stormy monday

Generator Question

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OK major snow coming with expected power outages. New home is a fixer upper but we're in it. The heat consists of a boiler and 2 air handlers, new to me. All the labels on the breakers seem to be wrong, lots of cross outs etc. There is a transfer switch, but it's 20amp L14-20P plug, while my generator of course is L14-30R, so I have an issue there. Electrician can't get in here for a couple weeks to replace the switch. There is an adapter plug with a breaker in it so I ordered one but it won't be here in time. In the past house I backfed for years, I know how to do it, have the cable, danger blah blah. However the boiler is on one side of the panel but the air handlers are on ther other side of course. I hesitate to run 2 suicide cables and am not up to replacing the switch myself (electrician looked at the wiring here and really wants to go through it before touching stuff as it may not be all up to code). The only thing I can think of would be to try to wire up an adapter plug myself with a female that can fit the transfer switch to a 30P male but something about that doesn't feel good. GenTran 20216 switch... something like this: https://www.pduwhips.com/products/2104-l14-30p-to-l14-20r-plug-adapter.aspx

 

Edited by stormy monday

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Posted (edited) · Report post

A pic would help, but it sounds like wiring up an adapter is the easy fix. 20A is not that much. If you were really concerned you could get a small breaker box that literally holds only 2 breakers or 1 double pole breaker, and wire that into the middle of your adapter with a 20A breaker in there. Cost you like 20 bucks.

 

Edit: something like this:

 

square-d-individual-subpanels-qo2l30scp-

 

Why is the genny input to a switching panel so low?

Edited by gellfex

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If you’re asking can you make your own cord up with odd matched ends to fit your application, the answer is yes. The wire size will match the the load size, from what I can make of this that would be 20 amp rated cord, 4 wire. 
 

saying that, not knowing your application youd need to use your own judgement on the overall safety side of using the cord and it’s downstream parts that it will energize. 

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Without knowing loads on the transfer switch presume boiler and 2 air handlers occupy 3 circuits.  You are likely better off using the transfer switch with adapter as they’re all protected from overload and isolated from utility power.  I’m not clear what you were doing to back feed the panel if energizing both hot legs seems to be a problem. 

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Thanks all, going to make up an adapter with a breaker box. I was thinking dryer outlet but I've had so many issues with both the electric and the boiler in this house I'm not confident messing too much before the electrician comes in. It seems like prior owner would just randomly "borrow" wires from one thing to wire in something else a real cluster. The house was converted to a group home and they did som many bizarre things to it. I guess that's why we have professionals (though the prior apparently did not feel the need lol)!

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On 1/27/2022 at 9:01 AM, stormy monday said:

Thanks all, going to make up an adapter with a breaker box. I was thinking dryer outlet but I've had so many issues with both the electric and the boiler in this house I'm not confident messing too much before the electrician comes in. It seems like prior owner would just randomly "borrow" wires from one thing to wire in something else a real cluster. The house was converted to a group home and they did som many bizarre things to it. I guess that's why we have professionals (though the prior apparently did not feel the need lol)!

Good move, Don’t use that dryer outlet as a way to back feed your panel. Too many things can go wrong very fast with respect to back feeding the main power line to the street transformer. 

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3 hours ago, poopdeck said:

So just how does one send power to the street transformer when the main breaker is off? 

This. Just throw main breaker off.

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You need to have some sort of idea how much power (how many amps at what voltage) the boiler and air handlers will need.  Given that the old transfer switch is 20 amps I'm assuming it is a gas boiler.

 

If you can determine 20 amps at 240 volts is what you need I'd have no problem removing the L14-20P and L14-30R and connecting the wires with wire nuts/split bolts/polaris taps/etc.  But then I'm used to doing this sort of stuff (I have to keep hospitals going in hurricanes).

 

The key to getting by in an emergency is managing loads.  If your hot water heater and your stove/oven are gas 30 amps at 240 VAC will do a lot for you.  Just say no to microwaves and hair dryers :)

 

 

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4 hours ago, poopdeck said:

So just how does one send power to the street transformer when the main breaker is off? 

If the person that knows the process Is around when it needs to be done, but the problem comes in when someone else tries to do the hookup while the other is not able to, or the brain forgets the step. It only takes one part of a second to kill a lineman. 
 

you are playing with the life of a lineman by trying to side step a few dollars spent out of your pocket for safety. 
 

you can buy a transfer bracket that fits on the cover of the main breaker panel to only apply power by generator while at the same time the main is locked out. That bracket is a whole $80, and a couple hours time, some other work will need to be done. Nothing crazy. 

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I decided to bag the air handlers entirely. We have backup electric heaters in several rooms, all on one side of the panel (if I believe the labeling) and that's the same side as the boiler. If we lose it for long I'll just do my usual backfeed and use the electric, the boiler will prevent pipes up there from freezing as I built well insulated walls around it (it's in the garage). When the electrician comes in to finish our new bathroom I'll have him put in an appropriate transfer switch. I'm going to have him go through the whole house to make sure everything is up to code and properly labeled, then I'll feel better about things. It's funny, since this was previously converted into a group home for disabled people we assumed they would have been hyper vigilant about doing things right and maintaining them, but that really was not the case at all. Going to spend more on getting it up to snuff than we thought but isn't that always the way? Thanks again guys!

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