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Thread: Which brand of electrical panel?

  1. #16
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FrankPlumber View Post
    I'm building a new home...
    Brand of panel aside, if you think you might ever want a whole-house (or part-house) backup generator, now is the time to install the wiring for it. Typically the transfer switch switches to a subset of circuits to keep live (unless you do in fact install a true whole-house unit). Wiring those circuits on a separate subpanel now will make the eventual installation much easier.

    I've recommended this to several people, both in blizzard country and in hurricane country, and those who took my advice have thanked me for it.

  2. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikey View Post
    What were those sense coils around the service entrance cables used for? Some kind of remote billing, maybe?
    Load controller. The POCO's here offer a reduced KWH rate if you keep your usage under a certain point during PEAK hours. If you go over, they stick it to you.

    If you go over, it starts shutting stuff off....A/C, W/H etc. They were all the rage in the 80's and I remove them all the time. I can't remember the number of service calls I've gone to where the customer didn't even know they had a load controller.

  3. #18
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alectrician View Post
    I can't remember the number of service calls I've gone to where the customer didn't even know they had a load controller.
    Thanks; I guess if they didn't know they had one, it wasn't enough of a nuisance to worry about. How much money did they save?

  4. #19
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikey View Post
    Brand of panel aside, if you think you might ever want a whole-house (or part-house) backup generator, now is the time to install the wiring for it. Typically the transfer switch switches to a subset of circuits to keep live (unless you do in fact install a true whole-house unit). Wiring those circuits on a separate subpanel now will make the eventual installation much easier.
    I installed and like very much a UL Approved interlock system that lets you back-feed a breaker on the main panel so any circuit may be powered by the generator. You will typically want to turn off the breakers to any large circuits; especially those that are automatically controlled like A/C, electric heat, and water heaters.

    You can get the kit for about $80 including shipping and they are available for both the QO and Homeline Square D panels. Square D Generator Interlock Kit QOCGK2C Inter-Lock[IMG]http://pics.****static.com/aw/pics/s.gif[/IMG]</IMG> [Click the link and then substitute e b a y without the spaces for the **** in the address line of your browser]

    They are available for other panels but none that I have found in that price range.

    The interlock requires shutting off the main before the generator breaker can be turned on. It allows powering any circuit in the house from the generator but you must manage the load to within the capacity of the generator.

    The kit contains a device to lock the breaker in place and a template for mounting the interlock. You can use any size 2-pole breaker that is appropriate for your generator and wiring. The 2-pole breaker must be mounted at the top of the right column in the load center.

  5. #20
    DIY Senior Member BrianJohn's Avatar
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    I have always felt if you can afford an generator spend the big bucks do it right and get an automatic transfer switch (ATS). But then I use to sell and service ATS's so I am a bit bias.

  6. #21
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianJohn View Post
    I have always felt if you can afford an generator spend the big bucks do it right and get an automatic transfer switch (ATS). But then I use to sell and service ATS's so I am a bit bias.
    There is about a factor of 5 ratio for the cost of an automatic system vs a manual system that will be adequate for most people.

    I have a 5.5 kW diesel electric start that can be fueled from my #2 fuel oil tank. It cost $750. Add $80 for the interlock and the conduit and wiring that I did myself and I have less than $1000 in the system.

    In todays market it looks to me like the least expensive auto-start system is the Generac Guardian with propane power, starting at around $5000 for installed systems. If anyone wanted a true "whole house" system with automatic transfer switch installed by a dealer it would probably be a lot more.

    For the difference in cost I can stand a 5-minute delay while I start the generator and switch it over, for an outage that may occur twice a year.

  7. #22
    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikey View Post
    ... with a little imagination you could see a connection to an antenna of some kind on the right, maybe. I was wondering if the OP's area had a drive-by meter-reading program of some kind ...
    Drive-by or fly-over or whatever, we got that here in northern InDiana a few months ago. As best I can tell, however, there is no camera or microphone.

  8. #23
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob NH View Post
    In todays market it looks to me like the least expensive auto-start system is the Generac Guardian with propane power, starting at around $5000 for installed systems. If anyone wanted a true "whole house" system with automatic transfer switch installed by a dealer it would probably be a lot more.
    Yup. I've got a 16kW with ATS, installed with 250Gal of propane for $8K. There are a few dirty secrets about these things that nobody tells you until you find them yourself. The most interesting is the fact that while there's a startup delay while the genset warms up, there's no shutdown delay whatsoever. So, when utility power comes back on, there's a huge phase shift and God knows what else when the transfer relay slams back to utility power. This does nasty things to some of my electronic gear and the A/C controller. Generac's answer: run it in manual mode, so Square D's interlock arrangement looks like a very attractive alternative for low-power generators. Also, according to my installer (now he tells me) any air-cooled genset is not going to provide clean AC (i.e., a sine wave), so clocks go nuts and all bets are off as far as electronics and computer-controlled stuff go. I'm going to pick up a Honda E2000i for that stuff.
    Last edited by Mikey; 01-07-2008 at 05:45 PM.

  9. #24

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    I guess if they didn't know they had one, it wasn't enough of a nuisance to worry about. How much money did they save?
    I don't know how much they save, I only know that they spend $100 for me to turn it off to restore power to their A/C, W/H or whatever was turned off by the load controller.

  10. #25
    DIY Senior Member BrianJohn's Avatar
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    Bob 5.5 KW - NEVER MIND...I thought you had a generator...

  11. #26
    DIY Senior Member Nate R's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikey View Post
    Also, according to my installer (now he tells me) any air-cooled genset is not going to provide clean AC (i.e., a sine wave), so clocks go nuts and all bets are off as far as electronics and computer-controlled stuff go. I'm going to pick up a Honda E2000i for that stuff.

    What does he say is different about the water cooled gen set that would give you cleaner AC?

    Last I checked, the E2000i is air cooled. I know it's an inverter type, just joking.

  12. #27
    DIY Senior Member BrianJohn's Avatar
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    Most small generators below 15 KW do not produce reliable "CLEAN" power, but are suitable for most residential applications, motors do not care nor do lights, if you start powering loads that rely on a TRUE 60 HZ sinewave then you can have issues.

  13. #28
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianJohn View Post
    Most small generators below 15 KW do not produce reliable "CLEAN" power, but are suitable for most residential applications, motors do not care nor do lights, if you start powering loads that rely on a TRUE 60 HZ sinewave then you can have issues.
    Getting harder to find a home that doesn't depend on 60Hz sine waves in some fashion...

  14. #29
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianJohn View Post
    Bob 5.5 KW - NEVER MIND...I thought you had a generator...
    I don't understand your inquiry, unless you are trying to make some kind of personal insult about the size of my generator.

    My 5.5 kW diesel is hooked up so it serves any 120 Volt circuit in the house but not the 240 Volt circuits, so it will run everything except range, water heater, and dryer as long as I manage the load. If I have a long outage it takes about 3 minutes to hook the water heater up to 120 Volts, but the tankless coil in my boiler will provide as much hot water as I need.

    I can cook for the neighborhood, run my furnace and those of my near neighbors, and live for a month on 5.5 kW if I have to. My average usage for the month is about 1 kW.

    It will run my computers, A/C, countertop cooking appliances, and anything else that I need to live comfortably.

    I hope that you got a lot of satisfaction out of your lame attempt at insulting me. Maybe it will help you sleep better tonight. I had thought your were a professional of some kind.

  15. #30

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    DANG!!

    Someone is pretty sensitive about their generator

    It seemed like a good natured ribbing to me.

    We all know that size doesn't matter Bob. 5.5 is normal.

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