I just ordered a 6500watt gas generator with the intention of having emergency power for a refrigerator, sump pump, light(s) and maybe AC or 2nd refrigerator. In thinking ahead, and trying to avoid the cost and inconvenience of high amperage extension cords or the even higher cost of modifying my panel box, I wonder why I can't create dedicated wall outlets in strategic locations and then a multigang outlet box in the garage near where the generator will be outside. But instead of being female receptacles in that multigang box, I'd provide MALE receptacles. During an emergency, I would just need to run very short extension cords from the generator to the box, and then plug in the appliances into the emergency outlets within the house (directly or with short extension cords). Any flaws in this plan? Where might I find male receptacles, or do I need to splice male plugs to the ends of 12-3 cable? Of course, I will consult with local code authorities, yada yada yada ...
In short, I'm creating a hard-wired 'extension' cord ...
teoteodore:In thinking ahead, and trying to avoid the cost and inconvenience of high amperage extension cords or the even higher cost of modifying my panel box, . . .
That's what seems inconvenient to me.
Now, if I purchase a small generator transfer panel that is wired into the existing electrical service center of your home, and I choose the existing branch circuits that already have the refrigerators, AC, sump pump, etc., connected to them, then, in order to connect the generator, all I have to do is plug in one cord, and throw the specific switches in the generator transfer panel, and things are up and running. When the power returns, I flip the switches back. No hunting for the cords, no moving the appliances.
And, you can bet, that when the power goes out, that's when it will be in the middle of the storm, the family will be just returning home, tired and hungry and in a hurry to get ready for the next thing. What about the garage door opener? What about the microwave? Let alone, moving appliances and running multiple extension cords. 6500 Watts of portable generator is a nice size for what you've described, plus a lot more.
If you purchase the transfer panel, but don't want to do the hookup yourself, all you have to pay for is the hour or two that it takes a licensed electrician to patch in the generator transfer panel. You can greatly help cut down the electrician's time, by having an accurate map of all the loads in your home. A map that accurately shows what lights and receptacles and hard wired appliances are connected to each circuit breaker. Compare the one or two hours of electrician time to the days it will take to correctly run the "hard wired" extension cords.
Thanks, ElectricAl for the response. Two questions:
1) If we start with two refrigerators, an AC, the sump pump and a few floor lights ... and then start adding the burner, garage door opener ... all staying within the capacity of the generator, then we might be at 6-8 circuits. On those same 6-8 circuits, there might be lots of extra loads. We then have to be cautious in switching on too many things --- right?
2) Is that the reason that an interlock vs a transfer panel is not a good idea because it opens the possibility of easily exceeding the rated load of the generator?
Back to my original plan, and believe me, I understand fully what you're saying. I can provide three convenience outlets in critical locations in the house for lights (requiring no extension cords); can provide a second wall outlet in the side wall of each of the two refrigerator enclosures (using a total of 4 @ 6' appliance extension cords, and a similar outlet for each of the sump pump and air conditioner (again, no extension cords). Then I'd need 4-5 @ 6' cords to get from the generator to the 'male inlet panel'. That's a total of 9 extension cords @ $180 and the wiring supplies @ $100+/-. I'm perfectly versed on that level of electrical work and all the new outlets are fairly accessible from the hung ceiling of my basement.
teoteodore:We then have to be cautious in switching on too many things --- right?
So, 6-8 circuits might be connected, but you are still responsible for selecting what you turn on. That will be the case with the "hardwired extension cord" also. Whether there are 4-5 hardwired extension cords or 12-16 existing branch circuits passing through a manual transfer panel, the same is true. You run what you need without stalling the generator or overloading the overcurrent protection. There may be 16 circuits in the manual transfer panel, but you don't have to transfer any more circuits, in a power outage, than you need - winter, the furnace, summer, the AC, etc.
The benefit is that you don't have to duplicate the existing wiring system in your dwelling to get flexibility in what you can run.
The small manual transfer panels also include current meters that show the total current flowing which makes managing the connected load that is running much easier.
Using the hardwired extension cord will mean that the loads will be protected by the generator ground fault interrupter(s) (GFCI) and subject to additional nuisance tripping. The single large twist lock receptacle, that allows all the power generated to be in one heavy cord, is not GFCI protected.
What about the power for the internet connection, the computer, and battery chargers for the "necessary" rechargeable devices?
OK. I've said enough. Considering the "hardwired extension cord", here are the important NEC considerations. All of the wiring must be NEC Chapter 3 wiring methods, which means, from and including the inlet to and including the outlet, the wiring must not have any extension cord or parts, and the Chapter 3 wiring methods must be installed to Code.
The male end of the "hardwired extension cord" is called an "inlet". I've always liked that. It's the exact opposite of the "outlet" at the far end. No matter how you use this inlet, the one basic rule is: the tines of the male inlet can never be energized at any time, except for when an energized extension cord is plugged onto them. The electrical rating of the inlet must be equal to the rating of the branch circuit, that is, 15 Amp, or 20 Amp, 120 or 240 Volt, etc.
The new 15 or 20 Amp 120 Volt receptacles that you add must be tamper resistant. Any exterior receptacles must also be weather resistant.
Here's the hard one. Any 15 or 20 Amp 120 Volt receptacle installed in family, dining, living, bed, sun or recreation rooms as well as parlors, libraries, dens, closets, hallways or similar rooms or areas shall have arc fault circuit interrupter protection (AFCI). At present, AFCI protection is only available from circuit breakers, which means you will have to run each "hardwired extension cord" through a sub panel. Manufacturers are supposed to be releasing a AFCI device that can be mounted in a wall case like a GFCI receptacle, but, to my knowledge this hasn't happened yet.
Again, many thanks! I got a 'verbal' quote from the electrician I've used in the past. He wants $800 for labor, even after I buy all the equipment. Including the outdoor connector and the transfer switch ... that's about $400. So, $1200 total!
I guess I'll buy some extension cords and just plug in stuff when the emergency arises. If after a year I've made use of the generator to justify the mega-bucks, I'll proceed. And just for your satisfaction, I'm convinced that ultimately it will be the professionally installed switch.
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