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Transfer switch alternative

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AnnBrush
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 462 Troy OH
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2006-02-06          124126


Given our long discussions on transfer switches, I wondered what you all think about this (see web link). It's available for some Square-D load centers but similar equipment may exist for other brands. Seems to me like this would be a very inexpensive option way of adding a generator power inlet. Dont have a cost yet but would imagine it cant cost more than $30. Beats the heck out of a $280 transfer switch. I also like the way you decide which circuits to energize using the existing breakers.


Link:   Interlock switch

 
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Transfer switch alternative

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Wingman
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 3 Harbinger, N.C.
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2006-02-07          124175


The person that came up with that idea has saved homeowners alot of money. Square D is the only brand I have seen them available for. They will work on the QO and Homeline series. The Homeline models are contractor grade loadcenters to compete with other brands. The QO series has been around for years. The lockout device will only work on QO models that the main breaker is mounted horizontial. If you have a QO loadcenter with a main breaker mounted verticle, you are out of luck.

The breaker used for the generator has to be in the top right two spaces of the loadcenter. The only part that makes you wonder how it got approved is the fact that it only works properly if the panel cover is secured to the panelbox. The lockout is mouted to the cover only. If the cover is off it is possible to have both breakers on at the same time.

If you plan to purchase one, keep in mind that you have to know if you have a Homeline or QO and also if it is for indoor or a outdoor loadcenter. The device is not universal. ....

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Transfer switch alternative

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Wayne
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2006-02-07          124189


The Square D unit is not as inherently safe as a "real" blade type transfer switch. It does prevent placing the handles of both breakers ("generator feed" and "main") in the on position at the same time. It does nothing to address the potential problems caused by a stuck or welded breaker. Any one who has been in the electrical trade for long knows that a breaker handle is "off" position is not a 100 percent guarantee that the breaker is open.

This device is obviously much better than the bootleg method of backfeeding a range outlet, but should not be thought of as a fail safe device like a real transfer switch. I wouldn't use this unit without written approval from the power company, to refer to in the event that it did fail closed. Otherwise, you can bet they won't hesitate to condemn this thing if something goes wrong. ....

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Transfer switch alternative

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2006-02-07          124193


I doubt that they would be code-approved here in Washington County, Oregon. When we installed ours the inspector carefully added up the draw of each item on the generator sub-panel to make sure they didn't exceed the generator capacity. The electrical inspector spent (I kid you not) 1 1/2 days inspecting our house before signing off on the final. ....

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Transfer switch alternative

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AnnBrush
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 462 Troy OH
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2006-02-07          124200


Sorry got to go - must rush off and replace all my breakers with blade type switches - just in case they weld closed (jesting of course). The problem alluded to would surely exist with blade switches as well. And even if it did happen you could not reconnect POCO power as the interlock would prevent the main switch from being closed. As for removing the cover - any electrical device can be intentionally defeated. The possibility for tripping an OCPD is real though - I can see that being a issue with the home owner wanting to use more horses than those on hand. ....

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ncrunch32
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 762 Kingston, NY
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2006-02-07          124201


This sounds like a great option. I checked my power box, and unfortunately, it is not the brand you mention. I also want the freedom to select the circuits I want to supply with power. ....

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Transfer switch alternative

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Wingman
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 3 Harbinger, N.C.
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2006-02-07          124204


My comment about the panel cover being off is for the folks that have not used this device before. Have you ever been taking a cover off and while sliding the cover away from the wall you hear a breaker trip. You automatically set the cover down and reach back over and flip the tripped breaker back on. For those that are unfamiliar may flip the wrong breaker because now there is no lockout device to keep it from happening.

Numerous times I have been asked to make up a cord with two male ends. Now that's an accident waiting to happen! ....

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Transfer switch alternative

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Wayne
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2006-02-07          124205


A blade type transfer switch has what linemen call a "visible open", in that the isolation provided by the switch can be visually verified. Residential and light commercial duty molded case circuit breakers do not provide this, and breakers while generally reliable can and do fail to open on occasion.

It never fails to amaze me how resistant usually reasonable people can be when the subject of transfer switches comes up. If you can't afford a proper transfer switch, then you can't afford to have back up power.

Still, it is probably better than backfeeding a stove plug. ....

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ncrunch32
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 762 Kingston, NY
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2006-02-08          124215


Wayne, I would like to install a transfer switch for my generator. To date I have not.

a) If I install a transfer switch after the box (selecting the source for individual circuits after the main) I can do the job myself, but I am limited to a fixed number of circuits. This solution is not aceptable to my wife. She wants to turn on any switch in the house and have power. We accept that we are at risk of overload if we have too many things turned on.

b) If I install a transfer switch before the box (which selects utility or generator power before the main) I have to call the power company to turn power off, have an electrician do the job, and get an inspection from the town before power is turned back on. In our town it would be next to impossible to get this done in one day. We have many appliances that can't afford to go a day without power.

If I can get around either of these problems I MAY be able to talk my wife into the $500 or so for the switch. But its difficult to convince anyone to do this when it's common knowledge that you can shut off the main and flip on the generator breaker manually and accomplish the same thing. Does anyone have any other solutions to a) or b) above? The transfer switch AnnBrush describes is one such solution. ....

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Wingman
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 3 Harbinger, N.C.
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2006-02-08          124238


ncrunch32,
As you mentioned the time the power could remain off is the issue most can't afford. It's not the cost of material or labor.

One issue that some do not realize is the existing type of cable used between the meter and panel box (3 wire) has to be changed to a different type (4 wire)when the transfer switch is added in between.

Now you add in that the existing panel and meter base may not be back to back. Because of code changes from the time the house was built to the day you are ready to add the wiring for a gen. set may cause a lot more work than most realize.

Permits, scheduling the utility to turn the power off, the electrician to do the work, scheduling the inspection department to inspect the work, the utility getting back to install the existing meter, everything better go as planned to make this happen all in one day.

Where we work it is the inspection departments that hinder the one day deal. They won't let us schedule an inspection at a certain time during the day. You have to call the day before to set up an inspection, you call at 8:30 am the morning of the inspection to find out what number you are. You could be number 1. That means they will be there in about 15 minutes. When you hear that you know the homeowners are going over night without power. If you are a high number that means they won't be inspecting until late in the day, that doesn't give the utility any time to do their work after the inspection.

....

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Wayne
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2006-02-08          124244


Ncrunch32- sounds like the power company/inspectors etc. are more problematic where you live than in my area. Around here (central Kentucky), it is common to make temporary arrangements to get the power back on before final inspection on a service change or similar install such as a transfer switch.

Most of the time, the power company guys here can cut a service loose at say 8am and return about 3pm or so to make it hot again. I have often asked them to leave the old meter base hot while I built a new service right beside it. A couple of jumpers from "old" to "new" and the lights are on.

You can use your gen-set as a source of "temporary" power if wife absolutely has to have lights every minute. I wish you luck in your search for a solution that limits your liability with both wife and power company. ....

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steve4300
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 71 NH
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2006-02-18          124774


I have been told that semians breaker panels now are making the same kinda device for thier panels. There is a semins panel you can buy with it already installed, but it is marked under another name. I have been told both the square D and semins generator switch lockouts are about 20 dollars.
It seems that some of you guys have a hard time between your inspectors and uttility companys. Around here I make an appointment with the uttility company then the inspectors. the uttilitys will come out at 8 to turn off power and return latter when you call them to turn it back on. The inspectors will come out sometime during the day to check out your job, he will then give you an inspection slip to give the uttilitys so they know it ok to hook back up. Heck one power company will even let me pull the meter to kill power to the house. ....

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OrangeRider
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 2
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2006-09-05          133970


Square D mades thier own. There is a company making them for most mainstream panels and also does custom one, UL Listed and accepted by All 50 States ....


Link:   Interlock

 
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