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#73571 01/03/07 06:04 PM
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,213
For the electrical pioneers out there they are going to connect it up one way or the other - with or without Wiki-how, blown TV's or not, they dont care or don't know enough to know they should care. They will be connecting the INTERNAL wiring of the house to a generator because simply running extension cords to specific items does not solve either of their two biggest (only?) issues: HEAT and WATER.
I was about to edit the wiki and post a graphic of how to cut the end off an extension cord and splice it to a dryer cord when I realized these people won't have internet access, and my advice would be useless when most needed [Linked Image] [Disclaimer: for anyone stumbling onto this thread from google, THIS IS SARCASM!]

Normally, I'd encourage a skilled DIY to do a job in their own home, but in this case- wiring a whole-house generator to the service entry- there's no way in hell I'd give any DIY instructions that weren't intended purely to frighten the guy/gal into hiring a pro.

[This message has been edited by SteveFehr (edited 01-03-2007).]

#73572 01/04/07 12:03 AM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 152
there's no way in hell I'd give any DIY instructions that weren't intended purely to frighten the guy/gal into hiring a pro.

This is exactly my point - it's during an ice storm - he couldn't hire anyone even if he wanted to. Hands up those of you out there who would dash off to residential call #5674 that night to install a transfer switch that can't be had, at a residence you can't get to. The comment above fails to consider the situation John Doe finds himself in.

#73573 01/04/07 01:52 AM
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,391
That does not mean I am obligated to help them kill themselves or others.

It is a rare occasion that a home has to have power.

Bob Badger
Construction & Maintenance Electrician
#73574 01/04/07 09:01 AM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 984
Likes: 1
I had a similar issue with temporary power. I had no POCO connections yet, so I ran an extension cord from the main breaker to a plug. This made my whole installation into something resembling a plug-connected appliance.
BTW, I tore it all out a few hours later when I no longer needed the power.

If a HO desperately needs to power his furnace from a generator, I'd feel more comfortable telling him to disconnect it from the house power and put a cord on it. That way, none of the house wiring will ever be energized.

Personally, I'd much rather that they leave and head for a shelter. If there's no power, there's likely no sewer, water filtration, ambulance, police or fire department services, or any of the other things that we all depend on to live.

#73575 01/04/07 06:36 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 109
I have been debating on commiting on this. But here goes. When I lived in the mountains in a small town the power went out at least one time each winter for at least one week. The Volunteer Fire Dept. had some large generators that were used to power up homes and the local stores during the emergency. When I got there they used a Male to Male cord to give power to the people on a rotating schedule. I informed them of the dangers and set up a system that was safe but not totally code compliant in all ways. There was no way of moving the generator to each location and have a good ground/bond to every service. I did the best I could but many of the homes did not have any good way of getting a temp ground and with several feet of snow not a good way of driving a ground rod. After I got involved the services were improved to include a ground rod. The means of disconnect was the meter in a lot of cases. After I pointed out the dangers of the old system I was elected to fix the problems. I had to teach the guys how to connect the gen and pull the meters so the Po Co would not be back fed. My point is make it safe for every one is the #1 thing. The reason for the code is for safety and fire protection, the letter of the rules seem to be more important to some than the reason we have a code in the first place. Rod

#73576 01/04/07 07:24 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,362
Likes: 1
Cat Servant
As we enter 2007, it is hard to realise that just 100 years ago electricity was something of a novelty, confined to lighting and some industrial uses.

Indeed, it wasn't until "the Great Depression" that many, many parts of the US got electrical power for the first time.

Even today, there are communities that manage to get by without power.

I fail to understand the desperation some express, when the power is out for a few hours, days, or even weeks. I suppose that my opinion is mere whistling in the wind, though.

Generators of varying sizes are getting ridiculously cheap. Even the local Wal-Mart and auto part store is selling them. This fact suggests to me that the problems will get worse lng before they get better.

Education is probably the best solution; I like the idea of keeping the thing separate from the house wiring completely, and using extension cords.
Our biggest threat seems to come from those who try to 'clever up' that simple arrangement.

Apart from the dangers posed by improper connections of generators to the "grid," there are also the dangers posed by fuel storage, exhaust fumes, and simple crime. A man worried about his generator being stolen is more likely to try to run it inside. When the taks runs dry, there will be fires associated with refueling.

I suppose that places like "Wiki-how" are a good place to start educating folks.

#73577 01/04/07 08:29 PM
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,213
I know the pains of living without electricity all too well, when we lost power for 8 days after hurricane Isabel. It was not a pleasant week, let me tell you! But we got by. We got very good at cooking on the propane grill and spent a lot of time outside. I even built a solar-powered water heater out of some aluminum foil, a cardboard box and some 2L bottles of soda so we could take rustic showers!

Unfortunately, generators were not to be found ANYWHERE, and those that were availible were expensive as hell. I bought a small 3.5kW about a year later I hook up with the old *cough* *cough* and a 30A 240V welder/shoptool socket by the garage door I cleverly put there for expressly that purpose when I built the garage. I give myself a pass because I'm a professional who knows enough to kill and tag out the main breaker, but for people that don't understand why backfeeding their receptacle only turns on lights in some rooms and makes their generator and water pump sound all funny...

Basically, I'd rather see 100 families eating cold chef boy r dee for a few days than a linemen dead by electrotion [Linked Image]

Also, there are such things as portable ceramic heaters that hook up just fine to extension cords plugged into generators!

[This message has been edited by SteveFehr (edited 01-04-2007).]

#73578 01/04/07 11:50 PM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,771
Likes: 14
Reno is on the right track. Use cords.
I think they should write an exception to the code to allow furnace blowers (controls etc) to be cord and plug connected. This is certainly a small enough load to run safely on an orange cord.
Pumps can already be cord and plug connected.

Greg Fretwell
#73579 01/04/07 11:56 PM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 152
It's interesting - there are some comments that have the same basic thread:
As I am an electrician and know what I am doing it's OK to go ahead and attach the generator in an electrically equivalent manner to a coded installation, just so long as I am aware of the risks and am in control of the situation. Is that the key here?

I have thought a lot about this problem and have decided that there is no straight forward solution.

Depending on the situation John Doe may be completely justified in hooking (in a code incompliant way) his generator to the residence - of course he may not, it would depend on the severity of the need and the situation. Also is John Doe any different from a regular electrician when out of need both backfeed the dryer outlet and both get the wiring correct but code is absent?

In it of itself the requirement of a code compliant installation in every situation is absurd simply because it may not be possible to implement. Thus the blanket statement that generator hookups should only be done by a electrician is just that, a statement. It supposes a perfect world where all eventualities are foreseen by all people and assumes they have limitless resourcs. The reality is of course that some have transfer switches etc and the rest make do. Some of those making do resort to jerry-rigging (electricians included) something so that "it's working for now", rightly or wrongly that's the reality.

In general I have left the risk taking up to those who take risks but when asked I provide a schematic avaliable at:
It explains diagramitically what is correct and what is not but does not focus on the technical aspects of the code - my assumption is that if you need this you are not an electrician anyway.

One other thing - and I am not dismissing this risk by any means - do any of you have independently verifiable accounts (press or in journals etc) of linemen getting injured / killed as a result of this. As a statistician I tend to think that the real number of lineman / utility worker incidents associated with this phenomenon (backfeeding the grid) is actually much less than we think or like to suppose. I would like to get a handle on what the real extent of that threat is. (A bit like how people think that the likelyhood of having a child accidentially killed by a gun in the house is very high when in actual fact you are several times more likely to have a child drown in your neighbours pool or a bucket of water in the laundry, it's just that the gun is a much more obvious and ominous threat.) Comments welcome.

#73580 01/05/07 12:49 AM
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,438
I think they should write an exception to the code to allow furnace blowers (controls etc) to be cord and plug connected.

Since when isn't it code to cord and plug a forced air furnace in? This is common practice here, and has been at least since the early 60's... [Linked Image]

And as Ann asked

Lineman killed in Alabama

Worker Electrocuted In Flomaton By Live Power Line

FLOMATON, Ala. -- An electric lineman was killed just before 5 p.m. Tuesday when he came into contact with a live power line. It was energized by a generator that was hooked up improperly.

The man -- whose name has not been released -- was transported by LifeFlight to Jay hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The man worked for Pike Electric, Inc. in Mount Airy, North Carolina.

Alabama Power spokesman Bernie Fogarty says the company is "Deeply saddened and distressed by this tragic event."

Alabama authorities say they're looking for the person responsible for hooking up the generator.

The above is enough for me not to give DIY advice on plugging a generator into a panel... Water can (and should) be stored in ample quantities if your dependent on a well pump, Wal-mart has a vast selection of portable room heaters and 12AWG extension cords...

Out here in earthquake country, we're told to keep a few 5Gallon bottles of water around (rotated for freshness), batteries, flashlights, portable radio, blankets in waterproof packaging, and canned food that can be eaten cold....

[This message has been edited by Lostazhell (edited 01-05-2007).]

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