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Transfer Switches

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harvey
Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 1539 Moravia, NY
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2003-11-27          69765


Have a pto gen on the way and working on the simplest way to tie into my power system...I'd appreciate info on how anyone else has tied theirs in.

I've been doing lots of research on transfer switches and power centers.

I still have not decided how I'll do it yet.

Here is a link to 1 of the most informative sites I've found. It has sechamatics and very good prices.


Link:   

Click Here


 
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loghouse95
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 87 missouri
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2003-11-27          69804


Harvey I am not sure this will be helpful but a few years back I in stalled a backup generator and transfer box The electric company came out and installed the transfer box for me at no charge, their reasoning, and I must say I agree with them,they wanted to make sure it was installed properly so one of their people would not get eletocuted... Might want to check with your electric company...Good Luck ....

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TomG
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 5406 Upper Ottawa Valley
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2003-11-27          69805


The first thing I'd say is to check with an electrical supplier that sells to contractors or your utility to find out what type units are approved. The equipment on the site you mentioned may well be fine, but just because something is UL approved doesn't mean a particular utility accepts it. An electrical supplier won't guarantee what they sell will pass inspection but what they handle ordinarily is approved for use in there area and they know what contractors buy.

To make sure were talking the same thing, when I say generator panel, I mean something that is wired as a branch circuit on a service panel. The entire service does not pass through such a panel, and that's what I have. When I say transfer panel I mean a unit that is installed in the service line and the entire service load flows through the unit. The site you mention may not use the same terminology. The site does seem to contain some hybrids of these two types. The automatic start type that manages the load seems interesting.

There are advantages to each type. In general, transfer switches feed the entire service panel and they do not disturb existing branch circuit wiring, but most people won't have a generator large enough to carry the entire normal load. The load must be managed by selectively turning off breakers. Installation of transfer switches ordinarily require a temporary service disconnect by the utility. Instillation can be messy for an underground service where the feed from the meter base goes into the back of a combination service panel. The choice can be either moving the panel or the meter.

Generator panels operate as a branch circuit and may provide up to 125A and more than 20 branch circuits. However, installing them does require moving circuits from the service to the generator panel and some lines almost always must be spliced and lengthened. My 60A -generator panel provides 20 circuits and was less expensive than a 200A transfer switch, but prices may have changed since backup power became more popular. ....

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kadorken
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 67 Canada
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2003-11-28          69890


I just replaced the old 200AMP service in my house with a 200AMP Federal Pioneer Generator Panel. I wired the crucial circuits (refrigeration, well pump, heating system, basic kitchen outlets) to the generator side of the panel.

There is a builtin 70AMP transfer/isolation switch in this panel, and plenty of room to expand.

Not sure if this particular brand/model is available everywhere. See the link for details. ....


Link:   Federal Pioneer Generator Panel

 
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harvey
Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 1539 Moravia, NY
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2003-11-29          69912


That is a nice arrangement.

I was somewhat suprised to see inches included in the specs. So they must be in bed with some company down here.

I have a fairly (15yrs) new 200amp service with 40 or so branch circuits not counting 2 sub panels.

Bottom line is: its gonna cost any way I go about it unless I backwire the main box (which is ill-eagle). I am looking at options and do appreciate the input.

But as I sit here thinking $3000 for a total system is kinda cheap insurance for the ability to do what I need to when the power is down. Of course I could do like women and go shopping.

Now how to hook it up SIMPLE! ....

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TomG
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 5406 Upper Ottawa Valley
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2003-11-29          69913


Harvey:

It's sort of ironic that I was about to comment before your reply was posted but was outside with a cigar when our power went down and knocked me off internet. So, here's your post first on the list after I get power back.

I've installed 3 new services, a number of new panels and sub-panels and a slew of branch circuits--all as my own contractor and all with permits and inspections. I've had no problems with the inspectors and they've been helpful if anything. Installing a generator panel on an existing service panel isn't a bad job and I think it's within the capabilities of many homeowners with a bit of study in a 'wiring made simple' book. The components required really aren't very expensive.

My generator panel also is a Federal panel. It sounds like they built basically the same panel I've got into a single 200A-combination panel. That sounds ideal if a new service panel is being installed as well and that's probably what I would have gotten if one had been available at the time.

I can't remember if it was Ken that had problems with an inspector but I've thought about that story. I wonder if the system was an automatic start type? If so, that may explain the inspector's attitude. The inspector limited the circuits on generator to the total peak load demands. You basically can't have many circuits on generator and use a small generator unless somebody's around to shut some circuits down. That's why the automatic power management panel on the site you mentioned sounded interesting (but it may not be approved everywhere). ....

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harvey
Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 1539 Moravia, NY
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2003-11-29          69917


I remember Kens problem. I do not like inspectors sticking their noses in my house. Iam adding on to her workshop again and pulled in a couple of more circuits for her machines. I sure do not need someone looking for my nailing specifications, engineer stamped blueprints or the little stamp grade on the cheap 2x4 that are non-load bearing. I'd probably go ballistic, then I'd have to put hoe on tractor to dispose of all the evidence.

Our towns can hire JOE-SHIT-THE-RAGMAN who does not have a clue about nothing except he read it in a book somewhere and believes it is the only way. Yes we have had some good inspectors that were helpful. But for the most part the majority around here suck.

The last time we got a permit for her shop we went thru ACCESSABILITY ISSUES. (I work with disabled kids during the winter so I am not against accessibility.) What I do have problems with is inspectors that do not have a clue and tell me what they think I need, plus all the stuff required by law that I would have to change or do and a special marked parking spot...

I do most/all of my wiring and if I error it is on the overkill side ie: all 12/2 for all circuits and not a lot of outlets per circuit and much heavier for the big ones.

If I go to the whole house switch that means power company to disconnect, an electrician to connect and an inspector to ok before power company rehooks. Of course inspectors have to stick their noses in parts they do not need to and some of the stuff may not be to exact code specs ie: staples not exactly 4-6" from boxes if that is the spec, I really can not see the concern.

I am leaning more to the sub panel arrangement. I have a 20kw PTO on the way it is more than enough to run everything I'll need for a outage or a prolonged outage (If we ever have one). I may get a small gas/diesel one also to run wood stove blowers (when needed) and a couple of lights at night, no appliances.

I am a little leary of the hotwire thing (backfeeding) because if I have the gen and am out of town or on the road she'll have one of the boys come over and hook up. So I might as well be on the safe side.

I see my inspector soapbox will need some rebuilding after the thrashing it just got!!! ....

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Billy
Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 975 Southeast Oklahoma
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2003-11-29          69920


Why can't you use a simple 200 amp manual transfer switch, installed between the electric meter and the breaker box? ....

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harvey
Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 1539 Moravia, NY
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2003-11-29          69921


I'd have to have the power company disconnect an electrician to wire and a inspector to approve b4 reconection. C above. ....

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Billy
Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 975 Southeast Oklahoma
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2003-11-29          69924


It would be nice to have a licensed electrician friend. Or maybe a friend that is friends with one LOL

I'm thinking here but if you get a permit (if it's required) to install a transfer switch. Wouldn't the only thing up for inspection be the installation of that switch? ....

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Chief
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 4285 Southwest MiddleTennessee
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2003-11-29          69928


Well at least you should feel better now Harvey. ;-) If have my moments blowing off some steam as well! I can definitely see your point of view with respect to inspectors. I would like to see what their houses look like and if they follow all the codes to the T? ....

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kadorken
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 67 Canada
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2003-11-29          69955


I have discovered that if I do the work myself, and call for the inspection myself, the inspection cost is twice what the cost is if I have the local electrical contractor do the work (with my assistance) and they have the inspection done. The electrical contractor is reasonable, and assists me in advice and help when I am beyond my knowledge. The last house renovation basically had him advise me what not to do, then he inspected and corrected what I did wrong (he forgot to tell me one new electrical rule that I was unaware of), and he supplied the materials at reasonable cost (better than the local hardware store).

It is best if you can work with a local contractor if possible IMHO.

....

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kwschumm
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5764 NW Oregon
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2003-11-29          69957


Tom, my transfer switch is manual so the auto-start capability shouldn't have been a factor in the inspectors peak load limitation. ....

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TomG
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 5406 Upper Ottawa Valley
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2003-11-30          69962


Ken: I guess I was hoping to come up with an explanation that makes sense to me. I think codes applied to backup generators are a fairly new experience and there aren't specific codes yet. Sounds like you got hit with the most restrictive interpretation possible and that's too bad. To me it makes no sense to apply codes intended for permanent continuously equipment that's suppose to last 40 years or so in service to emergency backup equipment. Even so peak loads aren't used for many circuits to calculate requirements.

There's a good chance it's not really the inspector who may be working under policies that also don't make a lot of sense. The shotgun litigation fashion has caused many public agencies to adopt some really nutty policies. Whatever the reason I guess it doesn't do you much good now and that's too bad.

Billy: An inspector told me once that most inspectors wouldn't intentionally look at equipment except what's on the permit. He did say that if he saw anything really dangerous then he'd have to do his job, but it's to my interest that he does his job. I agree with that but there aren't any guarantees. I'm lucky I've had only good experiences I guess.

KA: My inspectors gave me the same break on inspection costs they give contractors. They have enough confidence in what I do so that they don't necessarily look at everything or make detailed inspections for both the rough and finished wiring. If there are additions between the rough plan and the finished wiring they sign off on the permit anyway. That's probably the reason for the differences in cost. It's sort of self-defeating if nutty policies and nutty costs cause everybody in their right minds to avoid inspections like the plague. I've seen a bunch of really scary amateur work. ....

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