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Open Roads Forum  >  Around the Campfire

 > Looking for an electrician to answer a question for me

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Tinstar

McKinney, TX

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Posted: 02/20/21 04:54pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I know this is not exactly RV-related but I'm looking for information on a portable RV genset used to backfeed my house.

I have been researching back-up generators for my home. I am wanting an inverter generator (quiet), dual fuel (versatility), 240-volt (hopefully for more power), economical (fuel use and initial genset cost). I know, that's a lot to ask for a reasonably priced genset of $1K give or take.

From my research, I am finding different opinions on the web to my question. I know a 240-volt genset can be wired to both sides of the breaker panel (via interlock) without a problem and that will allow either 120 or 240-volt circuits to be live.

What I am trying to figure out is: Can a 120-volt genset be safely wire to my panel AND feed both L1 and L2. I am aware that only 120-volts would be available. I was reading on an electrical forum (and I don't know if it's a professional answering the question or just a do-it-yourselfer. Most say it is safe to do so and just wire the hot wire from a 30-amp supply/generator to both sides of the panel. A few folks question if it can't be done safely. I know 240-volt appliances would not work but wall circuits and lights are my main concern. This electrical forum also says the 240-volt breakers would not even need to be turned off since the 120-volt feed are both in the same phase and it would show 0 volts. If this can be done, I could easily keep all 240 breakers off but I would like to know if that is necessary. Obviously, a 240-volt genset would be better so I could feed a 240 appliance if needed BUT availability and cost are a major factor of not being able to do so.

I can and will contact a local electrician as necessary. This is just a question for my initial research

OH, btw I'm looking at the Westinghouse iGen4500 dual-fuel inverter generator.

Thanks, for any help.


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theoldwizard1

SE MI

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Posted: 02/20/21 05:32pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Tinstar wrote:

What I am trying to figure out is: Can a 120-volt genset be safely wire to my panel AND feed both L1 and L2. I am aware that only 120-volts would be available.

Not an electrician,

The answer is yes. 240V is achieved by measuring across L1 to L2. If L1 and L2 are identical (same voltage and phase) the difference is 0V.

No harm will come to any 240V appliances.


P.S. 240VAC inverter generators, not even duel fuel, are going to cost close to $5,000 !

DrewE

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Posted: 02/20/21 05:42pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Yes, you can connect the 120V generator to both legs, and have 120V available on all 120V circuits but of course no 240V available. Things that are purely 240V (such as an electric water heater) will not work and will see zero volts; however, things that use both 120V and 240V (such as most dryers and electric ranges) may exhibit odd behavior as some parts will have power and others won't. It should not cause any damage, but probably is still best to turn off breakers to such appliances.

The only 240V portable inverter generator I'm aware of is the Honda EU7000is, which is an excellent unit--quite quiet, reliable, long-lived, and economical of fuel--but not inexpensive to purchase, and not lightweight by any stretch of the imagination.

To my estimation, the Westinghouse you're looking at is somewhat in no-mans-land: it's awfully heavy to be readily ported around, probably more power than you need for most RV stuff, and probably less than you might want for a whole-house backup sort of generator, while maybe being larger than necessary for basic emergency stuff (i.e. keeping the fridge cool, the coffee warm, and the laptop operating).





enblethen

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Posted: 02/20/21 05:49pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Get something like this Transfer panel
Then get a genset capable of 120/240 four wire output sized for your load.
Do it right and you will save problems and money in the long range.


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Posted: 02/20/21 06:42pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

OP That gen with a manual transfer switch, power cable and connectors are likely $2,000+. Plus insulation which will probably be much more than that.

I don't know if that gen and setup will meet the code requirements so make sure.

IF you install a transfer switch for the entire panel then turn off all 240 CB's. Why? Typical home appliances are NOT just 240V, they are 120/240 volts meaning any 120V parts like clocks and lights will continue to draw power.

IF you install the transfer switch that route some of the panel CB outputs and their corresponding loads then by using only 120V circuits the 120/240V circuits would have no generator power.

My advice: Do not bypass code inspections and compliance. There can be serious libiality probems if someone like a lineman is injured because you were back feeding the grid.


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Bob


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Posted: 02/20/21 06:50pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I agree do it right. Please post what the electrician tells you for equipment and cost.

Tinstar

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Posted: 02/20/21 07:19pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

DrewE wrote:


To my estimation, the Westinghouse you're looking at is somewhat in no-mans-land: it's awfully heavy to be readily ported around, probably more power than you need for most RV stuff, and probably less than you might want for a whole-house backup sort of generator, while maybe being larger than necessary for basic emergency stuff (i.e. keeping the fridge cool, the coffee warm, and the laptop operating).


Do you not think the 4500 watts genset would power a half dozen or so 10 watt lights 60-80 watts total (I'm using all LED's in the house), an LCD TV - 150 watts, two fridges totaling about 900 watts and depending on how much power is being used by these maybe run a microwave 800 watts and a computer 50 watts? I'm counting less than 2000 watts. I know there are some incidental devices, clock, radio, phone chargers, etc but I wouldn't think everything will consume maximum watts all the time. Even if I "overconsumed" what would happen other than throwing the 30 amp breaker? Just thinking outloud...

OH, btw I found the genset for $650, the interlock is $50 and the breaker is another $25, 8 gauge wire is already installed. I don't need installation from an electrician as I'm already certified in my home county to do electrical work IN MY OWN HOME. It weighs 96 lbs.

* This post was last edited 02/20/21 10:58pm by Tinstar *   View edit history

wa8yxm

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Posted: 02/21/21 04:27am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Quote:

What I am trying to figure out is: Can a 120-volt genset be safely wire to my panel AND feed both L1 and L2. I am aware that only 120-volts would be available.


Short answer is yes. however instead of a breaker interlock what I did was a Generator Transfer panel.. Selected loads (all 120 volt) like the furnace, Food storage. Most (not all) lights, electronics and the microwave were on the Transfer panel. Central Air, Washer and Dryer (Dryer is 120 volt) Were NOT on the Transfer panel.

ONE light (I did say not all) that we basically never needed but could see from all but 1 room (kitchen) of the main house was NOT on the transfer panel. The only time I actually used that light was during power fails. I turned it on and when it lit.. Time to shut down the generator.


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ken56

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Posted: 02/21/21 06:14am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Firstly it is not a 4500 watt genset. I just purchased the igen4500 and really haven't used it yet. Started it up after I prepped it and it took right off out of the box. I ran a few power tools with it is all I did. Even at 96 Lbs. it's bulky and for this old man is difficult to put in the back of my 2500HD without help. Moving around on its built in wheels using the built in handle is piece of cake. That generator is rated at 3850 watts continuous output running on gas and lower running on propane. You would only get that 4500 watts for maybe a minute for motor startup on like a furnace. Still not shabby. I had the same thoughts about hooking to the house too but decided to just use extension cords for what I need to run. 650 is an excellent price, I paid 1049.

* This post was edited 02/21/21 06:29am by ken56 *

JRscooby

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Posted: 02/21/21 06:41am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

How often do you loose power? And how long is it out? And what do you need to run?
What I did was put a box next to furnace, with outlet in box and plug on furnace. The rare times I lose power I move my gen outside, and run a cord to furnace, and any other load I must have. Little more work when power is out, but zero risk of backfeed thru lines, and the portable gen can be used more often, because it is portable.

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