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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all. We just ordered a propane generator to keep our essentials running during a power outage, and we'd like to have a manual transfer switch installed. We'd have an electrician do the work (I haven't gone into the panel as a DIYer [yet], and don't think this is a good project to start with), but I'd like to know if the setup we'd like to do makes sense.

All we'd like to run our refrigerator and either our boiler for our baseboard heat or a small air conditioner, plus a few other circuits for common area lights, cell phone charging, and the like. The generator we ordered is the Generac LP3250, and I was looking at Reliance Controls 30 Amp 10 Circuit Manual Transfer Switch Kit, which we've not yet ordered. Does that setup make sense to the folks here? Would it be best to order our transfer switch and the rest of the materials and ask the electrician to install it? It seems very straightforward, and we know a few electricians in our area to be good at the work and reasonable.

Thanks!
 

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I have that transfer switch and installed it myself. Not a really difficult project but depends on where you are coming from. I hooked up 8 of the 10 circuits including my refridge and gas furnace and it works great with my generator. What you run off yours depends entirely on the generator capacity.

There are also electric panel interlock kits that are apparently cheaper than the transfer panels. That way the generator powers everything but you'd have to be careful to manually shed extra loads beyond your generator's capacity.
 

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I'd say, if you're not comfortable installing the transfer switch, have an electrician do it.

The Reliance transfer switch, I think is a good choice. Once I get around to installing a transfer switch, I'll probably use the same one you are using.

How "small" is your small window ac? Make sure you check the wattage on it because they can pull quite a few amps. If it's small like a 5000btu, you should be ok (I looked up a GE 5000btu ac).
 

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One other thing... before you have the electrician come around map out your circuits in detail so you know exactly which ones you want connected to the transfer panel. You don't want to pay electrician's rates to have him do this. I drew some simple room sketches and marked all the lights, receptacles, major appliances, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Thank you both for your replies. The A/C we'd run would be about 5000 Btu. I have a few questions, which I put in bold, since this post is probably tl;dr :whistling2:

I did read about interlocks. Can you recommend one to look at? I'm inclined to use a transfer switch like the one I linked to because it requires less thinking on our part during an outage, and it greatly reduces the temptation to try to pull more power than the generator can put out.

On the circuit map, I did that as soon as we moved in, and I found a few circuits were, for example, "the lights and outlets in this room plus the light in this hallway and the light for the back porch" or "these basement lights but not those plus the gas stove". What's left to figure out is which circuits to use and not what is on what circuit. I'd like to make a visual diagram at least showing which receptacles (right usage?) are powered by which circuits. Is there a standard type of diagram for mapping out the circuits in a home? Thank you for the good advice on this point!

In terms of placement of the generator outside the house, the most convenient place electrically for the inlet is right outside our fireplace and a permanent air conditioner (way too big for our generator), which are above the utility area in the basement. I don't want any CO coming into the house, obviously. What is a safe distance to a window or air intake for the generator to avoid CO coming in to the house? Obviously, we'll opt for the safest run over the simplest.

Thanks!
 

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I did read about interlocks. Can you recommend one to look at?
I can't advise on interlocks. I went the transfer panel route so didn't research interlocks much.

Is there a standard type of diagram for mapping out the circuits in a home?
I just made a powerpoint drawing of each room (pretty much simple rectangles), created simple symbols for lights, receptacles, etc. and copied them into their respective places in the drawing. On the symbols I include the number of the associated main panel circuit breaker. Then when the transfer panel is in place you can just say main panel breaker #1 connects to transfer panel breaker A, and the loads listed for panel breaker #1 will be available on transfer panel breaker A.

What is a safe distance to a window or air intake for the generator to avoid CO coming in to the house?
Don't know if there is a hard and fast rule on this. I roll mine about 12' to the edge of a deck behind the house in a location not near the furnace intake with the exhaust pointing away from the dwelling. I have CO monitors in the house and have had no issues. I would refrain from opening windows near the generator unless it was even further away.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Thank you again. I did a little Googling on the safe distance, and I can't find a common answer. New Hampshire's Department of Safety says 10 feet, ESFi says 15 feet is too close, and Siemens FAQ on generators says code defaults to 5 feet, though local code may vary. Connecticut's Department of Public Health says that the EPA and CDC say at least 10 feet.

That leaves only the very, very back of our very, very small property and a run for the inlet to the panel that's the entire length of the house. Do you see that being a problematic installation?
 

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Sounds OK unless the generator is close to someone else's property/dwelling. Also beware that the power cables to connect the generator to the inlet box are pretty $ and the longer they get the more $ they get. I have mine connected with a 10' cable.
 

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Search youtube for "installing a generator ".
There are people who have used outdoor storage bins with modifications for their generator.
Maybe an option for you.also,the interlock is MUCH cheaper to install then a transfer switch.
 

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Thank you both for your replies. The A/C we'd run would be about 5000 Btu. I have a few questions, which I put in bold, since this post is probably tl;dr :whistling2:

I did read about interlocks. Can you recommend one to look at? The interlocks there are few different verison you can use but they are designed for specfic panel but few older panels which they have breaker that no longer in production for last 30 soemthing years like FPE, Zinsco both I will never touch them with interlock ( they don't make for that brandname at all ) Pushmatic is the other one so for those oddballs one the only legit way is use the subpanel or transfer switch panel or replace the panel so one of the three I done with other customers place so the answer will varies a bit.

The other thing I want to give you a head up some Interlock device may not be approved in your area. ( this part you may want to run by electrical inspector )

Is there a standard type of diagram for mapping out the circuits in a home?

There are few different way you can map them out one is use the listing as you print on the paper with the circuit breaker number and what it serve or use the daymo label maker and mark it on.


What is a safe distance to a window or air intake for the generator to avoid CO coming in to the house?

Simple thumb of rules 5 feet is minum from ANY OPENING but your local code may require more longer distance like 10 feet or more so check it out.

Thanks!
My answer in Bleu.

Merci,
Marc
 
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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks, everyone, for your replies. Our generator is on back order (which makes sense). I'll post again if there I've got any questions. I know it's not DIY if I'm having a pro do it, so hopefully the mods won't mind! Maybe doing the planning myself counts as DIY? :whistling2: Thanks again!
 

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Thanks, everyone, for your replies. Our generator is on back order (which makes sense). I'll post again if there I've got any questions. I know it's not DIY if I'm having a pro do it, so hopefully the mods won't mind! Maybe doing the planning myself counts as DIY? :whistling2: Thanks again!
Probably the most important part of DIY is knowing when the DIY ends and the pros need to take over.
 

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Generator Safe Distance

This article - a federal government study - has some good charts that indicate airflow from a generator, and how far one should be from your house:

http://fire.nist.gov/bfrlpubs/build09/PDF/b09009.pdf

You might not like some of the recommendations (the article comments that 15' is too close if a window is open), but this distance depends on whether windows are going to be open or closed, windflow and many other factors. The article is worth reading, even if it is long and boring.

Among other things, if you read it, you'll find out how important it is that you keep windows closed that are anywhere near the generator. (I would also put a CO monitor at the point nearest the generator).

To quote the article:


"For the house modeled in this study, a generator positioned 4.6 m (15 feet) away from open windows may not be far enough to limit CO entry into the house. It was also found that winds perpendicular to the open window resulted in more CO infiltration than winds at an angle, and lower wind speed generally led to more CO entry. To reduce CO entry, the generator should ideally be positioned outside of airflow recirculation region near the open windows."
 
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