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Steps for installing a transfer switch

Discussion in 'Home Power and Microgeneration' started by Ignoramus16089, Aug 20, 2006.

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  1. I would like to install a real transfer switch like this one

    http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=42163

    Our house is wired for 200 amps, so this is the right size for us.

    I plan on getting a proper permit, but I want to understand the work
    involved.

    Here's a picture of our power meter:

    http://igor.chudov.com/tmp/onan/Diesel/z02_Installed/dscf0209.jpg

    I understand that the proper electrical placement of the TS is to
    place it between the power meter and house main breaker. It is the
    physical layout that has me confused.

    The meter has a prepunched hole to the right, below the utility seal
    line. Not sure if it is helpful. After the meter, the electric cable
    goes right inside the house, to the panel that is right behind the
    meter (maybe 1 foot long).

    The question is, how to install a transfer switch here. I aam
    obviously unable to open the meter to look, since it is sealed.

    What is the normal location of the transfer switch? How is it usually
    connected to the meter box?

    I would think that if, hypothetically, the meter box had a prepunched
    knockout hole a little above the meter, then I would tap there quite
    easily, but it does not seem to be the case.

    I want to do a 100% perfect job here, that would be inspected and all,
    so I want to do it right. Any good assistance would be appreciated.

    i

    P.S. I would like to avoid suggestions like "just get a little 6
    circuit emergen transfer switch", it is not the right one for our
    situation.
     
  2. I expect that I will need to get inside the meter, and will get proper
    permission.
    I believe that that one is, but I will call HF or Cutler-Hammer to
    make sure.

    i
     
  3. I thought that I could place a padlock on it.
    I will double check how this T.S. is supposed to be used, I will call
    C-H tomorrow. (indoor vs outdoor rating and padlock/lockout availability)
    I have a 7 kW Onan DJE generator,

    http://igor.chudov.com/tmp/onan/Diesel/

    i
     
  4. john

    john Guest

    The first thing you should do is to determine if you want to put
    everything on the transfer switch or only the emergency equipment, and
    leave off the unnecessary items. If you switch everything you will have
    to have the electric company disconnect the power while you put the
    switch in the leads from the meter.

    If you only want the emergency equipment to run ( furnace, lighting,
    refrigerator, freezer) then you put in a branch ckt and run all
    emergency the stuff off the branch ckt box. The switch is tied between
    the branch and the main box. This can be done without having the
    electric company turn off the power.

    I would recommend you consult a qualified electrician.


    John
     
  5. <snip>

    If you don't have ready access to the cable which leads from the meter
    to the main breaker, or if the cable isn't long enough to cut and wire
    into the transfer switch, you are going to need to get inside the meter
    to fit a new cable. Which means getting the electricity board's permission.

    I would be inclined to get a professional electrician to do this. You
    also need to make sure that the transfer switch is suitable for mounting
    outside, if you intend to do so.

    Best wishes,

    Chris
     
  6. Hey Iggy, what most folks do when installing a "Whole House" transfer
    switch, is to:

    1. Have the electrician make arrangments for with the Power
    Authority to have a reconnect schedualed after figuing about
    how long the job will take, then break the seal and remove the
    Meter, replace the wires from the MeterBase to the Main Breaker
    with wires long enough to reach thru the short connecting conduit
    between the Main Panel and the Transfer Switch and connect to the
    Grid side of the Transfer Switch.
    2. Add the wires from the common side of the Transfer Switch back to
    the Main Breaker in the panel.
    3. Have the Power Authority Guy inspect the work, replace and reseal
    the meter.
    4. Finish wiring in the Genset on the Genset side of the Transfer
    Switch, and your DONE, except writing the the cheque to the
    electrician, for his services.

    Bruce in alaska
     
  7. You

    You Guest

    Anyone who would replace a Main Breaker with the Meter (Power still on)
    still inplace, is either CRAZY, or STUPID..... which one are you???
     
  8. My panel is by ITE Gould. (which I think is compatible with
    homeline).

    There is a company interlockkit.com, but I do not like their product,
    personally.

    i
     
  9. Yes, that's what I want. Everything on the switch.
    I do not want that. I want the entire house on the generator/transfer
    switch, I would simply not use certain loads that are too heavy for
    the generator (like central A/C).

    I have a decent generator that can power my entire house if I turn off
    A/C, pool heater, and use the electric kitchen range very sparingly.

    Why should I shortchange myself.

    Like I said in my original post, I am not interested in a transfer
    switch for a few circuits.

    i
     
  10. Where I live I dont need to call them to shut off my power I just pull the
    metor out just outside my back door.
    I called them to let them know that there was no seal on it and that the
    glass was cracked he said "so what" None of the metors in this town have
    seal wierd eh!
    Made replacing my main panel alot easier.
     
  11. Bruce, thanks. Couple questions.

    Would you say that the better place for T.S. is inside, as someone
    else suggested, rather than outside?

    Can i use [more flexible and easier to work with] properly sized
    welding wire?

    i
     
  12. yep, that's exactly what I want, and that's what the switch that I
    mentioned in my original post, does.

    I agree 100%. I would not install an automatic transfer switch in my
    worst nightmare.
    Exactly my plan. Plus I am planning on sharing this with my neighbors,
    so that they can run some fridges and furnaces.

    i
     
  13. Just what formula do you use to conclude that a particular generator
    is "undersized".

    Let me give you some examples of load in my house

    - 220v kitchen range/stove, 50A breaker, probably 40A use under
    certain conditions

    - 28A central air conditioner

    - 15A window A/C (115V)

    - Various motors, I would say 10a max at 220v. (refrigerators, gas
    water heater, freezer, sump pump)

    - Lighting, a lot of compact fluorescent, but not all, could go up to
    2 kW (say 10A 220v)

    - Spa heater, 15a 115v
    - computers and TVs, 1 kW

    That adds up, unless I am mistaken, to roughly 23 kW. That would be
    almost "worst case" electricity use, not counting my welder and
    compressor or other possible loads.

    Would you say that a generator below 23 kW is "undersized" for my
    house?

    Or would you use some common sense and recognize that electricity
    usage could be reduced by taking just a few steps, such as turning off
    the A/C units, not using the kitchen range and turning off the pool
    heater.

    If the latter is the case and you recognize the fallacy of wanting to
    power everything at once, then look at my power usage under the
    following conditions:

    1) No A/C use
    2) No kitchen range use
    3) no hot tub heater use
    4) Use of half of other loads (fewer TVs, computers etc)
    5) not all motors running always at once

    I hopet hat you agree that the above is quite reasonable for emergency
    situations.

    Then energy use comes to, if I did not make a mistake, 3-4 kW.

    My generator is honest 7 kW. That means that it can produce 7 kW
    continuously, stopping for oil changes and other maintenance only, as
    a prime power unit. It is not some Home Depot "7kW peak load" POS.

    That leaves plenty of extra power from my 7 kW generator. Enough to
    probably run one small burner on the kitchen range, or a window A/C
    (this one is more questionable), a lot of light, furnace and water
    heater, computers, TVs, tools etc.

    So. Can you explain why you called my generator "undersized".

    Thanks.

    i
     
  14. John

    John Guest

    If one of the higher hp motors comes on line with a good load already on
    the generator, it will puke.

    John
     
  15. The highest HP motor in my house is the sump pump motor, 1/2 HP, and
    it is one of the harder starting ones if there is water in the sump
    pump's pipe.

    If the rest of the loads use up, say, 4 kw, and the pump requires 4
    times its rated power to start up, that adds up to 4000+350*4 = 5,400
    watts, not a big deal.

    If we deal with numbers, it becomes relatively apparent that 7 kW is
    plenty for a house that is not trying to produce a christmas light
    extravaganza and uses NG for heating.

    As I said, I already did run the house on this generator.

    i
     
  16. Don Bruder

    Don Bruder Guest

    Y'know, I recall a post someplace (I'll be dipped if I can recall where)
    about doing the "100% manual, total-switchover" thing. Let's see if
    memory serves me -

    Wire generator to appropriate-sized box containing proper amperage power
    socket.

    Wire meter side to an identical-but-separate box/socket nearby.

    Wire house side to appropriate-sized box with a pigtail ending in a
    single plug that matches the two sockets, placed so that the plug can
    easily be plugged into either socket.

    Grid operation: The house pigtail is plugged into the meter socket.

    Generator operation: The house pigtail is pulled out of the meter socket
    and plugged into the generator socket.

    Seems to me that would constitute absolutely failsafe generator
    isolation/switching for "Real Cheap", and should still be kosher to
    inspectors, assuming proper wire sizes/sockets/plug/etc. go into the
    work.

    I also remember reading about a neighborhood "emergency power co-op"
    that had many of the houses set up in a simliar way, with the special
    purpose of keeping things cold/warm. A special FFF - "Fridge, Freezer &
    Furnace" circuit ran out to a setup as described. Normal operation had
    that circuit plugged into a dedicated box off the breaker panel. During
    an extended outage, a shared generator with a custom pigtail to a socket
    matching the house plugs made the rounds - A couple hours at each place
    kept everything frozen proper and/or warmed up the house.
    EEP!!!!

    RUN AWAY!

    You're setting yourself up for a complete disaster if you try that
    action! You *DON'T* want to be dinking around running extension cords to
    neighbors when you're running off a genny - The losses in the cords will
    eat you (and your generator - and if things go completely wrong, one or
    more houses...) alive unless you're in a rowhouse/apartment building
    type situation. (and even then, you're dicey)
     
  17. Yes.

    According to my very approximate calculations, I store fuel for
    approximately a week of running my generator nonstop, and a month of
    running it only sparingly (with about enough time to keep the house
    warm in winter).

    With a larger generator, I would need a lot more fuel to be stored,
    which would become a practical issue. I think that while 7 kW is
    adequate, the perfect generator size for my house would be 10 kW
    (which would let me run central A/C in summer), but, that Onan DJE was
    available at the right price ($600) and other gensets were not
    available at the right price. I gotta work with what I have.

    i
     
  18. Moe

    Moe Guest

    how many gallons do you store? Any issues with the containers being subjected to heat
    or fuel dilution (you use Sta-Bil?)?
    actually, the solution to central A/C is very simple. we live in a hurricane area and
    use 2-compressor,2-stage heat pump systems. during a non-power event the system runs
    exclusively on the smaller compressor which consumes just 1200 watts of power and
    while not able to cool house to 72F it is able to maintain 78F on a 92F outside temp
    day.
     
  19. 8 jerry cans, each is 5 gallons. The jerry cans are in plastic storage
    bins, to prevent contamination if these cans leak. I have not yet put
    any sta-bil in them, but I will do that shortly. The stuff that I will
    use is not called sta-bil, it is some other compound that is well
    regarded for diesel fuel, its name escapes me at the moment. Heat is
    not a big issue, as these cans are stored in the bushes with plenty of
    shadow.
    That's very nice, I asked our HVAC guy about doing same, but we cannot
    do that with existing furnace and replacing a furnace seems not to be
    worthwhile.

    i
     
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