Skip to main content

This is a story that was a big deal for me today, and a question below.

It seems obvious to me and my wife that the weather has gotten steadily more extreme over the last 20 years, obviously due to human-caused global warming.

The great weather outbreaks, here in Maryland and across the country and the globe, are steadily getting more common and more severe.

This is a stupid small question about generators that I'd like help for, with context.

When SUPERSTORM SANDY was bearing down on us last October, they were calling for hurricane-force winds for two days over our area in Northern Maryland (Carroll County, northwest of Baltimore).

My wife and I freaked out and spent three days buying survival supplies.

The major expense was a gas-fueled generator from Home Depot, plus a fabulously expensive visit from our county's top electrical firm on the day that the hurricane was coming in, to install a "transfer switch," which lets us switch some circuits from utility power to generator power without using dangerous extension cords, etc.

Well, unexpectedly, Sandy pounded New York and points thereabout, but didn't hit us with what was predicted.  So we never had to use the expensive generator setup.

One is directed to fire up a gas-fueled generator at least once a month to keep it working.  I didn't do that for many months due to a shoulder injury.  And one is also directed to put fuel preservative into the gas over the winter, and I blew that off.  So I've been very worried the generator might have been damaged, although it never ran for more than 10 minutes in testing.

EDIT:  The National Weather Service has confirmed that this was a dreaded "derecho," a term I had never heard of before last year.  But, of course, there can't be global warming because ?

This morning at 8 a.m. we had the worst thunderstorm I've ever seen in 58 years of life.  It got completely black.  We got pounded by thousands of golfball-sized hail for 15 minutes, which felt like years.  We thought the windows would break and the roof would come off.  It was terrifying.  

We had six or more big trees come down, destroying many fences, which is going to cost a fortune to fix.  (I don't do chainsaw myself.)

We took pictures.  There were what I think must have been hundreds of pounds of hail piled up on our deck (which directly faced the storm).  I've never seen anything like that in my life.  That's a huge amount of ice on one's property when it was 65 degrees.

Exciting survival day.  The power was knocked out at our residence and also at our office building four miles away, so we sent the employees home and called an emergency weather day.

Twelve months ago a dreaded "derecho" ravaged this area.  It didn't hit us hard in Carroll County, Maryland, but it was devastating in Montgomery County, Maryland, a few miles to our south.  Some of our closest friends had a fantastic 12-hour survival ordeal driving home from Virginia, and they were without power for 14 days.

My wife and I drove about 10 a.m. to our office four miles away, and along the way there were emergency vehicles guarding downed power lines, and transformers that had been exploded and were still smoking (apparently from direct lightning hits), and in one stretch about 8 telephone poles had been snapped at their base and completely knocked down.  Probably a microburst or a mini-tornado.  Horrific damage.  One house near ours had about three giant trees collapsed in their driveway.

The temperature went to about 90 today, and it was super-humid, so my wife and I were super-sweaty and tired after hours of clearing trees.  A tree fell on top of our generator, for example, so it took a major effort to clear enough that we could access it, after clearing out several trees that had fallen down on the private road that leads to our house.

Anyway, after all this heroic effort (unusual for a sedentary lawyer like me), we actually got the generator cranked and working!

We were just about to throw all the breakers to switch the house to generator power when the utility power came back on, after only six hours!

So we were able to take showers, etc.

But four hours later it went out again.

So we finally, for the first time, fired up the generator again and went through the 15-point protocol to get all the switches right--and it worked!  (I've been perhaps unreasonably nervous about blowing up the house with some electrical stupidity.)

And then the utility power returned after an hour (they're on the ball and call us to tell us).

So here is my question:  

The electrician told me that although it is not approved by the electrical company I should leave a main panel breaker switch on, and one circuit breaker for a hall light on, so that I could tell that the utility power had returned when the hall light came on.

I think that's insane, and have decided not to follow that advice.  I don't like  the thought of utility power and generator power charging into my panels at the same time.

And as a practical matter, I believe I can count on my very on the ball local electrical company (Potomac Edison) to notify me by phone.

I'm the last thing on earth from an expert on electricity.  I'd appreciate a comment from anybody who knows about this.  Thanks!

Originally posted to Timaeus on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 06:46 PM PDT.

Also republished by Maryland Kos.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Oh, my goodness Timaeus (17+ / 0-)

    that sound awful.

    So glad you and your wife are ok, I don't know a thing about electrical or generators.

    I'm sure you'll get some good advice there, though.

    Good luck with the cleanup.

    I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

    by coquiero on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 06:51:07 PM PDT

  •  Good Question. We Lived in Puget Sound for 10 (9+ / 0-)

    years and there were frequent power outages. We were pinching pennies so we didn't get a big enough generator to power the whole house, just a few lights and small appliances, laptop etc. So we never tied it into the house wiring.

    It'll be interesting to see answers, but I definitely would not accept advice on it from anything less than a licensed electrician.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 07:10:02 PM PDT

  •  I wouldn't bother with a generator (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teabaggerssuckbalz, DBunn, coquiero

    unless you can spend at least $5,000 for the generator itself and have a licensed electrician do a proper job of hooking it up.

    I live in the Sierra Foothills east of Sacramento and a number of people "up country" from me have propane generators that start up and switch over automatically.

    I believe they are programmed to switch on periodically to insure that they are working properly and keep working without you having to do a thing.

    Generally this requires installing a sub-panel and a cut-over switch that insures your generator never feeds electricity into the power grid.

    I suspect that the total cost would be about $7,000 excluding the propane tank itself. Depending on where you are located you may be able to get the propane delivery company to loan you a tank.

    As for gasoline generators they can be dangerous and I wouldn't have one near my home.

    The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

    by Mr Robert on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 07:10:03 PM PDT

    •  One more thing... (0+ / 0-)

      You really need to find some who's qualified to help you with this project because the guy you were talking is giving you very bad advice.

      Good luck.

      The only trouble with retirement is...I never get a day off!

      by Mr Robert on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 07:12:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Um, I've researched this quite a bit. (10+ / 0-)

      National and state electrical code says a gasoline-powered generator can be within 5 feet of a structure.  But another U.S. agency (NIST) said not long ago that it should be 20 feet.  

      So I had the electrician make me a 20-foot cable and have placed the generator at that distance (protected by a box I designed and built).  (The danger, if somebody doesn't already know, is carbon monoxide from combustion of gasoline, which can kill quickly.)

      I have a big house with 400 amps service and an attached apartment, and the big grand propane generator would cost at least $40,000.  I've talked to several contractors about this.

      I settled on an option that cost about $4,000 that does what I need, most of the time.  And of course I used a licensed electrician to set it up.

      Here I'm just asking about one thing the electrician said as an aside.

    •  Gasoline Generators (9+ / 0-)

      Really aren't that dangerous if used properly. We keep ours 50 feet from the home even if 20 feet is considered safe. We have multiple battery powered CO alarms. I've seen someone almost die from a gas generator at the end of an open car port (about 20 feet from the door). Their wood stove was sucking in enough CO to have their grandson pass out cold the minute he entered the basement of the home. If you use extension cords, you don't have to worry about grounding the generator. One big danger is from refueling. Use common sense. You can live without electricity for 15 minutes. Let the engine cool before you refuel it.

      There are simple transfer switches that don't cost an arm and leg too. One simple device has the generator attached to a breaker that can't be in the on position if the main is also in the on position. Not code in some states, but it is here.

      •  Good information. Thanks. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BachFan

        Yes, we have CO detectors as well.

        Our generator sits on the ground and is connected by a heavy-duty 20-foot cable to a receptable on the wall of the house.  We were told no separate grounding was needed.

        We got a transfer switch as you describe, there a separate panel is always all-main or all-generator but never both.  It was mainly expensive because the company basically made an emergency trip to install it the very day the hurricane was moving in, and it took two electricians about four hours to get everything right.  They were very patient about giving us extensive step-by-step instructions.

  •  The simple way (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sceptical observer, NYFM

    is to turn the main breaker off and plug the generator in to the big dryer outlet.

    •  One way or the other. (6+ / 0-)
      So here is my question:  

      The electrician told me that although it is not approved by the electrical company I should leave a main panel breaker switch on, and one circuit breaker for a hall light on, so that I could tell that the utility power had returned when the hall light came on.

      I think that's insane, and have decided not to follow that advice.  I don't like  the thought of utility power and generator power charging into my panels at the same time.

      concur. If the main breaker is on you are powering your neighbors and probably overloading your generator. When the electricity comes back on it is likely to be out of phase with your generator. You need a better electrician.
    •  ? That's a good way to burn down a house, (0+ / 0-)

      so you must be joking.

      •  The dryer outlet is the biggest (0+ / 0-)

        circuit breaker and lives on both sides of the 220 panel.

        •  The problem with this (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SquirmyRooter, Timaeus

          is that the dryer outlet is usually in the house or in the back of the garage. This requires a very long, high current cord to get the generator outside the house. There is always the danger of carbon monoxide if it is not far enough away. It is better to install another high current outlet on the outside of the house with its own breaker. Most local power companies frown on this because the feed lines can be energized by the generator if you forget to open the main breaker.

          When the F**K are we going to wake up and do something about this mess?

          by keyscritter on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 08:01:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Sorry - but not a good plan (7+ / 0-)

          First, the dryer outlet is 240v, and a lot of people only have 120v generators.

          Second, a dryer outlet is probably a 30 amp circuit (dryers are usually around 5kW) - 30 amps is not a lot for people used to 200A or 400A service.

          Third, 30A at 240V is 7200W, but most of a typical residence is 120V. This is almost universally done in a bi-phase system where the phases are 180 degrees out-of-phase and each phase drives on column in the breaker box. Loading is rarely balanced - typically all the 240V stuff goes down part of one column and the rest of the column and the other one are 120V. If one column draws 40A and the other 20A, both at 120V, that's still 7200W, but the 30A dryer circuit will trip.

          The range breaker is usually 60A, but you have to pull the range out to get at the outlet.

          Lastly, any solution that connects to building wiring without a transfer switch is dangerous, both for utility workers and homeowners. In the middle of a severe storm a lot of people aren't going to remember to flip the main breaker off (a lot of them don't even know what it is or where). It's just like people who think their Weber grill would be great for heat and cooking in the living room and die of carbon monoxide poisoning. More than one person does that in most power outages - it only takes one to kill a utility worker.

          No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

          by badger on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 08:59:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Folks that have 110V only generators should (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Lujane, SquirmyRooter, Timaeus, BachFan

            stick to extension cords. These can not be safely connected to house wiring.

            Most residential feeds in the US are 240V, two wire, balanced to the neutral, either side gives 120v to the neutral.

            The safest way to connect a generator is via a transfer switch installed by an electrician. I believe that this is the only method supported by the electrical code. There are other methods that will work in an emergency but they require knowledge of how these systems work. They have inherent risks that the transfer switch is designed to reduce or eliminate. If folks do not have that knowledge then they should not attempt to try those methods. The first rule is that the service mains and the generator should never drive the breaker panel at the same time. Most "home" generators are not designed to sync to another power feed. If both feeds are hot the generator will lose a producing a dangerous result. Both solar and wind systems produce AC power through invertors which are designed to sync with local power.

            When the F**K are we going to wake up and do something about this mess?

            by keyscritter on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 10:00:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Aye. Nothing wrong with extension cords. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Timaeus

              A 12-Guage extension cord will support 16 amps for 50 feet.  This doesn't apply to the diarist, but for anyone looking for a more economical way to feel secure about their refrigerated medication or other necessities, there is nothing wrong with running a good quality extension cord directly from your generator to your refrigerator.  You don't need an electrician for this.  I've run such extension cords through my kitchen window to a generator positioned away from the house.

              For anything else, either know what you are doing (I mean really know what you are doing) or hire an electrician.

              Rooting for Democrats!!!

              by SquirmyRooter on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 11:04:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yep, our generator came with four very heavy (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                SquirmyRooter

                extension cords tied together with a length of about 10 feet (to which one could attach longer, heavy cords).  But I decided a transfer switch was safer.

                For one thing, if you used extension cords, you'd have to make a port through a wall, or keep a window or door open, not a good idea in a big storm.

            •  Voltage is balanced in a bi-phase system (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Timaeus

              Load isn't.  The current return of a single 120V phase is to ground/neutral, not to the other phase - the current per phase is only guaranteed equal for 240V loads.

              Transfer switches like this are designed for 120V only operation and transfer on a circuit-by-circuit basis, rather than transferring the mains. Perfectly safe for connecting a 120V generator to house wiring.

              It's basically a panel of single-pole/double-throw switches. The common is the circuit to be energized, one throw comes from the breaker in the service panel, the other throw from the generator.

              No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

              by badger on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 11:11:30 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Very Dangerous (7+ / 0-)

      The problem with this assuming you keep the generator far enough from the house, is that if you forget to turn off your main, you are energizing the lines that go to your house. If someone working on those lines doesn't take the proper precautions, they can get electrocuted and sue your pants off. The second problem is (maybe an electrician can explain why) is that when a generator is attached to your home power lines it needs to have its own ground. That means driving a stake 6 feet into the ground, which isn't easy to do. If you don't do this you run the risk of electrocuting you or anyone else in the household. I'm not sure why you don't need to ground a generator that just uses extension cords, but you don't. The minute you attach a generator to a home power system, you need to have a transfer switch.

      •  Hmm. We were told that with our gas (0+ / 0-)

        generator connected by a heavy cable to the transfer switch, no separate ground was necessary for the generator.

        We got a Briggs & Stratton StormResponder with 5500 Watts (8250 Watts peak).  The owner's manual says:  "System Ground.  The generator has a system ground that connects the generator frame components to the ground terminals on the AC output receptacles.  The system ground is connected to the AC neutral wire (the neutral is bonded to the generator frame)."

        Alas, I have no idea what that means.  I think I'll call the electrician.

        •  Neutral isn't always neutral. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Timaeus

          Most houses have a ground rod somewhere that works. I have several weeks of Army generator training.

          The key appliance at Chez aoeu is the furnace and it does not have a cord.

          I have battery powered CO2 alarms.

          This has been an interesting and useful diary.

        •  The electrician called right back! (0+ / 0-)

          They put a ground wire into the very heavy 20 foot cable from the generator to the transfer switch in the house, so the generator is grounded by the house's grounding system.

        •  Hmm. We were told that with our gas (0+ / 0-)

          This just means the generator uses the building ground connection (usually at the service entrance). So yes, the generator does not need it's own ground.

  •  Main breaker (14+ / 0-)

    Transfer switch isolates those breakers you have connected to it. You can run your generator and leave your main breaker on without fear of back feeding to the main. The transfer switch is not only a great way to turn your circuits on and off but also serves to isolate the generator and prevent it from back feeding the main breaker and protecting utility workers from back feeding.

  •  Can you see other homes from your location? (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, Lujane, jennyp, nomandates, Timaeus

    You can watch to see if their lights or the streetlights come on.  It probably won't hurt to run your generator an extra hour, waiting for a phone message, and your company may even set up a text message for neighborhoods that are back up and running.

    If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever. & http://www.dailykos.com/blog/Okiciyap

    by weck on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 07:32:00 PM PDT

  •  Not Sure (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Timaeus

    I'm not an electrician and I hope one steps in, but I don't see the danger at all.... but what do I know. A lot of people have automatic generators that come on regularly and no breakers at all are turned off. It isn't a good idea to have every breaker turned on because when the power does come back on, there can be a surge that damages lots of things.

    My post Isabel rig from 2003, probably has 30 days and 30 nights of run time on it for those ten years. I spent about 500 bucks on it. 5200 watts is actually a lot of power. I use 3 extension cables (kids call them redneck Christmas lights) and directly power 2 refrigerators, a few lights, FIOS, a TV and a window air conditioner when necessary. My air handler for the gas furnace has a male plug on it and a toggle switch so I can hook the generator to it. Never had to use that as the last ice storm was in 2000. My main gets turned off for my own protection, but I'm not worried about power going back to the poles because nothing is attached to them. If you feel comfortable turning off the main and burning a few extra dollars of fuel, go ahead as there is certainly nothing wrong with doing that.

    •  My generator is 5500 Watts, not enough for (0+ / 0-)

      our heat pump.  But I set it up so that in a pinch it can power a window AC/heater in a separate room (a garage that was converted to a library).  So it will help if it's very hot or very cold.

  •  It might be difficult to get an answer... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Timaeus

    without knowing exactly what was done.  Maybe post some pictures of the work that was done?

    If a licensed electrician told you that it was okay based on the work that she herself just did, then it is probably okay.  The electric company might have a blanket policy against it to guard against the inappropriate use of transfer switches.

    Rooting for Democrats!!!

    by SquirmyRooter on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 07:41:42 PM PDT

    •  Sigh, been here 10 years but don't know how (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SquirmyRooter

      to post pictures.  The licensed electrician who gave me that advice has a very good reputation, so what he said is probably okay, as ordy confirmed above.  But I'm still going to be super-conservative.

  •  I'm glad you're OK--sorry about the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    myboo, Timaeus

    trees and, well, the scariness of it all.

    Somehow, it missed us almost altogether. Never even lost power.

    Last time we were without power for days.

    Ou sont les neigedens d'antan?

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 07:43:20 PM PDT

  •  I'm sorry I'm seeing this so late (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Onomastic, Lujane, nomandates, Timaeus, BachFan

    Mr A. is in the solar biz and a lic. electrician, so he would know the right answer in a flash, but he has already gone to sleep.

    This is often discussed with his PV clients (some of them choose to have solar-powered, battery back-up systems, involving transfer switches for when the power goes out).  

    My wifely guess (oops, did I just admit to not listening extremely closely to every bit of shoptalk that flows by me?)  is that what you are doing is the correct, conservative thing to do.  My concern with having the main open is that you could be back-feeding the system that is otherwise believed by utility workers, neighbors near downed power lines, etc. to be cold.

    Yeah, I know ALL lines should be considered live at all times and only qualified, trained people should be around them, etc.  But reality is always messier.

    (I know that when we have an established, prolonged, multiple point, widespread power failure, I usually scarper up my trees and do a lot of pruning near the wires which I would never do if the power was on.  Bad, bad, me!)

    I will ask tomorrow and get an answer for you.

    Sorry about the cost of the chain saw crew.  Can you find someone who will do the cutting-up for free in return for the firewood (if you don't use it)?  We recently had a long period here when Mr. A. was under a medical prohibition against chainsawing. (He has a heart device.)  But, happily, that turned out to be overcautious and he's back at it. Which is good because we heat entirely with wood from our woodlot and we had whittled down our typical 4-year advance supply to just a few months.  I did look into two-man hand saws, and they are workable, quiet, and good but not outrageous exercise.  Maybe that could work for you, too?  Especially if you want to keep the wood.  Perhaps just have it bucked down into manageable pieces for now, and then you can cut it further to the size needed for your fireplace or stove.

    Araguato

  •  Generators (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jennyp, nomandates, Timaeus, BachFan

    I live 23 miles north of you and was hit by the same storm today.  I also have a Home Depot gas generator, 5500 watts.
    I've had it for five years and I've used it many times.  The generator was $1000 and the electrician plus supplies were another $1000.  Only about half of all possible electrical sites in our house are served by the generator.  There is no harm in having both sources connected at the same time but you do want to know when the main power is back on.  So, I turn on a light in a powder room not served by the generator.  When I see this light come on I know it is time to shut down the generator.  Running the generator once a month seems too often.  I run mine for 10 minutes when 6 months goes by without needing it.  We lose power often enough that that has only been necessary twice in 5 years.  Do add the stabilizer to the gas.  It is inexpensive, easy and you don't want to discover your gas has turned to gum.  

    With 5500 watts I can serve the water pump, furnace, refrigerator, stove but not oven, lights in all bath rooms, computers, tvs and bed room outlets.  I can't use dryer, washer, oven, a/c, garage doors.

  •  Yikes! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SquirmyRooter, jennyp, nomandates, Timaeus

    I'm so glad you, your wife and the donkeys are all ok.

    What a horrible experience it must have been.

    Hope you get some solid answers to your question.

    And please, don't over due throwing those trees around, ok?

    "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

    by Onomastic on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 09:32:25 PM PDT

    •  Thanks! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Onomastic

      After the storm passed, it was 90 degrees and super-humid while we were clearing trees.  About the hardest work I've ever done.  It was GREAT when the power came back on and I could take a shower.

      •  Glad that things are getting back to (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Timaeus

        normal.

        And yes, finally getting the power on and being able to take a shower is a great thing.

        During the Ice Storm a few years ago, so many were without power for days, if not weeks.

        We had friends coming over to use our shower and get a hot meal.

        The things we take for granted, eh?

        "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

        by Onomastic on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 09:27:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  A video on how to do it (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jennyp, MissTrial, Timaeus

    Homeowner's guide to long term power outages

    A bit dated, but still relevant in terms of setting up a home backup system.  Ignore the Y2K crap (unless you wanna take a trip back, and party like it's 1999).  The rest is decent wrt showing you how to set up a home backup generation system & transfer switch.

    "Mitt who? That's an odd name. Like an oven mitt, you mean? Oh, yeah, I've got one of those. Used it at the Atlas Society BBQ last summer when I was flipping ribs."

    by Richard Cranium on Thu Jun 13, 2013 at 10:07:09 PM PDT

  •  In 48 years I never needed a generator until (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nomandates, Timaeus

    2011; Irene, then Snowtober and then Sandy. Guys were selling small ones off the back of the truck for nearly 2 grand; we got ours at Costco before the rush for about 600 bucks and its a powerful one too. And to think I bought it because of a fear of an ice storm, not hurricanes and snowstorms....thus far the serious storms have bypassed the NJ area but not the rain, and my tomato crop is slowly failing due to all the rain. Gotta go to raise beds next season.

  •  Mechanic In A Bottle(tm) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nomandates, Timaeus

    works wonders in similar situations where one might forget to keep gas clean.

    I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful. Unfortunately, it is not.…We're better than this. We must do better. Cmdr Scott Kelley

    by wretchedhive on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 05:38:03 AM PDT

  •  Transfer Switch (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Timaeus

    As long as you have a transfer switch installed, you do not need to do anything at all. The loads on normal power will come on and off with the normal utility power while the critical loads on generator will only be connected to generator. The Transfer Switch serves specfically to isolate the two sources and it is the ONLY legal way to connect a generator by NEC and NFPA code. You cannot backfeed the power company lines with a PROPERLY installed TS.

    •  I appreciate your comment. (0+ / 0-)

      But let me ask a question. If that is true, why did the electrician insist quite emphatically that I must turn off all of the circuit breakers on the main panels before switching to generator power, which is directed to circuits on the third panel (which is behind the transfer switch)?  Hope that's clear.

      •  What model transfer switch are you using? (0+ / 0-)

        Different switches are inserted at different points in the circuit. We need to know what switch you are using to comment. Some switches isolate the whole panel and others just isolate individual circuits. All should prevent feedback into the mains to the house. He may have been being cautious about problems in the non isolated circuits if the main power came back on.

        When the F**K are we going to wake up and do something about this mess?

        by keyscritter on Fri Jun 14, 2013 at 08:51:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sorry to be slow to respond. (0+ / 0-)

          I much appreciate your comment.  I have confirmed that I have a top-quality transfer switch that acts as you say.

          I don't have the model number easily at hand, but I trust the experience I just had finally running the thing, and what I heard from my very good electrician today.

          Thanks again for your comment.

          The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.-Bertrand Russell

          by Timaeus on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 05:18:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site