Power Equipment Forum banner
1 - 20 of 57 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
31 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, folks.

I'm new to the forum, and while I'm fairly hands-on with mechanical equipment, I'm not an expert on generators. So. I would appreciate some help in making the next move in ensuring reliable standby power for my home. Please accept my apologies for the long post!

Here is some background:

The house was built (for the previous owner) in late 2014, and was equipped with a Generac Model 0058370 unit with ATS. Not sure what model the transfer switch is, but I have included some pictures to help identify generator and ATS:

Fluid Font Material property Gas Electric blue


Font Rectangle Technology Machine Transparency


We've owned the home for about 4.5 years, and generally experience probably about 5 power outages per year, most of which are 4 hours or less. I have maintained the unit with synthetic oil, new filter, new plug, new air filter, etc., annually, and it has been fairly trouble-free. The only ongoing issue we have experienced is slow starting. The unit will always start, but it takes a lot of cranking before it will fire, usually right at the end of the first cranking cycle. This likely contributed to an early failure of the starter, which I replaced last year. The generator is on propane, and we are currently operating with 100lb cylinders, which last quite a long time. As far as requirements, we do really need an automated solution as our house we have a couple of sump pumps that are important at certain times of year.

Fast forward to two days ago. In our area, we have experienced heavier-than-normal snowfall, and with overhead lines in a heavily-forested area (Vancouver Island, BC), we have seen more frequent (and longer) outages than normal. This includes 14 hours over two outages on Christmas Eve. On Sunday morning, we had a very short outage, the generator started, and then horrible noises quickly ensued. Before I could get anywhere near the machine, it had obviously suffered catastrophic engine failure, which was confirmed when I looked inside the enclosure.

Bumper Gas Automotive exterior Machine Electrical wiring


Ouch.

Not sure of the cause, as I did check the oil regularly, but I understand from internet research that this sort of failure is not uncommon for these units. The local Generac dealer confirmed this, and says that engines (and many regular parts) are no longer available for this model. He also confirmed that comparable replacement units are taking about 45 weeks to arrive due to global supply chain issues. C'est la vie.

So, for short-term coverage, I picked up a Firman 10000/8000 dual fuel unit (it was available down the street), and have it running, with extension cords handy, to get me through until I have a better, solution. For the slightly-longer term, I was thinking of simply connecting the Firman unit with a 230V twist-lock connector in place of the hard-wired connector that went to the Generac unit. However, this brings me to the first question:

If I understand correctly, in the even of loss of line power, the transfer switch commands the generator to start, and when it sees AC power from the generator, it transfers the load to the generator. Is this accurate? I have found manuals online that I think are the correct ones for this setup, but I just want to be sure.

If my understanding is correct, I would assume that if I connect the Firman unit to the cable that was going to the Generac, when the power goes out, I should be able to go manually start the Firman, and when the transfer switch sees it come up, then it will automagically switch over to generator power? Is this accurate, or am I missing something? Is there any logic exchanged between the generator or the ATS. or do they have to be a matched set, for some reason?

Unfortunately, the Firman unit doesn't have a remote start option, so I won't be able to (easily) make that work, but at least this lets me get going without having to worry about all the extension cords, for now.

I have some ideas about where to go from here, but this post is already too long, so I will end it here for now, and will add some additional thoughts and questions a bit later.

Thanks in advance for your patience with my noob questions.

Cheers,
Shaun
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,833 Posts
great questions!
it all depends on the call for gen start.
if it is digital on a wifi or lan connection from the ats then you might be stuck doing some hard core design to get past the digital full auto.

see if you can find the wiring diagrams for both the ats and the gen.
if it is all relay controlled you should be able to adapt the new gen set to the current ats system.

you will need an electric gas valve for the new gen set.
as well as an inlet cord and inlet socket.

you will have to watch the load close...
and use a 50 amp inlet.
if the new gen is rated for a real 8000 watt run you are close to the old gen power by the math.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,438 Posts
By the looks of that transfer panel you can manually transfer the circuits to generator power like an interlock. No need to rely on it automatically switching.

Flip the utility breaker to off and the generator breaker to on. Done.

If automatic Operation only requires the L1,L2,N, and G to be connected to a power source then that’s a home run.

Can you snap a pic of what’s under that panel cover?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks, gentlemen.

There is definitely no Wi-Fi or LAN involved, and the only cable going into the generator is the multi-conductor that includes power, L1,L2,N, etc. I'll get a picture under the ATS cover as soon as I get home, but here is the generator side:

Motor vehicle Hood Electrical wiring Electronic engineering Cable


And the diagram on the inside:

Handwriting Line Font Material property Automotive tire


I have also added the wiring diagram, installation and owners manuals as attachments. Hope it's okay to attach large files here! Please let me know if not and I will delete them.

With regard to the Firman generator, I am assuming that I will need the electric gas valve if I intend to automate startup, correct? As for cords, the Firman accommodates a few different types:

Automotive lighting Motor vehicle Yellow Vehicle Automotive exterior


I was initially going to use the 14-50R, but Home Depot didn't have one, so I was planning to use this:

Automotive lighting White Motor vehicle Medical equipment Eyelash


I can certainly get the 14-50 from an electrical supplier if needed, though.

From the perspective of load, the old Generac was 7kW, and the Firman is 8000W with 10000 surge. Hoping that this means that it will be acceptable for the current load. Here is the exact model:


Thanks again for the help! I'm enjoying the learning experience, and am going to dig into the manuals a bit more.

Cheers,
Shaun
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
75 Posts
Check EBAY (continuously) for a replacement engine ... as others' generac's fall out with a stator/rotor failure, the engine will still be (reasonably) good. Your generac manuals will specify the engine type you want to search for (or set a search alert that notifies you).

The generac dealers want to sell new replacement engines, understandably, but at a year for resupply, perhaps the used market will help you. Not sure who will replace the engine for you, if you do find a (used) replacement ... w/o the field service manual, the replacement process might be tricky.

For example, I have a Generac 22kw model (7042) w/ a failed stator/rotor, but a reasonably good engine, and all kinds of ancillary parts around it ... will go onto EBAY for sale of parts as soon as I can get pics and such up.

You'll be waiting for a combination similar to mine ... stator/rotor failure on a model the same or close to yours with the same engine type, where the stator/rotor is just too expensive to fix ... so the rest will be parted out, via EBAY.

Hope this helps ...
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,438 Posts
I’ve been digging through the manuals you posted. This was the perfect motivation to fill some of my knowledge gaps on standby generators.

The transfer panel cannot be automatically triggered by the firmans power output. The generac generators control module supply’s 12v and selectively a ground on the 3 communication wires running from the transfer panel to the enclosure. If you remove the lower black trim panel on the enclosures electrical panel you’ll see the connector block with terminals 194 23 and 0 on it.

As for the connector you bought, that’s a 120v 30amp plug and is not appropriate for what you want to do. You’ll need a 50 amp inlet box to wire to the red, black, white, and heavy gauge bare ground wire. Then a cord that will connect from the inlet box to the 14-50 receptacle on your firman.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Check EBAY (continuously) for a replacement engine ... as others' generac's fall out with a stator/rotor failure, the engine will still be (reasonably) good. Your generac manuals will specify the engine type you want to search for (or set a search alert that notifies you).

The generac dealers want to sell new replacement engines, understandably, but at a year for resupply, perhaps the used market will help you. Not sure who will replace the engine for you, if you do find a (used) replacement ... w/o the field service manual, the replacement process might be tricky.

For example, I have a Generac 22kw model (7042) w/ a failed stator/rotor, but a reasonably good engine, and all kinds of ancillary parts around it ... will go onto EBAY for sale of parts as soon as I can get pics and such up.

You'll be waiting for a combination similar to mine ... stator/rotor failure on a model the same or close to yours with the same engine type, where the stator/rotor is just too expensive to fix ... so the rest will be parted out, via EBAY.

Hope this helps ...
Thanks for the suggestion. I had been thinking about trying to find a used engine, but the more I've read about this model, the more concerned I have become about the durability of these engines. I can't help but think that I'd just be sitting on another ticking time bomb. I will keep it in mind, though, and will watch to see what comes up on eBay.

Cheers,
Shaun
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I’ve been digging through the manuals you posted. This was the perfect motivation to fill some of my knowledge gaps on standby generators.

The transfer panel cannot be automatically triggered by the firmans power output. The generac generators control module supply’s 12v and selectively a ground on the 3 communication wires running from the transfer panel to the enclosure. If you remove the lower black trim panel on the enclosures electrical panel you’ll see the connector block with terminals 194 23 and 0 on it.

As for the connector you bought, that’s a 120v 30amp plug and is not appropriate for what you want to do. You’ll need a 50 amp inlet box to wire to the red, black, white, and heavy gauge bare ground wire. Then a cord that will connect from the inlet box to the 14-50 receptacle on your firman.
Thanks so much for taking the time to look into this in order to offer assistance. I spent a few hours this evening doing much the same, and came to a very similar conclusion about the viability of using the existing transfer switch with a "dumb" generator. The one thing I wondered about was your suggestion of possibly operating the transfer switch manually as a temporary solution. If I were to leave the control wires disconnected, could I then use the transfer switch manually in order to switch between line and generator power?

Anyway, looking at the longer-term solution, if I want to maintain a completely automated transfer, it seems that I have some serious choices to make.

First option would be to try to adapt the Generac controller to the Firman generator (likely not simple). I found a post on a different forum where a guy went to great lengths to do a Kohler engine swap, and ran into issues. He was quite ingenious, and managed to find workarounds for all the technical obstacles, but as soon as he got it all working, the power generation portion of the generator failed! Poor guy.

Second option might be to add a standalone controller like those from Deep Sea Electronics. I still need to study this, but it looks like they have the flexibility in programming to be able to accommodate all the requirements, and send the necessary signal to the ATS.

Third option would be to get a different transfer switch that will automagically handle the switchover without requiring a signal from the generator. Not sure if this is possible, but Honda has some high-level info on their website indicating that they can work with all sorts of smart ATS units. Again, more study required.

Last option would be to bite the bullet and order a complete, new, integrated solution. However, availability seems to be a real issue, at the moment, and most of these seem to be offered by Generac. Given what I've just gone through, as well as all the issues I've read about, I'm hesitant to go down that path with them again.

Am I missing any other obvious solutions? What really appeals to me, at the moment, is to pick up a nice, reliable Honda generator, and find a way to make it work with the current ATS, or get a compatible ATS. Still, there are pitfalls there, too, as Honda doesn't offer propane as a solution for long runtime, so I'd have to go aftermarket, which would void the warranty. Naturally, I'd also need to look at a secure enclosure to protect it from weather and thieves, but that would be the case with any portable generator.

Much to ponder, and thanks again for your assistance in helping me learn!

Thanks also for the heads up on the connector. The good thing is that I have an electrician friend who is going to do the actual connections, and you just saved me from getting laughed at by him. 😂 He suggested that I pick up the 14-50 connector first, but also said that a 240 twist lock could work. Figures that I picked up the wrong one!

Cheers,
Shaun
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,438 Posts
If I were to leave the control wires disconnected, could I then use the transfer switch manually in order to switch between line and generator power?
Yes, you will be able to operate the panel manually. The smaller gauge communication wires can be disregarded and the heavy gauge wires can be used for the new inlet box.
What really appeals to me, at the moment, is to pick up a nice, reliable Honda generator, and find a way to make it work with the current ATS, or get a compatible ATS.
It may be possible to interface with the generac ATS you have. Maybe with something like the GSCM-mini or something similar. I’ve pondered ways to have a few critical circuits on a auto-transfer panel and have the eu7000 auto start. I have a plan, but I’m unsure if it’ll ultimately be code compliant since the auto transfer switch I’d use is more geared toward solar and RV usage.
Still, there are pitfalls there, too, as Honda doesn't offer propane as a solution for long runtime, so I'd have to go aftermarket, which would void the warranty. Naturally, I'd also need to look at a secure enclosure to protect it from weather and thieves, but that would be the case with any portable generator.
The warranty period is only 3 years, you can wait it out or just take the leap. I converted mine right off the bat, haven’t needed to bring it back for any warranty work.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
75 Posts
Generac's model is "full support, by auth'd dealer" + propane + unknown thd + so-so reliability, so if playing in this open-frame generator arena, you'll periodically pay a base price of $2500 to $5000 every warranty period. Odds of a catastrophic failure (engine, stator/rotor, controller) seem to be at 2000 hours or so (or equivalent in years of age). Current warranty is up to 5 or 7 years, if you fully play in their support model (you are in an area covered by an auth'd dealer). They come to you and do the work. For this, you'll get a quiet machine, propane, full auto-start and other nifty features, and peace of mind.

Honda's model is "full support, by auth'd dealer" + inverter/generator (low thd) + reliability, so if playing in this arena, you'll periodically pay a base price of $5000 every warranty period (3 years?). Odds of a catastrophic failure (controller/gcu) seems to be at about 2500 hours, but the engine, stator/rotor seems to be further out; if you get the repairs done, the system will outlive its warranty. Current warranty is around 3 years? Gasoline only, so if you go propane, you'll mess with the warranty. No auto-start (w/o effort). You go to them (in most cases, you take the unit into a dealer), to get the work done; again, their reliability is a given (but to me, it only goes so far ... I think 2500 hours is not unreasonable, backed up by several threads on this site).

Duromax's model (what I use now, and I used to run a generac) is "self-support" + propane + 12% thd + so-so reliability, so if playing in this open-frame generator arena, you'll pay a base price of $1500 every warranty period. I purchase two right off the bat, so one is running, and the other is in near-standby mode; if one fails, it is easily repaired, and the other jumps right into duty, allowing for near 100% reliability (of power, when needed). Generators/parts are recycled, by becoming part of the stream of working units; add a unit when needed, part the failed unit out and feed back in. No auto-start. Nobody comes to you (unless you still have an old genny guy in your area), but that is ok, as it is easily DIY. Replace Duromax with any similar-class genny.

This is a long way around of saying you'll need to determine which arena you want to play in ... lots of variables (auto-start, fuel, support, warranty, who does the work, etc.) to consider, and everyone's use case is different. Honda's is not the same as Generac's, and neither are even close to the DIY model I use, but I get 100% reliability at a lessor cost than either of the other two; living rural, this seems to be the best fit for me. Nobody is coming in to work on my units, and I can't take them to anybody (few genny shops, these days). But, they are super easy to work on, and Duromax has the parts availability.

I'd stick w/ generac (replace your existing unit when you can), so you can keep the auto-start, full-service model, if you "don't want a failure" that you have to manage ... you just call the auth'd dealer; if the maintenance is being done (right), you'll likely not have a failure within the warranty period and/or the 2000 hour mark. Usually, it all just works.

Hope this helps ...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yes, you will be able to operate the panel manually. The smaller gauge communication wires can be disregarded and the heavy gauge wires can be used for the new inlet box.

It may be possible to interface with the generac ATS you have. Maybe with something like the GSCM-mini or something similar. I’ve pondered ways to have a few critical circuits on a auto-transfer panel and have the eu7000 auto start. I have a plan, but I’m unsure if it’ll ultimately be code compliant since the auto transfer switch I’d use is more geared toward solar and RV usage.
The warranty period is only 3 years, you can wait it out or just take the leap. I converted mine right off the bat, haven’t needed to bring it back for any warranty work.
Good info, thanks. I'm going to take a look into the GSCM-mini and see what it does. I have also been looking at the Deep Sea Electronics DSE3110, and will compare them both.

Just thinking about it, and for a short-term solution to manually control the transfer switch from the generator, it would be pretty simple to supply 12v from the Firman gen battery to the transfer switch (same as the Generac did), and put in a manual transfer button that would supply ground to the transfer switch when the generator has started and is ready to go. That would get me through with some convenience until I have the automation going.

Cheers,
Shaun
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Generac's model is "full support, by auth'd dealer" + propane + unknown thd + so-so reliability, so if playing in this open-frame generator arena, you'll periodically pay a base price of $2500 to $5000 every warranty period. Odds of a catastrophic failure (engine, stator/rotor, controller) seem to be at 2000 hours or so (or equivalent in years of age). Current warranty is up to 5 or 7 years, if you fully play in their support model (you are in an area covered by an auth'd dealer). They come to you and do the work. For this, you'll get a quiet machine, propane, full auto-start and other nifty features, and peace of mind.

Honda's model is "full support, by auth'd dealer" + inverter/generator (low thd) + reliability, so if playing in this arena, you'll periodically pay a base price of $5000 every warranty period (3 years?). Odds of a catastrophic failure (controller/gcu) seems to be at about 2500 hours, but the engine, stator/rotor seems to be further out; if you get the repairs done, the system will outlive its warranty. Current warranty is around 3 years? Gasoline only, so if you go propane, you'll mess with the warranty. No auto-start (w/o effort). You go to them (in most cases, you take the unit into a dealer), to get the work done; again, their reliability is a given (but to me, it only goes so far ... I think 2500 hours is not unreasonable, backed up by several threads on this site).

Duromax's model (what I use now, and I used to run a generac) is "self-support" + propane + 12% thd + so-so reliability, so if playing in this open-frame generator arena, you'll pay a base price of $1500 every warranty period. I purchase two right off the bat, so one is running, and the other is in near-standby mode; if one fails, it is easily repaired, and the other jumps right into duty, allowing for near 100% reliability (of power, when needed). Generators/parts are recycled, by becoming part of the stream of working units; add a unit when needed, part the failed unit out and feed back in. No auto-start. Nobody comes to you (unless you still have an old genny guy in your area), but that is ok, as it is easily DIY. Replace Duromax with any similar-class genny.

This is a long way around of saying you'll need to determine which arena you want to play in ... lots of variables (auto-start, fuel, support, warranty, who does the work, etc.) to consider, and everyone's use case is different. Honda's is not the same as Generac's, and neither are even close to the DIY model I use, but I get 100% reliability at a lessor cost than either of the other two; living rural, this seems to be the best fit for me. Nobody is coming in to work on my units, and I can't take them to anybody (few genny shops, these days). But, they are super easy to work on, and Duromax has the parts availability.

I'd stick w/ generac (replace your existing unit when you can), so you can keep the auto-start, full-service model, if you "don't want a failure" that you have to manage ... you just call the auth'd dealer; if the maintenance is being done (right), you'll likely not have a failure within the warranty period and/or the 2000 hour mark. Usually, it all just works.

Hope this helps ...
Thanks very much for the well-considered and thoughtful response. It really is all about what resources a person has access to, what capability they have, and what involvement they want to have. In my situation, I really don't want another situation where I can get parts. When the starter went on my Generac, I had to wait about a month for it to come in, and I can't even get engine parts for a seven-year-old machine. That takes Generac off the table for me, I think, and I'll be looking for a more modular solution that I have intimate knowledge of. I am mechanically and technologically capable (not so much electrically, but I have access to great electricians :)), so I don't mind being more involved with the components, maintenance, configuration, programming etc. In fact, I prefer it. So, I think I'm going down the path of sourcing good individual component that I can find, and making them work together. Then, I'll keep extras on hand so I can swap pieces out if the need arises.

I'm putting together a plan of how I'm thinking of proceeding, along with a list of proposed components. Once I have that together, I'll post it in this thread and hope that others will offer feedback to make sure I'm not making any silly mistakes.

Again, sincere thanks to everyone who has offered advice so far.

Cheers,
Shaun
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
51 Posts
I imagine the power wiring from your generator to the transfer switch is sized to the 7kw generator, so that's something.

I'd think you'd want to make sure the current generator is totally out of the mix, so I think I'd disconnect all electrical connections from the transfer switch, in preparation to operate it manually.

Where's the Firman sit when it's in operation, and where's the transfer switch, inside or outside?

I mean, you could drill a hole in the existing gen's enclosure and mount the inlet box, if you could conveniently wheel the portable in the vicinity.

I'm fuzzy on all this stuff, but the transfer switch has a 50 amp breaker, but the nameplate say 29.2a at 240v. So, I wonder if you might be okay with a 30amp 240v. twist lock inlet. The Firman's 30 amp plug would have a breaker on it too, right? Things would be cheaper.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,438 Posts
I imagine the power wiring from your generator to the transfer switch is sized to the 7kw generator, so that's something.

I'd think you'd want to make sure the current generator is totally out of the mix, so I think I'd disconnect all electrical connections from the transfer switch, in preparation to operate it manually.

Where's the Firman sit when it's in operation, and where's the transfer switch, inside or outside?

I mean, you could drill a hole in the existing gen's enclosure and mount the inlet box, if you could conveniently wheel the portable in the vicinity.

I'm fuzzy on all this stuff, but the transfer switch has a 50 amp breaker, but the nameplate say 29.2a at 240v. So, I wonder if you might be okay with a 30amp 240v. twist lock inlet. The Firman's 30 amp plug would have a breaker on it too, right? Things would be cheaper.
The wire terminating at the generators enclosure just by looking at it is at least 8awg If not 6awg. He will need to look closer to confirm. It’s possible to use 8 gauge wire as long as the conduit, wire, and terminations are rated for the 90 degree column. For example the reliance 50amp inlet has 90 degree column rated terminals… I personally would never suggest using less then 6gauge wire for a 50amp inlet but it’s technically OK as long as all the boxes are checked. If any of the comments are only listed for 75 or 60 degree column then 6 gauge is the minimum sized conductor for 50 amps.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks, folks. I continue to learn more from this forum each day, and after two more extended power outages today, I need all the help I can get! This has been the worst year by far in the 5 years we have lived here.

The good news is that the Firman generator has operated well, today, and has kept the important things running (using extension cords -- not going through the transfer switch). The only fly in the ointment is that the UPS I have supporting all my key electronics (cable modem, router, etc.), wasn't really happy with the power it was supplying. On a fairly regular basis, it would switch over to battery in order to filter out things it didn't like. The UPS showed power ranging from 120v, to 121v, 122v, back to 120v, etc. I was too occupied to look at this closely, but this might have aligned to when heavy loads (pumps) were switching. So, I guess I learned today that an inverter generator is probably desirable for clean power to the house! What I don't know is if the UPS (APC 1500vA) is fully filtering out the bad effects of the power, or if I really need to not connect anything electronic for now. FWIW, we didn't see this behavior with the Generac unit.

To answer a few questions, the Firman generator currently sits out front of the house, which provides the most direct path for running extension cords to critical items. The long-term home for it will be at the back of the house, which is where the current (failed) Generac unit is located. The ATS is located in the garage near the front of the house, with all the cabling running to the back in conduit (behind finished walls) where the generator is.

As for wiring for the old generator, yes, I do plan to complete disconnect the control wiring until we get to the point of using it on the new setup. Thanks for bringing up the concern about the gauge of wire for the 240V feed from the generator. I'll have a look at it to determine the gauge before doing anything else. I had really just assumed that the load was going to be the same on the new generator as the old, but it's absolutely better to be sure.

Speaking of the new step, I'll be right back with another post to outline what I'm planning.

Cheers,
Shaun
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hi, folks.

Please accept my apologies in advance for the long post! After a lot of very valuable advice from forum members, followed by a great deal of head-scratching, here is the direction that I plan to go in with my replacement generator:

  • Rather than go with another proprietary standby generator and transfer switch, I'm planning to go with quality individual components (that have decent parts availability), and make them work together. Part of the reason for doing this it the poor experience I have had with the Generac solution, where I find myself unable to get parts for a setup that is less than 7 years old. What I really want to be able to do is to have a spare (tri-fuel) portable generator sitting in my garage that I can simply roll into place if the primary unit fails. Then, I can roll the failed unit into my workshop, and do whatever is needed, in relative comfort, to get it going. If I can't fix it, I can just buy another unit, and wire it up for automatic operation. The other thing that contributes to this decision is that new standby units are currently almost impossible to find in our area. Every outlet that I have checked (and there have been a number of them) show "No stock available online" and "No stock available at nearby stores", regardless of the manufacturer, at least in the entry-level segment that I live in. This supports what my Generac dealer said. Bottom line is that I'm not willing to wait months for a solution, and I'm really not sure I want to go down that path again, anyway.
  • As for which specific portable unit I'll go with, I haven't fully decided yet, and TBH, I like the idea that I have some flexibility there. I have the Firman unit already, so I'll work with that for now. Beyond that, I'll keep researching what makes the most sense. As mentioned previously, I'm currently leaning towards a Honda product for reliability, but I'm not completely sure yet.
  • Being that I am going down the path of a portable unit, I'll need an enclosure to protect it from the elements, and to keep noise in check. We're not right on top of our neighbors, but we do want to be considerate of them. So, I'm planning to use the well-proven Suncast shed method, and after comparing generator size to internal dimensions, along with available space in the area where it will be placed, I have decided to go with the BMS3400X. I would have preferred to go with the BMS4700X, but it just made things a little more tight in the available space, and the 3400 is big enough for what I need.
  • Having decided upon the enclosure, I have been reviewing build threads to determine the best approach for cooling fans, inlet louvers, cable grommets, insulation, etc. However, there is a fair amount of variation between the specifics what people have used (size, CFM, insulation type, etc.), and I'm still trying to nail down the details. So, I welcome any well-informed advice on the subject. I do plan to install temperature monitoring devices after the build, so will be able to track the effectiveness of whatever cooling solution I choose, but it would be really nice to get it right the first time. Not sure if it matters, but I'm also planning to add custom aluminum baffles on the outside of the cooling fan and inlet louvers, lined with sound absorbing insulation. At this point, I'm thinking of Rockwool for the walls and doors, and something lighter and reflective on the lid. For cooling I'm thinking of a couple of 12" inlets, and maybe a 12" to 14" outlet fan (~1000+ CFM). Thoughts? Where we live, the climate is (usually) pretty moderate during both summer and winter. That said, for a few weeks in the summer, it can get up to 40-45C (104-113F), so I want to plan for that. Lows are rarely below -5C (23F), but we do see the odd few days as cold as -15C (5F). Where we last lived, -30C (-22F) or lower wasn't uncommon, and I sure don't miss that!!
  • As for wiring connections, my intent is to bring the current flexible conduit into the enclosure and terminate it in a junction box for distribution of the 240V, 120V and control wiring. I'll leave the specifics of how best to do this with my electrician friend. For distribution within the enclosure, my current thought for 240V is use the 50 amp RV-type cable with an inlet box, as if it were affixed to the house. For 120V, I'm thinking of a weatherproof outlet as used on the outside of the house. This will power the battery maintainer, charge an LED wall-mounted flashlight, and maybe one of those heaters that are used for dog houses (if that turns out to be necessary -- see propane, below). I'll first need to check the capacity of the 120V supply from the transfer switch to see what it will support, though. I know it is sufficient at least for the battery charger, though, as this is what it was used for with the Generac unit.
  • For automation, I plan to stick with the Generac transfer switch, for now. It has always worked well (so far), and I'm reasonably confident that I understand how it functions (more testing to follow). Over time, though, I will research other ATS units and hope to find one that is reasonably-priced, and will let me prioritize loads. Naturally, all of this means that I will need some sort of controller to sense the loss of line power, start the generator, and send the command to the transfer switch to do its thing (along with the reverse once power is restored). At the moment, I am leaning towards the Deep Sea Electronic DSE3110, which seems to be very capable, while also being reasonably-priced, and well-made (in the UK). I'm planning to mount this on the front door of a small, wall-mount metal cabinet, so all the connections are available on the inside. I'm also thinking of a putting a multiple relay board in there to simplify interconnection, but might just leave the relays on the generator side. We'll see. The intent will be to run a single multi-conductor umbilical cable from the controller over the generator with a single multi-pin connector. Both generators will have the same connector, so it will be simple to disconnect and reconnect everything if I need to swap it out.
  • For propane, I'm currently using 100# tanks, but am considering changing over to a 420# (with delivery service) to ensure long-run supply, improve cold-weather performance, and to move it further away from the generator and other sources of ignition. The price for propane with definitely be higher than going to my local Costco, but it means that I don't have to do that anymore, either. In any case, I would plan to have a quick disconnect fitting just outside of the enclosure so I can connect a 100# tank directly, if needed. Also, with tri-fuel, I can always default back to good old gas, if really needed.
So, that's a summary of what I am currently thinking. That said, I'm really new to this, and I'm hoping that those with more experience will be willing to point out the flaws in my cunning plan (Blackadder reference). I've tried to absorb everything said so far, but I'm sure there are plenty of additional things that I am not even considering yet.

Thanks again for all your help.

Shaun
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,833 Posts
THA
Thanks, folks. I continue to learn more from this forum each day, and after two more extended power outages today, I need all the help I can get! This has been the worst year by far in the 5 years we have lived here.

The good news is that the Firman generator has operated well, today, and has kept the important things running (using extension cords -- not going through the transfer switch). The only fly in the ointment is that the UPS I have supporting all my key electronics (cable modem, router, etc.), wasn't really happy with the power it was supplying. On a fairly regular basis, it would switch over to battery in order to filter out things it didn't like. The UPS showed power ranging from 120v, to 121v, 122v, back to 120v, etc. I was too occupied to look at this closely, but this might have aligned to when heavy loads (pumps) were switching. So, I guess I learned today that an inverter generator is probably desirable for clean power to the house! What I don't know is if the UPS (APC 1500vA) is fully filtering out the bad effects of the power, or if I really need to not connect anything electronic for now. FWIW, we didn't see this behavior with the Generac unit.

To answer a few questions, the Firman generator currently sits out front of the house, which provides the most direct path for running extension cords to critical items. The long-term home for it will be at the back of the house, which is where the current (failed) Generac unit is located. The ATS is located in the garage near the front of the house, with all the cabling running to the back in conduit (behind finished walls) where the generator is.

As for wiring for the old generator, yes, I do plan to complete disconnect the control wiring until we get to the point of using it on the new setup. Thanks for bringing up the concern about the gauge of wire for the 240V feed from the generator. I'll have a look at it to determine the gauge before doing anything else. I had really just assumed that the load was going to be the same on the new generator as the old, but it's absolutely better to be sure.

Speaking of the new step, I'll be right back with another post to outline what I'm planning.

Cheers,
Shaun
the switching in and out on the ups units is the norm when loads are cutting in and out on the gen set.
you might look in to easy start or motor drive like they use on air con units and industrial stuff.
those help with the in rush issues.
you might look in to the back up pumps they use for sump pumps that work off 12 volts dc
you might be able to use a aux water tank for when the power is out.
or get 2 more bladder tanks to make 150 gallons reserve water at pressure.
they sure help to even out the pump runs.
well pumps are tricky at best and need a LARGE gen set to run them right...
you might even look in to a dedicated gen just for the well pump....
it could be done with an demand ats system that would only kick in the gen for the well pump when you are low on water pressure.
question how deep is the well???
they make gas powered jet pumps...
just a thought... with large bladder tanks it maybe an option.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
THA

the switching in and out on the ups units is the norm when loads are cutting in and out on the gen set.
you might look in to easy start or motor drive like they use on air con units and industrial stuff.
those help with the in rush issues.
you might look in to the back up pumps they use for sump pumps that work off 12 volts dc
you might be able to use a aux water tank for when the power is out.
or get 2 more bladder tanks to make 150 gallons reserve water at pressure.
they sure help to even out the pump runs.
well pumps are tricky at best and need a LARGE gen set to run them right...
you might even look in to a dedicated gen just for the well pump....
it could be done with an demand ats system that would only kick in the gen for the well pump when you are low on water pressure.
question how deep is the well???
they make gas powered jet pumps...
just a thought... with large bladder tanks it maybe an option.
Thanks, iowagold. Lots to think about in your post.

It's good to know that the UPS switching is normal, although didn't happen with the Generac unit previously. Apparently, that must have provided cleaner power.

Note that the well pump is not currently on the generator; just the two 1/3hp sump pumps and an effluent pump that rarely runs. Honestly, I don't know the depth of this well, and have been meaning to check. However, it does have a 1hp control box on it.

I'll definitely give thought to potential solutions for water. Again, thanks for that.

Cheers,
Shaun
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
75 Posts
UPS's at our off-grid location never "clicked" (cut in and out) when we ran on the generac (THD somewhere between 5% and 15%, but hard to pin down); these ups's do click when on our 12%THD Duromax's. My thinking is that it isn't a THD problem, as much as it is a QOS due to amount of power ... the Generac at 22kw powered everything in sight, even when charging the off-grid batteries through the inverter ... this is a guess. The whole neighborhood glowed when that thing was running ...

In another note, my theory on gennies is that there seems to be some kind of curve of age/utilization (not just utilization alone), where these things have to be replaced within a given set of years or hours. I call this the "base" price, and every generator is different. In the case of your 7-yo generac ... that is old in terms of years/technology, even if it may not have a high run-time of hours. The base price unit has to be replaced every so often, just to keep up with technology/parts, and so on. Couple this with "warranty" of a given unit ... if the vendor won't warranty it for more than a couple of years, that probably correlates to how long you can keep it running (not more than a few years beyond it's warranty period). There are outliers, of course ... 10k hours, or 10 years or more of service.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,833 Posts
Thanks, iowagold. Lots to think about in your post.

It's good to know that the UPS switching is normal, although didn't happen with the Generac unit previously. Apparently, that must have provided cleaner power.

Note that the well pump is not currently on the generator; just the two 1/3hp sump pumps and an effluent pump that rarely runs. Honestly, I don't know the depth of this well, and have been meaning to check. However, it does have a 1hp control box on it.

I'll definitely give thought to potential solutions for water. Again, thanks for that.

Cheers,
Shaun
if you have a good current meter or the oem manuals for the pump or the exact make and models of the pumps we can look up the specs.

yea the extra bladder tanks with good one way check valves are a real good easy up grade for a well system.
it is like a ups for the water system....
extra reserve water for when the pump power is off.....
i had thought about doing a network of tanks here for city water as well..
that way when the water is down i can shut off the main and work off the stored water.

quality clean water is one of the things you have to have for survival....
and needs its own section for sure.
 
1 - 20 of 57 Posts
Top