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Whole house generators?

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  • Whole house generators?

    Seems like a lot of us are in locations that are subject to power outages. Some of us have camps or mountain homes that don't get power from the usual source. What is your opinion on the best power hook up for a house?
    After last years storm, we were without electric for 7 days, I bought a 12000 KW portable generator and made up a plug and receptacle so I can plug it into the house. Worked great this year. Total was only about $1400 and I have the option of using the generator in other places. Drawback is that you have to turn it on unlike the whole house permanent hookups that turn on by themselves. A Generac 20,000 KW hooked to the house is about $10,000 in this area. I'll suffer with the inconvenience for that much money.
    1988 26' cuddy
    1975 20' open
    31 Grand Slam
    16' Sandpiper
    14' Certified Fiberglass

  • #2
    We suffer with a 7KW. It operates the whole house just no AC or electric oven. Installing a generator system is like buying insurance. You can buy a lot of insurance (whole house system) or a little insurance (portable system). Our portable system has not been used since Sandy so our little insurance system has paid off so far. The biggest upside of the whole house system is protection in the winter months while away on vacation in a warm place. We have no gas service to our house so a whole house system is not in the cards anyway.

    regards Holty

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    • #3
      With the portable system I recommend you at least have an automatic transfer switch installed and then plugging into that. The transfer switch will prevent the power from your generator from back feeding the lines coming into the house and possibly zapping the lineman repairing the service. At a minimum shut off the main breaker in your service panel while running a portable generator to power your home. An electrician can properly advise on this to keep all involved safe.

      Mark.
      1990 26’ open 351W

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      • #4
        They now make terrific main breaker interfaces that mount in your main panel which makes it a snap to switch from utility to generator power and preventing back feeding to the street. This is another plus for portables.

        regards Holty

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        • #5
          Originally posted by holty View Post
          They now make terrific main breaker interfaces that mount in your main panel which makes it a snap to switch from utility to generator power and preventing back feeding to the street. This is another plus for portables.

          regards Holty
          Thats what I got. Electrician charged $350. Got a dryer plug/wire in local hardware store. 50 Amps. Nothing could be simpler except, you have to eat your Wheaties to put the main back on. Whats with that?
          1988 26' cuddy
          1975 20' open
          31 Grand Slam
          16' Sandpiper
          14' Certified Fiberglass

          Comment


          • #6
            Some main breakers are a hard throw.

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            • #7
              The winter after Hurricane Sandy I purchased a Harbor Freight 5 KW generator.

              I have a sub panel in my garage. Feed from my main panel in the basement with its own breaker.

              I put a 208V, 60 amp single phase, 2 pole breaker in the sub panel. I wired it to a "pigtail" or a short piece of wire coming out of the breaker with a plug on the end. It hangs out the bottom of the sub panel. It has a male plug that fits the generator. It was a 6 AWG, 4 wire piece. So that means I have 2 hot legs (so single phase like the house). 4 wires means I have 2 hot legs or power wires, a neutral (negative if old school) and a ground. So if I lose power, I start the generator. Plug the pigtail in and backfeed the house. So the current goes back thru the subpanel from the generator and to the main panel and thru the house.

              I run the generator in the detached garage with a pipe for the exhauast outside and the door slightly open. I have CO2 and Carbon Monoxide alarms in the house.

              The key here is to turn off the main breaker from the street feed on the main panel. Otherwise I will be trying to power the street.Contrary to wisdom, you will kill the generator before a lineman working on the power lines since you will trying to power the whole neighborhood.

              I did this for 4 days that winter as we lost power after a northeaster. The whole street was taking showers at the YMCA and had temps in the 40's in there houses. I have gas heat and hot water and we didnt miss a beat. I did have an electric stove at he time and we also couldnt use the microwave. We used the gas grill. But the kids were happy since we didnt lose the internet.

              I have since bought a slightly bigger generator and have switched the stove to natural gas. So next time, same way for me.
              Last edited by Pedlyr; 09-08-2019, 06:49 PM.
              '78 20ft Cuddy
              Mercruiser 350 FWC preVortec w/Carb

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              • #8
                Not legal but it works. Hope you cover the male pigtail in the garage with a female cap in case you forget to turn off the two-pole 60 when street power is on. They sell recessed male inlets with a hinged cover. The interface in the main panel as Jerry has is the way to go for portable setups. Relatively inexpensive, easy to install and foolproof. Your whole house is energized and you decide which circuits you want to use.

                regards Holty

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                • #9
                  I have a setup similar to Pedlyr, only plug it into my welder oulet in the garage and manually throw the main breaker coming in to the house (I know!). The 5kW genny we have does our whole house ok, but we have hydronic heat (no AC needed up here), gas stove/water heater and on city water so no big motor or other loads. I run it outside in my carport but noticed last time we had an extended outage my CO detector was picking up some fumes, not enough to alarm but enough to let me know the exhaust was making it's way upstairs with the chimney effect sucking air in from the downstairs door in the carport so good idea to be sure you don't have any doors or windows near your genny. I've moved mine further outside. It's really cool when you have your Christmas lights on when all the neighbors are dark!

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                  • #10
                    I have a Honda EU7000 that powers everything but the A/C. Just add a breaker with an interlock device that forces the main to be off before the "generator" breaker can be switched on. Easy as pie.

                    Last edited by tuner; 09-08-2019, 10:17 PM.
                    Steve
                    1998 260 Mackinaw Sea Maxx 5.7 HO TBI 12' Klamath w/ 20hp Tohatsu EFI

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                    • #11
                      Tuner, that is exactly what I have. A/C is a biggie here. 90* and 100% humidity. Everything in my house is electric. Stove, refrigerator and freezer. Hot water heater , etc. My cheapo generator ran everything and the TV. Was daytime so no lights on, no stove and only used the small upstairs AC but it never struggled.
                      1988 26' cuddy
                      1975 20' open
                      31 Grand Slam
                      16' Sandpiper
                      14' Certified Fiberglass

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I also do what Pedlyr and Fish Witch do. Is there a devise available that will signal that the power is back on for us guys with a "little insurance"?
                        1980 pilot house 351
                        1988 260 predator 351

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Buy two 120v-130v led 3/8 dia pilot lights and mount on a box adjacent to the main panel. A plastic utility box with a lexan blank cover is perfect for this. Extend their leads to reach into the panel. Connect one wire from each pilot light to the neutral buss. Carefully unscrew the two lugs holding the hot wires going into the main breaker one at a time and place the remaining wire from each pilot light under each lug. Tighten your lugs. Your pilot lights will now be lit and remain lit as long as utility power is on. Being led the pilots will last for many years.

                          regards Holty

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                          • #14
                            Thank you Holty.
                            1980 pilot house 351
                            1988 260 predator 351

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                            • Lyle
                              Lyle commented
                              Editing a comment
                              Unless your real handy around electricity I would pull the power meter while doing this.

                          • #15
                            Originally posted by holty View Post
                            Buy two 120v-130v led 3/8 dia pilot lights and mount on a box adjacent to the main panel. A plastic utility box with a lexan blank cover is perfect for this. Extend their leads to reach into the panel. Connect one wire from each pilot light to the neutral buss. Carefully unscrew the two lugs holding the hot wires going into the main breaker one at a time and place the remaining wire from each pilot light under each lug. Tighten your lugs. Your pilot lights will now be lit and remain lit as long as utility power is on. Being led the pilots will last for many years.

                            regards Holty
                            I like it. And yes I do have a cover on my pigtail male plug. I also have a dedicated breaker on the sub panel for the gen pigtail that is tagged and labeled. I think now that the question is raised I am going to purchase breaker lockout covers/ tabs and install them.
                            '78 20ft Cuddy
                            Mercruiser 350 FWC preVortec w/Carb

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