Generator Transfer Switch

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by seaneys, Aug 26, 2007.

  1. seaneys

    seaneys New Member

    Messages:
    192
    Location:
    Chicago Suburbs
    Well.. Now that we are going on our 4th day without power due to a recent storm, I'm thinking I should put in a generator transfer switch.

    Any particular brands recommended? I tend to like square d, but I don't know if they make one.

    Thanks,
    Steve
  2. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT
    Reliance makes an easy to install package... You can get transfer switches or panels...depending on your needs and size of generator...
  3. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Often the generator manufacturer will offer a transfer switch package. Check with them first.
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,642
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    switch

    First you need the generator, so you can determine how many appliances can be fed by the transfer switch. Then you buy the correct one, get an electrical permit, and have it installed.
  5. seaneys

    seaneys New Member

    Messages:
    192
    Location:
    Chicago Suburbs
    Yeah.. The problem was I had to scramble to buy the generator when it was obvious the power was going to be down for a while. Something about 600,000 ppl w/o power last week raised my concern.

    Steve
  6. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT
    What size did you get?
  7. Furd

    Furd Engineer

    Messages:
    446
    Location:
    Wet side of Washington State
    I found a surplus Square D 60 amp, 3 pole switch on line. With the shipping it was about $70. Not too bad for a switch that normally sells for over $400.

    I installed this with a separate load center circuit breaker panel that I moved my critical loads to from the main panel. Since I had previously installed the load center (I didn't have enough circuit breaker space in the main panel) it was a fairly inexpensive job.
  8. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT
    How is a 3 pole switch qualified as a transfer equipment?
  9. Furd

    Furd Engineer

    Messages:
    446
    Location:
    Wet side of Washington State
    Three-pole, double-throw, center off with positive stop in the center position.

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2007
  10. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT


    Check these out also... http://www.interlockkit.com/
  11. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    The Square D interlock kits are about $70 on E b a y.

    QOCGK2C for a QO panel.

    It is a nice setup because you don't have to mess with rewiring your panel and all of the circuits are immediately connected to the generator.

    You do have to manage your load so you don't overload the generator.

    The problem with a small transfer switch is that it's a pain figuring out which circuits you are going to need on the generator, and the transfer switch can't switch the whole utility source off the panel, so the loads you want on the generator must all be on a subpanel.

    My generator has the option of delivering full power as 120 Volts, all in phase. I set it up to do that so that I don't have to worry about trying to balance 120 Volt loads between two separate phases and I can run any 120 Volt circuit in the house (but no 240 Volt circuits). CAUTION: If you do that you must carefully manage any Multiwire Branch Circuits so you don't overload the neutral.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2007
  12. joe in queens

    joe in queens New Member

    Messages:
    36
    I've been hearing those "whole house" configurations with small generators will most likely be "outlawed" in the next NEC code cycle (2008).

    It seems they think we're incapable of managing loads on our own, and will run each and every light and appliance during an outage. If this trend continues, before long the genset will have to be matched to the service rating... typical 200A service will require a 48Kw genset to be compliant.

    All this new requirement is going to do is ensure more jobs won't be filed, and dryer plugs will be used to backfeeed panels.

    I too hate the idea of a sub-panel and having to chose what to do with and without... outlets not working, appliances not working, etc. And even with a sub-panel properly configured for an estimated load, the genset can still be overloaded.

    Briggs and Stratton has some exciting new products for the home market, like their load management controller - it'll only switch on large loads if there's enough generator capacity to spare, this way critical loads are maintained, and optional loads will come online if available. Best of both worlds.
  13. Chris75

    Chris75 Electrician

    Messages:
    608
    Location:
    Litchfield, CT

    Only with a Automatic Transfer Switch, Manual will be fine...
  14. Connection Hub Alternative

    I'm not a pro electrician so I won't try to join the technical discussion here, but I went with this Connection Hub system from our power company rather than with a transfer switch and separate panel. Performs the same safety and performance duty on up to 12,000 watts on a 100-200 amp existing panel.
    http://www.dom.com/products/generators/hub.jsp
    I only have a 5500 watt portable generator, so I can run all of the 120v breakers only in my existing panel, or turn them all off and turn only the 240v breaker for the water heater on when we need hot water.
    The device automatically turns off the (generator) power for 30 seconds and then switches to the line power when it is restored to alert you to turn off your generator.
    The generator just plugs into the Connection Hub which is on the meter base. Easy, fast installation. Less expensive than a turnkey transfer switch and separate panel here. The longest that I've used it was 10 days for Hurricane Isabel in 2004. Works like a charm using the existing panel. I can operate everything but the central electric heatpump, one way or another, for our all-electric home on our 200 amp panel.
    Mike
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