lost their home. I didn't think about how generators wouldn't be much use in an evacuation situation. If they ever have a mandatory evacuation, they will have to have the police come get my mother. She won't leave the house. She has that agoraphobia where she won't leave the house. She eventually will go out when she is literally hungry. I've tried to help her but had to give up after awhile.


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