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borat


Joined: Nov 10, 2007
Points: 2692

Off Grid Portable Generator Hook UP
Original Message   Dec 5, 2012 10:03 am
I've mentioned in the past that I have a fairly large diesel generator at camp.  There is no electrical power service out there and no "grid" to hook up to.  So the camp is entirely independent of any other power source.  With that said, I've recently purchased a small 2kw inverter generator that I would prefer to use to watch TV and provide some lighting rather than cranking up the big diesel unit.  I calculate that I will need less than 500 watts from the generator to provide the power for light duty applications. 

The camp is wired as per normal North American code.  It has a panel with main breaker and I have fuses instead of breakers.  My intention is to plug the small generator into an external outlet to feed the camp.  From what I've read, there may be a problem supplying all of the outlets/lights in the camp due to only "one leg" only being powered due to using the 120 volt outlet.  I don't have any 240 volt outlets in the camp and the generator doesn't have a 240 output. 

My question is:  If it's correct that I will only be able to power half of the electrical panel/camp circuits, is there an easy way around this?   I.e.  running another extension cord from an activated outlet to a non activated outlet?   
Replies: 5 - 14 of 14Next page of topicsPreviousAllView as Outline
mobiledynamics


Joined: Oct 1, 2011
Points: 73

Re: Off Grid Portable Generator Hook UP
Reply #5   Dec 5, 2012 2:12 pm
Got it. To keep things simple, I would do as suggested a run a outdoor inlet so the Gen can plug to it.
Then just *backfeed* into the panel via alternate Fuses on L1/L2

Or just use something like a standard l14-30 or 14R Inlet, and then bridge the 2 hot legs on your *special extension cord feeding the inlet) and then wire it to 2 fuses on the panel so both legs are coverered. Just turn off the 240 items when doing so and you should be good.


I personally prefer inlets where the plug is being plugged *upside down* keep the plug away from the elements.
Alot of the more common ones are the flip panel lid up
This message was modified Dec 5, 2012 by mobiledynamics
borat


Joined: Nov 10, 2007
Points: 2692

Re: Off Grid Portable Generator Hook UP
Reply #6   Dec 5, 2012 4:53 pm
mobiledynamics wrote:
Got it. To keep things simple, I would do as suggested a run a outdoor inlet so the Gen can plug to it.
Then just *backfeed* into the panel via alternate Fuses on L1/L2

Or just use something like a standard l14-30 or 14R Inlet, and then bridge the 2 hot legs on your *special extension cord feeding the inlet) and then wire it to 2 fuses on the panel so both legs are coverered. Just turn off the 240 items when doing so and you should be good.


I personally prefer inlets where the plug is being plugged *upside down* keep the plug away from the elements.
Alot of the more common ones are the flip panel lid up

I guess I could wire in an alternative circuit to the camp  panel.  However, I'm trying to avoid that. 

I have two external outlets on the camp each on a seperate circuit and possibly on each leg of the panel.   What I'm thinking is that I can run a "special" plug from each of the outlets on the generator to each of the external outets on the camp.  I'm fairly sure that each external outlet is on a seperate leg.  If it's not, it will be easy enough for me to re-wire the panel to make it that way. 

Is there any reason why the above plan will not work? 
mobiledynamics


Joined: Oct 1, 2011
Points: 73

Re: Off Grid Portable Generator Hook UP
Reply #7   Dec 5, 2012 5:01 pm
 The only thing I would do different would to make the receptacle/cord a twistlock in the scenario you propose.
mkd55


Location: wisconsin
Joined: Dec 16, 2005
Points: 148

Re: Off Grid Portable Generator Hook UP
Reply #8   Dec 5, 2012 5:51 pm
borat! i'm no electrician but i did work in line construction for 37 yrs.why can't you rewire your 100 amp service box so  the few things that you want to run the small generator for are on one 110 bar in the box.
carlb


Joined: Nov 16, 2010
Points: 269

Re: Off Grid Portable Generator Hook UP
Reply #9   Dec 6, 2012 8:09 am
I agree with mkd55 moving  the breakers in the box to the other bus bar that is energized by the small generator will allow you to run all of those small loads off of the small generator.  It will only require you to remove the load center front cover and pull the breaker you want energized and move it up or down one space to put it on the other bus bar.  It should take you all of 10 minutes to do it. 
This message was modified Dec 6, 2012 by carlb
borat


Joined: Nov 10, 2007
Points: 2692

Re: Off Grid Portable Generator Hook UP
Reply #10   Dec 6, 2012 10:08 am
I've been thinking about doing that.  However, if I can activate both legs of the panel by using two lines from the generator to the two exterior outlets on the camp, that would be my preference.  That way I get all of the camp energized, which is mostly compact flourescent lights, low draw LED LCD TV  and a Bell ExpressVu receiver.  With every light in the camp on, and the TV running, total watts is probably less than 600.  The two exterior outlets are only about 20'  apart and I can run the second cable under the camp and pretty much leave it there unplugged when not in use.  So the run isn't that long and the draw is minimal.  I plan to use 12ga braided wire for the lines from the generator. 

The small generator will not be permanently installed at the camp.  I plan to put it on a garden wagon and build a shelter over it.   When it's not in use, I can just haul it up to the garage for storage.  Keeping it mobile will give me more options for power.  Out there, it's a two hundred foot walk from the lake up the hill to fire up the diesel every time I need electricity.  Keeping the small machine mobile will allow me to haul it to the various areas around the yard where I may need electricity, such as charging batteries in the boat, charging batteries for cordless tools, or for using power tools/exterior lights at night.  

Appreciate all the advice I've received so far.  I'll have all winter to make the cables, buy/build the wagon.  Spring's a loooooooong way off. 
mobiledynamics


Joined: Oct 1, 2011
Points: 73

Re: Off Grid Portable Generator Hook UP
Reply #11   Dec 6, 2012 4:07 pm
Hey Borat :

A pic for you...
On my 120 gensets, I had to make a cheater myself....as my switch is wired for 2 legs.
I bridged L1 / L2 for the inlet plug, but I also put a big Tag on the special cord just for reference.




I'm a huge proponent on external plugging vs running cords.  I like your dual *cheater* cord plugging.
Just twistlock and a FEMALE on your cord end so the Suicide Cord is not so Suicide.
That will sorta defeat the outlets when on diesel power I suppose...

Moreso from a safety standpoint. Even a cracked window with wind can create a air vac.
This message was modified Dec 6, 2012 by mobiledynamics
Bill_H


Location: Maine
Joined: Jan 12, 2008
Points: 354

Re: Off Grid Portable Generator Hook UP
Reply #12   Dec 6, 2012 11:18 pm
borat wrote:
I guess I could wire in an alternative circuit to the camp  panel.  However, I'm trying to avoid that. 

I have two external outlets on the camp each on a seperate circuit and possibly on each leg of the panel.   What I'm thinking is that I can run a "special" plug from each of the outlets on the generator to each of the external outets on the camp.  I'm fairly sure that each external outlet is on a seperate leg.  If it's not, it will be easy enough for me to re-wire the panel to make it that way. 

Is there any reason why the above plan will not work? 


Nope. It'll work but *make sure* there's never anything requiring 220/240v. Chances are the generator would kick out before you burned something up but better not to test that theory. I like the idea of making one of the outlets male, M-M extension cords laying around are scary - you don't want a wife/kid/friend/neighbor ever going to use it and not realizing ...

Who the hell let all the morning people run things?
mkd55


Location: wisconsin
Joined: Dec 16, 2005
Points: 148

Re: Off Grid Portable Generator Hook UP
Reply #13   Dec 7, 2012 9:12 am
borat!  if you take the cover off your main panel every hot wire in the cabin will be hooked to one leg or the other .each seperate 110 volt run should have a bare ground wire,a white neutral wire,and a black hot wire.the ground wire and neutral wire can remain where it's at and by identifying what each hot black wire feeds you can swap the leads or bundle the leads to whatever breakers and hot leg of the panel you want.the small generator will not carry as much load as the larger one! 15amp circuit max watts is 1800 and 20 amp circuit max watts is 2400. if you use 80% of those wattage figures thats what you can continually put on the breaker if your generator has the capacity to handle that much load. i have a 4hp briggs 1800 watt max coleman generator we use with the mountain tent deer hunting and we run 2ea. 100 watt lights and a tv off of it and it handles it just fine.it even runs better with load on it than it does with no load.if your trying to power up the whole grid with both generators doing an equal job it's probably not going to happen but you should be able to arrange the panel to power whatever you feel your need is up to the capacity of the smaller generator.
This message was modified Dec 7, 2012 by mkd55
borat


Joined: Nov 10, 2007
Points: 2692

Re: Off Grid Portable Generator Hook UP
Reply #14   Dec 7, 2012 9:40 am
I have no plans to operate both power plants simultaneously.  The diesel will power the entire camp including water pumps and air conditioning. 

All I want the small generator to do is to run the lights, a TV, and a satellite receiver (600 watts or less).  The problem is that in order to power all the lights and outlets inside the camp, I need to ensure both legs of the panel are energized.  From the guidance of a few people here, I've figured out what needs to be done to power both legs of the panel.  I plan to ensure that each of my external outlets on the camp are on separate legs of the panel.  I will run a line from each of the two outlets on the generator to each external outlet.  That will cover the whole camp, providing lights in every room and power to outlets for low power consumption appliances. 

Thanks for all your help.
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