Something of a Quandry, Free whole house Genset. - Power Equipment Forum : Power Equipment Forums
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-05-2017, 03:51 PM Thread Starter
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Something of a Quandry, Free whole house Genset.

Background: Have a 5500 Watt Generac which I use during outages, via "main disconnect" fed through a 2P30A breaker which lets me pick and choose what loads I power. Works great, all done and paid for. I have a 100 feet tower behind my barn which is used for wifi (radio) and I let the local Volunteer fire Depts. put a transmitter there some time back. Total load for the tower varies from 300-500 watts. I don't charge them for electricity, and make sure it's powered during outages. I typically run the genset 12-14 hours per day and the tower has a 72 hour battery backup JIC. We used to have frequent outages, recently, it's alot better, in the last three years have had one 36 hour outage.


The Quandry. The local FD's decided they should do something for me since I power their transmitters, etc. (Not a big deal, I might need them sometime and my way of giving back) and unbeknown to me, put in for a grant and the Fed's just gave them a 12KW, Generac Propane unit which they called and said they wanted to give to me. I have a 500 gallon propane tank which we use for heating, cooking, etc. so no problem with fuel. The quandry is, It's just the genset, no switchgear, etc. As I'm sure you folks know, buy the transfer switch, breaker box, included with the genset or you're gonna pay a lot more. I haven't looked at the unit yet, but am led to believe it's just the genset. The beauty of these units is the auto start, transfer, auto exercise, etc. etc. which this probably doesn't have. If I put it by my house and use the existing wiring to feed the tower (200 feet underground cable) all would be fine. EXCEPT my house isn't wired for that, and by the time I buy the Generac Transfer switch, add cabling from genset to genset breaker box, cabling to my load center, etc. etc. probably gonna spend $800-1,000. While that would be very nice, what I have works and do I want to spend that much for the infrequent outage ignoring how convenient it would be? Alternately, could put the genset by the tower and just have it monitor the 120Volts there and start and stop and just feed the tower, letting them figure out a transfer switch. Removes the decision from me, however, during an outage while I'm dragging my genset out of the barn, connecting and fueling, would be perturbed looking at 12KW spinning, using only 500W. :-)


Looked briefly at those Reliance controls type 10 circuit manual transfer switches, less wiring and cost, put new genset by the house and use that to manually feed loads. Not as clean and convenient, but less costly to implement. Don't know anything about them, will research in the next couple of days. Would mean the lockout and double breaker genset feed would be unneeded.


Thought briefly about putting the genset by the tower and adding a #8 or 10 4/C to feed the house which would require renting a ditch witch and buying 200 feet of cable, etc. to use the lockout and "genfeed" breaker I already have. Also, that would be tricky as it would start on power failure at the tower, but would have to "rig" it so that it would only feed the cable to the house. I would then manually feed the tower through existing cabling. BUT prevent the genset from sensing power restoration and shutting down until I manually went there and shut it down. You can accomplish almost anything with relays and lockouts, but am a firm beliver in keeping things simple.


That's some of what's been bounching around since I got the call last night, when I actually get to sketching it out, probably see some other options or fallacies in what I just mentioned. I'm supposed to go look at the unit this week. They said they'd pay the propane company for piping, regulator, etc. wherever I decide to have it placed.


I'm sure there's a really slick, inexpensive, way to use this, but am very suspicious of using a "purpose built" item for another use.


Sorry for the length of this post,


Ev
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-05-2017, 11:18 PM
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Man, that's a bummer, just a auto transfer switch on Amazon is over $600 bucks. Add wiring and all the work and I can see why your second guessing this. But then how do you deal with someone just giving you a brand new gen set? Perhaps you could talk to them about it, or perhaps you could sell your older unit and that would help with the cost of upgrading. I assume your older unit is running gas? Propane gen sets are really nice. Tough decision.

Chilling in the desert Sun
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-06-2017, 10:37 PM Thread Starter
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OK, feeling a little better about this whole situation. Looked into the Reliance Generator Transfer Switches and they're pretty slick, not as easy as a transfer switch where you don't do nothing, but nice. Surprisingly, these are much cheaper to install than the Generac whole house units with transfer switch, etc. As less wiring is involved. Still have to get up and flip some switches, but I was doing that before-in additon to dragging out the genset and connecting to the load center. Supposed to go over and see the new genset and probably bring it home sometime this week, we'll see what develops. Here's the one I've decided to get.




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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-09-2017, 12:38 AM
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So I did some research on this transfer switch and even watched the video series on YouTube and I got to thinking. Your getting a 12Kw gen set and are going to use a 30amp switch set. This switch is only rated for a 8kw gen set. Wouldn't it be better to use the 50amp version of this switch?

Now this switch



Is rated for 12,500kw gen set and is a 50 amp switch.
It also has the 50amp plug on the bottom as a plus and is only 40 bucks more.

Or even better at Amazon here without the plug for only 22 buck more.



Just thought I would put this out there for you. It's a nice set up and I had not seen them before.
Will keep it in mind for my own set up.

Chilling in the desert Sun

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-09-2017, 08:42 PM Thread Starter
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Handyman, good point, suppose I should look into it, however, the 30Amps does everything I need in an outage, not sure how many more lights, etc. I'd want to power. When I started this little odyssey, I was looking at the 6 circuit switch, decided to go to 10. The only appreciable loads I have are a upright freezer, side by side frig, and micro wave minimal useage) on dedicated circuits, that would leave seven circuits for lights, TV's, computers, etc. all those are minimal loads. Life's kind of simpler since we're both retired and don't have a "houseful" anymore. :-)


I was impressed with these due to the lower cost and ease of installation, stick it beside your load center, pull in your main power feed from the genset, perhaps a 120V "monitoring" feed for the genset if you have auto start and it's done. I've helped a couple of neighbors instal the Generac whole house units, and it seemed that the "sub breaker box," had to be located away from the load center and it just became a major project. However, those are really slick, power goes off, wait a little and lights, etc. are back on.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-10-2017, 11:48 PM
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Yea, after thinking about it I guess your right. I had to think about the design a bit and I realized that the only difference on these
is the amount of breakers it feeds and perhaps the size of the gen set input lines. But if your never going to use all of that then it's a
mute point. Good luck on your new gen set and keep us up to date on how it goes.

Chilling in the desert Sun
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-13-2017, 06:21 AM
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I use a lockout device on the main breaker panel for the house. I have the generator breaker that can not be turned on till the main is shut off and the main can't be on if the generator breaker is on. This powers the whole house without the cost of an extra panel. The only cost is the wire to run from the generator to the existing panel and a breaker. Also whatever style plugs you want to use. Safe, cheap and easy.

Currently only 9 generators, But always looking
Onan, 2.5LK Vacuflow 3CR - 3.0 AJ vacuflo 1R - 5.0CCK Vacuflow 3CR - 5.0CCK Contractor 3CP - 12.5JC Vacuflow 3R multi fuel
Champion, 1400 Watt - 3500 Watt,
Witte Dieselelectric 8000 watt 1941
Old military 2 stroke basket case DC
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