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Old 10-10-2008, 08:41 PM   #1
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Powering a Barn by Generator


Hi, I am a neophyte in the world of electricity and have lots of questions. I built a new pole barn, which is used to store an RV and some farming equipment--no animals. I got the bright idea of using a portable generator to power the barn--some lights, a couple of receptacles for occasional use of small equipment such as a saw or drill. I thought I would get a 6500 watt diesel genset and plug an extension cord from the genset to one circuit that would be for all the lights and receptacles. I would rely on the circuit breaker on the genset rather than installing a service panel. I probably would not use the generator more than 1 hour per day and don't want to have to go to the expense of running power from the house to the barn (about 200 feet). Any suggestions (positive or negative) about my idea would be appreciated. Thanks.

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Old 10-10-2008, 10:14 PM   #2
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Powering a Barn by Generator


I would recommend that you run your circuit to a disconnect switch, then drop out of the switch with a hard-use type cord with a twist lock plug. You should also provide a means of grounding the generator at the site. A couple of ground rods more than 6 ft apart would be fine. Jumper them together with #8 copper then to your generator's grounding terminal.

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Old 10-10-2008, 10:30 PM   #3
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Powering a Barn by Generator


Keep in mind that electricity from a generator is just as capable of electrocuting a person or animal (I know you said no animals) or causing a barn to burn down as electricity from the pole.

With that said, I would recommend that you get a permit, install all your wiring to code, and have it inspected.

And I would especially recommend installing a circuit breaker panel with circuit breakers of the correct amperage to protect the wiring installed (prevents fires) and installing GFCI outlets which can protect people and animals in wet locations from electrocution. (I know - no animals, but there might be some in the future, especially with a future owner.)

Also farm electrical equipment gets rough use. Not unusual to see frayed electrical cords on things. A GFCI will protect you if one of those frayed cords contacts something.
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Old 10-11-2008, 02:09 AM   #4
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Powering a Barn by Generator


BETTER price out both options before you move forward. The price of that diesel gen-set is going to cost ALOT more than 200 feet of overhead or even buried wire. AND which is going to be more reliable???Ongoing maintance and replacements,,,its a no-brainer,,,run the wire!!
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Old 10-11-2008, 03:32 AM   #5
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Powering a Barn by Generator


Quote:
And I would especially recommend installing a circuit breaker panel with circuit breakers of the correct amperage to protect the wiring installed
That's critical.. if you don't want to go for permits and inspections, that's your own business, but if you have a short or just overload an outlet, 6500 watts will = fire. Just wanted to emphasize Billy Bob's comment.

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The price of that diesel gen-set is going to cost ALOT more than 200 feet of overhead or even buried wire
I'd have to agree there. Unless you already have the generator?
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Old 10-11-2008, 07:25 AM   #6
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Powering a Barn by Generator


It's only 200 feet. You could rent a 32-inch trencher for a day and buy a run of 6-3 for less than $600, I would think. How much would a diesel generator cost?

I'm just sayin'...
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:06 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by ScottR View Post
That's critical.. if you don't want to go for permits and inspections, that's your own business, but if you have a short or just overload an outlet, 6500 watts will = fire. Just wanted to emphasize Billy Bob's comment.



I'd have to agree there. Unless you already have the generator?

Circuit protection will be provided by the genset. If all he is doing is a few lights and receptacles, then the 20 A circuit on the genset will provide all the protection required. Just plug up. It may even provide GFCI protection, though I'd still use GFCIs in the barn. If more power is required, then use the 30 A circuit and a small subpanel.
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:29 AM   #8
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Powering a Barn by Generator


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Originally Posted by InPhase277 View Post
Circuit protection will be provided by the genset. If all he is doing is a few lights and receptacles, then the 20 A circuit on the genset will provide all the protection required. Just plug up. It may even provide GFCI protection, though I'd still use GFCIs in the barn. If more power is required, then use the 30 A circuit and a small subpanel.
I agree. Why do all of this extra work and expense for such a simple straight forward application. Most portable gensets come with there own multi purpose cords, and definitely have breakers on board.
I would include a GFCI receptacle in any case where there is a requirement and this would be a requirement.
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Old 10-11-2008, 11:10 AM   #9
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Powering a Barn by Generator


OK, folks, appreciate the input. I already have the genset with 30 amp breaker, which is the reason I came up with this idea. Good points--I am not installing very many recepts, so I will use all GFCI recepts, add a cutoff switch and ground the genset.
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Old 10-11-2008, 11:45 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by BoneHead View Post
OK, folks, appreciate the input. I already have the genset with 30 amp breaker, which is the reason I came up with this idea. Good points--I am not installing very many recepts, so I will use all GFCI recepts, add a cutoff switch and ground the genset.
If you use the 30 A circuit, you need to use a fused disconnect switch so that you can protect the external circuit at 15 or 20 amps.
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Old 10-11-2008, 12:20 PM   #11
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Thanks InPhase277. I presume that the fused switch is because problems can occur at lower amps that won't trip the 30 a breaker. Is that correct?
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Old 10-11-2008, 12:20 PM   #12
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...Why do all of this extra work and expense for such a simple straight forward application...
Because I have seen too many barns burn down in my area?
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Old 10-11-2008, 12:50 PM   #13
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Powering a Barn by Generator


Quote:
Originally Posted by BoneHead
I already have the genset with 30 amp breaker
That was why I was concerned. If the genset has a 20A or 15A outlet also, you'd be OK just plugging into that (err, providing they're breakered/fused).

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Originally Posted by BoneHead
I presume that the fused switch is because problems can occur at lower amps that won't trip the 30 a breaker. Is that correct?
Exactly.

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