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Generator connections: Do not use back feeding except in a dire emergency, and then read this first. Here is how to set up an inexpensive system that is not phase dependent and uses a stepped load transfer to minimize overloading startups on the generator. In other words, it is simple and it works without the pitfalls of some other hookups.

1. Place your generator connected through a really heavy power extension cord.

2. Add a 30 amp RV type plug on the generator to allow 30 amp service from the generator to the extension cord. The standard type duplex wall outlets on many generators are probably either 15 or 20 amp per receptacle and cannot carry the generator power with a single plug.

3. The other end of the heavy extension cord is connected to a heavy duty service switch disconnect and fuse box that can be purchased at Home Depot or any electric supply house for about $15.

4. Identify a critical circuit that you want on standby power, like your refrigerator.

5. Turn off that breaker and removed the switched wire from the breaker output. Lead it out to the common terminal of a commercial duty 20A three-way light switch mounted beside the house breaker panel. (This 3-way commercial duty light switch is the heart of the system.)

6. Put a jumper wire from one of the two switched terminals on the 3-way switch and connect it back to the house breaker where the first wire was removed from.

7. Run another jumper from the other switched terminal on the 3-way switch to the switched and fused side of the service disconnect switch that you installed at the end of the extension cord from the generator.

You have now completed the first of many transfer circuits. All of these circuits are really just a diverter switch to allow the house circuit to feed from the beaker panel box or from the generator, but NEVER both at the same time. You could add a transfer switch for every breaker if you wanted to.

When the generator is running, you can flip the three-way to the generator side of the switch and that circuit is on generator. If you flip it back, you are on utility power again .

Use a very small (2.6KW or so) generator because it is quiet and fuel efficient.

Do not let the breaker sizes of your circuits scare you. The generator has it's own breaker so no damage can be done if the load exceeds the current available from the generator.There are many 20 amp breakers on your house panel box but if you are careful about power usage, you will never use very much current from your generator.

This system is not phase dependent or sensitive. When you have 230V single phase service provided by your electric utility, what you really have is two 115V alternating current wires 180 degrees out of phase. These wires change polarity 60 times per second. When one wire is negative, the other is positive. The potential, or voltage, between the two AC wires out of phase is 230V. That is where your 230V comes from but don't let that confuse you.

The important thing is to keep the utility phases from combining in your generator system and causing problems. You do not have the power to run 230V electric hogs on your power generator anyway. Even if you used a larger generator with 230V available, It is not necessary to have 230 volts service during a temporary electric outage and the larger generator would burn too much gasoline. If you have a well on 230 volts, you may need to connect for 230 volts also. You make that decision. By staying with only critical 115V circuits, you can disregard the phase problem associated with some other generator connection arrangements.

Half of the 115V circuits in your breaker service panel are on one phase from your utility company and half are on the other phase. Chances are great that your power outage critical circuits you want to feed by generator are shared with both phases of the panel box. By connecting to the generator as described above, all circuits are on a single phase when on the generator and isolated from the two phases of the utility power.

On the generator you can install a manual gas selector valve like some trucks use. One side of the valve feeds gasoline from the generator built in gas tank. You can connect an outboard engine fuel fitting to the other side of the valve and feed the generator with your boat tanks. I just place a boat tank higher than the generator and let it gravity feed. This makes refueling a safe and simple matter of connecting a hose and turning a valve with no spillage at all.

With twelve circuits currently installed in your house, you can have at least one light and receptacle in every critical area plus your refrigerator, freezer, electric garage door motor, and security lights. If you use only lights and appliances as you need them your fuel will go a long way.

While on generator turn off any "ghost loads" like instant-on TV's, wall chargers for adding machines, cordless telephones, etc. Those little transformer cubes that plug into the wall outlets can collectively use quite a lot of electricity (read gasoline!)

You can have quiet hours after everyone is in bed and turn off the generator until morning.

Consider installing an inverter and battery system for low demand quiet hours so the refrigerator and freezer can be kept running along with night lights and bathroom lights, etc. You could then just unplug the main generator supply power cord and replace it with the inverter connection cord. A large single-pole double-throw transfer switch could be used but they are expensive and not essential.

A 115V buzzer made from Radio Shack parts may be plugged nto a non-generator outlet so that when utility service is restored, you are alerted to switch back the 3-way transfer switches and turn off the generator.

Even though this system is not "code", it sure is safer than back feeding double-male extension cords from house to generator and hoping you have not combined both phases, and hoping you disconnected the main breaker on your panel box, and hoping you got everything done in the right sequence, and hoping you know when service is restored, and hoping

How to make a generator from a lawnmower!

THE SECOND SETUP: The Legal (up to code) House wiring and generator connection:

The only safe way to power items in your house without using an extension cord is to have a Double Pole Double Throw (DPDT) transfer switch and sub panel installed. It's an expensive proposition, but is the only legal way to connect a generator to your house wiring!

generateThe diagram shows the addition of the DPDT transfer switch. Note that the loads you have determined to be necessary in an emergency must be moved from the main breaker to the sub panel. When the transfer switch is in the normal position, power is routed through the switch to the circuits attached to the sub panel. When power is lost and generator power is to be used, notice that the switch must be moved to the "generator as source" position. Once the switch is moved, the desired loads may get power from the generator connection. Even if main power is restored, the desired loads are isolated, and will continue to receive power from the generator until the switch is returned to the normal position. Notice that there is a special connector shown on the diagram. This is the only place that you will find a plug with exposed contacts mounted on a piece of equipment in your house (except your computer). It is a connector that is panel mounted with a recessed set of male contacts (like a plug, not a socket). Remember from the text above that anything that can be the source of power has a socket. Since the opposite ends of the transfer switch are wire to connector and the source in the main breaker panel, the connector can never be delivered power from the main.

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