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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

We moved into a house with a secondary panel which has the special kind of circuit breaker which turns off the mains when switched to generator power and a 30A plug connected to it outside the garage.
I am considering my options on the most economical way to add a generator. Basically idea being that I need the sump pump to work, gas heating and refrigerator. All 3 are connected to the secondary panel currently.

1. If we go with a true standby generator like the generac, will this existing setup provide any benefit which might reduce installation cost?

2. I see the westinghouse generators have their own auto transfer switch but it seems like they can only power their own sockets. I can maybe connect the sump pump to it but how would I connect the gas powered forced air heating system? (we are in north east).

3. Any other generators which might have this type of auto-switching capability?

Thanks
 

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It sounds like your manual transfer breaker would work fine for up to 30A, i.e. about a 7500W 240V generator. If you want an ATS solution and your power company allows it, a GenerLink meter-mounted ATS is easy to install. There are 30A and 45A versions (says 40A but really 45A) and surge suppression versions:
 

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To me the first question to ask is the frequency and duration of outages in your area. Is it an occasional outage for an hour or so? More often for "hours?" Do Hurricanes or Tornadoes occur and outages may be in days? I factor things like that in spending $$. Personally hate walking by something I invested in and haven't really used it.

What you currently have, will require you to drag out a "portable" generator, start it and connect, then turn off unneeded circuits to enable you to use a smaller generator and also minimize fuel use. From the description, it could also be a manual transfer which would just mean switching the prewired circuits from line to generator. Pictures help. Attached link for a typical one. Fuel storage is a consideration as widespread outages can render gas stations inoperative due to no power to the pumps. Will someone be there to do these things or perhaps be away from home? Simply buying a portable generator and making provision for storing fuel will be the cheapest way to go.

Going with a whole house unit, Genrac, etc. would mean you do nothing, power goes out, after a small interval, generator starts, transfer switch connects your house and all is well. A whole house unit would require NG or a large LPG tank. Cost could easily be 10++ times simply buying a portable.

 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Thanks for the replies. We just moved into the area so I am not sure how long go they go out. The neighbors did say that it is quite frequent.Many houses have the Genrac units. However, many senior citizens too, so it would make sense.
My thought process is the same. If it is not going to get used, I don't want to spend money on it. However, if the difference between adding the Genrac and portable is reasonable, I can use the auto cut off.
See attached the sub panel and connector outside the garage.
My biggest issue is the sump pump and pipes freezing. If the sump pump can be automated by something like the westinghouse auto switch, that will be very helpful. If we are not at home for a long time, we can always shut off the water.
It seems to me like the most economical option is the westinghouse portable dual fuel generator with a propane tank always connected to it outside the house, connect its 30A circuit to my garage connector and use the ATS switch which I can buy separately and connect the sump pump to it. This way, if we are at home and the lights go off, the sump pump will keep working and I will have to go down and flip the switch to transfer the sub panel to the generator and if we are not at home, the sump pump will still work however the sub panel will not since there won't be anyone to flip the switch. All this can be accomplished in about 1500$. I wonder how reliable it will be though?


Update: I just realized the ST switch goes into the 30A outlet. Can I use a Y splitter like this?
Amazon.com: Conntek YL1430L1430 Y-Adapter Cord: Garden & Outdoor
subpanel.jpeg
connector.jpeg
 

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I'd chat with an Electrician at this point, and explore options. You seem to want an auto transfer and auto start, but your generator really isn't set up for that. Also, putting it outside always connected to a propane bottle will mean buying or building an enclosure. How big a propane bottle? When running on propane the generator output is derated by 10-15%, which shouldn't be a problem for you, but they can be thirsty. Fundamentally, to go the cheaper route with a portable you wheel out, start and connect and then do the switching someone has to be there. If you want things to happen in your absence, you're looking at a whole house unit or some...."creative" not whole house, but sorta.

A non electric alternative to your sump pump dilemma would be a water powered unit. These are only installed as a backup to an electric unit as they do remove water, but they use incoming water from your water company as the motive force. Obviously, you pay for the water. Here's a link that I found with a simple search.

Water Powered Backup Sump Pumps.
 
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