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Thread: Emergency Generator Test with questionable results

  1. #16
    DIY Junior Member randolph56's Avatar
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    A few weeks ago I had a service call to a house where the woman had some lightbulbs blow up some only dim her surge strips melt and her fluoresant ballests burn up. In her case the neutral wire(old aluimium seu) disintagrated and could not carry the load of the furnace, refig, etc motor load starting. This sent 120v back thru the neutral and with no place to go, back thru the via the neutral to the circuits on the other phase p putting 240v across phase to neut. Took a while to find it because the disintagrated cable was hinden bey the outer jacket. I would check you gen set cord to make sure that it is made up proporly, as even from the factory it could be bad or mis connected neutral. I would also check the gen set itself with a meter and a high watt electric heater testing each outlet to make sure your gen output doesn't scew up under load.

  2. #17
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    When the neutral becomes open on a 240 volt single phase circuit such as the one supplying our homes the home becomes a 240 volt series circuit. The neutral conductor on our homes will always have a voltage potential between it and an ungrounded conductor of 120 volts but it is impossible to have a potential of 240 volts between the neutral and any of the two ungrounded conductors unless there is a direct short between one of the ungrounded conductors and the neutral in which case all hell breaks loose.

  3. #18
    DIY Senior Member Rich B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randolph56 View Post
    A few weeks ago I had a service call to a house where the woman had some lightbulbs blow up some only dim her surge strips melt and her fluoresant ballests burn up. In her case the neutral wire(old aluimium seu) disintagrated and could not carry the load of the furnace, refig, etc motor load starting. This sent 120v back thru the neutral and with no place to go, back thru the via the neutral to the circuits on the other phase p putting 240v across phase to neut. Took a while to find it because the disintagrated cable was hinden bey the outer jacket. I would check you gen set cord to make sure that it is made up proporly, as even from the factory it could be bad or mis connected neutral. I would also check the gen set itself with a meter and a high watt electric heater testing each outlet to make sure your gen output doesn't scew up under load.

    So your saying an open service neutral conductor caused higher than normal voltage to be supplied to various 120 volt circuits........and your saying this higher than normal voltage was actually 240 volts and it was caused by the open neutral.......Very interseting. Are you an electrician? If you are...I am "shocked".......LOL

    Please refer to JW's post....He expalins it a little differently than I would but I agree with him 100%

  4. #19
    DIY Junior Member krnva's Avatar
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    So, what ever happened:

    I finally got around to getting an electrician out to check out the house/ats panel wiring and functionality and here is what he found . . .

    I appears that when the generator sits idle, everything appears to be normal, and when you plug into the 120v outlets on the side of the generator all is well, but when you connect to the L14-30 outlet on the generator and put a load on one of the 120v legs of that (L14-30) outlet, the generator circuitry responds to the load with a 251v output to that (120v) leg and no voltage to the outher (120v) leg, which was measured on each alternate 120v outlet on the generator side, as well as each row of breakers in the emergency panel in my house, so the anomaly is with the generator.

    So, I contacted the customer support number on the side of the generator (the unit is a North Shore Power Systems brand) and spoke with Honeywell customer support. I was initially told to take the unit to an authorized service center for confirmation of the problem and repair, and if the system was defective, I could file a claim for reimbursement of my costs for repairs required to my HVAC systems and other equipment. While I was talking to the repair center, I got a voicemail back indicating that because my unit was a North Shore Power Systems (rather than Honeywell) unit and that they were out of business, that I needed to contact the reseller (Costco) for assistance and return/replacement of the unit. Costco says I can return the unit, after I drain the gasoline from it, but I am guessing I will not be able to get them to cover the costs of the repairs and the electrician, so I will probably get the generator problem fixed, but I will have spent probably double the cost of the generator in repairs and troubleshooting. Timing is everything . . . no company remains to honor the warranty and back their product, but fortunately the reseller does have a satisfaction/return policy.

    Thanks to all who offered input. It appears that all were right . . . I did have a voltage problem (240 volts getting to my 120 volt stuff), and it was the generator (energizing the 120 volt leg with 240 volts). At least now, I can replace the generator and try to regain confidence in the emergency power system for my house, as well as stay warm.

  5. #20
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    Honeywell gensets are Asian crap that look nice. Buy a Briggs or Kohler and you won't be sabotaged by the imports again.

    We have an auction company here that dumps hundreds of imports of many names, inclucing Honeywell, gensets at every auction. Boatloads of them. Why? no retailer wants the burden of all the returns and disasters.
    Last edited by ballvalve; 04-07-2011 at 10:59 AM.

  6. #21
    Jack of all trades DonL's Avatar
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    Hello Group,

    I Love these Forums and want to thank Terry Love for them.

    A lot of mistakes people make when installing portable power systems, Is that they do not GROUND them properly.

    Everyone makes a simple fix into a Huge problem.

    Using a proper ground can keep both sides of the Single Phase System properly balanced.

    Simple.

    Have a great day.

    DonL.

    Beer is now cheaper than gas; drink don't drive

  7. #22
    Electrical Contractor Bobelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwelectric View Post
    Should this have been a neutral problem it would have shown up long before the pump test.

    It was without a doubt the inrush of current due to the starting of the motor. To start a 1/2 horse power 120 volt motor the motor will have an inrush of about 58 amps which is far more than the small generator will deliver.
    When the motor started the load on the generator caused the gasoline motor to load and speed up which in turn caused a voltage drop followed by a surge in voltage that the transformer could not handle.

    Once again, these small generators were not designed to be connected to a house load. The proper way to use one is with the use of cords plugged directly into the devices (receptacles) on the generator.

    On a side note, I have two small generators. I have horses that need water during an extended power outage (24 hours or more). I use the 7500 watt generator to power the well pump for water at the barn. The other generator is used for emergency lighting at the house. This lighting is a table lamp plugged into a drop cord ran to the generator outside. I have no transfer switches connected to my house at all.

    A power outage is a very rare event and one in which my everyday way of living is interrupted and one which I live on a limited amount of electrical use. I do not try to watch TV or surf the internet during these times.

    Should I for some reason or another need more than a cord during a power outage I will purchase a generator big enough to handle the load. What I wouldn’t do is try to haul 17 ton of rocks on a half ton pickup truck or use a portable generator to power my house. Think of it this way and see if it doesn’t make a little more sense than just saying I have a generator and I want to power up this and that during a power outage.
    We lost electrical serviice for 8 days. ran on genny 24/7.
    Winter of 2010.

  8. #23
    Electrician frenchelectrican's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobelectric View Post
    We lost electrical serviice for 8 days. ran on genny 24/7.
    Winter of 2010.
    I have lost service due from wind storm almost 20 years back and ran the diesel generators 24/7 for over 2 weeks nonstop and I do get power outage from time to time. most useally a day the most.

    Merci.
    Marc

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