How to power a house using a generator

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In life every day is a learning experience, watching what folks are going through down south is no fun it reminds me of been at home in Mexico.

We used to go day w/ out power but always had wood for cooking and stuff like that. This is great video of how to power your house using a generator.

If you have others or better videos , please share it.

 
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Good video. Do note, the interlock setup is unique to brand/circuit panel, so someone would need to find the correct one for their application.

The first time I ever had to use my portable generator, I did not have a transfer panel or interlock installed. I used lots of extension cords, which worked OK. After day 2, I wired our oil-fired water heater with an appliance cord so it could be plugged in. At least we could take hot showers (luckily it was August so it was warm/hot and not freezing)

After dealing with that, once we got power back I installed a small transfer panel. Then eventually I got tired of only being able to run certain circuits, and went with the interlock setup like in the above video.
 
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I think a transfer switch (with 6 to 10 individual circuits) is a better idea. That way you can power just the circuits you want and one at a time. Many circuit breaker boxes may not accept an interlock setup. Anything is better than backfeeding.

But no matter what method you use to connect the generator, it starts with planning of what appliances/lights/heat/pump are required when power is lost. Then the starting and running load for each is measured or found on specifications. Then one can size the generator and determine how many circuits.

If you have a well pump, having the control box with the capacitors in the house vs in the pump takes less starting load. For some the well pump will be the only 220V load and the largest load.
 
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I think a transfer switch (with 6 to 10 individual circuits) is a better idea. That way you can power just the circuits you want and one at a time. Many circuit breaker boxes may not accept an interlock setup. Anything is better than backfeeding.

But no matter what method you use to connect the generator, it starts with planning of what appliances/lights/heat/pump are required when power is lost. Then the starting and running load for each is measured or found on specifications. Then one can size the generator and determine how many circuits.

If you have a well pump, having the control box with the capacitors in the house vs in the pump takes less starting load. For some the well pump will be the only 220V load and the largest load.

Yeah, the well pump is important. My in-laws are on well water and that pretty much dictates what generator they can buy. The annoying thing is you need to size the generator just for that brief instant of startup draw, but once its running the well pump is no-big-deal.

I think they bought a small portable just to be able to use comfort things, but the well pump would pretty much require them to get a whole-house setup.

FWIW I had a 10 circuit Reliant transfer panel....once I chose the 10 circuits, all was well. Until I re-worked a couple of the rooms the circuits were on, and ended up with some things no longer powered. Not a huge deal (was just computer stuff, etc) but the interlock setup is much nicer in my case. We dont lose power enough to justify a whole-house, but the interlock allows me to easily power certain things during certain times of day.
 

LazyDog

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But no matter what method you use to connect the generator, it starts with planning of what appliances/lights/heat/pump are required when power is lost. Then the starting and running load for each is measured or found on specifications. Then one can size the generator and determine how many circuits.

If you watch the whole video, he goes through having a well pump and knowing how much power is pulling.
 

Strokenmerc

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I've had the sub panel setup and now have an interlock panel. For my household, the interlock panel is a lot better as long as someone with a little bit of knowledge is deciding what to run. That said, interlocks are not for everyone...some would try to run everything just because they can flip the breakers.
 
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I've had the sub panel setup and now have an interlock panel. For my household, the interlock panel is a lot better as long as someone with a little bit of knowledge is deciding what to run. That said, interlocks are not for everyone...some would try to run everything just because they can flip the breakers.

My wife's uncle had an interlock setup installed. First power outage was during the summer, everything went out, he fired up the generator and flipped the interlock over. Without turning off any of the breakers.

I think the most expensive thing to replace was the central A/C condensor because the starter relay welded itself while it was trying to start up on the generator.

On the flipside, he will never make that mistake again.
 

Strokenmerc

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I recently helped a neighbor hook up a borrowed generator. Had to change out his generator receptacle and get the generator running. Asked him to make sure ALL of the breakers were off. I stood on the porch (muddy boots) coaching him what to turn on. I said "do not turn on any 220 breakers yet"...his reply was "what is a 220 breaker"? This is when the boots came off for closer supervision.
 
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We don't get enough power outages to justify the cost of getting an interlock installed. I'm not going to risk killing a lineman by backfeeding a circuit.

I just run everything off of individual extension cords. Home Depot has a box that you install near your furnace that will allow you either feed it from your home's power circuit OR from an extension cord to a generator. I think that's the best way to do it. That's the only thing that I really can't unplug and plug into an extension cable running to the generator.


But no matter what method you use to connect the generator, it starts with planning of what appliances/lights/heat/pump are required when power is lost. Then the starting and running load for each is measured or found on specifications. Then one can size the generator and determine how many circuits.

If you watch the whole video, he goes through having a well pump and knowing how much power is pulling.

I have that all planned in my house.

Winter:
- Sump Pump (yes, it runs year round)
- Furnace -- key as I'm on a crawlspace and at increased risk to lose pipes
- Refrigerator - though most stuff can just live outside if need be.


Summer:
- Sump Pump
- Refrigerator
- AC for the dog
- Back Yard Sump Pump if we have had a lot of rain prior
 
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My wife's uncle had an interlock setup installed. First power outage was during the summer, everything went out, he fired up the generator and flipped the interlock over. Without turning off any of the breakers.

I think the most expensive thing to replace was the central A/C condensor because the starter relay welded itself while it was trying to start up on the generator.

On the flipside, he will never make that mistake again.
An advantage to oil heat is only needing a small generator. Gas stove helps also.

My DE home had a 6 and a 4 ton heat pumps. With electric booster coils. I would need a huge generator.
 

LazyDog

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Thanks for contributing to this discussion, we seem to fall into 2 camps of thought:

1. For simplicity used a transfer switch

2. For more advance used an interlock system

thanks
 
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