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Carl Simmo
09-25-2007, 03:51 PM
Hi everyone - I have a decent size generator to use in case of outages and my house was hard wired and a 4 prong outlet under the panel and 10\4 cable w\ male fittings as well, that we plug in after the MAIN & A/C are thown in the panel .
Why would only half of the house lights work and the other half would not light, when their breakers are on ? I did notice that when I tried my garage lights they came on VERY dim:confused: Could this be a loose wire on one of the breakers? What's the best way to isolate the problem in your opion?

Thanks your help and suggestions,
Carl

Speedy Petey
09-25-2007, 05:46 PM
Considering the EXTREMELY dangerous and ILLEGAL backfeed setup you are using I doubt you'll get any replies other than to install a proper transfer switch or main-breaker-interlock.

That would be my only comment.

jwelectric
09-25-2007, 06:17 PM
That would be my only comment.

Mine to .

BrianJohn
09-25-2007, 08:18 PM
If improperly operated it is possible you may be backfeeding the utility, which can and has killed utility lineman in at least one case. Utilize the proper equipment for the job or sell the generator.

Mike Swearingen
09-25-2007, 08:31 PM
Please get a proper transfer switch or connection hub (see below), or don't use a generator at all. Turning off your main breaker does NOT isolate your electrical panel.
http://www.dom.com/products/generators/hub.jsp
Two out-of-state power company linemen helping our northeastern NC area restore power after Hurricane Isabel in 2003 were killed here due to this very type of improper hookup.
Mike

frenchie
09-25-2007, 08:32 PM
ditto.

...

amartin725
09-25-2007, 08:34 PM
I echo the other's comments...I would also caution that you could be damaging many of your appliances with this.

leejosepho
09-26-2007, 03:41 AM
Why would only half of the house lights work and the other half would not light, when their breakers are on? I did notice that when I tried my garage lights they came on VERY dim:confused: Could this be a loose wire on one of the breakers?

No, something else is keeping power from getting to half your breakers, and you would need an experienced and irresponsible electrician to get that straightened out. Like everyone else has said, there is absolutely nothing good or okay about backfeeding a system through a receptacle. I used to do that until someone explained these things to me, and now I am no longer willing to risk causing property damamge or death for anyone.

HandyAndy
09-26-2007, 07:37 AM
take a look at this thread and the links that are posted in it,
http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15067

Old Dog
09-27-2007, 01:36 AM
Hi everyone - I have a decent size generator to use in case of outages and "my house was hard wired and a 4 prong outlet under the panel and 10\4 cable w\ male fittings as well, that we plug in after the MAIN & A/C are thown in the panel ."

Carl,I'm assuming from your post that you bought the house with this hookup already there...It's obvious this wasn't inspected and I wonder what other potential dangerous work has been done.I would get an experienced electrician in to take a look see to make sure you don't have any other problems lurking about.
BTW,you have been lucky no one has been killed with this setup...

jwelectric
09-27-2007, 06:15 AM
Please get a proper transfer switch or connection hub (see below), or don't use a generator at all. Turning off your main breaker does NOT isolate your electrical panel.
http://www.dom.com/products/generators/hub.jsp
Two out-of-state power company linemen helping our northeastern NC area restore power after Hurricane Isabel in 2003 were killed here due to this very type of improper hookup.
Mike


Mike have you seen one of these installations?

molo
09-27-2007, 07:03 AM
[QUOTE=leejosepho] and you would need an experienced and irresponsible electrician to get that straightened out QUOTE]

Could he also hire a responsible electrician, or are the irresponsible ones more appropriate for this job? :)

speedbump
09-27-2007, 07:32 AM
All good advice from the above posts.

It also sounds like your using a 115 volt generator feeding a 230 volt panel.
If I were a fortune teller, I would see nothing but doom and gloom from this install.

bob...

Carl Simmo
09-27-2007, 08:05 AM
I understand everyones comments and WILL have someone come out. To be perfectly honest, my neighbors have the same set-up:eek: . The generator has a 4 prong female connection on the front panel of the generator next to the 115v inserts, there is a 10-4 cable w\ male 4prong lockers on either side that connect the generator to metal box labeled 240v generator on the panel side. Now, on the breaker panel on the bottom there's a dedicated dual breaker labeled "generator",that goes to a conduit\ metal box underneath the panel. This also labeled "240v generator" w\ a 4 locking 4 prong for the cable.
My question is how is this a danger for linemen if the MAIN and a couple others are thrown prior to plugging cable and starting generator? Is'nt the power isolated at that point?:confused:

Wet_Boots
09-27-2007, 08:13 AM
That linemen have died from the setup you have is all the explanation required. Don't jabber about it. Fix it.

Speedy Petey
09-27-2007, 12:47 PM
My question is how is this a danger for linemen if the MAIN and a couple others are thrown prior to plugging cable and starting generator? Is'nt the power isolated at that point?:confused:There are probably thousands of these widow maker setups out there. It only takes one mistake to kill a lineman. It can and DOES happen annually. Do YOU want to be responsible if someone messes with your setup and someone is hurt or killed???
THAT is why this is an unacceptable setup.

Carl Simmo
09-27-2007, 01:13 PM
You guys are the pro's so that's why I posted here and value your opinions. With that being said, I have an appointment w\ a local electrian for Sat.. He is gonna go over the transfer switch pricing with me and look at my other problem. What should I expect to pay for a install?

leejosepho
09-27-2007, 05:49 PM
Could he also hire a responsible electrician ...?

Well, I suppose so, but the work would not get done!


My question is how is this a danger for linemen if the MAIN and a couple others are thrown prior to plugging cable and starting generator? Is'nt the power isolated at that point?:confused:

That was my own logic when I had a similar setup, but no, total isolation cannot be guaranteed as long as even only the common is still connected. I do not know why that is, and maybe someone else here can explain. However, the bottom line is that the simplest "Oops!" would send power out to the utility line and possibly cause damage or death.

Look back at the link in HandyAndy's post. That kind of disconnect might be the least expensive way to go.

Furd
09-27-2007, 10:03 PM
It is not a problem with the "common" lead (I think you meant to write neutral) but that there is no positive method of ensuring that the main breaker might not be closed when the generator is supplying power to the panel.

The connecting cable between the generator and the panel, having a male plug on each end, is also a hazardous situation in that the possibility exists that it could be disconnected from the panel while the generator is running or disconnected from the generator when the panel is energized from the utility and either action would leave hazardous voltage on the male plug.

Using a more conventional "extension cord" between the gennie and the panel is little better because in this case there would be a male plug or inlet connector that is connected to the panel by only a circuit breaker and the possibility exists that this "generator only" breaker could be closed while the panel is energized in the normal manner from the utility.

In the above scenarios if the utility power is applied to the generator it will in all likelihood destroy the generator and in the process quite possibly severely hurt, or kill, anyone in the area.

People will try to justify using such an arrangement as the original poster described by telling themselves, and anybody that will listen, that they would never make that mistake.

People are far too often wrong.

The ONLY acceptable method is one where the generator and the utility power can NEVER be connected at the same time. There are several different ways to do this and they include a 3-position transfer switch, a separate transfer panel and a circuit breaker interlock kit.

mattbee24
10-02-2007, 09:33 AM
If backfeeding through the neutral is a problem, then wouldn't a seperate panel with a breaker interlock be equally as dangerous?

Bob NH
10-02-2007, 10:50 AM
Square D sells a UL Listed interlock kit that permits the generator connection to be SAFELY backfed to the panel. It is available on E**y for about $70 + shipping.

The neutral is not disconnected from the utility, and it is not disconnected in any of the "whole house" transfer switch installations that I have seen.

You can also insert a disconnect outside there the generator connection will be make. The outdoor rated disconnects that are often used for Air Conditioner installations are quite inexpensive.

The link below will take you to the other thread on this subject.

http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15067

enosez
10-03-2007, 07:03 AM
What about a three phase two position disconnect? Not that its code, but you can have utility power on one side, and generator power on the other. The three phase will let you disconnet even the neutral. Will get quite expensive though.

Terry
10-03-2007, 08:57 AM
I bought a generator last Winter when we lost power for days.
It was pretty inconvenient running cords everwhere.

It's on my "to do" list to have an electritian come out and install a transfer switch on my panel.

Last year I disconnected the furnace from the house wiring, and then when the power came back on, I had to rewire it.
Yep, need a transfer switch.
That would have been so much nicer.

Rancher
10-03-2007, 09:09 AM
You don't want to break the neutral, because it is also the ground at the power entrance panel, or if you do break it you need another ground rod at the disconnect switch.

Rancher

MarkHash
10-03-2007, 09:45 AM
I once got a little tingle when I grabbed my camper pop up door at a campground. Thinking that was pretty strange, and before I let my wife enter the camper I got out my meter and poked one lead into the ground and the other to the door knob. I read the full 120 volts! It turned out that the electrician upstream had reversed the hot/neutral connection after wiring in a new rental cabin. I saved the day but this is certainly not an unheard of possibility with a back up generator setup.