A flaw in my backup power plan

Discussion in 'Survival Zone' started by planosteve, Oct 23, 2015.

  1. planosteve

    planosteve Lifetime Supporter

    We have been without power since 1 am. Setup the Gen to power the fridge and a couple lights. Need more extension cords.

    Edit Update:

    Have power back now after 13 hours and I have found some issues with my preparations for a power outage. Here they are:

    1. Need to be able to power my internet/wifi during power outage. I will need to run a cable to the garage for the box there and one to my wireless router/office. A couple of extra extension cords should fix this as I have power strips for distribution.

    2. Need to be able to provide power to my stove (gas). It will not work without power.

    3. Need to see about powering the gas furnace. Will need an electrician to do this as it needs to meet code. See if I can have an external power connection added so I can plug the gen into it. Maybe add a receptacle and i can build a custom male/male extension cord for it. Furnace and Fan draw 8 amps peak, 5 amps continuous.

    What went well:

    The 4KW Champion gen I picked up a couple years ago on sale at Cabela's worked great. I cranked it up every couple hours to keep the freezer and fridge cold, run some lights and and watch a little TV to check on the weather. About 4 hours total run time and used about 1 gallon of gas. Noise was not bad, could barely hear it in the house.

    Hooking all this up i am looking at a 25 amp max draw so the gen should handle it fine.

    Nothing like having to execute a contingency plan to see where your shortcomings are.
  2. Dane

    Dane Supporting Member

    People have been known to apply power to panel through either the 220v dryer outlet or add a separate outlet. Main breaker MUST be off. You don't want to backfeed on the network. That could kill a lineman. Turn off all breakers except where you want to apply voltage to. You can then selectively pick and change what get power and when. This is basically a manual version of a transfer switch.

  3. undeRGRound

    undeRGRound ROLL wif Da MOLE! Supporting Member

    Dane Nailed It!

    That's the cheapest way to back-feed.

    More later, or you can PM me and we can exchange Phone #'s
    if you like, Steve.
  4. planosteve

    planosteve Lifetime Supporter

    I can get all the parts I need cheap at the electrical shop. What gauge wire do you recommend? Max would be 40 amps @ 120 VAC. Is it a 2 phase Y?
  5. undeRGRound

    undeRGRound ROLL wif Da MOLE! Supporting Member

    #8awg is good for 40A but if you can afford it, use the 60A (#6awg) stuff just in case?
    Those twistlocks are a bit lame for what they carry, sometimes.
    If you backfeed thru the dryer plug just match the plug rating.
    Of course, buy the proper pigtail for your gen-set. Pix would help!

    It is not a "Y" in electrical nomenclature, but what I think you mean,
    you are prolly on the right track. Some are 4 wire, 2 hots, neutral, ground.
    Newer ones are, anyway. Got the model # of that genny?
    I can just look it up and know the proper facts w/o asking and
    interpreting your answers. Quicker!
  6. ajole

    ajole Supporting Member

    NE Utah
    Good use of a small setback.;)
  7. showpare

    showpare Expert in Superfluities Member

    Our 4KW Champion handles everything in home except for electric dryer, electric range, and central A/C. We are on well and it runs it fine. We kill the Main Breaker, too.
  8. planosteve

    planosteve Lifetime Supporter

    OK, thanks for the input. The gen and dryer socket are each 2 hots, a neutral, and a ground. I measured and I will need a 35 ft run from my back patio to the dryer socket.

    Bad news is the main breaker is weird. It will trip fine but it will not let you turn it off manually, I tried to shut it off while power was down and it will not lock in the off position. I have never seen anything like that. If it trips you push it down then bring it back to on. Need to look into getting that replaced with one I can shut off, or maybe it is broken and needs to be replaced.

    Al I need internet for work if I can't get to the office.
  9. planosteve

    planosteve Lifetime Supporter

    The main breaker is a type CC, 2 pole, 150 amp. The instructions state if tripped it will be in center position and to push all the way down and then up to the on position.
  10. Think1st

    Think1st Supporting Member

    Is your stove equipped with some sort of push-button system? When power was out when I had a gas stove, previously, I would just turn the knob to get gas flowing, and then I would use a barbecue lighter to ignite the flame. You should experiment to see if that is possible.
  11. ice storm few years back gave me a good test i found many shortcoming in my plans:)
  12. Dane

    Dane Supporting Member

    Can you post some pictures? Sounds like you are a standard 220vac single phase. If main is bad you would want to change it anyway.

    You might want to price a pre-formed cable for generator use. We purchased some long ones at work for our generators that were reasonably priced.
  13. Outlaw

    Outlaw Supporting Member

    I have a couple back up gensets, but I most often use a solar/batt setup. 50W solar panel trickle charging 4 huge deep cycle batts. Also have two 240 watt panels as backup if needed. I can connect one of them to three deep cycle boat batts I can pull if needed. I used the first setup for 6 hours last year during a pwr outage. After the lites came on, I checked the batts and only drained about 10%. Works for me.
  14. undeRGRound

    undeRGRound ROLL wif Da MOLE! Supporting Member

    BRAND, Steve! What Brand?
    Type CC could be Eaton, Westinghouse, or Cutler Hammer.
    I bet it shuts off, you need to try it when you have power on it.
    Or it is broken in a way I have never seen. Most are "Fail Safe"
    not "fail hot" :D

    He can build one a lot cheaper, I bet!
    It's easy, I once helped a guy add a welder outlet in a garage
    over the phone. Breaker, Wire, Outlet, the whole 9 yards!
  15. undeRGRound

    undeRGRound ROLL wif Da MOLE! Supporting Member

    As is the case in many brands of breakers, you might be able to use
    any of the 3 brands. Type CC might be just that.
    I have seen it anywhere from ~$87 to $157 on the high end.
    Depending on supplier and brand. Does this look close?
  16. undeRGRound

    undeRGRound ROLL wif Da MOLE! Supporting Member

  17. undeRGRound

    undeRGRound ROLL wif Da MOLE! Supporting Member

    Or MAYBE, it is supposed to work like that.
    You need to try shutting it off under power, (minimal loads, turn stuff off first)
    and cycle it by hand. Some will not "reset" if you have a power loss, and the
    power is still off. I have seen a little bit of everything, nothing surprises me
    anymore... :p
  18. planosteve

    planosteve Lifetime Supporter

    First, thanks everyone for the help and info. The Manufacturer is covered up by the panel so I will need to try it with power on while the wife is not home.

    As for the cable I called the motor rewind/ electrical supply store I use and traded two AC fan motors that needed rebuild for a $50 dollar credit and they are making me a 40 ft cable with 8 gauge wire for an additional $40. I will pick it up later this week.

    If I need to have the breaker replaced I have an electrician that is very reasonable. He quoted me $100 for the breaker and $75 and a 12 pack to replace it.
  19. planosteve

    planosteve Lifetime Supporter

    He is a union guy that mainly does commercial, but will do residential for people he knows. He used to work where I did and got laid off at the same time I did, does great work and doesn't drink the beer until he is done with the job.

    TNTRAILERTRASH Supporting Member

    Sounds like Mole. He charges 12 pack of OMB and a box of Twinkies.