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Old 10-22-2011, 06:03 PM   #1
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I'm confused about my new portable generator


My old portable generator died. I only use it in emergencies as back up to run a sump pump and two refrig's. My old gen had two plug/outlets on it, both 3 prong 120v outlets with a single circuit breaker. The new one has me stumped. Here are the details:
--it is a 3500w gen, 3000w "normal" output, 3500w peak (I get that)
--it has a switch on it to run it in either 120V or 240V mode (I don't get that)
--it has a plug/outlet marked 120V, 3 prong, with a 20amp breaker of it's own..a normal outlet, etc. just like my old one..(I get that)
--here is the problem..the second outlet is labelled 120V/240V and it has a 4 prong twist lock plug/outlet with it's own 30 amp breaker.
Soooo....since all my cords are 3 prong 15amp (which worked great on my other dead generator), I'd like a way to plug one of them into this 4 prong situation..thus convert the 4 prong twist to a 3 prong 120V. What is best way to accomplish this. My thoughts were, the generator came with a 4 prong plug (no cord), to open the plug, take a 3 line piece of outdoor electrical cord and wire blk to ONE of the 2 blacks inside the plug, the white to white, the grnd to grnd and leave the 2nd black in the 4 prong plug alone...on the other end of the cord run it into a box/plug which accepts a 3 prong extension cord. BUT, then how do I run the gen, with the switch in 120 mode or in 240 mode??? HELP!

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Old 10-22-2011, 06:36 PM   #2
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I'm confused about my new portable generator


Make and model so we can look up the manual.

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Old 10-22-2011, 07:53 PM   #3
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I'm confused about my new portable generator


You will need to either contact the manufacturer to get the Octopus cord, or contact the place that you purchased it from. As for gensets, you do know that if you do not take care of them, they die.
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Old 10-22-2011, 10:20 PM   #4
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I'm confused about my new portable generator


Every generator that has a 120/240 switch is the same. Think of it as two generators in one, each one is 1/2 the total capacity. In your case, it's two 1500 watt units.

If the switch is set to 240, the two generators are connected in series. If it's set at 120, they're in parallel.

Using your unit as an example, each half can produce 12.5 amps at 120 volts. If the switch is set at 240 volts, you'll have 12.5 amps at 240 volts (or 12.5 amps at two 120 volt loads if they're balanced). If the switch is set at 120 volts, you'll have 25 amps at 120 volts, but no 240 at all.

The reason this is done on small generators is because if the unit has no switch, each 120 volt receptacle would have a 12.5 amp circuit breaker, and thus you could use only half of its capacity with one 120 volt load.

With the switch set at 120 volts, you can connect a full 20 amp load to the receptacle.

A word of caution here; if the switch is set at 240, and any load on any receptacle exceeds 12.5 amps, one half of the generator is overloaded. Even if the other half has no load at all.

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Old 10-23-2011, 12:42 PM   #5
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I'm confused about my new portable generator


Quote:
Originally Posted by Rickhow View Post
--here is the problem..the second outlet is labelled 120V/240V and it has a 4 prong twist lock plug/outlet with it's own 30 amp breaker.

BUT, then how do I run the gen, with the switch in 120 mode or in 240 mode??? HELP!
I'm new to this too, since I also just bought a portable generator. Mine has the same 4-prong outlet, and I think its called a NEMA L14-30. My generator also came with a cable with a plug that can connect to that L14-30 and that cable also has several 120V outlets on it. If yours did not, why don't you wander around the electrical department of HD or Lowes. I've seen them there. So if you got one and plugged it in to your generator, you should be able to put the switch in the 240 mode and then run several 120V extension cords to it.
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Old 10-23-2011, 05:16 PM   #6
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I'm confused about my new portable generator


Thanks to all, especially Micro and Larry, I got it now . I purchased the mentioned cord today L14-20R to a 5-20R with 2 leads on it for 120V...but I know I must keep in mind the amp load mentioned by micro...so THANKS!!!!

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