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Old January 7th 04, 03:10 PM
Ryan
 
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Default Generators and Back-up power

We have an rural machine shed (100 amp single phase) mostly used to store
farm vehicles and also is our workshop where we have the mill, lathe,
welder, etc. It is prone to power outages more and more these days and at we
seem to be working in there everyday so it obviously becomes very
inconvenient when the power is out. As it turns out, we are one of three
properties in a rural area that has "easily tripped" power. We are always
the first to lose power, and the last to get it back up. I'm not sure what
they call it, but the part they always have to fix is on a power pole a few
miles up the road from us, and it looks kind of like a paper clip. Anyways,
usually the power flickers for a bit, then poof, it is off until they send a
service truck out to repair it.

So last month we bought a 7500 watt generator to make life smoother and at
least keep the heat and lights on Here is where my question comes in. Some
of the people around here say you can go to the breaker panel and turn off
the main breaker (from the grid) and make a "cheater plug" to back-feed the
breaker panel thru a 240volt outlet (of which we have several "welder" plugs
that would be ideal for this). What are the thoughts of the group to do
something like this? I understand it is a shortcut, but if one was sensible
about it is this a viable temporary option over the "transfer switch" the
local electrician wants 1000 bucks to install?

Thanks in advance to all helpful posters, Ryan



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Old January 7th 04, 04:08 PM
Eric R Snow
 
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Default Generators and Back-up power

On Wed, 07 Jan 2004 15:10:15 GMT, "Ryan"
wrote:

We have an rural machine shed (100 amp single phase) mostly used to store
farm vehicles and also is our workshop where we have the mill, lathe,
welder, etc. It is prone to power outages more and more these days and at we
seem to be working in there everyday so it obviously becomes very
inconvenient when the power is out. As it turns out, we are one of three
properties in a rural area that has "easily tripped" power. We are always
the first to lose power, and the last to get it back up. I'm not sure what
they call it, but the part they always have to fix is on a power pole a few
miles up the road from us, and it looks kind of like a paper clip. Anyways,
usually the power flickers for a bit, then poof, it is off until they send a
service truck out to repair it.

So last month we bought a 7500 watt generator to make life smoother and at
least keep the heat and lights on Here is where my question comes in. Some
of the people around here say you can go to the breaker panel and turn off
the main breaker (from the grid) and make a "cheater plug" to back-feed the
breaker panel thru a 240volt outlet (of which we have several "welder" plugs
that would be ideal for this). What are the thoughts of the group to do
something like this? I understand it is a shortcut, but if one was sensible
about it is this a viable temporary option over the "transfer switch" the
local electrician wants 1000 bucks to install?

Thanks in advance to all helpful posters, Ryan

A bad idea Ryan. Way bad. You can buy and install your own transfer
switch for lots less than $1000.00 if you are able to wire up a plug.
My neighbor wired his up the cheater way. I told him this is really
stupid, someone could get shocked. Months later, he is at work and his
wife calls me to start the generator because the lights were
flickering and she wanted to be ready. When I got there the cheater
cord was not plugged in to the generator. She said it wouldn't fit. I
looked at the end and one prong was bent in a little. I grabbed this
prong to bend it back and got one hell of a jolt. Seems she had
already plugged the other end into the 220 volt receptacle on the
panel. I should have checked but it didn't occur to me that anyone
would plug the cord in when there was power. If she had been able to
get that plug into the generator it would have ruined it. I could have
been killed by stupidly grabbing a prong that I assumed was dead. And
I know better. My neighbor's wife doesn't. And my neighbor had told
his wife how to hook everything up. She just didn't get it. And if the
power is out and someone hooks up your cheater without throwing the
main breaker first your generator might be hooked up to other houses
or it might electrocute someone working on the line. Save yourself a
headache and do it right. I'll bet you could find a transfer switch on
ebay. Yup, 88 items found. Harbor freight has one for $340.00. Twelve
circuits. Item 90813-0VGA. Also see item 38521-4VGA. This will also
work for you and is $260.00. Cheap insurance against someone getting
killed. And cheap insurance protecting your generator.
Eric R Snow
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Old January 7th 04, 04:53 PM
Toolbert
 
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Default Generators and Back-up power


"Ryan" wrote in message
news:[email protected]
....
So last month we bought a 7500 watt generator to make life smoother and at
least keep the heat and lights on Here is where my question comes in.

Some
of the people around here say you can go to the breaker panel and turn off
the main breaker (from the grid) and make a "cheater plug" to back-feed

the
breaker panel thru a 240volt outlet (of which we have several "welder"

plugs
that would be ideal for this). What are the thoughts of the group to do
something like this? I understand it is a shortcut, but if one was

sensible
about it is this a viable temporary option over the "transfer switch" the
local electrician wants 1000 bucks to install?


As Eric writes the cheater plug works but is an easy way to kill or be
killed.

The cheapest and most useful transfer setup, IMO, is the 60 or 100 amp
single circuit style that consists of a small subpanel with a pair of
interlocked 240V breakers. Flip one off and the other on to switch from
utility to generator. The interlock prevents both from being on at the same
time.

You use this style by installing a separate subpanel next to the main panel
and moving the circuits you want to be "backed up" to the new panel, then
installing the manual transfer switch between the main and subpanel. You
then arent' limited by the circuit mix of the (overpriced) GenTran style
switches - like the lack of 30 amp circuits.

The attraction of the GenTran switches is you just feed this bundle of wires
into the existing panel and make connections with wire nuts.

A pricier alternative to the interlocked-breakers switch is a "double throw"
disconnect - looks like a regular 60 or 100 amp disconnect switch except it
has two "on" positions. They are expensive retail but can be found on
ebay.

Bob


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Old January 7th 04, 05:38 PM
Jonathan Barnes
 
Posts: n/a
Default Generators and Back-up power


"Toolbert" wrote in message
s.com...

"Ryan" wrote in message
news:[email protected]
...
So last month we bought a 7500 watt generator to make life smoother and

at
least keep the heat and lights on Here is where my question comes in.

Some
of the people around here say you can go to the breaker panel and turn

off
the main breaker (from the grid) and make a "cheater plug" to back-feed

the
breaker panel thru a 240volt outlet (of which we have several "welder"

plugs
that would be ideal for this). What are the thoughts of the group to do
something like this? I understand it is a shortcut, but if one was

sensible
about it is this a viable temporary option over the "transfer switch"

the
local electrician wants 1000 bucks to install?


As Eric writes the cheater plug works but is an easy way to kill or be
killed.

The cheapest and most useful transfer setup, IMO, is the 60 or 100 amp
single circuit style that consists of a small subpanel with a pair of
interlocked 240V breakers. Flip one off and the other on to switch from
utility to generator. The interlock prevents both from being on at the

same
time.

You use this style by installing a separate subpanel next to the main

panel
and moving the circuits you want to be "backed up" to the new panel, then
installing the manual transfer switch between the main and subpanel. You
then arent' limited by the circuit mix of the (overpriced) GenTran style
switches - like the lack of 30 amp circuits.

The attraction of the GenTran switches is you just feed this bundle of

wires
into the existing panel and make connections with wire nuts.

A pricier alternative to the interlocked-breakers switch is a "double

throw"
disconnect - looks like a regular 60 or 100 amp disconnect switch except

it
has two "on" positions. They are expensive retail but can be found on
ebay.

Bob

The other problem with the cheater plug method.... if you forget to throw
the main breaker, and the power comes back on, your 5 KVA verses the
electric companies
5 MVA is not a fair fight......
--
Jonathan

Barnes's theorem; for every foolproof device
there is a fool greater than the proof.

To reply remove AT


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Old January 7th 04, 06:32 PM
Leo Lichtman
 
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Default Generators and Back-up power


Toolbert wrote: (clip) The interlock prevents both from being on at the
same time. (clip)
^^^^^^^^^^^
That is a very important requirement, both legally and practically. When I
first set up my generator, I solved the problem by buying a heavy twistlock
connector, and inserting it into the power line between the meter and the
house. I wired a cord with a matching connector, which brought the power
from my generator to the same location. In order to plug the generator into
the house, it was necessary to unplug from the utility. In order to
reconnect to the utility, I had to unplug from the meter. No way could they
be hooked up at the same time, and the plugs were designed to minimize any
possibility of touching a "hot" prong.

Costco, for a while, was selling an overpriced setup, with wattmeters and
several double-throw circuit breakers, which is more convenient. They
evidently didn't sell well, because the price kept dropping. When it got
down to $60 I bought the next to the last one they had, and it working
really well.




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Old January 7th 04, 08:24 PM
George
 
Posts: n/a
Default Generators and Back-up power

"Ryan" wrote:

We have an rural machine shed (100 amp single phase) mostly used to store
farm vehicles and also is our workshop where we have the mill, lathe,
welder, etc. It is prone to power outages more and more these days and at we
seem to be working in there everyday so it obviously becomes very
inconvenient when the power is out. As it turns out, we are one of three
properties in a rural area that has "easily tripped" power. We are always
the first to lose power, and the last to get it back up. I'm not sure what
they call it, but the part they always have to fix is on a power pole a few
miles up the road from us, and it looks kind of like a paper clip. Anyways,
usually the power flickers for a bit, then poof, it is off until they send a
service truck out to repair it.

So last month we bought a 7500 watt generator to make life smoother and at
least keep the heat and lights on Here is where my question comes in. Some
of the people around here say you can go to the breaker panel and turn off
the main breaker (from the grid) and make a "cheater plug" to back-feed the
breaker panel thru a 240volt outlet (of which we have several "welder" plugs
that would be ideal for this). What are the thoughts of the group to do
something like this? I understand it is a shortcut, but if one was sensible
about it is this a viable temporary option over the "transfer switch" the
local electrician wants 1000 bucks to install?

Thanks in advance to all helpful posters, Ryan


Well Ryan, everyone is telling you that this is such a bad and
dangerous idea. I hate to buck the trend however, I've done it and it
worked fine.

I'd really like to have a system that automatically kicks in when the
power fails and we all know that that is the right and proper way to
do it. But looks over shoulder when I got the generator the power
was out so I cobbled up a double ended plug in order to turn the
lights on. So far I haven't bothered to go back and do it right.

Don't tell anyone.

George.
(Living on the edge)
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Old January 7th 04, 08:58 PM
Eric R Snow
 
Posts: n/a
Default Generators and Back-up power



Well Ryan, everyone is telling you that this is such a bad and
dangerous idea. I hate to buck the trend however, I've done it and it
worked fine.

I'd really like to have a system that automatically kicks in when the
power fails and we all know that that is the right and proper way to
do it. But looks over shoulder when I got the generator the power
was out so I cobbled up a double ended plug in order to turn the
lights on. So far I haven't bothered to go back and do it right.

Don't tell anyone.

George.
(Living on the edge)

Of course it works George. That's not the problem. Lot's of people do
risky things and get away with it. Just depends how much risk you are
willing to take and how much resposnibility you are willing to bear
when your risky behaviour impacts others.
ERS
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Old January 7th 04, 10:07 PM
Ian Stirling
 
Posts: n/a
Default Generators and Back-up power

Eric R Snow wrote:


Well Ryan, everyone is telling you that this is such a bad and
dangerous idea. I hate to buck the trend however, I've done it and it
worked fine.

I'd really like to have a system that automatically kicks in when the
power fails and we all know that that is the right and proper way to
do it. But looks over shoulder when I got the generator the power
was out so I cobbled up a double ended plug in order to turn the
lights on. So far I haven't bothered to go back and do it right.

Don't tell anyone.


Of course it works George. That's not the problem. Lot's of people do
risky things and get away with it. Just depends how much risk you are
willing to take and how much resposnibility you are willing to bear
when your risky behaviour impacts others.


You've also got to make sure that nobody else who doesn't understand
exactly why it's risky knows about the cord.

You'r away.

Power goes out.
Relative/friend/housemate/SO wants to run the fridge/waterbed/fishtank
and tries to get the generator running.
Do they know that they must turn the breaker off, and just how dangerous
a suicide cord can be?
Will they remember what you've told them in 3 years?
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Old January 7th 04, 10:44 PM
jim rozen
 
Posts: n/a
Default Generators and Back-up power

In article , Ian Stirling says...

Do they know that they must turn the breaker off, and just how dangerous
a suicide cord can be?


If not they will learn fast.

Will they remember what you've told them in 3 years?


Poor memory punishable by pain. Like the indians
said, tell a kid a thousand times not to walk into
the fire. Let them do it once, and they remember
forever.

Jim

==================================================
please reply to:
JRR(zero) at yktvmv (dot) vnet (dot) ibm (dot) com
==================================================

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Old January 7th 04, 10:48 PM
Tom Kendrick
 
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Default Generators and Back-up power

"Ryan" wrote in message news:[email protected]
snipped
What are the thoughts of the group to do
something like this? I understand it is a shortcut, but if one was sensible
about it is this a viable temporary option over the "transfer switch" the
local electrician wants 1000 bucks to install?


There are three issues he
1. money
2. safety
3. liability

The "right" answer is the transfer switch. From there it's only a
matter of cost. If you found someone to put in a transfer switch for
$10, it would be done already.
The electrician is billing you for 3 things - labor, materials and
liability. Two of those you can do for yourself. Purchase the
equipment and install it yourself. The third item is liability. Get a
licensed electrician to sign off that it's properly installed.


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