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Old 06-29-2010, 10:28 AM   #16
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Getting a generator that can run on as many different fuels as possible (and switched easily) is a HUGE advantage. HUGE.

During a power outage, gasoline can be hard to come by, depending on the area you're in. Especially in places like Florida that has gas shortages during hurricanes. Nat Gas is a good advantage to have, especially if you've got a Nat Gas feed coming from the utility. That is, if there's little risk of disruption. You wouldn't want to rely on a utility-fed Nat Gas generator in California after an earthquake, but places in the Northeast during a Blizzard or in Florida during a hurricane could be pretty reliable. Just watch the consumption, you don't want to have a shocking bill later on.

Those that have gas appliances often have a big tank in their yard that is topped off by a delivery truck every month. This would be ideal because you've got a huge source of gas that is independent of the grid.

You can also stock up on the regular propane bottles for gas grills between 10LB to 100LB. The gas stores a lot better than gasoline.

If you are mechanically inclined and want to save some cash, I recommend checking out some pawn shops in your area (if there are any), as well as the local classified ads or craigslist for a used generator. There are some good deals out there on good hardware. You'll spend less and get more wattage for your buck.

I bought a Generac 7500EXL from a Pawn Shop for $250 bucks. No way I could afford that kind of wattage anywhere else. Yea, it's got some scratches, but it still works good. With a supply of spark plugs, air filters, oil, and maybe some carburetor parts (less important if it runs on Propane), I don't think reliability will be an issue at all.

The transfer switches are neat, but in my opinion, they are overly complex. You can get a "six circuit" transfer switch to power up six of your breakers. You can spend even more for a 10 circuit transfer switch, but I don't understand why you need all those extra breakers when you already have a whole panel of breakers. Of course, these are the most idiot proof... But if you know what you're doing, I recommend getting a single circuit transfer switch that powers the whole panel. While it's unlikely you'll need the whole panel running at the same time, you never know what you'll need during an emergency. It's all about flexibility.

So, having the flexibility of multiple sources of fuel, as well as the flexibility of running any circuit in the house, you'll be in good shape.


One thing I need to figure out is what to do about the A/C in my house during a power outage. My transfer switch feeds my indoor sub panel, which runs everything in the house EXCEPT the A/C, Furnace, and Kitchen Stove (those breakers are on the outside panel). After a few hours, the house becomes unlivable without the A/C. I think I might just check out craigslist and see if I can find a couple window A/C units for emergencies.

Good luck!

Homer
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Old 06-29-2010, 10:52 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by homerb View Post
The transfer switches are neat, but in my opinion, they are overly complex.
nothing complex about a transfer switch itself. They can be as simple as a 2 pole double throw knife switch that you manually switch from POCO power to gen power inputs.

Now, if you are speaking of auto transfer switches, that is something different. There are times and places an auto transfer switch is desirable, or even needed but other than that, it is a luxury.

Quote:
One thing I need to figure out is what to do about the A/C in my house during a power outage. My transfer switch feeds my indoor sub panel, which runs everything in the house EXCEPT the A/C, Furnace, and Kitchen Stove (those breakers are on the outside panel). After a few hours, the house becomes unlivable without the A/C. I think I might just check out craigslist and see if I can find a couple window A/C units for emergencies.

Is this subpanel isolated from the rest of your distribution system when gen power is connected to it?
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Old 06-29-2010, 11:22 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nap View Post
Is this subpanel isolated from the rest of your distribution system when gen power is connected to it?
Of course it's isolated. I have an interlock kit with a 50 amp inlet box that powers the inside sub panel. I can also shut off the outside breaker to isolate the sub panel in two separate places.

I thought about how to install an interlock on the outside box instead of the inside box. The outside box has four breakers: One for the A/C, one for the furnace, one for the stove, and one that feeds the inside sub panel. There's no main cutoff (or a provision for one) to cut power to the outside panel.

I thought about maybe getting a heavy duty 4 circuit 240V transfer switch for each of the four breakers on the outside.

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Old 06-29-2010, 11:37 AM   #19
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or you could get a simple transfer switch something like this:

http://www.midwestelectric.com/products/ts.htm

you have feed in from the POCO and the generator and feed out to your main panel.

Quote:
Of course it's isolated. I have an interlock kit with a 50 amp inlet box that powers the inside sub panel. I can also shut off the outside breaker to isolate the sub panel in two separate places.
Of course?

When we had our storms the past couple weeks, I went to Lowes to buy a few parts for my system. The guy selling electrical parts was telling people how to illegally hook up their generators without using any isolation system. I do not take anything for granted.

and unless the outside breaker was interlocked with the generator system, it is meaningless as far as a legally mandated isolation system is concerned. It works only as long as you remember to turn off the breaker.
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Old 06-29-2010, 05:26 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by homerb View Post
Getting a generator that can run on as many different fuels as possible (and switched easily) is a HUGE advantage. HUGE.

During a power outage, gasoline can be hard to come by, depending on the area you're in.
I was thinking that too, that's mostly why I want natural gas or propane. How long do you say a typical 10KW generator last on a 100 pounder tank, or a smaller BBQ one? Of course this varies, but just curious on ballpark figure. I like the propane idea just because I do not have to depend on any energy grids. While I can't recall the last time NG went down, if ever, I suppose it could happen during large circumstances. In a case like that I'd probably run the generator for a couple hours then turn it off for a couple hours and so on, to get the most out of the tank and keep the fridge/freezer cold. At that point I'd be very conservative about usage. Getting a propane tank filled would probably be much easier then a gas tank, too as all the stations would be jam packed.
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Old 06-30-2010, 12:19 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nap View Post

When we had our storms the past couple weeks, I went to Lowes to buy a few parts for my system. The guy selling electrical parts was telling people how to illegally hook up their generators without using any isolation system. I do not take anything for granted.

and unless the outside breaker was interlocked with the generator system, it is meaningless as far as a legally mandated isolation system is concerned. It works only as long as you remember to turn off the breaker.


The last time I heard that comment in one of the big box store I did have gall to face that guy and also told the manager about the situation and first thing is told that guy he can NOT give out that kind advise anymore and also they posted a sign about generator interlock set up.

Not only one Big box store done that and I ran into few other big box store only two stand frim with their policy.

Merci.
Marc
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Old 06-30-2010, 11:48 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frenchelectrican View Post
The last time I heard that comment in one of the big box store I did have gall to face that guy and also told the manager about the situation and first thing is told that guy he can NOT give out that kind advise anymore and also they posted a sign about generator interlock set up.

Not only one Big box store done that and I ran into few other big box store only two stand frim with their policy.

Merci.
Marc
glad you went the distance you did. It may have saved a life. I was in such a hurry I did not have the time to do the same. In retrospect, I should have taken the time.
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Old 06-30-2010, 06:46 PM   #23
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It's crazy a hardware store would give such advice.

Backfeeding like that can work if you really know what you are doing. (shut off the main before you even plug in the generator) but it's not something I'd do as a permanent solution. One mistake could really turn bad. One thing that can happen is you back feed into the grid. Another thing, unless generators have protection for this, is you could turn the generator into a motor when the power comes back on, and it would force the gas motor to run the opposite way it's trying to run. I can't say what would happen, but I can't imagine it being too good.

Someone was telling me he knew someone that worked at a hydro dam, the way they hooked into the grid is they'd wait for two lights to flash in sync, then throw the switch. This would ensure the generator is in sync and running in parallel with the rest of the grid. He once threw it when it was 180 out of sync by accident forcing the turbine to turn against the water flow acting like a motor. He never saw a 1 foot + thick shaft break so easily. I would guess that today's power plants are more fool proof then that though.
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Old 06-30-2010, 07:00 PM   #24
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We always top off our car/truck & I usually fill (3) 6g gas tanks before winter storm
Thats about 60g of gas...so it would last a while
But not forever
I think if we had a big storm I might be tempted to fill up a bunch of 6g gas tanks



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Old 07-01-2010, 02:57 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Squirrel View Post
It's crazy a hardware store would give such advice.

Backfeeding like that can work if you really know what you are doing. (shut off the main before you even plug in the generator) but it's not something I'd do as a permanent solution. One mistake could really turn bad. One thing that can happen is you back feed into the grid. Another thing, unless generators have protection for this, is you could turn the generator into a motor when the power comes back on, and it would force the gas motor to run the opposite way it's trying to run. I can't say what would happen, but I can't imagine it being too good.

Someone was telling me he knew someone that worked at a hydro dam, the way they hooked into the grid is they'd wait for two lights to flash in sync, then throw the switch. This would ensure the generator is in sync and running in parallel with the rest of the grid. He once threw it when it was 180 out of sync by accident forcing the turbine to turn against the water flow acting like a motor. He never saw a 1 foot + thick shaft break so easily. I would guess that today's power plants are more fool proof then that though.
Red.,

I have see quite few generators damaged by not following the phase sequine in parallel mode and if not done right it will snap the main shaft of prime mover or engine { I have see few with broken crankshaft }
or worst the generator will bend the frame rail and do alot of wonderfull damage.

Even with modern power plant it still happend once a while couple years ago I was called to fix one peaking power plant and someone was not pay attetion to the parallel meter { we did not have light on this unit } { later I learn the wire was crossed at wrong phase } and actally blew the gas turbine blades out that was a pretty serious mess there.

Merci.Marc
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