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Old 03-02-2013, 05:55 AM   #1
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How do I attach a 4 prong cord to 3 prong outlet?


My apologies if this is a repeat. I found some similar but not exact or where I couldn't really follow the answer.

While completely able to execute projects when given clear directions, I am no electrician. I have a basic understanding of loads, etc. but if you start getting more complicated with "phases" and the such, you are going to hurt my brain pretty quickly. I am hoping the experts or experienced DIYers here can give me some clear, simple, plain language advice.

I have a Reliance Controls 31410CRK transfer switch installed in my garage. The inlet and matching power cord are "L14-30" and the description reads "Most portable generators suitable for 120/240 full-power operation are supplied with either a 20-amp or 30-amp, 4-wire locking receptacle that accepts the locking plug and connector on each end of the cord set." The cord came with a converter which basically changes it from a 30-amp to a 20-amp, but it's still the same size 4-wire end (the tab on one of the prongs is just turned the other way). The only problem is...

...I have a Champion #40026 3000 watt (3500 startup) generator. It has two outlets (besides the regular ones). Here are the descriptions (from the user guide):

Outlet 1: RV Ready - TT-30R outlet. 120V / 30A RV Receptacle Protected by a 25 Amp Flip -to-reset circuit breaker . This receptacle
powers 120 Volt AC, 60 Hz, single phase loads requiring up to 25 Amps or 3000 Watts of power.

Outlet 2: This is a twist lock outlet similar to the transfer switch inlet, but with only 3 prongs. The description reads "120V / 30A Twist-Lock Protected by a 25 Amp Flip-to-reset circuit breaker . This receptacle powers 120 Volt AC, 60 Hz, single phase loads requiring up to 25 Amps or 3000 Watts of power."

So... I am sure you all already know my question... how do I attach the generator to the transfer switch? Or is it even possible? Which of these two outlets is it best to use, and how. I am praying somebody is going to say "there is a $5 converter end at home depot for that... and here is the link" but I know that there is no way I'm that lucky.

Again... admitting I'm a beginner at best on this stuff, so please go a little easy on me. If you say "attach the ground to the neutral" I can figure that out, but the more explicit and simple your directions the better.

Thank you in advance for any advice.

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Old 03-02-2013, 06:02 AM   #2
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How do I attach a 4 prong cord to 3 prong outlet?


Your generator is not set up to power a 120/240V panel. I suggest you start looking for a new generator that does have a 120/240V option.

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Old 03-02-2013, 06:19 AM   #3
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How do I attach a 4 prong cord to 3 prong outlet?


Thank you KBuz. The 240v is optional (via handle ties) and I have no need/intent on using it, so it will really only be a 120v. Is it still not possible?
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Old 03-02-2013, 06:55 AM   #4
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How do I attach a 4 prong cord to 3 prong outlet?


You stated you didn't want to talk about phases, but that is what this is going to come down to.

Your generator panel is set up for a 120/240V feed. Your current generator only has a way to feed at 120V.
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Old 03-02-2013, 07:18 AM   #5
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How do I attach a 4 prong cord to 3 prong outlet?


I have that same generator. I just checked the owner's manual, and there is no mention anywhere of an optional 240v setup. There's no 240v receptacle anyway.

I suggest you forget the transfer switch idea. Such switches are not universal, and are generally designed for use with a specific brand of generator. Might be tough finding one compatible with a Champion, which is a cheap brand made in China. Just buy a couple of extension cords for what you want to power, which isn't going to be much. The only thing you can power from the 30A receptacle is an RV - the TT-30R is unique and not used anywhere else. When we lose power, I plug the Champion into the RV that's next to the house and we go "camping" for a day or so.
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Old 03-02-2013, 08:00 AM   #6
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How do I attach a 4 prong cord to 3 prong outlet?


Thank you KBuz... I was afraid you were going to say something like that. It also explains why I couldn't find any adapters for sale on the internet. The only thing I found was this (http://www.wisesales.com/10-gauge-3-...rong-male.html) but from what you said it sounds like it won't do the job. If this will work (my last grasp at hope) please let me know.

That Champion generator may have been cheap, but it ran 24h/d for two weeks after Sandy without a hitch and powered way more of my house than I ever would have thought it would. That experience however made me want to never deal with extension cords twisting all around the house again...
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Old 03-02-2013, 08:50 AM   #7
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How do I attach a 4 prong cord to 3 prong outlet?


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Originally Posted by jbinnj View Post
It looks like that should work, but would only supply 120 volt loads, no 240 volt loads, which sounds like that's not an issue for you. By using the adapter you don't have to modify or change anything in the panel or the existing L14-30 cord if you ever want to go to a bigger generator in the future.
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Old 03-02-2013, 08:57 AM   #8
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How do I attach a 4 prong cord to 3 prong outlet?


Except that only half of the breakers would be usable.
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Old 03-02-2013, 08:59 AM   #9
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How do I attach a 4 prong cord to 3 prong outlet?


That would depend on how the L5-30 end is wired, if they connected both hots to the plug or only one. If both hots are connected then all the breakers would be useable but only at 120 volts.
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Old 03-02-2013, 09:04 AM   #10
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How do I attach a 4 prong cord to 3 prong outlet?


Its a 3 wire cord...hot, neutral, and ground.
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Old 03-02-2013, 09:12 AM   #11
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How do I attach a 4 prong cord to 3 prong outlet?


Ah, good point. I did not notice that at first. While it is still possible they jumpered it in the L14-30 end, its less likely. I would think the OP could contact the company and get an answer from them how it's wired before he buys it.
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Old 03-02-2013, 09:35 AM   #12
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How do I attach a 4 prong cord to 3 prong outlet?


Thank you guys so much. I think even my amateur self now understands this. Four wire has two 120v hots (one for each side of panel), a ground and a neutral. Three wire has same but only one 120v hot. So if they fused the two hots together in the cord at some point it will distribute the 120v across both sides of the panel. If not it will just power the one side the hot line is connected to.

Quick add-on question: Since the transfer switch is connected to the ground in of the main panel, and since this cord from the transfer switch to the generator has a ground wire... does that mean the generator is grounded and I don't have to attach a grounding wire from the generator to the house grounding stake anymore when using it this way?

Thank you again. Your help has been invaluable.
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Old 03-02-2013, 03:11 PM   #13
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How do I attach a 4 prong cord to 3 prong outlet?


trick question, Right. How about, either 5 min epoxy or superglue.
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Old 03-02-2013, 08:16 PM   #14
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How do I attach a 4 prong cord to 3 prong outlet?


I hate to bring this up, but if it was made so the entire panel were powered with only the one 120 volt leg the generator supplies, couldn't the issue of multi-wire branch circuits come up? (If there are any in the panel)
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Old 03-02-2013, 08:32 PM   #15
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How do I attach a 4 prong cord to 3 prong outlet?


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I hate to bring this up, but if it was made so the entire panel were powered with only the one 120 volt leg the generator supplies, couldn't the issue of multi-wire branch circuits come up? (If there are any in the panel)
Yes it would.

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