How to Hook Portable Generator to House Well Pump.....

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by Badulah, Feb 12, 2014.

  1. Badulah

    Badulah New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    Maryland
    I recently purchased a portable Coleman generator (6875 max load) and although it is very handy, we have well water at home and I was wondering if there was a way to wire the well pump in to the 220 plug on the generator. I spoke with someone at the local hardware store and they sold me a 50 foot length of 12/2 cable with a ground. One end is bare wires (black, white & ground) and the other end has a 220 plug. They further explained to attach the bare wires to the pump and plug the other end in to the generator. When I got home I opened the electrical connection box on the well pump and discovered four wires: Grey, black and two white wires. Can anyone tell me exactly where to attach the leads from the generator? I'm a little confused because of the 3 wires from the generator vs. the 4 connections on the pump.

    Any and all help will be most appreciated.

    Regards,

    ~Rob
  2. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,495
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    The generator needs to plug into the three wires going to the pumps control box, not the four wires that go from the control box to the pump/motor.
  3. Badulah

    Badulah New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    Maryland
    P1040796.jpg

    After reading your reply I went back in to the utility room and looked at everything again. I completely forgot the pump and pressure tank are two different things. In order to have running water, both will need to operate.

    I attached a photo of what I think should be the connection point. It is the only place I can find where the pump and pressure tank connect. When you look at the picture, the cable on the right comes directly from the circuit breaker box and connects to the leads (white and black). The line on the left leads straight to the underground pump (Grey and white).

    With that in mind, should I hook the generator lines to the contact points for the cable on the right (the one from the circuit breaker)? If so, where do I attach the ground from the generator?

    I'm sorry if I sound a little dense. I just don't have very much experience with electrical work and I really don't want to damage anything or hurt anyone.

    Thanks again!

    ~Rob
  4. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,331
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    What they told you to do will work, but may not be safe, because you will have a male AC plug that is Hot when power from your house in on, and burn up your generator, Back feed your transformer, unless you disconnect the house feed.

    Are you going to disconnect AC power from your house feed ?

    Just turning Off a breaker is not a good idea.


    Good Luck.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
  5. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,495
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    I would put a plug on the wall coming from the breaker. Then you can plug the pump into the house power or plug it into the generator. That way you won’t have any cross connections possible.
  6. craigpump

    craigpump Member

    Messages:
    977
    Location:
    ct
    Or just turn the breaker off.

    You didn't say what size pump you have, that #12 might be too light for the load you put on it. I'd prefer 10.
  7. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,331
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Excellent Idea.

    He could use that wire to make a extension cord, Just put a socket on the other end, so the generator can be put outside wherever wanted.
  8. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,331
    Location:
    Houston, TX


    50 foot of #12 could be light depending on the pump motor, it could be cut shorter.

    Just turning off a breaker, is not a good Idea, for safety reasons. I have done that, but I do not recommend it.

    To much room for operator error.
  9. Badulah

    Badulah New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    Maryland
    First off, I want to thank everyone who has responded. I really appreciate everyone's input.

    I don't know how big my well pump is. It was installed about 10 years ago, which was 7 years before I purchased the house. It is over 250 feet in the ground and I have no idea how to find out how big it is. Suggestions on solving this mystery?

    What I didn't mention is that there is currently a power kill switch between the well pressure tank and the circuit breaker (its on the wall above the pressure tank). So if the power goes out, I will turn off the main to the house, turn off the specific breaker for the well/pressure tank and then turn off the kill switch between the breaker and the well/pressure tank and then hook up the generator.

    In the spring I plan to have a professional electrician install a power transfer switch and panel. We are expecting a heavy snow and ice storm tonight, so I'm just prepping for the chance that the storm will knock out the power. I realize this isn't a long-term solution.

    Back to my previous question: Should I hook the generator lines to the contact points for the cable on the right (the one from the circuit breaker)? If so, where do I attach the ground from the generator?
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
  10. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,432
    Location:
    IL
    1. Yes, after removing the existing wires.
    2. Under one of the green screws in the pressure switch.

    As to how big your pump is, you could estimate that from how much current the pump draws while running. A clamp-on ammeter is the easy tool to measure that. I expect 50 more feet of a #12 pair will do the job OK.

    I would think you would want to figure out how to make your furnace run, if you have a gas furnace. If you use electric heat, dress warmly and drain the pipes before they freeze.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
  11. Badulah

    Badulah New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    Maryland
    Reach4: THANKS!!

    I just measured the run and I can cut it down to around 28 feet. Hopefully that long of a run won't cause it to lose to much power.

    During the winter I'm not so concerned with my HVAC system because I have a wood burning stove that heats the entire house.
  12. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,495
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    You can back feed the whole house if you turn off the MAIN breaker. But like Don said, that is not safe because of possible user error. Even the extra disconnect between the breaker panel and the pump could be turned on accidentally. (not good)

    I would use the plug method until the electrician gets a real transfer switch working. You just need to disconnect the pump from the extra disconnect. Use that wire as the extension cord and put a male plug on it. Then add a female plug under the extra disconnect like the one on the generator. That way it can only be plugged into one thing at a time.
  13. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,331
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    NO.

    Either connect to the outside Two terminals, or the Inside two terminals in the pressure switch. Not left or right, or something will pop, That will be a direct short.

    They should be marked Line And Load, but it may not be wired like that, depends on who installed it. The Load should be the motor, The line is the two that you want to connect to, The ones going to the house breaker. It has to be the inner or outer connections. Look Close.


    Good Luck. I hope you have plenty of beer for the storm.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
  14. Badulah

    Badulah New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    Maryland
    Reach4 says yes and DonL says no.

    They are marked from left to right: L1, T1, T2, L2

    L1: Is currently connected to the grey lead, which goes to the breaker
    T1: Is currently connected to the black lead, which goes to the well pump
    T2: Is currently connected to the white lead, which goes directly to the well pump
    L2: Is currently connected to the second white lead, which goes directly to the breaker

    Since L1 and L2 run from the breaker, shouldn't I remove them and connect the generator leads to them and leave T1 and T2 connected to the pump just as they are?
  15. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,331
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    You said right set of contacts, That is not correct. (or i misunderstood) It is Inner and outer connections.

    Do not go by how they are marked, trace the wires. Some people wire them opposite and it will still work.

    "Since L1 and L2 run from the breaker, shouldn't I remove them and connect the generator leads to them and leave T1 and T2 connected to the pump just as they are?"

    Yes that is correct. Connect to the Outer most connections, the pump motor is on the inner two. That switch is wired correctly.


    Sorry for the confusion, If I did it.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
  16. Badulah

    Badulah New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    Maryland
    Got cha! I traced the lines back and they match up with what I put in my previous post.

    Thanks everyone!!

    As I said, this is not a long-term thing. Hopefully we won't lose power during this storm and I won't have to do this at all. Since I have two children, one of which is an infant, I just want to have a plan if the power does go out. In early spring I plan to have this done the right way by a licensed electrician.
  17. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,432
    Location:
    IL
    Not inconsistent, in my opinion.. I said yes to "Should I hook the generator lines to the contact points for the cable on the right (the one from the circuit breaker)".

    The two wires from the cable from the breaker should be lifted and replaced by the two hot wires from the generator. Those would be L1 and L2.
  18. Badulah

    Badulah New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    Maryland
    All three of us are on the same page. We are all saying the same thing. I just think there was a little confusion, but I got it now.
  19. Badulah

    Badulah New Member

    Messages:
    11
    Location:
    Maryland
    On a side note, if you look at the picture I posted, I discovered a little bit of water on the grounding screws. It seems it is leaking up through the valve underneath it. I'm assuming this isn't a good thing?
  20. greenmonster304

    greenmonster304 New Member

    Messages:
    21
    Location:
    Hampton Bays, NY
    I shut my main breaker and back feed through my dryer outlet. This way I can run anything in the house I want although not at the same time.
Similar Threads: Hook Portable
Forum Title Date
Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog Contractor disappeared, need help hooking up storage tank Sunday at 8:32 PM
Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog How do I hook up a Goulds 3/4 hp deep well jet pump with cross and control valve? Nov 13, 2012
Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog 6 GPM well makes 1gp HOUR. Who is on the hook? Feb 16, 2012
Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog Hooking Cistern back up Nov 15, 2011
Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog lawn pump electrical hook-up May 26, 2011

Share This Page