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Thread: Twice Baked - And I'm Not Talkin' Potatoes

  1. #1
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    Twice Baked - And I'm Not Talkin' Potatoes

    Ironically this is the second one of these I've had come in over the last year or so. Same exact machine, same exact failure, same exact cause. Only difference is two separate owners - unrelated I believe.

    This is how you turn a low hour 15KW $2400 back-up generator into a $3600+ unit. Leave it plugged in with its breaker closed when the grid power comes back up.


    You can see the evidence of where the winding insulation and plastic supports burned off from the intense heat generated in the stator coils (also severely compromised) when grid power turned it into a 15K heater. Steel stator housing and aluminum end plate contained any flames that may have erupted as a result.

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    Replacement parts an estimated 10 business days out and fortunately no hurricanes looming on the horizon at the moment - but power still goes out from time-to-time due to the severe thunderstorms that move thru on a regular basis.



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  2. #2
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    Re: Twice Baked - And I'm Not Talkin' Potatoes

    Same way in the automotive field..if I get a fuel pump job, another happens within a week
    Two transmission jobs last week

    Mechanical failures always seem to come in pairs for me

    Expensive outdoor heater you got there

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    Re: Twice Baked - And I'm Not Talkin' Potatoes

    Duane, will you say "Here's your sign"?
    Mike
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    Re: Twice Baked - And I'm Not Talkin' Potatoes

    What no transfer switch???
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    Re: Twice Baked - And I'm Not Talkin' Potatoes

    ...yet another good reason for a transfer switch ...they aren't cheap but it would have been less than the repair cost.

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    Re: Twice Baked - And I'm Not Talkin' Potatoes

    Folks need to memorize a process for connect/disconnect , other wise it works out as well as fire-ready-aim.. Expensive lesson..
    "The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life." -Theodore Roosevelt

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    Re: Twice Baked - And I'm Not Talkin' Potatoes

    My generator is hooked up to a dedicated inlet on a 30 amp breaker that is isolated from the main with a mechanical interlock. Either the main or the generator can power the panel, but never at the same time. Much cheaper than a transfer switch and you can run almost anything in the house, within reason.
    Eventual master of the obvious, practitioner of "stream of consciousness fabrication". P.S. I edit almost every post because because I'm posting from my phone and my fingers sometimes move faster than my brain.

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    Re: Twice Baked - And I'm Not Talkin' Potatoes

    Quote Originally Posted by Sedanman View Post
    My generator is hooked up to a dedicated inlet on a 30 amp breaker that is isolated from the main with a mechanical interlock. Either the main or the generator can power the panel, but never at the same time. Much cheaper than a transfer switch and you can run almost anything in the house, within reason.
    Ditto to a 50 amp breaker.
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    Re: Twice Baked - And I'm Not Talkin' Potatoes

    Quote Originally Posted by mla2ofus View Post
    Duane, will you say "Here's your sign"?
    Mike
    I think that goes without actually saying it Mike.


    Quote Originally Posted by Canoecruiser View Post
    Did they hook the genset directly to the bussbars in the service panel?
    No idea. Dealing with a 3rd party and not the owner directly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoecruiser View Post
    What I would do is plug it into the 30 amp dryer outlet after pulling the main disconnect in the hopes the breaker prevents a meltdown. I can run the essentials with an 8 kw Generac.
    The previous unit was plugged into a dryer outlet. The problem is, the dry's circuit breaker and generator's circuit breaker were left closed and when the generator isn't running to produce output there's no butting of power source heads to trip either breaker and the stator just becomes a big heating element when grid power is restored.

    Quote Originally Posted by Canoecruiser View Post
    With what a whole-house transfer switch costs it's hard selling it to people when they only need it two or three times a year. I don't agree with it but saying it's illegal is regarded as "don't speed on the highway when no one is looking".
    Of all the generator customers I have and had, I can only think of 2 that have transfer switches with both being whole house. One is manual and the other automatic. All the rest are "deadman" cords (male plugs on both ends) or back feeding thru a breaker or hooked directly to the buss. Obviously in the case of the last three options, opening the main breaker should be "Step 1)".


    Quote Originally Posted by bigb View Post
    What no transfer switch???
    Pretty safe bet.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sandy View Post
    Folks need to memorize a process for connect/disconnect , other wise it works out as well as fire-ready-aim.. Expensive lesson..
    Expensive for sure. Over half the cost of a new unit which is usually my recommended cut off point. However, this one is such a low hour unit the owner felt it worth repairing.

    I replaced a 15KW unit over a year ago for a widow who's late husband did an awesome job on the installation with the manual transfer switch. The generator is located in one of those metal yard storage sheds set up with concrete slab and louvered vent fans that power up as soon as the generator starts. Her husband included a plaque with step-by-step instructions on how to start and operate the unit from turning the NG valve on to turning it back off after shut-down. I'd guess her to be in her late 70's and doesn't have a single problem when the power goes out or completing monthly unit exercising as a result of the detailed instructions.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sedanman View Post
    My generator is hooked up to a dedicated inlet on a 30 amp breaker that is isolated from the main with a mechanical interlock. Either the main or the generator can power the panel, but never at the same time. Much cheaper than a transfer switch and you can run almost anything in the house, within reason.
    I really like those devises. Simple, positive, safe and effective. Patent protection prevents building similar for commercial purposes but an individual could for their own personal use.
    Last edited by duaneb55; 08-13-2016 at 11:24 AM.
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    Re: Twice Baked - And I'm Not Talkin' Potatoes

    Quote Originally Posted by duaneb55 View Post



    I really like those devises. Simple, positive, safe and effective. Patent protection prevents building similar for commercial purposes but an individual could for their own personal use.
    I have 2 200 amp panels as does my son in northern VA. I made an interlok device for each of our 4 panels. Happened to see a factory one at a friend's house and copied the idea. They work fine.
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    Re: Twice Baked - And I'm Not Talkin' Potatoes

    Many people hook up generators to the service panel going straight to the bars with a dedicated breaker. It takes a knowledgeable guy to make sure it's done right and the main is OFF. It's also illeagle I believe, because it can backfeed and electrocute an unaware lineman. The reason they do it is cost of disconnecting/reconnecting, permit cost and inspection time, and switch and panel cost. It's extremely common in CA especially because of permits, I don't know what PGE does to protect their guys.

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    Re: Twice Baked - And I'm Not Talkin' Potatoes

    Quote Originally Posted by blackbart View Post
    I don't know what PGE does to protect their guys.
    The rule is always check to make sure it's dead then work it like its live.
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    Re: Twice Baked - And I'm Not Talkin' Potatoes

    I'm actually currently working on a 20KW generac system now with an automatic main switch. It developed two issues since the last power outage. When I drove by the house (unoccupied vacation house) I noticed the generator was still running after power restored, so I went through manual shut dow sequence on it and put it on main line. Now the power from panel to the house panel seems to intermittently go off, without starting gen (main line is fine). The transfer switch seems "soft" and I suspect it is not fully resetting. End result is the automatic plan isn't working and all the freezers lost food. So another reason some people manually hook theirs up with or without a transfer switch. I'm looking at it with a generac technician thursday (per homeowner) so I can learn more about the system, my guess iss the 200 amp generac breaker.

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    Re: Twice Baked - And I'm Not Talkin' Potatoes

    Don't know what units you're dealing with but Generac systems are typically "smart" generator/"dumb" transfer switch which is to say the generator controls do all the power monitoring and tells the transfer switch what to do depending on if grid power is present or not.

    Sounds as if you've got a poor connection on the load side of the transfer switch to the house panel. If so, the system won't think there is a power problem as sensing takes place on the grid (utility) side down stream of the utility power circuit breaker - upstream of the transfer switch. A poor connection/contact on the load side of the system (either at the transfer switch or house panel) could result in power loss to one hot leg. Definitely need to make sure all power connections are clean and tight.
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    Re: Twice Baked - And I'm Not Talkin' Potatoes

    Quote Originally Posted by blackbart View Post
    Many people hook up generators to the service panel going straight to the bars with a dedicated breaker. It takes a knowledgeable guy to make sure it's done right and the main is OFF. It's also illeagle I believe, because it can backfeed and electrocute an unaware lineman. The reason they do it is cost of disconnecting/reconnecting, permit cost and inspection time, and switch and panel cost. It's extremely common in CA especially because of permits, I don't know what PGE does to protect their guys.
    Here's an interesting story about backfeeding. Fried more than just the genny. Luckily, no injuries.

    http://www.electricgeneratorsdirect....Generator.html
    Tim

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    Re: Twice Baked - And I'm Not Talkin' Potatoes

    Yep. In both cases involving this and the other identical unit it's a miracle the plastic gas tank directly above the generators weren't compromised dumping gas on the super heated housing.
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    Re: Twice Baked - And I'm Not Talkin' Potatoes

    Quote Originally Posted by duaneb55 View Post
    Don't know what units you're dealing with but Generac systems are typically "smart" generator/"dumb" transfer switch which is to say the generator controls do all the power monitoring and tells the transfer switch what to do depending on if grid power is present or not.

    Sounds as if you've got a poor connection on the load side of the transfer switch to the house panel. If so, the system won't think there is a power problem as sensing takes place on the grid (utility) side down stream of the utility power circuit breaker - upstream of the transfer switch. A poor connection/contact on the load side of the system (either at the transfer switch or house panel) could result in power loss to one hot leg. Definitely need to make sure all power connections are clean and tight.
    I was told the same thing, that the pigtails coming off a coil behind the panel cover are known for coming loose. This is a "smart" automatic system. The green/red main service breaker just doesn't feel right in my opinion, it doesn't click or snap in position like I would expect. Then again, I've never dealt with them before. It has at least two separate issues, but it started off by not automatically switching the gen off, then the other problems reared their ugly heads. The homeowner has Generac service it once a year, so I'm going to show up and learn because there are several houses in the area with the same setup.

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    Re: Twice Baked - And I'm Not Talkin' Potatoes

    All the above is why it is best to have one of those dedicated generator transfer panels, an interlock in the loadcenter, or simply a double throw transfer switch wired in-line between the generator and the home.

    In this case, I am a bit amazed that the owner would spend $2500 on a 15kW generator but wouldn't spend an additional $400 in a transfer device. Amazing. I bet they will now!

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    Re: Twice Baked - And I'm Not Talkin' Potatoes

    Quote Originally Posted by pin2hot View Post
    Here's an interesting story about backfeeding. Fried more than just the genny. Luckily, no injuries.

    http://www.electricgeneratorsdirect....Generator.html
    I can see that. I run a volunteer dept here and get many generator/house fires during power outages. That being said, I do have mine hooked up directly to the panel, but hope I'm smart enough to do it correctly. However, it worries me that someone else might decide to fire it up if I'm not home. I have a laminated check list, but realize people might be in a panic hooking it up, and then I would be liable.

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