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Old 07-02-2010, 10:35 AM   #1
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Installing a generator: basic questions


A friend of mine wants a standby generator for his house.

I am having trouble finding the basic "how-to" on this, but I think I know. I think we'll use an Interlok setup as opposed to a subpanel or transfer switch.

My plan for now is...Install an appropriately sized double-pole breaker in appropriate (according to the Interlok) spot in the panel. How do I know what size? Is this based on the amount of KW his generator produces?

If we do a natural gas generator, we'll have a plumber run the gas line.

Do I simply run the appropriate guage wire from the generator (I'd use PVC conduit) and feed it into the breaker?

Then when the power goes out, he shuts off the main (and unnecessary circuits), powers up the generator, slides the interlok, turns on the generator breaker?

There has to be more to it...
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Old 07-02-2010, 11:30 AM   #2
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Installing a generator: basic questions


Size of the breaker will depend upon the wiring & generator
If the generator only supplies 20a @240v that is all you would need
--allowing for any surge power
Many Gen Mfg's do not put proper connection instructions w/generators

My Gen supplies 6500w peak power =27a @ 240v

I think I'd be inclined to install larger wire & breaker in case I decided to buy a larger generator
You can have larger wire & breaker & supply less power then the rating of the breaker & wire

What you have stated seems to be correct method
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Old 07-02-2010, 11:37 AM   #3
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Installing a generator: basic questions


Not a bad thought to oversize the wire. I'll probably do that. Wouldn't the max breaker be size be limited by the generator size? Or do generators have internal breakers that trip if you try to overdraw? If so...do you have to walk outside in the snow to reset it?

How would a generator turn on in the way I want to control it (with an interlock setup). Would I have to walk outside and power up the generator, or would it start automatically, but not supply power to the panel till I slide the interlock and turn on the breaker?

The fact that one of the things he wants the generator for is his sump pump makes me think an auto-transfer switch is better.

Do I need to have electric shut off at the street to do an automatic transfer setup (so i can feed the meter wire into the switch, then to the panel) or Can you just do it with a subpanel (feed the hot from the main panel and the hot from the generator into the switch, then to the subpanel), and move crucial circuits from the main to the sub?
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Old 07-02-2010, 04:26 PM   #4
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Installing a generator: basic questions


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Originally Posted by secutanudu View Post
Wouldn't the max breaker be size be limited by the generator size? Or do generators have internal breakers that trip if you try to overdraw? If so...do you have to walk outside in the snow to reset it?
Yes, yes & yes.

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How would a generator turn on in the way I want to control it (with an interlock setup). Would I have to walk outside and power up the generator, or would it start automatically, but not supply power to the panel till I slide the interlock and turn on the breaker?
A setup like this is FULL manual. You start the genny, plug it in, flip the breakers.

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The fact that one of the things he wants the generator for is his sump pump makes me think an auto-transfer switch is better.
Quite possibly true, but MUCH more expensive.

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Originally Posted by secutanudu View Post
Do I need to have electric shut off at the street to do an automatic transfer setup (so i can feed the meter wire into the switch, then to the panel) or Can you just do it with a subpanel (feed the hot from the main panel and the hot from the generator into the switch, then to the subpanel), and move crucial circuits from the main to the sub?
Most automatic standby units can be had with a sub-panel that houses the transfer equipment as well as the breakers for the circuits to be protected.
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Old 07-02-2010, 06:03 PM   #5
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Installing a generator: basic questions


Thanks. What do you mean by "plug it in"? Is the generator not wired directly to a breaker?
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Old 07-02-2010, 06:09 PM   #6
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Installing a generator: basic questions


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Thanks. What do you mean by "plug it in"? Is the generator not wired directly to a breaker?
No, it gets plugged into an inlet box. Portable generators have no facility to be hard wired. And automatic standby units need to be used with specific automatic standby switches/panels.
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Old 07-02-2010, 06:55 PM   #7
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Installing a generator: basic questions


i have a 3500 watt run out on a 3-wire #6 underground rated wrap 150' into my house panel thru 30 amp heavy duty toggles on each hot then into the CB panel both sides.all my house breakers stay as normal plug in the generator and throw the toggles...the most important thing with the generator running is just be normal on the loads limit washing machines and AC if possible and the system will handle the houses normal pull with no problem.like mentioned all gens need the plugs installed and there should be a factory mounted CB on the unit.the biggest concern is the street disconnected from the house CB panel must be the first item secured before any switching....it is all a routine in steps start up to shut down and back to normal power.
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Old 07-02-2010, 07:33 PM   #8
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Installing a generator: basic questions


Yeah be careful to not backfeed. I've been researching this myself as eventually I may want to look at either an auto standby or manual. Your best bet is make it fool proof so you can't mess up. If you do make it so you need to turn on/off things in a certain order maybe put clear instructions. In 5 years from now you might forget what is what. I'm a label freak though, I label everything. I have a word doc with all my breakers and a print out near the panel, if I make a change, I update the word doc and reprint.
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Old 07-02-2010, 07:42 PM   #9
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Installing a generator: basic questions


Yes, you want an inlet box to plug the Gen in

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Old 07-02-2010, 08:51 PM   #10
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Installing a generator: basic questions


man that thing is ugly Dave. How about something like this, with a weatherproof cover:



You also want to think about where you are going to mount that and how long of cord you need. You do not want the generator to be near a window or door that might be opened and allow carbon monoxide into the building while it is running.

You also want to be mindful of voltage drop as well. Chances are you are going to be running the generator at the upper range of it's capacity so voltage drop can become important.
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Old 07-02-2010, 09:02 PM   #11
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Installing a generator: basic questions


I think he is ok with spending around $3000-4000. He also wants it to be fueled by natural gas. When I think "portable generator" i think a little one with wheels. I was thinking one of thie bigger stationary-type 10kw+ units. Would this be the type that would be done with a transfer switch? Is 3-4 thousand in range for something like this?
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Old 07-02-2010, 09:19 PM   #12
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Installing a generator: basic questions


These are the ones that have peaked my interest while doing research:

http://www.homedepot.ca/webapp/wcs/s...k=P_PartNumber

They have higher capacity models too. Something stationary is actually better. Something portable can easily be stolen during a time of crisis, when you need it the most.

I don't know much about them as I'm only in the research and consideration stage now, but I do know they run on LP or NG.
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Old 07-02-2010, 09:42 PM   #13
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Installing a generator: basic questions


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... 10kw+ units. Would this be the type that would be done with a transfer switch? Is 3-4 thousand in range for something like this?
Better figure on more $$$ than that.
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Old 07-03-2010, 07:29 AM   #14
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Installing a generator: basic questions


I was thinking something even smaller for him...

http://www.homedepot.ca/webapp/wcs/s...k=P_PartNumber

He has no electric appliances, all gas, so I think 10kw is all he'd probably need.It looks like it tomes with the transfer switch/subpanel.

What else would i need, other than to pipe in the gas?
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Old 07-03-2010, 08:16 AM   #15
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Installing a generator: basic questions


That's all.

Even this 8kW would be fine: http://www.homedepot.ca/webapp/wcs/s...k=P_PartNumber
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