Monday, April 13, 2009

Surviving The Lights Going Out...How to Wire a Home Generator

There are many scenarios which might precursor the lights/electricity going out. Look at our recent weather...blizzards, tornadoes, earthquakes, high wind, hurricanes, etc. Another scenario might entail a breach in the electrical grid. Please refer to my post on How to Survive A Disruption In the Electric Grid.
You may prepare by obtaining a disaster kit...or you may invest in a home generator. When I lived in the city, I used my home generator on more than one occasion when the electricity went out...once, during a most life-threatening situation...the last 2 minutes of the Superbowl..saved my life! So how do you wire your generator to your home safely? Here is an article I gleaned from the internet I would like to pass on to you. I hope this is a good reference and will truly help you out.

Wiring a Home Generator for Emergencies

March 8, 2009
Dr. Lon Schultz

There are three basic ways to wire a generator. The first is a permanent installation with a transfer switch. This is the best. The next is the method I have listed and the last is with extension cords, a poor choice.

First. Construct or have constructed an extension cord, one end with a plug that goes into the 220 V outlet on the generator. The other end needs to have a plug for a 220 V outlet in the house, air conditioner or electric dryer. The wattage and subsequent amperage of the generator should match the outlet in the house, but it is not necessary; however the wire must meet or exceed the rating of the generator. This cord will have a plug on each end and is very dangerous! If you plug it in and start the generator, so don't.

Here are some guidelines for cord construction:

With up to a 4 KW 220V generator a grounded 12 G wire rated @ 20 amps is adequate.

With up to a 6 KW 220V generator a grounded 10 G wire rated at 30 amps is sufficient.

With up to a 10 KW 220V generator use a grounded 8 G wire rated for 50 A.

Of course you can always use a larger wire.

Second. Turn off the main breaker. (I can't overemphasize this) then turn off all other breakers!

Third. Connect the cord between the generator and the house. If possible, ground the generator to the ground.

Fourth. Start the generator and let it warm up a little. The generator should be out side or at least in a garage. NOT IN THE HOUSE!

Fifth. Turn on one breaker to 1 room with lights only. If all is well, turn on another breaker to other rooms with lights only. This is to avoid wiring and load problems. So now the house is mostly lit, turn off any unnecessary lights.

Try this before you need it; there might be problems!

Sixth. Depending on the power of the generator, turn on other breakers to rooms with freezers and refrigerators, one at a time with 10 to 20 seconds between. High wattage devices like electric stoves and air conditioners will usually overload your generator. If this happens, just turn of the device and reset the breakers.

At this point your house will operate nearly normal. Accept for high wattage devices like large air conditioners or electric stoves and ovens.

Seventh. Shutting the system down is in the reverse order.

No matter what, shut down the generator before any wires are disconnected. as it is a shock hazard other wise.


Dr. Lon Schultz spent 40 years in electronics, engineering and taught industrial maintenance for A.T.U.

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