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Transfer panel/Generator

Discussion in 'Garage / Workshop' started by amyracecar, Mar 2, 2022.

  1. Mar 2, 2022 at 6:29 AM
    #1
    amyracecar

    amyracecar [OP] suck it up buttercup

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    Happy Hump day to all yallz out there.

    I did a search and only found a few threads on this, mostly really old.

    I live in the SE -

    I finally saved some $$ up and am about to get a 2nd estimate to install a transfer panel on my house/buy a generator. My goal is to power the fridge [and maybe a freezer] and a few other odds/ends, like the well pump [so the toilet works] - i pee in the yard alot, but can't do everything out in the yard ;)

    I have back up heat [non electricty kind] and I'll suffer without A/C if need be BUT I do not wanna loose all the food I worked hard to make/freeze/etc & don't wanna be forced out the house, taking my large a$$ dog with me [he would not be happy to be in a anywhere but home]

    The first estimate was right around 2K - for the panel/labor to install it - it feels a bit high and I have not asked them to split it into labour/parts yet; I am waiting on the 2nd appointment to see how those # shake out - - maybe my cost assumptions weren't correct - - but I am prepared to eat the 2k if need be.

    I have three sub/panels - one for the house, one for the out building, one for the A/C - I intend to have the house one wired to the transfer panel and an outlet placed outside for me to connect the genny to.

    I was hoping I could get some words of wisdom from all yall.
    What should this cost -
    Advice on kinds of generators?
    I would like to stick with gas, but I have a large LP tank buried out front/a gas line by the house I could have tapped - -
    I know Honda's are the shit but you will pay for them; I have a Honda self/propel mower that is 25yr old - bought it new, never gives me shit; so I got that part of the story covered.
    Any other brands that are good or to avoid?


    Power doesn't go out super often but I live in a rural ass area and sooner or later some Hurricane is gonna f**k us good - think Texas two winters ago - such that there is enough damage over enough area, that we won't get it back on in 12-18hr..
    I have made it almost 15yr without major incident and I feel like I am about out of run/way, trying to get ahead of this problem.

    Any other bits of advice would be appreciated!
     
  2. Mar 2, 2022 at 6:45 AM
    #2
    Clearwater Bill

    Clearwater Bill Never answer an anonymous letter

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    Do you need the complexity of a fixed generator and xfer panel for the small loads you're looking to do?

    Xfer panels are usually used for speed of pickup, or if someone isn't going to be around to fire up the generator within an hour or so.

    2 small portable Hondas would handle a fridge & freezer. If the well would be too much more load, just unhook one appliance while running the well. Store your drinking water in advance. A bathtub of water would even give you several bucket flushes of the toilet.

    The Hondas keeps you on gasoline, keeps you portable, keeps you flexible. Not that gasoline, per se, is the best option, as it creates the need for refueling and being able to refill your portable containers, which could be tough.

    To me the only reason to jump to a xfer panel and big 'ole fixed generator would be to serve the whole house. At that point the LP feed would be the ticket. All you have to do is have the LP topped up pre-event.
     
    amyracecar[OP] likes this.
  3. Mar 2, 2022 at 6:53 AM
    #3
    Rock Lobster

    Rock Lobster Thread Derailer

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    Take stock of what you want to power. Doing without A/C really opens up your options, so good for you. There are two ways of doing this:

    Sum up all the circuit breakers that will be powered, convert to watts, and buy a genny that matches;

    Or sum up all appliances and electronics, add 1000W for lights, and add 25% for start-up and buffer.


    I'm a fan of portable gens over permanent installs for a couple of reasons. Cost, maintenance, and versatility (can be used for fun things plus emergencies).

    If you can keep it under 5000 watts, look for a dual-fuel inverter genset, so you have options for propane and gas, depending on what you have on hand during an emergency.

    You want something that produces "pure sine wave" or other advertising buzzwords that promise clean power for your computer, TV, and other sensitive things. Look for the quietest, cleanest power source for the amount of wattage that you need.


    I use a 3500 "campground" generator. It will only power major appliances and the TV, but its quiet. And at 80 pounds its light enough to power my camper's A/C unit for fun or potential evacuations.


    Here is an example: This little guy is plenty to run the bare bones of your home, at 64 dB its not super quiet, but quiet enough to sleep through at least, and its just barely portable enough to take with you:

    https://www.amazon.com/Champion-Pow...ter+generator+dual+fuel&qid=1646232235&sr=8-4
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2022
    amyracecar[OP] and Key-Rei like this.
  4. Mar 2, 2022 at 6:59 AM
    #4
    6 gearT444E

    6 gearT444E Certified Electron Pusher

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    I bought the 9500w predator generator and rewired into my main panel using an old welding outlet, total cost with the generator was around $1800. the complexity of the transfer switch isn’t needed especially if it sounds like you only want to run a few things.

    the benefit of it is that you won’t have to get out of bed in the middle of the night and fire up and connect your generator. Other than that I’d just shoot for the manual circuit. You can get a kit for your infeed panel that locks out the main breaker when the generator is connected so you it makes sure you aren’t back feeding once offsite power is restored.
     
  5. Mar 2, 2022 at 6:59 AM
    #5
    Pickeledpigsfeet

    Pickeledpigsfeet Well-Known Member

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    If you have the space in the main panel I would just buy a Generator Interlock Kit and a 30a power inlet. Thats what I installed in my last 2 houses and they work well. Someone has to be onsite for switch over though.
     
  6. Mar 2, 2022 at 7:09 AM
    #6
    Key-Rei

    Key-Rei Well-Known Member

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    Just make sure if you do hook up to your house you kill your primary line in breaker so you don't buck phases and blow the panel off the wall when the utility company flips you back on.
     
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  7. Mar 2, 2022 at 7:09 AM
    #7
    Pablo8

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    Almost exactly what I did. 9500W Predator is so quiet, just an added bonus.
    I put in a manual cut-out breaker, which blocks the main from ON when gen breaker is ON. So then you can just turn on the circuits you want powered.
     
  8. Mar 2, 2022 at 7:11 AM
    #8
    Clearwater Bill

    Clearwater Bill Never answer an anonymous letter

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    Or kill a lineman who is testing your service that he expects to be dead.
     
  9. Mar 2, 2022 at 7:14 AM
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    6 gearT444E

    6 gearT444E Certified Electron Pusher

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    FWIW here’s my setup. The welding outlet I rewired for a 30 amp generator inlet box
    6F91C3CE-0FF2-46A8-BEA4-8FD8EECC1BEF.jpg

    I have a 50’ cord so I leave the generator in the garage and roll it out if/when needed
    809F3332-3884-4F95-B7C4-10784D38BD92.jpg

    I also made a box and wired up each 110 leg to monitor as I load up the panel. This generator will run the well pump and the rest of the house as normal with the fridge. It will do the AC as well. I put a hard start cap in the condenser last year. Just have to be careful no other 220V loads are starting simultaneously.
    62243D6C-08DE-48A6-ADF3-1F640A6D86AF.jpg

    544A0C21-4883-49BE-947D-473C9A4ECFAB.jpg
     
  10. Mar 2, 2022 at 7:28 AM
    #10
    Brex69

    Brex69 Well-Known Member

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    Installing a transfer switch is easier than you think. I installed mine in a 1/2 a day so I guess 2k sounds a little steep. You need to figure out how much wattage you'll be drawing then buy the proper generator, next determine how many circuits you'll be running then buy the appropriate transfer switch. You'll need access to the bottom of your panel so the wall on the back side of the panel will have to be cut. I bought a duel fuel Westinghouse generator and have no complaints, it has electric and remote start. Not having to store/rotate gasoline was a big plus for the propane even though you do lose a little power with propane. Here is a link to the transfer switch I used. I used a manual transfer case.
    https://www.homedepot.com/p/Relianc...Circuit-Transfer-Switch-Kit-3006HDK/202213700
     
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  11. Mar 2, 2022 at 7:33 AM
    #11
    jake72

    jake72 Well-Known Member

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    I would say minimum for a subpanel install probably around 1500. I found a retired electrician that did it for 750 a few years ago, and that was for everything.
     
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  12. Mar 2, 2022 at 8:07 AM
    #12
    virginiamarine

    virginiamarine Well-Known Member

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    great thread! I'm looking at a manual panel too. Going for a kubota diesel generator 11k. I have propane fireplace and cooktop, so I wanted to mix up my fuel usage since you never know what you'll have when the time comes. Fortunately, I had just got a propane delivery this past winter when our power went out for 4-5 days. But, I just want the water to run and refrigerators to operate....gotta keep it simple!
     
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  13. Mar 2, 2022 at 1:40 PM
    #13
    amyracecar

    amyracecar [OP] suck it up buttercup

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    Thanks for all the replies thus far - you guys have made me put some more thought into this and it doesn't seem like maybe I need the whole panel thing.

    I have no issue with going out and hooking things up/turning things off/on/starting the generator etc. and the cords to the fridge thing would be okay but my fridge's plug is a PITA to get to and the well, my wifi router would be nice to have online too - i don't get cell service where i live so -
    [I get a tub full of water = flush for a week and if i lived alone, I wouldn't give a flip but I don't so this is to help keep some peace around here]

    I am not, however, so confident in dealing with wiring things - I can connect plugs, flip switches but soldering/wiring things is where I lack experience and the notion that I could kill someone just adds to the reticence..

    I am also still debating the gas/LP/dual fuel - need to do some math on what I actually want to run and what it will need and go from there.

    I like @6 gearT444E set up -
    I have a few questions.
    I have a 220 outlet that I do not use - it was/is for an electric dryer; I have a gas [much better IMO] dryer and the outlet is in the laundry room, right next to the garage + main house panel.
    So you turned the welding outlet into a generator inlet - yes?
    When you use this, you go outside and cut the power from the street, you shut off the breakers in the box, connect/start generator, turn back on the breakers you want to use
    To disconnect - turn off all breakers, shut off/disconnect generator, street power back on, breakers back on -

    @virginiamarine - I too have an LP fireplace and a grill with burner hardwired to the tank; hard-lining the grill in is $$ ;)
    Our LP company is pretty on top of keeping it full during the winter - during the summer we sip on it at best so I am not worried there..
    I am not trying to do anything crazy either - just want to function/stay home till disaster has passed; don't want to be caught out in any of the drama/fray/craziness as that is the way things seem to be goin these days..

    THANKS AGAIN to all who have replied thus far - I am definitely learning alot and heading in the right direction ;)
     
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  14. Mar 3, 2022 at 4:55 AM
    #14
    virginiamarine

    virginiamarine Well-Known Member

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    You are definitely more rural than I am it seems and I think you're on the right track. It is easy to setup and plug in for the things you need. I'm with you on the panel.....I ain't touching sh!t for fear of being a dumb@ss and being on the news as the guy who electrocuted himself! lol
     
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  15. Mar 3, 2022 at 6:16 AM
    #15
    6 gearT444E

    6 gearT444E Certified Electron Pusher

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    That's exactly what I did. When I moved in my house about 6 years ago, I had an electric drier that I had since run a gas line to and put a new NG drier in. I repurposed that outlet to be a welding outlet in my garage (only about 10' away from the garage), so I cut the wire out from behind the wall upstairs, put in a junction box and ran some 10/2 wire to a welding outlet. The second outlet you saw in my pic was for an original 220V water heater which I had put in an on demand natural gas water heater (much more efficient) and had used for a 220V air compressor at one time (put in a L6-30R) as well, and kept that as a 220V "supply" in the garage. Since then I put up a dedicated building for a shop so I no longer needed either of these outlets and made the drier feed the generator inlet by installing a L14-30 generator inlet box.
    IMG_6159.jpg

    You can get all the supplies from
    https://www.geninterlock.com/

    Now in theory mine isn't "up to code" :anonymous: because I never relocated my feed breaker to the generator inlet to put in an interlock kit. To do so would have required shuffling around of some breakers in my panel which I felt wasn't necessary and I am "smart enough" to remember to open my main feed to my panel prior to closing the generator inlet breaker. This is any easy fix down the road if I ever want to sell the place and some inspector wants to bust my chops.

    I also put in a "powerback" in my panel (you can see the white box in the one picture, circled here in red), that monitors the inlet power prior to the breaker which you arm once the power goes out manually, it emits an audible sound to let you know the distrubution power is restored and you can shut your generator off.
    544A0C21-4883-49BE-947D-473C9A4ECFAB.jpg


    http://www.reliancecontrols.com/ProductDetail.aspx?THP108

    So yes, the process would be:

    Step 1: Crap my TV and lights went out
    Step 2: Go set up generator and cord, fire it all up
    Step 3: Go downstairs and strip the panel feed breakers
    Step 4: Open the main panel infeed
    Step 5: Arm the "powerback" device
    Step 6: Close the generator "inlet" to the panel
    Step 7: Close in indivdual panel feed breakers (in my case, I close them all in as my generator is large enough to handle all the loads)
    Step 8: "powerback" device screeches to tell you the distrubution power is restored
    Step 9: Turn off "powerback" device
    Step 10: Strip panel feed breakers
    Step 11: Open Generator inlet breaker
    Step 12: Close main panel infeed
    Step 13: Restore panel feed breakers

    I realize this may be more work than some people like to do, but it isn't really that hard if you know what you're doing. Of course, I've spent the last 15 years in the power industry producing and distributing power so this kind of stuff comes second nature to me. A panel and an ATS will do all this for you automatically, and there are plenty of types of equipment in between that is "semi automated", but you'll still need to worry of course about what kind of generator you want to use (propane, NG, gas, dual fuel, diesel, etc.). For me, the gas generator was a no brainer, I always have at least 10 gallons of gas on hand for my lawn equipment and the tank holds another 6 gallons or so. My other option was a NG generator such as a generac but the price tag for one of them added another decimal point to the cost so the choice was simple for me. Plus the HF generator can be transported and used anywhere if say a neighbor or family member needs it.

    If you aren't comfortable with the wiring, I'm sure an electrician can do what I did here for a fraction of the cost of one of the dedicated panels. The cost of wiring these days has since gone up exponentially when I did my panel, so I can't imagine what they charge if you need alot of new wiring. Again there are many options, cost ranges from cheap to uber expensive and the convenience factor of total "hands off" power restoration to total manual restoration, depending on what you're comfortable with.

    It sounds like alot of work but in reality only takes about 5 minutes, here's a video of me restoring my whole house as a demonstration I did when I put in the watthour meters to monitor the generator loading.

     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2022
  16. Mar 3, 2022 at 6:28 AM
    #16
    Pablo8

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    This is a really great thread!!!
     
  17. Mar 3, 2022 at 6:50 AM
    #17
    6 gearT444E

    6 gearT444E Certified Electron Pusher

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    One other thing to think about, if it's just you at your place and you are remaining aware of when the power goes out and the generator limitations, there should be no reason you can't leave most if not all the breakers closed. Panels are sized on diversity factor, not summing the load of each breaker rating. My only limitation with the 9500W generator is that I can't run the AC and well pump simultaneously (I did the test just to see). Now if you have kids that are going to be running around flicking lights on and opening garage doors and the like, you may want to second guess what breakers to turn on with only the generator supplying power. Those dedicated transfer switch panels allow you to determine "critical loads" which you need only to run the house, so that decision is made in advance, so you are allowing the generator only to power say the well, fridge, kitchen/living room lights, etc.

    Once you initially restore the cold load and say your fridge/freezer is up to temp, most people's houses aren't drawing that much load. You'll want to size your generator to your needs, but I would say at a minimum if you have a well, size it so you can have some water :). Most well pumps are either 1/2 or 1 HP and will draw 5-7x the operating current on initial start. So for a conservative calculation you'll have (746W/220V) * 7 = 23 amps starting current so if you have a 1 HP well pump you'll want a generator that can supply at least that much, add maybe 10% margin in for error. For most people a 5kW or 7.5kW generator will suffice for the bare minimum, but of course the bigger the better if you want to restore all the loads in the house. The downside is if you are using a larger portable generator to accomplish this, it becomes less "portable" because they tend to get heavier, I think my HF dog is about 250 lbs or so.
     
  18. Mar 3, 2022 at 12:44 PM
    #18
    amyracecar

    amyracecar [OP] suck it up buttercup

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    @virginiamarine I am exactly 12miles to a Wal/Mart and that is the 'closest' store minus the 'corner store' that is 5 miles away at the 'major' 4 way stop 'intersection. It is nice and quiet out here -

    I had a neighbor, thankfully now gone, who started digging a fence - that clearly had to cross the power line to the house - but did not call first.. That f**ker got lucky and didn't kill himself and then gleefully told me all about it - - - my jaw about hit the ground for a few reasons, including - who goes up to their neighbor and says i am the biggest f**ktard ever! - I do not want to be like that guy.

    Lots to think about in this thread.

    I went back and evaluated my 'wants' - what set me off on this path was the desire for a large freezer in the garage for food and such; i cook alot, i make good shit and like to freeze it to enjoy later [and divest myself of the time/energy it took = more enjoyment]. I could do this and by/pass everything - freezer + extension cord + generator at the garage door = done..
    But then there is that pesky well problem and the internet - it is nice to know what is going on out there, mostly.. plus what if I need to fix my truck??

    @6 gearT444E
    I see what is going on there and most of that I am capable of - I am not comfortable with the wiring part but can farm that out if this is the route I take - I like it, it is simple enough; I appreciate that you have included the added 'safety' components I would need.
    Is what you did kind of like a legit version of back/feeding?


    Thanks again for all of the input - it is really helping sort this out!
     
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  19. Mar 4, 2022 at 6:42 AM
    #19
    amyracecar

    amyracecar [OP] suck it up buttercup

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    @virginiamarine
    THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!!

    I am not good at having ppl tell me what to do, my bother however is and spent 10yr on a submarine - I can only imagine what it is like and I appreciate your sacrifice and dedication!
     
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  20. Mar 4, 2022 at 10:50 AM
    #20
    virginiamarine

    virginiamarine Well-Known Member

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    and thank you! I'm good friends with a sardine! lol.
     
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