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Open Roads Forum  >  Tech Issues

 > Harbor Freight Predator 3500 Generator On Sale!

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Lantley

Ellicott City, Maryland

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Posted: 11/19/20 08:06pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

wopachop wrote:

Good choice for home usage when the power is out? Or go with something a little bigger? Pretend its your average family with a couple kids.

My friend wants those giant built in units hooked up to the service panel. To me that seems like a good choice for an older couple with medical machines and want it to automatically change over.

I keep telling her just get a smaller gen and run eletrical cords as a cheaper option. This summer they warned about shutting the power off is why its an issue. Has to do with preventing fires from the main electrical lines.

You can run a smaller portable without using cords. I have a 6 breaker transfer switch that I connect a 4300 watt genset too.
I can run my house in emergency mode just fine. Just no A/C.
I can have lights stove, fridge, freezers, hot water, internet internet and heat. All essentials. No cords no huge genset.


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Tom/Barb

Oak Harbor, Wa

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Posted: 11/19/20 10:03pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Boon Docker wrote:

The transfer switch that I use when powering my house with a generator is the main 200 amp breaker, I just click it off. Works just fine.


How do you know the breaker is OFF.,,I may look off, but prove it.


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Boon Docker

Mountain Foothills of Southern Alberta

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Posted: 11/19/20 11:19pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Tom/Barb wrote:

Boon Docker wrote:

The transfer switch that I use when powering my house with a generator is the main 200 amp breaker, I just click it off. Works just fine.


How do you know the breaker is OFF.,,I may look off, but prove it.

I have turned the main breaker off previously to work on the breaker panel, so I do know that it is off when I click it off.

2oldman

Mecca

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Posted: 11/20/20 12:04pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Lantley wrote:

I can have lights stove, fridge, freezers, hot water, internet internet and heat. All essentials. No cords no huge genset.
That is one amazing 4300w generator, assuming this stuff is all electric.

MEXICOWANDERER

las peƱas, michoacan, mexico

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Posted: 11/20/20 12:48pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I use a DPDT knife switch housed in a plywood box. Lead coated berylium copper. The door has a micro switch. A 10mm white LED a lithium 3.7 cell and a mummified false coral snake.
.

Gdetrailer

PA

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Posted: 11/20/20 01:40pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Boon Docker wrote:

The transfer switch that I use when powering my house with a generator is the main 200 amp breaker, I just click it off. Works just fine.


Boon Docker,

Technically you are correct that ONCE you turn off the Breaker panel MAIN breaker then no "backfeed" will happen.

HOWEVER, the problem is that it is EASY to forget to do that step.

OTHERS in your family MAY/CAN/MOST LIKELY forget to do that step.

In an blackout situation you or your family will be stressed, trying to get some power quickly and doing this most likely in pitch black darkness with a couple of flashlights with near dead batteries.

That IS the cold hard reality and why folks get pretty riled up over this.

You also have to factor in the opposite can happen when the power comes back on and someone has forgotten to turn the main breaker off.. Now you have the power co feeding voltage back into YOUR precious gen.. IF you are lucky, it will simply trip your gens breaker.. If you are unlucky, it can damage/burn/break up your precious gen..

It is not the proper way to do this.

My Dad had done it your way 40 yrs ago, I watched him do that to feed a gen into our house during a week long power outage in the dead of winter. Yes, it worked but it was not the right way to do this.

Back then there was NO AFFORDABLE home or consumer gen transfer panels and you HAD to do what you had to do to make things work.

Now days, there are lots of AFFORDABLE methods to connect a gen to your home that are safe, does not require one to "remember" a switch sequence and automatically protects you, your generator and even the power company linesman.

Manual home transfer panels are cheap insurance and start out around $60-$200 depending on gen size and qty of priority circuits.

Modern days, NEC has recognized then need for safely interfacing home gens to the home panel, they have gone out of their way to approve breaker panel breaker INTERLOCKS for this purpose.

There are now a vast variety of Interlock kits available for many breaker panels and they start out around $60..

Interlocks are a great way to make this very safe, you basically add a dedicated breaker to your panel for your gen, add the Interlock kit to the breaker panel.

Here is an example..

[image]

Interlock HERE $69

[image]

INTERLOCK HERE for $56

Those are just a couple of examples, not all that difficult to install or expensive..

The interlock blocks the gen breaker from being turned on while the main breaker is on.

When the main breaker is turned off the Interlock will now unblock the Gen breaker..

There is zero ways both gen and main can be on at the same time basically turning your panel into a gen transfer panel.

It is a low cost, safe and effective way to do this properly.

Boon Docker, I ask that perhaps you might consider adding a Interlock to your setup?

Even though my Dad may have done it your way, myself, I HAVE installed a manual transfer panel to my home and have moved my priority circuits to that panel.

Yes, I had some expense by doing it the right way, but I can relax and know that if I am not at home, my family can quickly and safely get the gen up and running or at least there is one less thing for myself to do to keep me and my family safe.

Gdetrailer

PA

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Posted: 11/20/20 02:15pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I decided to add a couple of photos of my Gen transfer panel..

[image]

I added digital Volt and ammeters on the left side so I can monitor the gen voltage and current. One meter for each leg..

[image]

Inside the door, the top breakers which in this panel are opposing left breaker is from gen and right breaker is feed from main panel.

The two breakers are held together by a retainer under the panel front.

There is a metal strap which fits under the panel front and fits the channel between the breakers and comes up to the breaker handles and a pin drops through the breaker handles tying the two breaker handles together loosely. There has to be enough slop to allow breakers to trip but not to much so when you push one breaker on the opposite breaker flips off.

Neat, simple yet very effective.

I started out with a smaller gen panel but it didn't have enough circuits.. So, I was able to use the parts from the small panel and moved them to a bigger panel with same breaker layout so that panel in the pix was a $60 panel without a main breaker.. And yeah, the gen has a 60A breaker on a gen that only can supply 30A.. I used what I had at the time but keeping in mind the gen HAS built in 30A breakers so the wiring and gen is safe.. Only using that breaker as a switch in this case.

Dusty R

Charlotte Michigan 48813

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Posted: 11/20/20 05:42pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

X-2

Dusty

Lantley

Ellicott City, Maryland

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Posted: 11/20/20 06:35pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

2oldman wrote:

Lantley wrote:

I can have lights stove, fridge, freezers, hot water, internet internet and heat. All essentials. No cords no huge genset.
That is one amazing 4300w generator, assuming this stuff is all electric.

This stuff all requires electric however we have natural gas appliances. The stove, water heater and furnace are gas but they do require electric to operate. 4300watts is enough to keep me in business when we have power outages.
If we need A/C we can always retreat to the RV which has a built in Onan.

Gdetrailer

PA

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Posted: 11/20/20 07:40pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Lantley wrote:

2oldman wrote:

Lantley wrote:

I can have lights stove, fridge, freezers, hot water, internet internet and heat. All essentials. No cords no huge genset.
That is one amazing 4300w generator, assuming this stuff is all electric.

This stuff all requires electric however we have natural gas appliances. The stove, water heater and furnace are gas but they do require electric to operate. 4300watts is enough to keep me in business when we have power outages.
If we need A/C we can always retreat to the RV which has a built in Onan.


X2!

I could have gone with a 4Kw 240/120V gen myself since my heat is natural gas furnace and a wood burning furnace connected with the gas furnace. Have gas water heater and gas stove/oven (although the oven needs 120V for the gas safety valve).

All of my lights in the entire home at the time were Florescent making a light power draw there.. I have changed out most now to LEDs at about 1/3 the power draw..

Computers, router, TVs and such take minimal draw, perhaps 300W when all are on..

Have fridge and deep freezer, those really don't use a lot of power other than startup surge..

Deep well pump for water is 240V and my 4Kw gen is 120V only which I use for camping so I needed another gen to power the water well..

Since I needed a different gen, to make life easy in the dead of winter, I chose a bigger gen with electric start.. My DW has difficult time pull starting most small engines at times, even a push mower can be a challenge so electric start was a major item on the wish list.. So, HF at the time only had electric start in the 8700 watt size, I think they make have a 6,500W one now..

Typically, you really only want to pick the SMALLEST gen as possible to power only the critical loads.. The 8,700W gen is powered by a 13 HP engine and is a lot thirstier than my smaller 4Kw gen which uses a 6.5 HP engine.. So choosing oversized gen for the critical loads will just waste a lot of fuel if you are not careful.

Fuel choice can also affect gen size selection, natural gas/propane (these have less energy content)and you must upsize compared to gasoline or Diesel gens.

Far, far cheaper to conserve energy when on generator power, commercial power is always cheaper than trying to make your own and basically all you need is to keep things like a fridge, lights, light heating and cooking and perhaps some electronic entertainment going. For that you most certainly do not need a 12Kw-20Kw gen for the whole house.

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