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Author Topic: electrical box backfeed by a coleman generator?  (Read 9944 times)
surfin_sarah
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« on: August 20, 2008, 02:31:14 AM »

Ok, have not been on in a while but here's the question:
I have a 5550 coleman generator and had a electrican wire my house for a special 220 volt pig tail that hooks between the generator and the house outside of the house.  The generator has a 30 amp 220 breaker as well as the house panel has a 30 amp 220 breaker.

When city electricity is out and my house outside main breaker is pulled and the generator is cranked with the pig tail connected at both ends, will, the entire 30 amp of current be supplied to my house electrical panel and all circuits either 110 or 220 volts?  Yes,.....I  know limited amount of devices can be pluged and operated at 1 time.  Its hurricane time once again![:O]Tongue


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« Last Edit: May 15, 2009, 06:01:35 PM by GoneCamping » Logged

73,000+ hits SURFIN_SARAH Sep 26 2003 updt, old & new & stolen MODS (15)!KissesKissesKissesEARTHPIG III(04 Coleman monterey),          Total parts fallen off so far(12), eye glasses lost (1), total beers consumed(camping + fishing)(90),total ritas (20), total speeding tickets(0), total wrecks(0),close call wrecks(1), setup & take down injurys(2), # of kids(0), single(Y),# of Jags games att(0), # FL vs GA games att(24), # of yrs FL GATOR(33), # fishing trips(10), # of legal(15")]/illegal(<15") trout caught(3/5), # of coon thiefs (1), recd setup/take down (23/60 min), trips to dealer for repair(3),# of controll boards replaced(1),# of roof adjustments(1),# of little accidents at the coffin(2),# of Mach AC problems(3),# of times forgot PU keys(1), # of refrig failures(3),satilite cable bite apart(1),# of converter box failures, after the 43 trips(1),# of bargman discontinuities (1),# of stepper door problems(2), fire injuries(1),foot injuries (1), mouse covers lost(1), sway bar replaced(1),sway bar pins replace (3),LP tank/water heater problems(1),galley fold over bracket damaged (1), # of aero beds replaced (2), tail light len replaced (1), repair electrical wiring fall from inside of coffin (1) , # of resink control board (4) ,PU flat tire (1),TV flat tire (1), door light lense replaced (1), shock cord-end replaced (1) , as of May 22 2008![:X] KissesKisses # of trips/nights camped in 05 -->(50/97) # of trips/nights camped in 06-->(2/13) # of trips/nights camped in 07--> (05/10) # of trips/nights camped in 08-->(3/7)!  Wiffle tree lube 5/08, grease exchange 5/8.             How many parts have fallen/broken off/failed on your Coleman/Fleetwood lately?
siliconjunkie
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« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2008, 02:38:19 AM »

First things first, get a proper generator disconnect switch before you kill a lineman. Then worry about using your generator.Mark Indiana Amanda [st-WV]27 Gerweigian Shephound Sadie [st-WV]Still waiting for our children to find us. When they do, we will be waiting.Buckhannon, WV [st-WV]21 KZ Sportsmen 2457 TravTlr Black Pickup Black 21 F-25 6.8 V115, lbs ready to roll!Official PUX Secretary of Transportation and Tow Vehicles
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Mark Indiana Amanda West Virginia 2007 Gerweigian Shephound Sadie West Virginia
Still waiting for our children to find us. When they do, we will be waiting.
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gijoecam
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« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2008, 02:48:37 AM »

The answer is:  It depends...  It depends on how your setup was wired.  The proper (not to mention the ONLY safe and legal) way it should have been wired up would be with a transfer switch.  That transfer switch can be connected to either the main feed, or just some individual circuits.  In either case, the design of the transfer switch prevents the generator feed from back-feeding through the main breaker and potentially zapping a lineman working on the lines.  If your main breaker is labeled Line-Off-Gen (or something similar) you will need to connect and start the generator, then flip all the individual breakers to OFF, then switch the main breaker from LINE to GEN, then switch on the individual circuits you want to use.  Keep in mind that you may not be able to use all of them...  You'll need to keep them to a minimum and balance the load between the two legs of the feed.  (another story for another time)If you have a transfer switch panel like mine (6 or 8 individual switches labeled LINE-OFF-GEN) you would connect and start the generator, then flip the individual circuits from LINE to GEN.  Again, that type of setup will prevent the power from back-feeding into the main line, even if you leave the main breaker on.  However, during a storm like that where there's a good chance the power will flicker, I'd leave the main off anyways to protect against a brown-out.So, lets start at the beginning:  What do you have for a transfer switch?-joe'3.5 Coleman Monterey, ' Ford F-15 4x4Gallery hereLight travels faster than sound.  That's why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
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surfin_sarah
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« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2008, 04:00:37 AM »

<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote">Originally posted by gijoecam
The answer is:  It depends...  It depends on how your setup was wired.  The proper (not to mention the ONLY safe and legal) way it should have been wired up would be with a transfer switch.  That transfer switch can be connected to either the main feed, or just some individual circuits.  In either case, the design of the transfer switch prevents the generator feed from back-feeding through the main breaker and potentially zapping a lineman working on the lines.  If your main breaker is labeled Line-Off-Gen (or something similar) you will need to connect and start the generator, then flip all the individual breakers to OFF, then switch the main breaker from LINE to GEN, then switch on the individual circuits you want to use.  Keep in mind that you may not be able to use all of them...  You'll need to keep them to a minimum and balance the load between the two legs of the feed.  (another story for another time)If you have a transfer switch panel like mine (6 or 8 individual switches labeled LINE-OFF-GEN) you would connect and start the generator, then flip the individual circuits from LINE to GEN.  Again, that type of setup will prevent the power from back-feeding into the main line, even if you leave the main breaker on.  However, during a storm like that where there's a good chance the power will flicker, I'd leave the main off anyways to protect against a brown-out.So, lets start at the beginning:  What do you have for a transfer switch?-joe'3.5 Coleman Monterey, ' Ford F-15 4x4Gallery hereLight travels faster than sound.  That's why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">  THere is no transfer switch, just as i described from the start, a breaker outside the house, that will be pulled that disconnects the house from line voltage from the city, when that breaker is pulled outside the house, house gets  voltage from the city, no voltage will be transfere to the city thus no line men will get hurt

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« Last Edit: May 15, 2009, 06:05:17 PM by GoneCamping » Logged

73,000+ hits SURFIN_SARAH Sep 26 2003 updt, old & new & stolen MODS (15)!KissesKissesKissesEARTHPIG III(04 Coleman monterey),          Total parts fallen off so far(12), eye glasses lost (1), total beers consumed(camping + fishing)(90),total ritas (20), total speeding tickets(0), total wrecks(0),close call wrecks(1), setup & take down injurys(2), # of kids(0), single(Y),# of Jags games att(0), # FL vs GA games att(24), # of yrs FL GATOR(33), # fishing trips(10), # of legal(15")]/illegal(<15") trout caught(3/5), # of coon thiefs (1), recd setup/take down (23/60 min), trips to dealer for repair(3),# of controll boards replaced(1),# of roof adjustments(1),# of little accidents at the coffin(2),# of Mach AC problems(3),# of times forgot PU keys(1), # of refrig failures(3),satilite cable bite apart(1),# of converter box failures, after the 43 trips(1),# of bargman discontinuities (1),# of stepper door problems(2), fire injuries(1),foot injuries (1), mouse covers lost(1), sway bar replaced(1),sway bar pins replace (3),LP tank/water heater problems(1),galley fold over bracket damaged (1), # of aero beds replaced (2), tail light len replaced (1), repair electrical wiring fall from inside of coffin (1) , # of resink control board (4) ,PU flat tire (1),TV flat tire (1), door light lense replaced (1), shock cord-end replaced (1) , as of May 22 2008![:X] KissesKisses # of trips/nights camped in 05 -->(50/97) # of trips/nights camped in 06-->(2/13) # of trips/nights camped in 07--> (05/10) # of trips/nights camped in 08-->(3/7)!  Wiffle tree lube 5/08, grease exchange 5/8.             How many parts have fallen/broken off/failed on your Coleman/Fleetwood lately?
siliconjunkie
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« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2008, 04:53:12 AM »

It's still done wrong and ILLEGAL. It's a lineman killer. Fix it.Flipping or removing the breaker is NOT acceptable.Mark Indiana Amanda [st-WV]27 Gerweigian Shephound Sadie [st-WV]Still waiting for our children to find us. When they do, we will be waiting.Buckhannon, WV [st-WV]21 KZ Sportsmen 2457 TravTlr Black Pickup Black 21 F-25 6.8 V115, lbs ready to roll!Official PUX Secretary of Transportation and Tow Vehicles
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Mark Indiana Amanda West Virginia 2007 Gerweigian Shephound Sadie West Virginia
Still waiting for our children to find us. When they do, we will be waiting.
Buckhannon, WV West Virginia
2001 KZ Sportsmen 2457 TravTlr Black Pickup Black 2001 F-250 6.8 V10 15,000 lbs ready to roll!
Official PUX Secretary of Transportation and Tow Vehicles
siliconjunkie
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« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2008, 05:08:30 AM »

Let me clarify a bit so you understand where I am coming from.I understand how it is configured, that as long as the breaker is "off" the current cannot backfeed the utility power.The problem comes in if someone other than you is operating things. They happily plug the generator in and fire it up, without knowing that they just applied voltage to the utility lines and possibly some lineman working on it.The same reason that backflow preventers are on outside faucets. Not for the person who understands what can happen, it's for the person who accidentally sucks sewage into the water supply.I am not a huge believer in rules and laws to tell people what they have to do, but in this case, it is a good rule. I would say Florida has more generators per household than any other state and a good number of them are probably wired incorrectly, just like yours. Without fail, someone will not be thinking when they hook the generator up to run the A/C after a hurricane and not flip the breaker. It's easy enough to do for sure.Mark Indiana Amanda [st-WV]27 Gerweigian Shephound Sadie [st-WV]Still waiting for our children to find us. When they do, we will be waiting.Buckhannon, WV [st-WV]21 KZ Sportsmen 2457 TravTlr Black Pickup Black 21 F-25 6.8 V115, lbs ready to roll!Official PUX Secretary of Transportation and Tow Vehicles
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Mark Indiana Amanda West Virginia 2007 Gerweigian Shephound Sadie West Virginia
Still waiting for our children to find us. When they do, we will be waiting.
Buckhannon, WV West Virginia
2001 KZ Sportsmen 2457 TravTlr Black Pickup Black 2001 F-250 6.8 V10 15,000 lbs ready to roll!
Official PUX Secretary of Transportation and Tow Vehicles
GrizzlyIT
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« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2008, 05:10:29 AM »

Sarah, it is illegal here in Canada, and since our Electrical Safety Code is very close to the National Electrical Code in the States, it is probably illegal there to not have a transfer switch, period. Up here it could lead to a jail sentence!The transfer switch sits between the utility supply and the generator supply and will only allow one supply to power the house panel. BUT more importantly, it will isolate one supply source from the other, there by NEVER being able to back feed into the utility grid. There are linemen injured or killed every year over this!There are cheap transfer switches which could be installed in place of your "Breaker" and should be. You could inadvertently forget to throw the breaker before cranking the generator in an emergency situation. We know you are resourceful and intelligent and on the ball, but it could happen to you!!! DO NOT take that risk please!Post Edit: To answer your question in your original post, you would be supplied the full 3 Amps at 22 Volts! 3 Amps per leg or the full 3 across both legs. But have a manual transfer switch installed PLEASE! P.S. your Electrician is unethical if he knew that the plug was to be used to feed the house from a generator. I would fire one of my guys for doing that, even if he did it on the side and I found out!
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clemlaw
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« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2008, 05:53:00 AM »

Since she had an electrician do it, I assume that the "breaker outside the house" is indeed, a legal DPDT transfer switch, and not a breaker.Of course, with her history, I think she should probably check with the electrician and confirm this.EDITED TO ADD:I just noticed this:
quote:
with the pig tail connected at both ends,
You mean an extension cord with a plug on each end?  If so, you need to do the following things:1.  Go buy a normal extension cord, so that you can run things in your house by running the extension cord in through the door, and plugging them into the cord.2.  Take your special cord and cut it in half before someone gets killed, especially since you're going to be using it outside.  The linemen are already aware of the danger that you are posing.  They will be angry if they see your cord, but they are probably smart enough not to get hurt.  But if some kid comes by and unplugs your cord, there is a good possibility that he will get ELECTROCUTED and DIE.  3.  Call up your state board of electricity and tell them what the electrician did, so that they can yank his license.Please look at all of the calamaties listed in your signature line.  Do you want to add "Electrocuted children (1)" to the list?  If you own a cord of the type I described, please cut it in half right now.
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GrizzlyIT
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« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2008, 06:11:38 AM »

Actually Clem, your number 2 neglects one thing, linesmen DO check wires before they start on them! They ISOLATE them if possible between switches, but there may be blocks or concessions between switches. Lines are all grounded first thing! What is to stop someone firing up their gennie while the linesmen are in the midst of doing their work??! This is how a buddy of mine lost his friend, he became the ground rod!Linesmen can never rule out the impossible! Too many have died that way!
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clemlaw
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« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2008, 06:30:21 AM »

Yeah, the linemen can probably take care of themselves.  But I think the real danger of a "suicide cord" is having the thing lying around the house, long after the  power has been restored from the hurricane.It's an unusual looking cord, and eventually, some curious person is going to plug it in to an outlet to see what it does.  At that point, the energized prongs are sticking out, waiting to electrocute the first person to touch them.And in this case, it's apparently going to be used outside.  So if the generator is running, and someone unplugs it from the house, they are standing there in the dark with a 22 volt cattle prod in their hand.Sarah already has three electrical issues listed in her signature line.  Fortunately, all of these involved non-fatal voltages.Given her history, I think Sarah should stick with flashlights, being careful not to drop them on her toe.Big Smile
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GrizzlyIT
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« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2008, 08:54:31 AM »

DO I hear a Darwin Award Clem QuestionQuestionQuestionQuestionQuestionShockedWink
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surfin_sarah
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« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2008, 01:32:49 PM »

I will agree playing with electric wire is not for the light hearted.  I learned the hard way at age 7, what i learned was to never have both hands in action in a live breaker box,  screw drive only in a box at  time, eye guard is a must, get your wet feet off of the concrete on to a dry board, a fire extgesher is nice to have laying around, voltmeter are a plus, work it hot if you can, buy your wire at the big box store, never thrust the guy in the electrical department, he wood not be working there if he knew that much, all breakers are not the same, 4 hand are better than 2 if they are unpaid, never assume a receptical is wired right way, never cut threw a wall without knowing whats on the other side, never trust a paid electrican to wire something without checking what he was done, never pay a electrican until his fix is in production mode, a unpaid electrican know the same as a paid electrican, if you have a electrican in the family - he will never answer your call![;)]
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73,000+ hits SURFIN_SARAH Sep 26 2003 updt, old & new & stolen MODS (15)!KissesKissesKissesEARTHPIG III(04 Coleman monterey),          Total parts fallen off so far(12), eye glasses lost (1), total beers consumed(camping + fishing)(90),total ritas (20), total speeding tickets(0), total wrecks(0),close call wrecks(1), setup & take down injurys(2), # of kids(0), single(Y),# of Jags games att(0), # FL vs GA games att(24), # of yrs FL GATOR(33), # fishing trips(10), # of legal(15")]/illegal(<15") trout caught(3/5), # of coon thiefs (1), recd setup/take down (23/60 min), trips to dealer for repair(3),# of controll boards replaced(1),# of roof adjustments(1),# of little accidents at the coffin(2),# of Mach AC problems(3),# of times forgot PU keys(1), # of refrig failures(3),satilite cable bite apart(1),# of converter box failures, after the 43 trips(1),# of bargman discontinuities (1),# of stepper door problems(2), fire injuries(1),foot injuries (1), mouse covers lost(1), sway bar replaced(1),sway bar pins replace (3),LP tank/water heater problems(1),galley fold over bracket damaged (1), # of aero beds replaced (2), tail light len replaced (1), repair electrical wiring fall from inside of coffin (1) , # of resink control board (4) ,PU flat tire (1),TV flat tire (1), door light lense replaced (1), shock cord-end replaced (1) , as of May 22 2008![:X] KissesKisses # of trips/nights camped in 05 -->(50/97) # of trips/nights camped in 06-->(2/13) # of trips/nights camped in 07--> (05/10) # of trips/nights camped in 08-->(3/7)!  Wiffle tree lube 5/08, grease exchange 5/8.             How many parts have fallen/broken off/failed on your Coleman/Fleetwood lately?
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« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2008, 02:25:58 PM »

quote:
Originally posted by surfin_sarah
 buy your wire at the big box store, never thrust the guy in the electrical department, he wood not be working there if he knew that much,
I am going to have to disagree with you on this statement. There are a lot of very knowledgeable electrical associates in many of the "Big Box" retailers. You would be surprised at the quality and experience of people looking for work. There are a lot of retired  electricians, plumbers, and tradesmen looking for supplemental incomes, or these same kinds of folks looking for second part-time jobs to make ends meet. I would agree that not everyone in home center stores fit this description, but do not assume that he "wood not be working there if he knew that much. (by the way the proper spelling is this case is "would" not "wood")Drew
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clemlaw
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« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2008, 04:31:18 PM »

He wood be in the lumber department.
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gijoecam
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« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2008, 02:55:02 AM »

quote:
Originally posted by clemlaw
He wood be in the lumber department.
LOL!!  Sarah, I think it boils down to a couple of things...  First is I think we're a little unclear on exactly what the electrician installed:  Was it a circuit breaker, or was it a transfer switch?  They're not the same thing.Second, are the ends on the extension cord from the generator to the house both male ends?  They should not be.  The end that plugs in to the generator will be a male plug, the end that connects to the house should be a female receptacle on the end of the cord, and there should be a weather-tight box on the outside of the house that houses a male plug.  That male plug should never be able to have power on it to prevent someone from touching it and killing themselves.  The key is that there should never be an exposed plug end with power on it.  Make sense?THe cord should look like this:and the plug on the outside of the house should look like this:The transfer switch itself can look like this one:or it can be a transfer switch panel for individual circuits like this one: This is the exact setup I have:If it's wired properly, you should not have to throw the main breaker before starting the generator.  You may need to switch the transfer switch feed, but you should not need to throw the main breaker.  That's a code violation for sure.Make sense?-Joe
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Light travels faster than sound.  That's why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
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