Generator Wiring

d_cupJune 29, 2010

I have been doing some research on back-feeding a generator into a house circuit and have generally come up with its a bad idea because it could and does kill linemen working on downed power lines. My question: is there a DIY way to hook up a generator and have it supply power to my home when the power is NOT out (and not have it kill or injure anyone). Again, I want the generator to supplement the power demands of my home, not power it entirely.

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In a word, No.

You can add a subpanel with a manual transfer switch that will allow you to reroute some of your existing circuits to the subpanel. Then you could power these circuits either by the generator or by line depending on the position of the transfer switch.

Installing such equipment should be done by a licensed electrician.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 10:56AM
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'My question: is there a DIY way to hook up a generator and have it supply power to my home when the power is NOT out (and not have it kill or injure anyone).'

The subpanel/transfer switch solution is exactly what I have at my house. (See link below for a pic with deadfront off.) I rerouted a few 'critical circuits' to the subpanel/transfer switch (the box cost about $110 as I recall). In my case, I included refrigerator, oil-burning furnace, water well pump, sump pump and a couple of general purpose lighting/receptacle circuits.

When I periodically test-run the generator (a very good idea) I flip the transfer switch so the generator gets exercised under load. Thus, for those periods, I am running portions of my house on utility power and other portions on the generator.

As far as 'supplementing' power, are you that close to being maxed out on your service capacity or what? Keep in mind that generator power is typically a good bit more expensive than utility power.

Reasonable people may differ as to whether this is a suitable DIY project or not. I'm a DIYer and I put in mine myself. I suppose that if you're confident that you're capable of wiring a subpanel (and reading directions!), you can probably do this yourself. If you'd shy away from adding a subpanel, call an electrician.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 11:36AM
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Thanks for the sub panel advice, I appreciate it. I understand that using gas to gun the generator would be more expensive than grid power, but the generator runs off of HHO. I use some solar panels (far off site) to make the HHO. I was basically looking for a way to capitalize on my little bit of solar and use it to make electric bills at home a little less.

Thanks Again

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 1:54AM
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If the panels were closer, you could use a grid-tie invertor and a net meter. Pretty sure you would need an 'agreement' with the utility to hook it up but that's usually not a big deal.

On a nice sunny day your meter might run backwards.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 8:37AM
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Are you saying that this generator is infact a water wheel generator? How much power are you producing?

I saw a system once where a guy was using solar to power a pump to put water in a large tank which was several feet up a hill from his house. He then ran a pipe down the hill to drive a water wheel impeller generator to run the lights in his house. Is this what you're doing?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 12:06PM
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No that is not what I am doing, but similar in a way. I am using my solar panels to run a small current through water, breaking the water molecules (electrolysis) into 2H2 (two molecules of hydrogen gas) + O2 (one molecule Oxygen gas). I collect these gases from my electrolyzer (link below is where I got my design) and compress them. The generator can run directly from this gas (loss in efficiency compared to gasoline). Like the guy who pumped the water up hill, I am just using the gas as a way to store (and transport) solar energy, basically a very volatile battery.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 7:28PM
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P.S. I don't know exactly how much power the generator makes but I know that it makes 2000W for sure, probably not much more than that tho..

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 9:03PM
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What you are proposing is painfully inefficient.

Electrolysis is not very efficient; a fair bit of the energy goes into heat. Estimates of efficiency range from 50% to 80%. Then you have to use more energy to compress or pump the hydrogen for transporting it. I don't have any figures for that but a wild guess would be that no more than 30% of the energy from the PV panels gets to the tank feeding your genset.

The genset's engine will seldom exceed 30% efficiency and 20% is more typical. Only the best generators will top 80%, and you aren't likely to find one of those in a mass production genset. Typical generators you can buy off the shelf have efficiencies closer to the 40-60% range. Thus your total genset efficiency is in the 15% range.

So your final return at the genset output terminals is 15% * 30%, or only about 5% of the energy your PV panels originally generated. You are giving up roughly 95% of what your PVs produced by transporting the energy this way.

A fuel cell will certainly be more efficient than the genset, but the cost and availability issues are apt to be prohibitive, and you still have the losses in converting electricity to hydrogen.

This would be an interesting exercise, but I suspect you'll spend a lot of money and not get much energy for it. You would be MUCH better served to move the PV panels to where you need the energy, and connect them directly to a grid-tied inverter.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 10:49PM
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Ron Natalie

I suspect you'd do better actually pumping water up hill and using a mini-hydro. There's even going to be more loss compressing the gas in addition to the generator efficiency issues already mentioned.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 9:55AM
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I commend you on your efforts and have tinkered with the hho idea myself. I have had success but keeping the amperage down and electrode wear down and production up is a struggle without altering the water. If you have figured out how to get enough production to make this worthwhile... you best get a patent and be ready to get rich.

I did have a unit on a ford zx2 under the hood and the bottle had a leak allowing the intake to create a syphon pulling air into the bottle and pull the hho out. I at that time had the unit hard wired to the battery and after a 10 mile drive the car wouldn't shut off. It had no fuel pump, no injection, no computer, no spark and revved like the key was on unless the RPM got really high and the production wasn't enough and it would bog down. Never did it diesel or knock... just purred and revved like the key was on up to about 2,500rpm. I did put a aquarium pump on a different unit and had really good results but didn't test the no key as it was wired to the ignition.

I also must add that I was cheating at that time and was using old battery plates that still were acidic which isn't pure hho but was interesting to say the least.

I think a pulse generator and some way to get high voltage dc would help... possibly ac but I think ac would cancel out the process when the sine wave went from positive to negative. Pure water works good if the plates are very very close together or there are a boat load of them.

I haven't found the proper material for plates that hold up to long term production... well I know what it is... unobtanium. I would like to get some high voltage dc... some tungsten welding rods to pass them next to each other in water and see what happens. Pulsing at a high rate also helps break the bond and get more production.

I gave up but did get some incredible short term results.. like 5-10hrs of run time per rebuild/ cleaning but it was a huge hastle.

It is fun to tinker with... and I have no doubt this can be done and our vehicles run on water with what progress a person can achieve in their garage tinkering for a few hours. I think our gov't deep down likes to be oil dependent.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 10:04PM
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"our vehicles run on water with what progress a person can achieve in their garage tinkering for a few hours. I think our gov't deep down likes to be oil dependent."

Sorry, you're not running anything on water. You are using electrical energy to electrolyze water. THAT electricity is the energy you're (partly) using to run the vehicle.

It gets worse. That electricity comes from the vehicle's electrical system, and that system is roughly 12% efficient at turning energy in gasoline into electricity. You're much better off to burn the gasoline directly.

Some folks report that their gas mileage goes up, or (as you do) that the car engine races. This is because the hydrogen combustion confuses the vehicle's emission control system, so that it miscalibrates itself. Long term, this practice increases harmful exhaust emissions, and may even damage the engine.

Everybody wants to believe that a tinkerer with no appropriate degree can do in his garage what generations of well-educated scientists haven't been able to do - create perpetual motion, or at least the legendary 100mpg carburetor. It makes a great movie, but it doesn't happen in real life.

This is the holy grail of the "over-unity" crowd, the greasy-handed high school dropout who builds a machine that seems to produce more energy than it consumes. In every case, it's a measurement error. Typically he is using the wrong tool to measure the output.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2010 at 2:43AM
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Sorry David I have to disagree on some points. It is possible to get a large volume of hydrogen with a fairly low amount of amperage but it takes a large plate surface area and they have to be very close together. The problem is with run of the mill materials like stainless... the impurities in the water and metal will eventually foul and short the plates.

If you think it is impossible to produce enough hydrogen efficiently enough to compete with the oil usage you are mistaken. The government likes hydrogen as long as it is derived from petroleum products.

I have a degree in automotive mechanics and electronic systems and monitored things when I 'tinkered'. Exhaust gas temp.. wideband oxygen sensing along with monitoring the regular computer sensors.

I do agree that is not practical to build a hydrogen generator OR buy one off Craigslist or Ebay and think that you will double your mileage or even gain 10% for long term. The materials are not readily available for the average person to obtain to build such a unit for a decent price.

I am not any sort of tree hugging greenbody but I do like to have a efficient home so I keep more of my money in my wallet than send it in the mail. I do like testing and trying things or trying to make something better faster or more efficient. If no one did what this gentleman is trying to do or other things people say are impossible we would not have inventors or new breakthroughs and would rely solely on China and other countries.

WE need a breakthrough to get away from so much oil usage and that is a fact... dynamic fuels in Canada already has a system for big trucks that works and is installed on some trucks running in the US and it works good.

The person who started this topic might be on wrong track but if he does his testing he will figure that out and go from there.

If I am part of the holy-grail of the 'over-unity' crowd, at least I am not sitting around waiting for China or some other country to spoon feed me the next technological breakthrough.
As far as my testing... I did not error in my measurements... the car got very good GAS mileage along with the water consumption which was slight. Building the plates does not fit into my schedule to make it worthwhile.

It can be done... and I hope it is some greasy handed american dropout who builds a system that gets us away from so much oil usage that still allows us to have noisy exhaust and something other to listen to than the hum of an electric motor.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2010 at 7:16PM
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