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  1. #1
    Silver Member
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    SE PA
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    bx1500

    Default generator whole house transfer switch

    Anyone know how difficult a 100 or 200 manual transfer switch is to install? I was going to ask my electrician to install one for me, and was wondering if it's a tough job. I looked into a new style transfer switch that's installed behind the meter, but it seems to be rated at only 7.5w continuous load. I want to buy a 15k portable so I can run anything I want, so I think the meter mounted option is out. I have one big panel and a smaller sub panel that I would like to control.

  2. #2
    Veteran Member Tororider's Avatar
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    Aug 2007
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    SE Michigan
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    JD 4310

    Default Re: generator whole house transfer switch

    Don't know, but electricity scares me as I haven't worked with it often. I hope to hear some good things here, because I would like to have the same thing done here at my place, although on a smaller scale. Best of luck.
    Tororider
    John Deere 4310
    Frontier Finish Mower, Wallenstein Bx62 Chipper, front end pallet forks, KK 5' Rototiller

    Check out my homestead blog at www.homesteaddad.com

  3. #3
    Veteran Member SpringHollow's Avatar
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    South of Rochester, NY
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    Power Trac 1850, NH 2120

    Default Re: generator whole house transfer switch

    I installed my own 100 Amp automatic transfer switch to control a subpanel that I wired most of my circuits into (except for electric stove, electric clothes dryer, and power to the barn). I thought it was fairly easy but then I do my own electric short of installing a meter. Since I could wire it "dead", I thought it was fairly safe. If you are not sure of what you are doing, you should not do it yourself. But if you research it and check the code books, etc., it is not hard.

    Ken

  4. #4
    Veteran Member
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    Nov 2004
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    Oregon
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    JD 770, Yanmar 180D, JD 420 (not running), had a Kubota B6200

    Default Re: generator whole house transfer switch

    I watched a guy wire mine & it looked pretty easy.

    Installed it next to the panel & if I remember correctly, wired one circuit at a time to go from the panel to the transfer switch & back to the panel so the thing was set up in series.

    Mine is a manual setup; it looks like the ones that Northern has in the 100 amp range are automatic. Biggest manual one they have is 50 amps.

  5. #5
    Platinum Member
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    May 2007
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    eastern PA-lower Poconos
    Tractor
    JD2320 w/R4 $21,100 w/7.16%off

    Default Re: generator whole house transfer switch

    Last year, I had one installed by electricians for about $500. I bought the generator and box and cables from here
    http://www.electricgeneratorsdirect.com/

    This is a good informative site to research. After thinking about it for a bit I decided that I didn't need the full house hookup. For instance I didn't need the oven and the range if I had the microwave. Also two bedrooms, the garage and the west interior wall weren't needed. I also could do without some kitchen outlets, hallway outlets and the yard lights.

    The advantage of cutting back is that I could buy a smaller generator (cheaper) that uses less fuel. If I'm contemplating a perhaps week long outage, fuel is a concern.

    I'd suggest visiting the site and filling out the essential electrical equipment quiz so that you don't overbuy. I wound up with a 6.5KW generator and payed about $1400 for everything.

    A friend wanted an automatic switch full house installation and the bids ran about $15,000 so she dropped the whole thing. Now I have a generator and she doesn't.

    An interesting alternative to a gas generator is getting one that runs on propane. A 100 gallon tank will run the generator for a long time and you can use the propane to install propane logs in your fireplace.
    Eastern PA -JD2320 w/R4; 200CX w/61" bucket & Markham toothbar or JD adj forks; 46BH w/16", Imatch, ballast box & York rake-blade-scarifer, 54" front plow and trailer receiver. Case 580K w/fel+bh, mule 610XC

  6. #6
    Veteran Member Rara Avis's Avatar
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    USA
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    Default Re: generator whole house transfer switch


  7. #7
    Gold Member Cottonhawk's Avatar
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    Oregon, USA
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    NH TC40DA, Canopy, Tiltmeter.

    Default Re: generator whole house transfer switch

    Generator is a piece of 'nice to have' equipment. I hired an electric contractor to install our generator and the whole house automatic switch. IMO, it is safer to have a pro do it so when the power is down my generator will work the way it supposed to.
    Cotton

  8. #8
    Silver Member
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    Mar 2006
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    Location
    Lakes Region New Hampshire
    Tractor
    Excavator Samsung SE130LCM

    Default Re: generator whole house transfer switch

    If you want to do the whole house you will have to cut the power to the main panel. This will involve either removing the meter from the meterbase, (most juridictions will require a licensed electrician to do this and the power company to be present and cut the tag) or if you are lucky enough to have main breaker outside at the meterbase, you can turn it off. That being said, if you do not install it properly you can cause serious injury to yourself and others. If you put a subpanel in and wire that for emergency, that would be an easier and more safe project.
    ???

  9. #9
    Epic Contributor MossRoad's Avatar
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    South Bend, Indiana (near)
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    Power Trac PT425 2001 Model Year

    Default Re: generator whole house transfer switch

    Quote Originally Posted by automech
    Anyone know how difficult a 100 or 200 manual transfer switch is to install? I was going to ask my electrician to install one for me, and was wondering if it's a tough job. I looked into a new style transfer switch that's installed behind the meter, but it seems to be rated at only 7.5w continuous load. I want to buy a 15k portable so I can run anything I want, so I think the meter mounted option is out. I have one big panel and a smaller sub panel that I would like to control.
    Really, all you need is an on-off-on switch with a 200 amp rating. What this does is feed grid power out of your meter to your home when in the first ON postition. When you move it to the OFF position no power is fed to your home. When you move it to the other ON position, you can feed your home from a different source, like a generator. You can manage the circuits from you breaker panel. Since we are not supposed to link to e-bay items from TBN, I suggest you go to E-bay and search for a GE transfer switch. If you plug in TC10324R to their search you will see one.
    MossRoad

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  10. #10
    Elite Member RonMar's Avatar
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    Port Angeles WA
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    Jinma 284 delivered 06/28/05

    Default Re: generator whole house transfer switch

    There are typically 3 ways to do this.
    1. Install a transfer switch between meter and existing panel. Or the behind the meter one you mentioned. This can be a manual or automatic switch. This is probably the most expensive(other than the behind the meter one you mentioned), usually due to the cost of the switch. It can also add up depending on how much has to be relocated to accomidate the switch installation. the meter also needs to be removed/replaced by utility company.

    2. Replace the existing panel with one designed to be backfed. These panels have an interlock, usually a sliding metal plate, between the main input breaker and one of the 2 pole breakers. The generator is connected to the 2 pole and the interlock plate only allows one of the breakers(main or generator) to be on at a time. This prevents backfeeding generator power to the grid. This is probably second in line as far as price. The panel is probably cheaper, but there is a lot of labor involved. This also requires the meter to be removed to isolate the panel.

    3. Sub panel for generator fed devices. There are 2 ways of doing this:
    A. Done similar to #1 above, with the transfer switch between main and sub panel. You must relocate all the services that are to be fed with the generator to the sub panel so there is a bit of labor involved.

    B. Addon generator specific sub panel. This type installs beside the main panel and is spliced into the main panel at the breakers that are being configured for generator feed. With main breaker shut off so panel busses are deenergized, you remove a wire from a particular breaker. You put a wire to the sub panel in the breaker. You connect the original wire that goes to the household outlet or device to a second wire from the sub panel. You do this for each circuit being configured for generator power as well as tying into round and neutral wiring. This type subpanel has a 2 way switch for each circuit. When bringing up the generator, you switch each circuit from commercial(fed from it's original mainpanel breaker) to gen in the sub panel. This is probably the least expensive option and doable by someone who understands how to work in a panel safely and can follow directions. These are typically used in smaller generator aplications where only partial/vital circuits are powered.

    Wanting whole house transfer, sounds like you want 1 or 2. Most utilities I Have experience with want a liscensced electrician doing anything up stream of the panels main breaker, and you will need the meter pulled and re-installed/resealed after it is inspected. If you can find a good source for an approved switch, #1 probably involves the least labor IMO. #2 is probably the most cost effective for a new home build/panel installation.

    I am not sure how an inspector would look on the modifying of an existing panel to option #2 by the addition of a sliding interlock plate to allow safe backfeeding of the panel. The new panels of this type that I have looked at do not differ in any other way that I could see from a standard residential panel other than the sliding/rotating interlocking plate that is riveted/permanently affixed to the panels breaker cover plate. Providing the panel can support a breaker large enough to provide for the infeed power from the generator (15KVA(KW) at 240VAC is 62.5A), this would be a VERY inexpensive option...
    Last edited by RonMar; 10-25-2007 at 11:50 AM.
    Ron

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