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Backfeeding with a portable generator - REAL safety concerns???

Discussion in 'Electrical Engineering' started by Friday, Sep 6, 2004.

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  1. North

    North Guest

    This is just plain stupid. The number one reason why you should never
    heat a house with a stove or oven is grease that gets trapped in all
    the little knooks and crannies in the stove. When that shit catches
    fire, its all over unless you have a good chemical fire extinglisher.

    Get sued by the power Co., go to prison, get fucked in the ass, ect...

    Famous last words "I WON'T forget"

    As long as you are vigilant about making sure the main is off, you
    won't backfeed the grid, however there are other reasons why you do
    not want to hook a POS generac 5kw genset to a 20Y/O panel.
    Ive seen breakers stick "closed" especially mains, IOWs they are on
    when you think they are off.

    The main reason why I wouldnt do it the way you suggest is this:
    I too have a 5kw generac, its kinda old but still works. I use it at
    my cabin and sometimes on jobs (I have a real standby genny at my
    house) Sometimes the genset will rev-up all by itself, many things can
    cause this from bad fuel to dirt to murphy, when this happens, the gen
    will surge HV (NEVER COUNT ON LOAD CONTROLLERS). One day the genset
    went haywire and sent a 600-2500VAC surge for 5 whole minutes to my TV
    killing it in a firery/smokey death, if I had this thing plugged into
    the house panel, who knows what it would have destroyed.

    For a POS genet such as the 5kw generac, I would only use outdoor
    extension cords and power strips with surge protection. Just because
    the genset only has 2 110 outlets does not mean you can only run two
    things at a time, it just cost less for them to build it that way and
    the generac was built for industial use in which most applances
    (tools) run off of 220 anyways. I do understand that you need to run
    the heatpump or whatever that requires 220, but I would wire the
    heatpump straight to the genset (via extension cord as you described),
    not through the panel.

    Look at it this way; say you do what you say you want to do (genset to
    panel with NO tranfer switch) and somehow the genny fucks-up and your
    house burns down. Do you think that you home-owners insurance will pay
    when the fire dept tells them that your genny was improperly/illegally
    installed ?

    The tranfer switch not only protects against backfeeding but also
    protects from voltage spikes and surges common with an old generator.

    Running extension cords and pwer strips is rather safe, it you have a
    voltage spike the surge protectors in the power strips will trip. Sure
    its a hassle to drag out the cords and all, but laziness is not a wise
    survival or survivalist choice, YMMV.



    A manual transfer swith from HD is rather cheap, have you looked into
    one of these ? they are easy to install and if you are the homeowner
    you can legally DIY, YMMV.

    BTW the power Co will be far more pissed about the lack of a tranfer
    switch then a pulled meter, in fact, if they happen to find out, they
    may just pull the meter and not replace it untill after you pay the
    $10,000 fine (yes thats ten with three zeros)
    From this statment you need to STOP NOW and read up on basic AC wiring
    and home electrical systems before you kill yourself !!
    n.
     
  2. Bob Peterson

    Bob Peterson Guest

    A couple points come to mind.

    1. If someone else's life is not worth the few hundred bucks it would cost
    you to do this right, then its likely nothing anyone can say will change
    your mind anyway.

    2. The reason for the transfer switch is so you don't have to rely on
    someone remembering to turn off the main when the lights go off, and you are
    scurrying around to get your generator running.
     
  3. Fads

    Fads Guest

    So what if the lineman had tested the line and found it to be dead and then
    started work,
    our cheapskate fires the gen set up & forgets to isolate from the mains and
    subsequently
    fries the lineman who thought he was working on a dead line?
     
  4. Friday

    Friday Guest

    Hey Mr. holier-than-thou. I was simply asking questions!
    And nobody has answered them yet.
    Namely: how can power flow into or out of my panel with the main WIDE
    OPEN???
    I asked, NOT for knee-jerk reactions from Home-Depot Master-Seminar
    graduates, but for fact-based answers from authorities on the subject.
    If I were an idiot, as you thoughtlessly proclaimed, I would have
    simply gone ahead and done it - without asking questions.
    When did asking questions make someone an idiot?
    FYI: I've managed to survive quite nicely for 50 years so far without
    hurting myself or anyone else - unless they deserved it, that is.

    --
    #####################################
    "The people cannot be all, & always well informed. The part which is wrong will
    be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive.
    If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner
    of death to the public liberty. What country before ever existed a century & a
    half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it's liberties if their
    rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit
    of resistance? Let them take arms... The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
    time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants"
    -- Thomas Jefferson
    #####################################
     
  5. Friday

    Friday Guest

    Great, you're hoping I die for asking questions.
    Nice guy.

    I didn't say I was going to do it. I said I've seen it done and asked
    for intelligent FACTS about the subject.

    When was I glib?

    --
    #####################################
    "The people cannot be all, & always well informed. The part which is wrong will
    be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive.
    If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner
    of death to the public liberty. What country before ever existed a century & a
    half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it's liberties if their
    rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit
    of resistance? Let them take arms... The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
    time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants"
    -- Thomas Jefferson
    #####################################
     
  6. Friday

    Friday Guest

    Point well taken.
    I think I'll opt for a switch. Or simply extension cords, splitting my
    boiler-pump/thermnostat feed with make and female plugs, then simply
    unplugging the furnace completely from the (house) supply and plugging
    it into an extension cord.
    Thanks for one of the very few intelligent answers.

    --
    #####################################
    "The people cannot be all, & always well informed. The part which is wrong will
    be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive.
    If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner
    of death to the public liberty. What country before ever existed a century & a
    half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it's liberties if their
    rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit
    of resistance? Let them take arms... The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
    time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants"
    -- Thomas Jefferson
    #####################################
     
  7. Friday

    Friday Guest

    I don't have visitors up here, but that's a valid point.

    --
    #####################################
    "The people cannot be all, & always well informed. The part which is wrong will
    be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive.
    If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner
    of death to the public liberty. What country before ever existed a century & a
    half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it's liberties if their
    rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit
    of resistance? Let them take arms... The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
    time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants"
    -- Thomas Jefferson
    #####################################
     
  8. Friday

    Friday Guest

    Now, _THAT'S_ what I am looking for: an intelligent, informed answer.
    So my plan is _OUT OF THE QUESTION_ then.
    If there's _ANY_ chance of the main breaker failing -- and letting
    power slip by -- then I WILL _NOT_ take that risk.
    The lightning issue is also something I han't considered. Remote
    possibility as it is, it _IS_ a risk, and I'm NOT willing to take ANY
    risks.
    Thank You!

    PS: You said breakers can go bad and stay open. Did you mean closed
    (leting power flow through it)? Also, am I to understand that transfer
    switches never experience this? Isn't it just a three-position breaker?
    Or is it engineered differenty? Heavier duty? Better quality control?

    Thanks Again for your thoughtful answer.
    Oh yeah - Yes, NiMo is my power company (Or whatever their new name is
    now).
    Friday

    --
    #####################################
    "The people cannot be all, & always well informed. The part which is wrong will
    be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive.
    If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner
    of death to the public liberty. What country before ever existed a century & a
    half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it's liberties if their
    rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit
    of resistance? Let them take arms... The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
    time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants"
    -- Thomas Jefferson
    #####################################
     
  9. Friday

    Friday Guest

    But of course. Working long hours in terrible weather, they deserve a
    good meal and warm hotel room.
    I can't fault them for that.

    As I suspected. A transfer switch isn't necessarily any safer than a
    standard main breaker EXCEPT, as pointed out by many others - to
    prevent "human error."
    Please tell me more about the "fourth ground" procedure you mentioned.
    I HAVE decided to do it the correct way.

    Thanks Again
    Friday

    PS: Also,would you elaborate on what you wrote:

    "... points of protection must have a "visible break" so neither
    enclosed circuit breakers nor transfer switches are considered safe for
    personnel protection purposes"

    What is meant by a "points of protection"? And are you indeed saying
    that transfer switches are no safer (mechanically) than a
    standard-issue main breaker in a home panel box?

    --
    #####################################
    "The people cannot be all, & always well informed. The part which is wrong will
    be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive.
    If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner
    of death to the public liberty. What country before ever existed a century & a
    half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it's liberties if their
    rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit
    of resistance? Let them take arms... The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
    time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants"
    -- Thomas Jefferson
    #####################################
     
  10. Friday

    Friday Guest


    I know, I know, but it gets _COLD_ after a few days.
    "Deadly" cold.
    That's why I'm looking for alternatives.

    I do not own the house, but it was the homeowner who actually suggested
    this after showing me how he does it at his house. Maybe I should print
    this out and show it to him.



    Actually, the pump is 115v. Very small.
    What do I look for in a "converter/transformer" that will allow me to
    use the two 220 ouelets with 110 appliances/extension cords?

    OK, I'm convinced.
    Will a standard surge protector protect my TV and computer in the surge
    scnario you outined?
    Or should I forgo TV and computers until the grid comes up (I work from
    a home office)???

    --
    #####################################
    "The people cannot be all, & always well informed. The part which is wrong will
    be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive.
    If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner
    of death to the public liberty. What country before ever existed a century & a
    half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it's liberties if their
    rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit
    of resistance? Let them take arms... The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
    time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants"
    -- Thomas Jefferson
    #####################################
     
  11. Friday

    Friday Guest

    I that were the case, I wouldn't have bothered asking.
    I didn't ask anyone to "change my mind." I didn't even say I was going
    to _DO_ anything.
    I asked questions.

    Thanks for nothing.
    --
    #####################################
    "The people cannot be all, & always well informed. The part which is wrong will
    be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive.
    If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner
    of death to the public liberty. What country before ever existed a century & a
    half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it's liberties if their
    rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit
    of resistance? Let them take arms... The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
    time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants"
    -- Thomas Jefferson
    #####################################
     
  12. Friday

    Friday Guest


    Now that's an answer.
    Thanks

    --
    #####################################
    "The people cannot be all, & always well informed. The part which is wrong will
    be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive.
    If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner
    of death to the public liberty. What country before ever existed a century & a
    half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it's liberties if their
    rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit
    of resistance? Let them take arms... The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
    time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants"
    -- Thomas Jefferson
    #####################################
     
  13. Louis Bybee

    Louis Bybee Guest

    Properly designed transfer switches are usually interlocked both
    electrically and mechanically. I have seen numerous transfer switch
    failures, but none where the utility and alternate power sources were
    inadvertently connected, with one exception where someone had modified the
    transfer switch for some unfathomable reason.

    Louis--
    *********************************************
    Remove the two fish in address to respond
     
  14. North

    North Guest

    Check out:
    http://www.mrheater.com
    You could rig up a 60 amp sub-panel to run off the generator only,
    with a few breakers and outlets, ect.. for your needs. The 60 amp
    sub-panel would simply plug into one of the 220 outlets on the genset.

    Read up on basic house wiring, you should get the idea.

    Well YMMV here. Some surge protectors are good others are shit. It
    really depends.

    For the most part, you shouldn't have a problem, however Murphy tends
    to show up unexpectedly.

    I wouldnt run my 4000 dollar LED wide screen TV off of a genset (YMMV)
    however an older TV and perhaps a POS computer (old pent Iand IIs and
    even 486's can be had for next to nothing at thrift stores).

    And since you work at home you should have an older POS computer on
    hand as a back-up anyways.

    Having back-ups and back-up plans is a prudent survival choice.

    n.
     
  15. Tim Perry

    Tim Perry Guest

    residential curcuit breakers are basicly switches that can turn themselves
    off once the curent through them reaches a trip point. the failure modes
    therfore are basicly the same as for switches (with the addition that
    sometimes old breakers trip sooner then they should)
    have you ever seen and old wall switch the wouldent shut off? its not as
    common as the other failure mode where it wont turn on but i can show you an
    example right now.

    one could hope that breakers were made significantly better then common wall
    switches. i have had a few apart (just to see how they are made) but i
    certinly cant speak for all the brands that are out there.

    to try to answer you question as best i can i will say yes i believe it is
    possible for a breaker to short in such a way that it will conduct even if
    the lever is in the off position especially if lightning is involved.
    i would also say they the likelihood is pretty small.
    i would also say that it would be likely that if it failed due to lightning
    or surge there would be some external evidence like molten plastic, burning
    smell, and/or "gritty" operation of the switch.
    the problem is no one can predict what will happen only what might happen or
    can happen or has happened in the past. when it comes to electrical stuff or
    mechanical stuff some of us old guys were taught Murphy's Laws at an early
    age. they seemed funny at first, a rather dark, pessimistic outlook. but as
    time goes by we come to realize that the "Laws" are the one constant in an
    ever changing existence.

    my favorite corollary: Murphy was an optimist


    Also, am I to understand that transfer
    i have several (transfer switches) at this point under my care three are 3
    phase automatic. they are big, expensive, and use contactors (large relays)
    when i open one of the older ones i am sometimes greeted by a snake. how the
    snake has kept from being fried by 208 i don't really know. he slithers down
    the conduit until i close the cover and go away.


    one other is a manual 3 phase. it is very old. i believe it to date from
    1949. it is mearly a large double throw knife switch in metal box (wih
    external handle). fortunatly for me the associated generator is long dead
    and not worth the cost of repairs therfore i have never have to actully use
    this.
     
  16. Tim Perry

    Tim Perry Guest

    i hear ya. last 2 winters winters would make an eskimo shiver


    its called a "power distro" (short for power distributor). it looks and
    works very much like your main house panel.
     
  17. daestrom

    daestrom Guest

    You missed the 'install grounds'. That means the lineman puts a cable about
    the size of a heavy-duty car-battery jumper cable across each phase and to
    ground/tower/whatever. *Then* they start work. Lineman don't consider the
    line dead until they have the grounding cables installed. If the line can
    be fed from either end, then two grounding sets are installed. Lineman
    works *between* the two grounding sets.

    Don't know if *all* utilities require this, but many do consider it a
    'fire-able' offense to work without them.

    Some smuck comes along with a gen-set and forgets to open the main, his
    generator will just feed the grounding cable (dead-short) and burn-out/trip
    his generator.

    Mind you, if the grounding cable slips, or sparks a bit, the lineman is
    going to jump down, find the SOB and cut their service drop. Then it will
    be a while before customer gets restored.

    daestrom
     
  18. B J Conner

    B J Conner Guest

    You didn't want an "honest" answer to your question, you just wanted people
    to aid and abet your stupidity.
    You didn't research it well or you would know better. There is probably
    half a dozen threads on this form alone where you could have got the same
    answers.
    I don't know what utility your dealing with but her's an interesting link to
    NYSGE.
    http://www.nyseg.com/nysegweb/webcontent.nsf/Lookup/EmergGen/$file/EmergGen.pdf
    Specifically read the right top side of page 3. Took a lot of reasearch to
    find that. I may be holier that thou, but I'm not dumber than you ( sounds
    like many people are not ).
    You whole little scam is like saying "I wanna drive on the left side of the
    road, I have heard that it's dangerous but I'v never see a head-on
    collision"
     
  19. Gunner

    Gunner Guest

    Hospitals and other critical facilities do exactly this. They use
    Orange colored outlets for critical power sources, if the entire
    facility is not on a huge genset.

    Gunner

    "At the core of liberalism is the spoiled child -
    miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied,
    demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic and useless.
    Liberalism is a philosphy of sniveling brats." -- P.J. O'Rourke
     
  20. Gunner

    Gunner Guest

    We understand that you were well meaning. But after the 4-5 comment
    from others that to do as you wish, it became apparent that your
    wishes to do this the easy way..ala do it yourself cardiac bypass,
    were overruling common sense and life saving methods.

    Sometimes you can do things cheap and easy, sometimes either cheap or
    easy, but not both..and other times..neither.

    Gunner

    "At the core of liberalism is the spoiled child -
    miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied,
    demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic and useless.
    Liberalism is a philosphy of sniveling brats." -- P.J. O'Rourke
     
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