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  1. #1
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    Oct 2009
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    Default Generator hook-up

    I ran across this panel at a recent inspection. The feed wire is 10ga, coming from a 2 pole 30amp breaker in the main panel, labeled water heater which in turn feeds the water heater thru the 30 amp breaker on the left which doesn't seem to be a problem. Numerous other problems in the panel can be found and commented on but the one item of concern that I was not certain of is this:
    The 50 amp breaker and wiring on the right feeds a pole barn/garage but as I see it could only receive 30 amps of power due to the 30 amp breaker in the main panel. Again, no problem?
    In the pole barn however, is a generator hook-up that is set-up to back feed power thru this 50 amp connection at this panel and back up to the main panel thru the 10ga wire and 30 amp breaker.
    My question is, does this 30amp breaker in the main panel protect the 10 ga wire or is there potential to overheat this wiring?
    My comment was: "In my opinion, this would create an unsafe condition and I would advise that this system not be used until a qualified electrician reviews and approves this set-up."
    Would welcome any comments on the generator set-up thru this panel.

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    Gary Bottomley
    Cadillac, Michigan

  2. #2
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    Oct 2009
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    Default Re: Generator hook-up

    Quote Originally Posted by James Risley View Post
    Where is (or is there) the transfer switch to prevent the generator from backfeeding through the meter when power is lost through th meter?
    There is no transfer switch. The typed out instructions at each panel is when power is lost, turn off all breakers, including the main disconnect breaker then turn on the 50 amp breaker in the pole barn panel. Then turn on the generator followed by any breakers in the house that you want to energize!

    Gary Bottomley
    Cadillac, Michigan

  3. #3
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    Aug 2008
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    Maryland
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    1,899

    Default Re: Generator hook-up

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Bottomley View Post
    There is no transfer switch. The typed out instructions at each panel is when power is lost, turn off all breakers, including the main disconnect breaker then turn on the 50 amp breaker in the pole barn panel. Then turn on the generator followed by any breakers in the house that you want to energize!
    Not kosher at all. Please see my comments on the other board.


  4. #4
    James Duffin's Avatar
    James Duffin Guest

    Default Re: Generator hook-up

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Bottomley View Post
    I ran across this panel at a recent inspection. The feed wire is 10ga, coming from a 2 pole 30amp breaker in the main panel, labeled water heater which in turn feeds the water heater thru the 30 amp breaker on the left which doesn't seem to be a problem. Numerous other problems in the panel can be found and commented on but the one item of concern that I was not certain of is this:
    The 50 amp breaker and wiring on the right feeds a pole barn/garage but as I see it could only receive 30 amps of power due to the 30 amp breaker in the main panel. Again, no problem?
    In the pole barn however, is a generator hook-up that is set-up to back feed power thru this 50 amp connection at this panel and back up to the main panel thru the 10ga wire and 30 amp breaker.
    My question is, does this 30amp breaker in the main panel protect the 10 ga wire or is there potential to overheat this wiring?
    My comment was: "In my opinion, this would create an unsafe condition and I would advise that this system not be used until a qualified electrician reviews and approves this set-up."
    Would welcome any comments on the generator set-up thru this panel.
    This company makes manual interlocks that can sometime be used to separate the PCO power and the generator power. When I run into the problem I give my client this web site as one method of repair a licensed electrican can install for them.

    Generator InterLock Kit


  5. #5
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    Aug 2008
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    Maryland
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    Default Re: Generator hook-up

    I have looked at those kits. I do not believe they would work in this installation. It requires a main breaker above the branch circuit breakers. The backfed breaker for the genset is then installed in postions 2 and 4.


  6. #6
    James Duffin's Avatar
    James Duffin Guest

    Default Re: Generator hook-up

    It is a lot cheaper to move breakers than to install a transfer switch. I have installed a couple of these and they do serve the intended purpose. That's why I included to be installed by a licensed electrician...it is not a DIY project!


  7. #7
    Roger Frazee's Avatar
    Roger Frazee Guest

    Default Re: Generator hook-up

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Bottomley View Post
    There is no transfer switch. The typed out instructions at each panel is when power is lost, turn off all breakers, including the main disconnect breaker then turn on the 50 amp breaker in the pole barn panel. Then turn on the generator followed by any breakers in the house that you want to energize!
    HI Gary


    Not much has been done correctly and compliant with code for the operation of a standby portable generator. If an interlock is used it will need to be in the service equipment not a panel downstream of it. The idea is that in order to power anything with the generator you must be forced to turn off the service main before you can turn on the generator breaker.


    Outside of the generator resourcefulness... most of the other things that were done make little sense....


  8. #8
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    Oct 2009
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    Cadillac, Michigan
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    Default Re: Generator hook-up

    Quote Originally Posted by James Risley View Post
    Hindsight...Seller should have removed the generator and typewritten notes prior to listing this one.
    Well it looks like they still have the opportunity to correct this as this buyer is backing out of the deal mainly because of the electrical safety issues.

    Gary Bottomley
    Cadillac, Michigan

  9. #9
    Roger Frazee's Avatar
    Roger Frazee Guest

    Default Re: Generator hook-up

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Bottomley View Post
    Well it looks like they still have the opportunity to correct this as this buyer is backing out of the deal mainly because of the electrical safety issues.
    A good idea to get those issues corrected. While they are at it don't forget to tell them they need to get the feeder to the barn in conduit. Those individual wires that are exposed is a big no no.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Generator hook-up

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Frazee View Post
    A good idea to get those issues corrected. While they are at it don't forget to tell them they need to get the feeder to the barn in conduit. Those individual wires that are exposed is a big no no.
    Thanks Roger:
    It appeared that the wires are in conduit, or at least sleeved through the basement wall and up the pole barn wall, distance only about 20'.
    Since my client was the potential buyer, I most likely won't have contact with the seller but I will most likely contact the listing agent as I have attempted to build a relationship with him since I did do an inspection for one of his clients a few months back and I don't want to give him the inspection that I am a "deal breaker".
    This brings up another unrelated non-electrical topic about building relationships with Realtors. I have only been into home inspections for a big year but it seems that all of the Realtors in our area have no interest in building relationships with inspectors. All I ever hear is "we give out three cards and let the buyers choose." I also rarely even get many questions from the client and even less from their agent on the results of my report. It seems most of my work, sparse as it is, comes from the internet.

    Gary Bottomley
    Cadillac, Michigan

  11. #11
    Roger Frazee's Avatar
    Roger Frazee Guest

    Default Re: Generator hook-up

    It appeared that the wires are in conduit, or at least sleeved through the basement wall and up the pole barn wall, distance only about 20'.
    Needs to be all the way to the panel but you probably know that...

    I wouldn't worry about the deal breaker thing with the realtors, I'd give your clients 3 cards .... all yours....


  12. #12
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    Mar 2007
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    Western Montana
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    Default Re: Generator hook-up

    Gary,

    Regarding your technical question - yeah, I agree it is a very badly done DIY effort that needs to be removed or corrected.

    You said, "... but I will most likely contact the listing agent...". I suggest you be careful about that. Your intention may be good, but keep in mind that your client, the buyer, probably signed an inspection agreement that gives them exclusive rights to the inspection report. Any information going back to the seller's representative could be construed as violating that confidentiality agreement. Some clients and realtors would understand, but believe me, there is always a few out there that will get real upset.

    Regarding being a 'deal killer' - all you can do is to report your observations, just keep it clean, and don't editoralize. These days buyers are being so so nasty picky that anything can kill the deal. Buyers often just use the inspection report as an excuse, even though it was the price or something else that really killed the deal.

    As far as never getting any feedback or questions, well, get used to it. I suppose that no news is usually good news. You might consider handing out customer feedback surveys, but don't expect too much there either.

    As far as building relationships with realtors as referral sources, that is always a big nut to crack. And you have obviously entered the market at a very bad time. In an expanding market there are always new realtors you can buddy up to. These days, most surviving realtors have long established their habits and who they refer to. It varies by region, but handing out 3 business cards is their way of covering their ass.

    See past blogs on marketing to realtors for ideas.

    Good luck
    Terry


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Generator hook-up

    It's obvious you did not kill the deal. The seller did that with his amateur installations.
    The realtors could have saved the deal if they'd put their minds to it.
    All you need to do is keep up the good work.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  14. #14
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    Oct 2009
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    Cadillac, Michigan
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    Default Re: Generator hook-up

    John & Terry:
    thanks for your input.
    Yes it has been a bad market to get into this, just glad I am just doing it in semi-retirement and not trying to raise a family on this gig.
    It certainly is an interesting business!!!

    Gary Bottomley
    Cadillac, Michigan

  15. #15
    Frank Kurz's Avatar
    Frank Kurz Guest

    Default Re: Generator hook-up

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Beck View Post
    Gary,

    Regarding your technical question - yeah, I agree it is a very badly done DIY effort that needs to be removed or corrected.

    You said, "... but I will most likely contact the listing agent...". I suggest you be careful about that. Your intention may be good, but keep in mind that your client, the buyer, probably signed an inspection agreement that gives them exclusive rights to the inspection report. Any information going back to the seller's representative could be construed as violating that confidentiality agreement. Some clients and realtors would understand, but believe me, there is always a few out there that will get real upset.
    I disagree. Your contract should contain a clause that states that issues that could affect "life safety" or are "potentially hazardous" MUST be identified to all parties so that appropriate correction can be initiated. This kind of installation should also be reported to the local jurisdictional authority.


  16. #16
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    Cadillac, Michigan
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    Default Re: Generator hook-up

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Kurz View Post
    I disagree. Your contract should contain a clause that states that issues that could affect "life safety" or are "potentially hazardous" MUST be identified to all parties so that appropriate correction can be initiated. This kind of installation should also be reported to the local jurisdictional authority.
    Frank;
    After reviewing my contract and Standard of Practice, both from the Association which is generally not held in high regard by many subscribers of this Message Board, I find no provisions that would allow me the latitude or obligation to notify the owner of life safety or potentially dangerous conditions found in the owners home without my clients permission.
    I do however believe that this would be a good provision to include in the contract and I will consider modifying the standard contract in this regard and possibly discussing this with that Associations contract committee.
    Thanks for your input.

    Gary Bottomley
    Cadillac, Michigan

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Oregon
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    Default Re: Generator hook-up

    Welcome to the board Gary.... you seem to have a really good mindset and outlook for the profession... that (and a wife with a good health plan ) should take you far.

    As for the contacting everyone when there's a safety concern, I agree to some extent. I'd agree and do contact a listing agent VERY seldom.... as in once every couple years.

    A "safety" concern could be anything from a reverse polarized outlet to large spacing in a railing so that term alone is pretty much useless IMO... at least for the purposes we're duscussing it here/now.

    I'm more likely to call the gas or electric company if/when I find something immediate. Things that are just designed and/or setup poorly were likely done so by the seller and the seller is VERY unlikely to do anything based on my notification. Also, there's no requirement in my state SOPs so anything I do is based on my judgement. Basically, it has to be an immenent danger... like a gas leak or an arcing electrical connection to get me to call.


  18. #18
    Frank Kurz's Avatar
    Frank Kurz Guest

    Default Re: Generator hook-up

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Bottomley View Post
    Frank;
    After reviewing my contract and Standard of Practice, both from the Association which is generally not held in high regard by many subscribers of this Message Board, I find no provisions that would allow me the latitude or obligation to notify the owner of life safety or potentially dangerous conditions found in the owners home without my clients permission.
    I do however believe that this would be a good provision to include in the contract and I will consider modifying the standard contract in this regard and possibly discussing this with that Associations contract committee.
    Thanks for your input.
    My viewpoint obviously takes my profession into consideration (I am, after all, in the life safety business). I'm also of the opinion that a "Professional Association" should take the higher road when it comes to promoting a "Standard of Practice". Here's hoping that your voice isn't the only one in the choir.


  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Atlanta, Georgia
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    Default Re: Generator hook-up

    There are certain immediate danager defects that I feel compelled to share with the seller/sellers agent regardless of what my contract or association may state.

    I called the fire department about a home with tenants. The fire department arrived and after reviewing the defect required the home be vacated. Puddle of heating oil about 15 feet across covered in wheat straw with a natural gas furnace in the middle of the puddle with an open combustion chamber actively running. Odor of fuel so thick I was light headed and sick to my stomach.

    Another time there was an electrical panel with no cover and open edison base fuse holes about 4 feet above the floor. Tenants obvisouly had small children in the house.

    A panel with a backfeed system for generator usage. Naw. Usually the seller is the one who rigged up the defect. Not likely to make any repairs. Improper but so are a lot of defects we see.

    You need to change your viewpoint about "deal killing". The homes are committing sucide, you are not killing the deal. You are just there documenting the sucide. It is the sellers who killed the deal.

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

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