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Discussion Starter #1
Folks -
Thanks for all your help on my other thread (Contradictions & Confusion). I have a new question now. After meeting with an Electrician, he has convinced me to just do this right and put in a proper transfer switch. I'm ok with it I guess. However I'm still not on the same page with him on one item. He is suggesting a multicircuit transfer switch off my main panel...which I guess is pretty traditional. Since my house is broken up in to so many small circuits, trying to decide which ones to route to the switch have been a little painful. I suggested maybe going with a fully rated manual transfer switch at the service entry instead of off my main panel - which would allow me individual control of all the circuits at the main panel. Since my generator can't handle all of them at once, I'd need to shut most of them off before engaging the manual switch anyway, so why not just give me full access to all of them? His initial feeling was that this wouldn't work because I have a 110v generator, and the service entry is is 240v - and he wouldn't want my 220v appliances hit with 110v. Technically they wouldn't, because I would flip their breakers off before engaging the switch/generator.

Is there any reason I can't do a fully rated service entry switch? Any thoughts on why he might be pushing a multicircuit switch or why it might be preferable? Technically, the multicircuit swich has a 240v plug too...although no 220v appliances would be connected to the switch.

Just wondering how hard to push on this. A fully rated service entry switch seems like a better idea to me for future flexibility - but I also see very little chatter about them on the web.

Thanks for any thoughts/opinions...
LP
 

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Yes, all of those options may be safely implemented.

The existing generator creates AC from an inverter and is't a terrific long-term solution.

The Siemens main load center panel I installed, as-linked in this reply, permits a manual transfer switch of whatever size is required.

Note that if implementing a whole house transfer switch then all the wiring must be appropriately-sized and properly-installed. This means thick wiring routed in conduit, plus all the other requirements.

What is the main breaker size and which load center panel is currently installed?

For cost and effort, lowest is NEMA 1-15 in-line furnace plug receptacle; EZ generator switch; switched sub panel w/ circuits moved; new load center w/ integrated transfer switch and whole house transfer switch. It is possible the cost / effort on the later items might shift in rank depending on the specific details.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The main breaker is in the garage at the service entry and is rated for 150Amps - and it's the only thing in the panel. From there, the thick wires run to the main panel in my basement. It just seemed logical to me to put a fully rated switch right there at the main breaker in the garage. As to the details of each panel, I don't know. I have a couple of pics if that would help.

Why would a manual, fully rated switch be the highest cost option? I can see the hardware being more expensive because it needs to be able to handle the whole house load, but it seems like it would be MUCH lower in labor cost to install. Obviously I could be wrong.

I've attached pics of the main breaker in the garage, and the main panel in the basement. The big gray wire coming out of the bottom of the main breaker is what runs to my basement main panel. Not sure if that will tell you anything.

Thanks,
LP
 

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The Siemens main load center panel I installed, as-linked in this reply, permits a manual transfer switch of whatever size is required.
As-shown in that linked reply, the manual interlock / transfer switch will permit feeding 150A street power to the load center, or feeding 30A generator power to the load center, using this mechanical interlock, after swapping the existing service disconnect for this load center.

The 30A power inlet box would be placed near where the portable generator is placed.






 

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@LeafPeeper, when faced with these decisions, I opted for a meter-mounted GenerLink Transfer switch. It took me 10 minutes to install it, and now I have the ability to manage any and all loads in the main panels via circuit breaker selection. This couldn't be simpler! I'd never do it any other way again. It does require a 240V generator, though. This single widget replaced the use of the plug-junctions discussed in your other thread. They can be purchased at Home Depot and other online sources for a little over $600. More info here: GenerLink, Backup Generator | Global Power Products

 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks @wingless and @tabora - but don't your answers contradict each other? I feel like such a newb. It sounded like Wingless was saying that I could indeed put a 150A subpanel switch in place at my service entry disconnect that would switch to a separate 30A line that was also feeding my load center/main panel. Tabora's response seems to indicate that's not possible. What am I missing?

Tabora - I actually did look into Generlink early on because it sounded perfect - but there are two problems. The first is that my meter is not on my house - it's on a pole 2 houses down before my power lines go underground. The second was the 240v requirement...so I dismissed it as an option. Maybe on my next house. :tango_face_grin:

Assuming a fully rated service entry switch is out of the question, then I had planned to by the Reliance 310CRK kit -which is just a 10 circuit version of the one Tabora linked above. In the end it would work out fine, but the cost to install is quite high....I was hoping to get more flexibility and cheaper labor costs by going with the 'whole house' switch.

Thanks again,
LP
 

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Thanks @wingless and @tabora - but don't your answers contradict each other? I feel like such a newb. It sounded like Wingless was saying that I could indeed put a 150A subpanel switch in place at my service entry disconnect that would switch to a separate 30A line that was also feeding my load center/main panel. Tabora's response seems to indicate that's not possible. What am I missing?
Perhaps @wingless did not realize that you only have a small 120V generator?
I've personally installed one of the Reliance 120V units shown with a 2800W generator, and the installation time was about an hour, maybe slightly more?

Also, realize that you can also install a personally owned meter (they're really cheap) on the house side of the disconnect switch you showed along with the GenerLink; if only you had a 240V generator...
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Perhaps @wingless did not realize that you only have a small 120V generator?
Ah...maybe not. Can you help me understand why it would be bad to feed 110v into a 240v input if I kill the breakers on the 220v devices? I'm assuming the generator would only feed one leg/phase rather than both legs/phases (I'm assuming there are two for 240v). Trying to figure out why it wouldn't work. The ProTran switch has a 240 receptacle too....so when it's wired in, they must be doing something so that a 110v generator would work.

This is at the heart of my confusion - so this is good discussion. Thank you guys SO much.

EDIT: For the 10 circuit switch, the electrician is estimating 4 hours....so maybe he's just trying to prepare me. The cost is way over what I wanted to spend for insurance/peace of mind that I'll probably never use....but if I'm going to do it, I want to do it once, and right.

LP
 

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Ah...maybe not. Can you help me understand why it would be bad to feed 110v into a 240v input if I kill the breakers on the 220v devices? I'm assuming the generator would only feed one leg/phase rather than both legs/phases (I'm assuming there are two for 240v). Trying to figure out why it wouldn't work. The ProTran switch has a 240 receptacle too....so when it's wired in, they must be doing something so that a 110v generator would work.

This is at the heart of my confusion - so this is good discussion. Thank you guys SO much.
LP
The problem with doing what you propose is the human factor. It's just too easy to screw up and destroy an expensive 240V widget by half-powering it. The Reliance box is incredibly simple; each circuit wire is simply removed from the main box breaker and connected to the pre-wired pigtail coming from the Reliance box and then the other colored wire for that circuit takes its place. It's so fast to configure. It has a 120V 30A generator inlet. Watch the install video; easy-peasy!
 

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The ProTran switch has a 240 receptacle too...
It can be configured as a 240V or a 120V generator input with the appropriate inlet plug.

For the 10 circuit switch, the electrician is estimating 4 hours...
That's 4 times longer than it took me for a 6 circuit, and I'm not an electrician; just someone who has wired my own houses and cottages. Seriously, watch the installation videos; this is very consumer-friendly. I only have electricians do things beyond the main disconnect and out to the utility drop.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
It can be configured as a 240V or a 120V generator input with the appropriate inlet plug.


That's 4 times longer than it took me for a 6 circuit, and I'm not an electrician; just someone who has wired my own houses and cottages. Seriously, watch the installation videos; this is very consumer-friendly. I only have electricians do things beyond the main disconnect and out to the utility drop.
Thanks Tabora. The receptacle for the proposed multicircuit transfer switch is an L14-30R - which I guess can be wired as either 120 or 240v. For my generator, I'm also going to have to use a TT-30 RV to L14-30 adapter in order to make the connection. The adapter ties both the hots together internally. Wondering if that would have caused problems with a fully rated transfer switch at the service entry anyway.

LP
 

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... I opted for a meter-mounted GenerLink Transfer switch. ... They can be purchased at Home Depot and other online sources for a little over $600. More info here: GenerLink, Backup Generator | Global Power Products

That looks like a cool device.

From their web site: "NOTE: Not all utility companies allow the GenerLink to be installed."

IMO, that existing generator is insufficient for most applications. If it were me, then I would sell it on Craig's list and get a decent 30A 240V generator.

The possible problems from a half power human error w/ the existing generator is valid. Swap to a decent generator and remove that as a possibility.

Now is a great time to purchase a decent used generator. There are no storms spiking demand.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
That looks like a cool device.

From their web site: "NOTE: Not all utility companies allow the GenerLink to be installed."

IMO, that existing generator is insufficient for most applications. If it were me, then I would sell it on Craig's list and get a decent 30A 240V generator.

The possible problems from a half power human error w/ the existing generator is valid. Swap to a decent generator and remove that as a possibility.

Now is a great time to purchase a decent used generator. There are no storms spiking demand.
Fair enough. The problem with that is THD. My furnace mfgr requires <5% THD or they claim it will invalidate my warranty and cause damage. There are also LOTS of reports out there with high THDs causing problems with UPS's - of which I have several. That's why I went with an inverter. I suspect I won't have much luck finding a decent 30A 240v generator at a reasonable cost that has a spec'd THD of less than 5%. Most traditional portable generators appear to run in the 5-20% range, and while a proper standby generator would work, it's just more than I'm willing to spend for an insurance policy I probably won't use very often. The few 240v inverters I found were either also really expensive, or had significant bad reviews. So I have what I have.

As to the size, I think 3500W should be fine for keeping my house warm and my fridges cold - again....especially for insurance that I don't expect to need very often.

Thanks for the help guys - I do appreciate it. I guess I'm just going to go with the multicircuit switch.

LP
 

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It looks like the generator is either this Wen 56380i 3800W Generator or this Wen DF475T 3800W Generator.
The problem with that is THD. My furnace mfgr requires <5% THD or they claim it will invalidate my warranty and cause damage. There are also LOTS of reports out there with high THDs causing problems with UPS's - of which I have several. That's why I went with an inverter. I suspect I won't have much luck finding a decent 30A 240v generator at a reasonable cost that has a spec'd THD of less than 5%. Most traditional portable generators appear to run in the 5-20% range, and while a proper standby generator would work, it's just more than I'm willing to spend for an insurance policy I probably won't use very often.
Where is the 5% maximum THD specification located for the Wen 56380i inverter generator?
 

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I have to agree with @wingless. What you're proposing to do is piling up bad decisions. I'd either go with a 240V inverter generator: https://www.amazon.com/Briggs-Stratton-30675-Inverter-Generator/dp/B01N9FAFIE/ref=asc_df_B01N9FAFIE/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=241974774130&hvpos=1o3&hvnetw=g&hvrand=13187898832280970241&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9002579&hvtargid=aud-799728744414:pla-486073507110&psc=1 and a whole house transfer switch, or go back to the individual line EZ Transfer units with your existing generator.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Where is the 5% maximum THD specification located for the Wen 56380i inverter generator?
It's the 56380i - https://wenproducts.com/collections/generators/products/wen-56380i-super-quiet-3800-watt-portable-inverter-generator-with-fuel-shut-off

Right on the main page:

"Designed to mirror a pure sine wave, this generator limits total harmonic distortion to under 0.3 percent at no load and under 1.2 percent at full load, making it safe enough to run laptops, cellphones, monitors, tablets and other vulnerable electronics. "

Here's Champion Equipment's take on this too:

Total Harmonic Distortion - Champion Help Center

LP
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I have to agree with @wingless. What you're proposing to do is piling up bad decisions. I'd either go with a 240V inverter generator: https://www.amazon.com/Briggs-Stratton-30675-Inverter-Generator/dp/B01N9FAFIE/ref=asc_df_B01N9FAFIE/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=241974774130&hvpos=1o3&hvnetw=g&hvrand=13187898832280970241&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9002579&hvtargid=aud-799728744414:pla-486073507110&psc=1 and a whole house transfer switch, or go back to the individual line EZ Transfer units with your existing generator.
Wait - you think going with a multicircuit switch is a bad idea now?

That Briggs inverter is one of the ones I looked into. There are only a few 240v inverters in what I call a reasonable price range. The research on that one scared me - noisy, can't handle the rated load, etc. While I don't doubt that it might work, it was $1200 of 'maybe'. I really wanted to go with one that had consistently decent reviews - and the WEN appeared to be a decent value. I REALLY don't want to go through the hassle of trying to sell it, losing more money, only to buy a more expensive one - again, for insurance I'll likely rarely use.

If you're saying the multicircuit switch is a bad decision, then I may have to rethink things a bit. I'm happy with the generator...I just want to be happy with my switch decision too, and running a bunch of extension cords doesn't seem very appealing anymore. I'm only looking to keep my furnace, fridge, router, freezer and hot water heater running. I'm guessing the furnace is in the 800W range. The water heater runs at 150W according to my kill-a-watt. I can't imagine my 'very efficient' fridge, freezer and router taking up enough to cause problems with the furnace startup current - which only happens once because my blower runs 24x7.

How are these bad decision? Truly looking for honest answers here - not trying to be confrontational.

Thanks again,
LP
 

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I'm only looking to keep my furnace, fridge, router, freezer and hot water heater running. I'm guessing the furnace is in the 800W range. The water heater runs at 150W according to my kill-a-watt.
Isn't the water heater a 240VAC device?

Link please to the furnace THD requirement?

Note that THD is ALMOST ALWAYS a marketing number with ZERO effect on devices. In fact, the non-sinusoidal UPS step wave is better suited for virtually all electronics when compared to a sine wave output.
 
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