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December 15, 2006

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llanok

Your Comm wiring friend has it right, but you may not need to get as intricate as you think. If your generator has a 220v output, wire that so you can plug it into a (non-GFI-protected) dryer or stove 220 outlet, and both sides of your house will be energized.

If the generator only has 110, you can plug it into an outlet on each side of the house, and it will power both sides that way, although the GFI device will probably trip (they hate shared grounds). If it is a GFI breaker in your panel, then everything involved "downstream" in the circuit could still be powered, provided you plug your generator into one of the downstream outlets. If your GFI protection instead involves GFI outlets, then you can still probably power them by plugging the generator's second cord into an outlet that is wired to a non-GFI-protected circuit breaker on that side of the house. Some (like the ones in my garage) will be ok with it, while others (like the one my frige is plugged into) won't. If you try it, first get one of those small plug-in testers- http://www.testequipmentdepot.com/AEMC/ElectricalTestTools/OutletTesters/OT1.htm - and make sure none of your outlets is wired backwards or you'll blow lots of generator fuses.

All standard disclaimers apply, your results may vary. I'm a low volt tech too, not an electricity guy. But it works for me.

Rivrdog

Guy, the boat should be OK, I'll find out tomorrow when I go to the Christmas Ships party at the yacht club. The river is up about 5-6 feet over last week, but around here, all marinas are built on floats, so the entire marina shed, dock and boats rise and fall with the river.

Even though we're 90 miles up from the sea, we still get a 3.8 foot tidal range when the river is low, and the river will range from just under zero ("Lower Low Water") to as much as 29 feet in a major flood (Great Flood of '96). Flood stage is 18 feet, and the river is down to 8.3 right now.

Our main worries are the freezing conditions. If ice and snow accumulate on the shed roofs, they can be weighed down to failure, which happened in '04, on my watch as Port Captain.

We have a system of spreading granular Urea on the roof when ice is expected. The Urea melts the ice as it hits, so it doesn't build up. The USAF uses Urea as an airdrome ice melter, because unlike salt, or calcium carbide, it won't cause corrosion to aluminum airplanes.

GUYK

How did your boat fare..it was always my biggest worry when I had the Silverton..a tropical storm could flood the marina and send the boat up through the roof..I took it out and rode a couple of storms out because of it..

Rivrdog

OK, I finally got the straight scoop from a friend who is a retired LOW voltage tech, the kind that deals with communications wiring, mostly.

He said that the panel is always split, because it feeds from 220VAC, which has two hot legs, one neutral and one ground. Each half of the panel takes one hot leg of the 220, which reduces it to 110, so there are the two halves. I could power both halves, apparently, by just plugging the genset output into both halves, which is what a re-wire of the panel for a genset plug would do: it would give a switchable (with the genset changeover switch) schematic where one side of the switch (normal, mains) is fed by the 220 and splits the panel into two halves, and the other side of the switch reconfigures it into a single entity.

It seems like it's NOT the nightmare to accomplish that I think it is, and all I have to do is read up on the code, buy a permit, get the parts and do it myself. The only problem that I see is that of timing. I have to have the whole panel, together with the modifying sub-panel, de-energized and ready for inspection when the inspector arrives. If the inspector DOESN'T arrive, then I have an unpowered house until he arrives, passes the job and signs off the permit. That means I might have to use the generator to separately power all the vital stuff in the house for days, and that's a deal-killer for DIY.

Rivrdog

Yeah, MNTY, did that. I have a 12-2 w/GND cable with two 15A males, and put it into my 20 amp outdoor circuit, from which there is a 15A outdoor box on the front porch. Very handy, could just peek out the front window and eyeball the generator op panel without actually going out in the wet and wind.

I just talked to my general contractor buddy, and he confirmed my suspicion, the the GFCI circuit was the problem. What I have to do is get a whole-house GFCI that is by-passable at one point, that point being a generator connection at the main panel. Such a set-up will also give me whole-house surge protection, which is nice to have. Have no idea of the cost, the general is setting up a visit for me with his electrical sub for next week.

Morenuancedthanyou

To get power to the dead end of the house, couldn't you just cut the female end off a heavy extension cord, replace it with a second male end, and then plug the cord into an outlet on the live end of the house and another outlet behind the GFCI on the dead end of the house?

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