Generator hook up

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  #1  
Old 03-17-16, 09:46 PM
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Generator hook up

We just had storm and power outage.
I proudly pulled my generator out - to find that generator plug actually does not fit the ones in the wall.
Rushed to Lowe's, replaced plug with 30 amp 4 prong locking and here's where the problem is.
House has 2 panels, 200 amp main breaker each. Each panel - they are side by side - has a 4 prong locking plug for generator.
Panel on the left has furnace and few other minor appliances on it.
Panel on the right has most of the house lights, including kitchen lights grage lights and such on it.
Hooked up generator to the left panel - nothing happens. Furnace will not kick in.
Connected generator to the right panel - whatever is on it works fine.
Back to the left panel - furnace will not kick in. Flipped breakers, what not - nothing. You know how you can tell when gen is loaded, by sound change. Only minor change, like as if a refrigerator or something minor kicked in.
That got me thinking. T-stat is actually in the kitchen hall and lights there come up off the right panel. That said, is it possible that furnace/heat pump will NOT kick in as if gen is connected to the left panel, t-stat is powered down?
My gen has only one 4 prong out plug. So I either have to run two generators, one per panel, or previous owner had gen with two 4 prong plugs, or else?
But this is lesser question.
Main question is - how do I make this wisdom work for my gen? I had it powering my old ENTIRE house just fine, we actually turned everything on on purpose and it made it all work. So I see no reason to buy another generator.
So with two panels, will it be better to re-wire panels so that furnace and t-stat are on same panel? Or, somehow turn two generator plugs into one that powers both panels? I need outside plug for gen anyway, like I had at the old place, then run conduit to panel/-s.
Suggestions?
 
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Old 03-17-16, 09:49 PM
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You can see 4 prong plugs one below each panel. Sorry, site rotated pic.
 
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Old 03-17-16, 10:03 PM
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I see no safe way to do what you describe. A generator must be connected through a transfer panel or transfer switch ahead of the two panels if they both come off the meter. You didn't once mention a transfer switch or even an interlock. Also worrisome is the word "plug". Not sure what that means. Do you mean an inlet. At this point unless you can give more info it seems unsafe to try to use your generator. It could injure or kill someone.
 
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Old 03-17-16, 10:15 PM
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Inlet, inlet. Female 4 prong for male 4 prong locking. As seen in pic, standard female inlet for generator hook up.
Panel to the right DID WORK and safely. All applications on it worked fine. Not first time I did this. You shut down main breaker, put all other breakers to off position, connect generator, run it and then turn appliances one by one with breakers. Power restores, you shut down generator, disconnect it and simply flip main panel switch back to ON.
Why furnace on the left panel won't kick in?
 
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Old 03-17-16, 10:26 PM
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I think, those panels are already set to operate with generator, one way or another.
 
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Old 03-17-16, 11:12 PM
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You're going to have to give us better pictures of the ENTIRE panel (both panels) AND the generator inlet connectors.

Without an interlock or transfer switch to absolutely, positively prohibit being able to connect both utility and generator power you would have an unlawful and dangerous connection.

I notice on the panel schedules that one panel has heat pump and the other has furance (furnace) listed for multiple circuit breakers. Just how many furnaces and or heat pumps do you have? It is not normal for any one furnace or heat pump to have a separate circuit for the thermostat.
 
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Old 03-17-16, 11:46 PM
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You shut down main breaker, put all other breakers to off position, connect generator, run it and then turn appliances one by one with breakers. Power restores, you shut down generator, disconnect it and simply flip main panel switch back to ON.
You can not safely or legally use the main breaker as your only means to disable the feed to the power lines. Do not try to use the generator until your panels are correctly wired to be used with a generator.
 
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Old 03-18-16, 05:43 AM
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I agree.
Based on the pics you are trying to power up the panels with a suicide cord!
One mistake in the way you hook up a generator could injure or kill a power line worker.......and it has happened.
 
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Old 03-18-16, 06:10 AM
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Definetly fix that transfer issue first! Of course your thermostat was calling for a function.
 
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Old 03-18-16, 08:59 AM
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So previous house owner did not install interlocks onto the panels. Also he apparently did not install generator breaker switches onto the panels. *******. Builder himself, btw.
That's fixable. Plenty of breaker blanks in both panels. I need to hire an electrician to do this anyway, way beyond my skill level.
That being said, 2 questions still stay.
If furnace is on the left hand panel and kitchen lights - and t-stat is on that circuit - are on the right panel, does that mean that with - SAFELY - power supplied to the furnace side ONLY, furnace will not kick in? What I am saying is do furnace and t-stat have to be on same panel? As t-stat is battery backed up. Of course your thermostat was calling for a function. sorta explained not much to me.
So, at the old house I actually had MTS panel with interlock. But that was ONE panel for entire house and here I have TWO with power split to breakers and ONE 4 prong 50 amp out from generator.
Just trying to mate the three together.
 
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Old 03-18-16, 09:22 AM
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If you still have problems with the thermostat after the electrician fixes your generator connection we will be glad to help you.
So previous house owner did not install interlocks onto the panels.
If both panels are main panels connected to the meter socket then it would be difficult to use an interlock if both panels are fed at the same time from one generator. Even using a transfer switch would be tricky. Best is going to be one transfer switch between the meter socket and the two panels. If you do that then both panels will be energized and there should not be a problem with the thermostat.
 
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Old 03-18-16, 09:37 AM
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Right. And I need outside inlet anyway, otherwise I need to keep garage door open when running generator. Unfortunately, power outages are norm in the area.
Basically, electrician needs to install an outside inlet with transfer switch, tapped into the main power feed to both panels. Instead of trying to make TWO panels run off single generator some tricky way. :NO NO NO:
 
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Old 03-18-16, 09:40 AM
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That will require a permit, right? We had to when we installed MTS panel at the old house.
 
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Old 03-18-16, 09:44 AM
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You would have to ask the electrician or the local inspector.
 
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Old 03-18-16, 11:56 AM
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ukrbyk, your profile states that you live in Rex county. I have lived in Washington state all my life and never heard of Rex county so I did a Google and found a Rex River in King county. If you live in King county then you most definitely will need a permit. If you live within the corporate limits of some city you may need to get your permit from that city. At the very least you will need to get a permit from the state, Department of Labor and Industries.

And please answer the questions I asked concerning the number of furnaces and/or heat pumps.
 
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Old 03-18-16, 12:15 PM
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The power for the t Stat should come off a low voltage transformer in the furnace.
 
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Old 03-18-16, 02:01 PM
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That's what I thought. There is label on the furnace panel saying "low voltage certified". It's a sticker placed on the panel door. Then I clearly do not understand why furnace won't kick in. Temp on t-stat was 2 degrees below setting. Maybe I didn't wait long enough for t-stat to "get it".
 
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Old 03-18-16, 03:08 PM
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Does the furnace run OK on normal power?
 

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Old 03-18-16, 03:43 PM
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Yep. Just fine...........
 
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Old 03-21-16, 12:53 PM
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OK, circling back to here.

Considering I have 2 panels in the main house.

What is it that I need parts wise to power ENTIRE house, or both panels, installed OUTSIDE, that will work off single generator?
Can't do interlocks because of two panels, as mentioned before. Well, can, but furnace won't run.
Hence, I need something to be installed into the main power line, past meter, right?
A manual transfer switch? Of course, a weatherproof outside inlet. Unless switch comes with it.
Need to know please before hiring electrician.
Trying ot be frugal, those things easy run in thousands....
 
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Old 03-21-16, 12:59 PM
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The cheapest and most straightforward option would be to interlock one of the two panels and just move your critical circuits (e.g. furnace, sump pump) into that panel. You might have to shuffle a circuit here or there, but totally do-able. The next best option would be to buy a dedicated transfer panel like an 8 circuit reliance panel or similar. Power that from one of the two panels and move all of the critical circuits to the transfer panel. In either case you can locate the generator inlet outside where it will be safe to connect and run you generator.

Anything that would switch your entire 400A service will be thousands of dollars in parts and rework by the time you're done.
 
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Old 03-21-16, 02:16 PM
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Just looked back at your picture and had another question. You have breakers listed for a heat pump and for several "furnace" circuits. Is your central heating system a heat pump with auxiliary heat strips? If so, what size is the heat pump and what size is your generator? Can you get the information off the electrical nameplate on the outside heat pump compressor unit? What is the watt rating and horsepower of the generator engine?
 
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Old 03-21-16, 03:02 PM
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It's heat pump and yes, I noticed it running occasionally on "auxiliary heat".
My gen is 8 000 running 11 000 max. But thing is, I had entire old place running on it. When we had MTS panel installed there, we turned every single light on, opened refer doors to make them run and tricked t-stat into turning furnace on - and gen didn't even sneeze.
I honestly do not see how it won't pull heat pump and refer in the new place. All I care about is heat winter time, septic, and refer. Some lights.
 
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Old 03-21-16, 03:06 PM
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The cheapest and most straightforward option would be to interlock one of the two panels and just move your critical circuits (e.g. furnace, sump pump) into that panel. You might have to shuffle a circuit here or there, but totally do-able. The next best option would be to buy a dedicated transfer panel like an 8 circuit reliance panel or similar. Power that from one of the two panels and move all of the critical circuits to the transfer panel. In either case you can locate the generator inlet outside where it will be safe to connect and run you generator.

That what I thought. As you can tell from the pic, there are quite a few breaker blanks in the furnace panel. Re-routing wires, to connect refer/gate to that panel, and maybe light or two, and interlock it with dedicated gen breaker is by far the most cost efficient way out. Just time taking.
Interlock kit can be bought for Siemens panel and used as add-on.
 
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