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Site Suggestions, Support and Resources => Show Discussions, Fan Mail and Topic Suggestions => Podcast Transcripts => Topic started by: Hootie on November 07, 2012, 07:44:15 PM

Post by: Hootie on November 07, 2012, 07:44:15 PM
The Survival Podcast

EPISODE:      1005
DATE:         October 24, 2012



Special Note – If you don’t get over during or after this interview you are cheating yourself out of a HUGE range of resources that Steven Has Made Available to you that go along with an clarify many things in these two episodes.
Steven Harris returns to TSP this time to discuss generators and I mean everything generators. As is typical with Steven he did so much research and prep that we had to break this into two episodes. Today we cover fuel options and multiple ways to set up fueling and tie your generator into your home to power your critical needs.
Steven Harris is a consultant and expert in the field of energy. He is the founder and CEO of Knowledge Publications, the largest energy only publishing company in the USA.
Mr. Harris came to his current position to do full time work on the development and implementation of hydrogen, biomass and solar related energy systems after spending 10 years in the Aero-Thermal Dynamics department of the Scientific Labs of Chrysler Corporation.
Steve is always full of great ideas, knowledge and projects we can use to improve our personal energy independence and today is no exception. Today he covers generators with us in part two of a two part series.

“Revolution is You” by Gregg Yows

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<intro/housekeeping 0:00 – 3:40>
Post by: Hootie on November 09, 2012, 05:20:27 PM
<intro/housekeeping 0:00 – 3:40>

Jack Spirko: With that wrapped up, It's my great pleasure to welcome back Mr. Steven Harris. Today we are going to talk about, not just all those great generators things what we we talked about yesterday, but how we power we them, how do we hook them up, and how do we run our households. Steve, welcome back to The Survival Podcast.


Steven Harris: Thanks Jack. It seems like I was just on here a few minutes ago.

Jack Spirko: I does seem like that. <laughs>

Steven Harris: <laughs> I'm just to get right into it because I got to move through this content. It is going to be another one of those, "If you missed something, you going to back up little bit listen to it twice." I have a lot of details in here that are very very important to your safety. Listen carefully. This subject is life-and-death serious. Not only is it life-and-death serious, because without power you don't have water and you don't have sanitation, and that can be serious to you. If you hook up your power wrong and hurt yourself and do it wrong, it can be life-and-death serious because of electricity can kill you. I'm in no way going to suggest you do any of these methods. You are working with 120 volts AC  and 240 volts AC from inverters, generators, and at your house. It can kill you instantly, right now. You're dead of a heart attack, just from touching it.Make a mistake and you can be dead. Get an electrician and get it installed properly. Have someone knowledgeable help you. I'm going to tell you about, with extreme caution, what other people have done and how it has been documented. Doing this wrong can electrocute you, kill you dead, it can kill your children, it can kill your wife, it can kill your dog. If you trip over a cord and it comes out and it is hot on the other end and it hits you leg... Boom, you got problems.

Jack Spirko: In your opinion, Steve, what is the safest way of powering stuff in your house from a generator?


Steven Harris: Extension cords, Jack. You put your generator outside and you put away from the house. This means not in your garage or your shed because the exhaust regenerator has carbon monoxide in it. That can kill you, if it builds up in a room or garage area and you walked into it. People ask me if they can run the generator the house. I go "Yeah, you can... Once! Then you are dead." So don't do it inside the house. Outside only. Put the generator outside and start it up. You have a bunch of yellow, orange, or green extension cords. You run them into your house. Connect them to your TV. Connected extension cord to your refrigerator, your freezer, your fans, your lights, and other items you need. Just unplug from the wall and plug them into the extension cord or your multiple sockets that you got. This is the most simple and easiest and safest way of doing this. Of course, you can still close your door on an extension cord, cut the cord with the door then electrify the door and shock yourself to death as you're holding of the doorknob, while you're standing a pool of water. I mean, extension cords they got the risks too.

Jack Spirko: Another thing is, that people need to understand, especially these generators like what I have. They're not meant to be run in the rain. You have to wait till the storm is over, to fire up the generator.

Steven Harris: If you go on YouTube you'll see a lot of videos of people showing you how to make a doghouse for your generator. This is what keeps it dry when it's raining and keeps it out of the way and hopefully keeps the squirrels to make a nest in it, if it is sitting outside.

Jack Spirko: Which I think is an awesome idea. It's it's what people should do if you're going to be long-term at any location, is build generator house basically. Anyway, I didn't mean to interrupt you.

Steven Harris: We talked about extension cords.

Jack Spirko: Yep.

Steven Harris: I talked all different colors of extension cords. We really got cover these a little quickly to tell people what the differences are. Basically, there's three categories of extension cords. There's orange or green ones. We see these all the time at Home Depot or Lowe's. These are generally rated to 15 amps of current. They are call medium duty extension cords. They are about the same amount or maximum power as you get from one outlet. Really, one circuit in your house. Orange or green extension cords are 14 gage wire. Which is the same size wire that is the most homes, going to the standard 15 amp 120 volt electric outlet. They are called 14/3 cord, because they are 14 gage and they got 3 wires in them. Hot, neutral, and ground. If you have a very long run, from the generator to your house or you you just got one of those really big house that we don't have...  If you going to use a lot of current and you going to run something  that takes up a lot of power. Like an electric space heater. You run the generator outside. You put an electric space heater one room, the same way you put an air conditioner in one room, keep yourself warm or cold. If are you're going to use electric chainsaw. I love electric chainsaws because they are so simple. And this is going to be 100 feet or more away  from a generator, then you want to reduce the loss in the cord. You go with the cord is a bigger wire gauge in it, 12 or 10 gauge wire. These will be yellow, generally. They will be called 12/3 or 10/3 extension cords. They are available at Walmart, believe it or not. It is I bought mine. They are at Lowes and they are at Home Depot. You'll find them, especially, in the contractor section or with extension cords.  I'll put some links to Amazon, to these cords, on so you can get an idea of what they cost and see what they look like and see that is says 12/3. So you know what you're looking for. Or you can get it from Amazon. You would run the yellow cord from the generator, about a hundred feet to your electric chainsaw or 100 feet into your house for electric heater. When online looking at the stuff in stores, read the tag. There are some yellow extension cords out there, that are the same size of as the orange ones. They will say 14/3, but generally the big thicker ones are yellow. You can tell they are thick, they are the size of your finger or bigger.

Jack Spirko: You can tell by the weight when you pick them up. If you are looking at two 50 foot cords or 200 foot cords and you picked one up, and they are different gage, you will know from the weight alone. If I can throw some in here; There are two things I never buy the cheapest I can get a hold of, garden hose and extension cords. If you buy the best quality, heaviest-duty stuff you can get there, they last longer than you do. If you buy the cheap shit, they last a year or 2, they get kinked up, twisted, or knotted. They are the same category as far as I am concerned.

Jack Spirko: You can tell by the weight when you pick them up. If you are looking at two 50 foot cords or 200 foot cords and you picked one up, and they are different gage, you will know from the weight alone. If I can throw some in here; There are two things I never buy the cheapest I can get a hold of, garden hose and extension cords. If you buy the best quality, heaviest-duty stuff you can get there, they last longer than you do. If you buy the cheap shit, they last a year or 2, they get kinked up, twisted, or knotted. They are the same category as far as I am concerned.

Steven Harris: Yep. Go with quality. For the higher current cord... if you have to run a higher current yellow cord just stick with the 12/3 cords. This'll be fine. If you want to go overkill you get a 10/3 cord. Which is 10 gage wire and that is a lot thicker than 14. The lower the gage number, the thicker the wire, the more current i can handle, and the less voltage loss you will have in the line, but the more expensive the cord will be. If you go on one of my Amazon links, you will find a 100 foot yellow 10 gage 10/3 cord for $167. As you go up, copper is expensive right now. The bigger the diameter, the lower the lose, the more expensive it is going to be. You might need one yellow 10/3 cord, like 100 foot cord or 100 foot and a 50 foot cords. Then with the rest of your house you can go with the standard orange ones from Home Depot, Lowes, or Walmart. From the extension cord coming from the generator into the house you will put in a splitter or a multiple outlet. My favorite one of these are the solid orange ones, you can hold them in your hand. They are solid orange or solid green. Part of the plug, plungs into the wall. Then you have 3 outlets on it. It is all one piece of solid rubbery material with 3 outlets on it on different sides of the splitter. If you plug into the wall and that is south, there will be 1 outlet on north, 1 outlet on east, and 1 outlet on west. They are also called T-outlets. Go to, I will have photos of them there and links to Amazon. It is also called the T-shape adaptor. Once you see it, you will know instantly what I am talking about. They are all over Home Depot, Lowes, and Walmart. Just go look at the photo and you will know what I am talking about. If you want one of the best outlets strips you can find for plugging in 6 or 8 or 10 things at once, You just plug these T-shape adaptors into each other and you make them as big as you want. You can plug in your phone, your iPad, your GameBoy, your TV, and you can plug everything you want into this one spot. Then you can run another extension cord up stairs and plug into more of these and have 5 outlets up there. Then run another cord from there to the kids room, plug one in and have 3 outlets for them.

Post by: Hootie on November 13, 2012, 06:29:23 PM

Jack Spirko: It's funny how you and I always come the same gear in perspective. That box, I talked about, with all our dedicated station cords in it. There is about 10 of those things in there, just plugged in like one big long block. You just yank out and take them as you need them. We can run everything that we ever want to run at our house, other than central AC, off of a 6500 watt generator that way. I have thought about having a backup switch wired in, but like I said since we are moving. And it is safe like you were saying.


Steven Harris: Yes, yes, yes. These are solid T-shaped splitters. They're very durable. Like I said they like an all rubbery hard plastic. The one I am talking about you can run over with the car, and it will laugh at you. They are typically only $3 or $4 each. You'll see them at Home Depot on sale around Christmas about a $1.50. This is when you stock up. Generally the ones on sale are at Christmas will be will be green because they want to match Christmas tree and not have this big orange thing standing out underneath your tree.

Jack Spirko: That is just like Christmas light strings. The only thing if you run over one with your car , make sure you don't run over with the brass sticking up. You might put a hole your tire, but you are not going to break the daggon thing. I got a question for you, that we always hear about with generators. What is backfeeding my home? What's that mean?


Steven Harris: Jack, we're going to talk about it and  we're going to talk about backfeeding and powering your house. We're going to go from what is very illegal and dangerous, to what is safe and recommended  up to code. We're going to start with what it is very dangerous and I'm not suggesting that you do this on any form!

Jack Spirko: Just to be clear, that is not a joke. He is serious folks.

Steven Harris: I'm serious. I'm just telling you what other people have done and you'll find document on the internet. I'm just telling it to you, and giving you all warnings and all the cautions. You can follow someone's quick paragraph about get yourself electrocuted. Backfeeding uses a special cord that you have to make. It's also called the suicide, it because it's got to male ends on it. Each end has a plug on it. If one side of energized and the other side is energized, you got open spades right there at the end of a cord. If you touch it, it will electrocute you and you are dead or you have a whole in your leg or your arm. Or your hair standing up and you are not going to have a good day. Remember it's not just electrocuting yourself, it's electrocuting your kids or dog. You could trip over the cable and pulled on the wall. It can ring around, hit you, and zap you that pretty good. With backfeeding what you're typically going to do is go to your circuit breakers for house. You are going to turn off!... You are going to turn off!... You are going to throw the main breaker, the big one at the top. You do this first, and you always do it. If there is a power failure and you plug your generator into your house and the main circuit breaker is on. Then you are not only powering your house but the entire electrical system and lines in the entire neighborhood all around. Which means a lineman working what he thinks it look down and deadline, trying to fix it for you, might grab a line that is energized by your generator through your house back to the transformer to him. Even if he is a mile away this can happen. He can get himself kill and you are then responsible for his murder or manslaughter. And you are going to prison. Where you won't have to worry about food, water, shelter, or power because of all be taken care for you.


Jack Spirko: <laughs> Again, this is not a wink wink nod nod. This is for information purposes only. Steve is telling you what you are going to find, if you look out there and not to do it in a very serious matter.

Steven Harris: What people do the turn off the main breaker electable panel. If you don't know what that is or what I'm talking about, then do not do it. Sit down, shut up, light a candle and suffer. If you don't know how to do this, you might have am electrician try to explain it to you or have him do it for you. Having someone professionally do it will be the cheapest thing you can do. Like I said, "what's most expensive former power? No power. Pay an electrician and have him hook it up right. Then you got power and you can watch your neighbors sit down, shut up, light a candle and suffer. Assuming you know what you are doing, and you know the risks. You turn off the main breakers. Did I say that? You turn off the main breakers. The turn off, click click click click, all the other breakers. All breakers off and the main breaker stays off. Now if you're doing this with an inverter off your car, like I talked about the show were I told you how to power your inverter off your car. Which is at You can going unplugged everything in your house. You switch off the main breakers, you switch off all the regular breakers and then you go unplugged everything in the house. I mean everything. You unplug the clock, you unplug the refrigerator, you unplug the freezer, you unplug the TV, because you are about ready to plug into your house a low power inverter. You don't need something going to go grrrrrrr, and kicking on. Your inverter will cry or fry on you or you will blow the fuse. Which another reason have spare fuses and spare fuses are damn cheap on Amazon and they are on You then take your suicide plug, you now know why it is named that, which is like a regular extension cord but I has 2 male end on it. You have to make this yourself, if you were going to make one of these dangerous things. You can't buy it. If you look electrical socket, you'll see 2 splits for the electrical plug in The United States. You find one rounder hole, that is your ground. The 2 slits will have different sizes. There is this one slit that is a little bit smaller, and there is one slit that is a little bit longer. The smaller one is hot. This is the one that is going to fry your rear end. This is normally a black wire. Think a black as in death. This is the hot wire. The longer slit is going to be neutral. This is normally a white wire. The round one on the bottom is ground, which is normally a green wire. You hook up the small slot, the black wire, from one plug to the smaller pong on the other plug with the black wire. Then the longer slit, the wire from it goes to the longer the long lug on the longer one and that is going to be a white wire. The ground on one plug the ground and the other plug and that will be a green wire. You now have a suicide cable with electricity exposed. If you screw this up, for example, and you wire hot (the black death wire) from your generator to the ground in your house. You can make a metal case on everything in your house hot. Like your refrigerator is a metal case. It'll be hot instead of ground. Then you going touchier refrigerator and you wind up dead. Messing up the pins and messing up the wires will get you hurt or killed. Again if you don't have a clue, don't do this. Don't do it anyways. Someone will end up dead and someone will end up going prison. I'm not telling you to do this. I am not recommending it. I'm just telling you what others have done and how dangerous this is. Other people who know what they're doing, would make sure the inverter at the car or the battery bank is off. Then you plug one-side of your suicide plug into the inverter and then you go plug the other end into 120 volt outlet inside your house. Now you turn the inverter on. Now you go into your house where everything is unplugged and all the breakers are off and the the main breaker is off and it always stays off. You just turn on the regular breakers. The main breaker stays off. Then you go back into the house and you plug into the wall only the stuff that you want to use. Your TV, some compact fluorescent light, LED lights, a fan, and all the small stuff that you could run off your inverter in your car. This might be your refrigerator or freezer, one of time if you got a 800 watt inverter in your car and  it is ideling. Again go listen to the "power your house from your car with an inverter" show. If you are doing this with the 120 volt plug on a generator, you can do the same thing that I just described on the inverter, except you don't need to unplug everything from the wall in your house. But make sure you do unplug stuff you're not going to use, just so doesn't come on. Like a big AC unit, your electric heater, your frigerator or freezer because you are now feeding the entire house through one outlet that is designed to be only one circuit. You can't feedyour entire house through 15 amps outlet so unplug stuff you're not using, and plug it in as you need it. Make sure he don't go over the go over the 15 amps that outlet can handle. This would also be about 1500 watts. You don't want to go over that  on a regular 15 amp 4 gage wire wall outlet. You can overheat the line and burn down your house. I'm not telling you because this can happen. I'm telling you this because this has happened to people who go through disasters and wire it up this way. I told you this was going to be the most dangerous show I ever talked about. There are houses that, like I said, have burned down. Others have been electrocuted. There are many other people who are dead, who did this. And many other people who are injured. Someone else telling you this, might not tell you all these warnings. And I'm telling these warning and you can get hurt. That's why I'm telling all this, because I really care about you guys. For the generator, you plug the suicide plug into the house first. With all the breakers off and ofcource all the mains off and they stay off. Then you start your generator and let it get running. Then you plug the other end of the suicide plug into the generator. You're not plug into a load, because all  the breakers are off. Now you go to your electical panel and you turn on only the circuit breakers that you want to energizing the house. This might be your furnace, if it is winter time. It might be your kitchen out outlets for the refrigerator and microwave, etc. Keep in mind that your only energizing one half of your panel when you're backfeeding 120 volts. You cannot energize both sides of your panels through a single hundred 120 V outlet. Only half the outlets and stuff your house will work. You can't plug into 2 outlets with the generator and think you can feed your whole house. You will end up short-circuiting everything, blowing your generator, and blowing cords and everything else. One sucide cord from the generator to one outlet in the house, will energize half the house. You might have the extension cord inside your house, to plug your refrigerator into a nearby outlet that is on the half of the house that is energized. I saw one very smart person who did a suicide cord for his house and there was an outlet on his furnace and that is what he wanted to power in the winter time. When you plug the suicide cord into his Generator and plugged them into the furnace he knew the furnace was always going to be energized and half the outlet in the house were going to be energized. That is what I saw someone else do. Keep in mind there are no breakers in the system and you are backfeeding. If you try to pull more power than your one line or outlet can handle, then you risk heating up the line at the outlet or in the wall of your house and starting a fire and burning down your house. Backfeeding your house with an inverter is only for powering small stuff, lights, fans, TV, radios, phones, iPads, and maybe you plug in your refrigerator into the outlet. Then let it run for an hour or 2 a few times a day. Then your freezer at a different time. This is not for your microwave oven. That draws as much power as 1 outlet can handle. You sure as hell, are not going to plug in your coffee maker. I had someone said, "I want to power my coffee maker, my freezer, and my refrigerator in a disaster." Coffee makers draw an incredible amount of electricity when heating up. It is not a low power appliance. It can use 5 to 8 time more electricity than your refrigerator. Get a propane stove and an old fashion hon coffee pot, and make coffee on the propane or Coleman stove the old fashion way. Don't you agree Jack?


Jack Spirko: Absolutely.

Steven Harris: If you want to know more about inverters and how to use them on your car and when you need to idle your car for more power you can get my show on powering your house from your car with an inverter. The show is at, it is absolutely free. You can sign up and listen to it directly on your smartphone or your computer without downloading it. Or you can listen to the show and save it off on your phone or computer if you desire. You can save it off to listen to when there is no power and no internet and you are running your computer off of the generator and you want to listen to what I told you to, because you didn't take notes. Ofcourse all my shows are on Jacks website, you can get them all there. I will also mentioned that this method of powering your house is illegal in most areas.


Jack Spirko:  As it should be.

Steven Harris: It is most definitely against code. You are responsible for everything that happens. If your house burns down from this and the insurance company finds out about it, they won't pay you for your damage. So I will say it again, using extension cords for the generator is the best way. It is the best and simplest way. Make sure you don't slam the door or break the insulation on the cable. If you have metal door, you will wind up being dead doing this. Pinching the extension cord can also cause fires, if you do it really hard. Basicly if you break the outside of the extension cord, throw it away. The lines have been jeopardized. You don't want to have an exposed line and have someone step on it and electrocute themselves. It will cause a fire.

Post by: Hootie on November 14, 2012, 07:49:53 PM


Jack Spirko: On the topic of extension cords, if you have a plan in advance it always makes things better. I always talk about how I have dedicate cords. The other thing we did, I have a piece of wood cut to length that I can put into one window and four extension cords will fit in the little space that is left open. When that window sits down on that board, if you wanted you keep the window mostly shut, you only have a small gap there. Cords never get pinched. This is so much simpler than trying to worry about whether not the kids are going to run out and slam the door and that type of thing. I think we have covered backfeeding the house. What about the freaking idiots the backfeed the whole damn house.


Steven Harris: Yeah, Jack that is the best Idea. Cut a 2x4 board to length or just a little bit shorter than your window. Shut the window on it and run the cords through the hole.

Jack Spirko: Yep. That's what we do. That board goes in the box with the cords. It just makes things simple. You grab one box and everything is ready to go.

Steven Harris: Good. Like you mentioned, backfeeding the entire house. How do other people backfeed their house with the generator in a disaster or emergency after hurricane or crap hit the fan situation. The most common way is you do this with another suicide cord. This one more dangerous because you're using 240 volts rather than 120 volts. If you think 120 volts will kill you and it will, 240 volts will fry your rear end of the same time blown your finger off. For this you have to have a 240 volt generator. Remember that 240 volt generators also have 110 circuits on them. It is better to have a 240 volt generator. You are not stuck with with only 240, it is just a better option. The generator will have on it, what is called, a L14-30 4 wire plug. One wire is going to ground, one is going t be neutral, one will be what's called L1, one is called L2. There is 240 volts across L1 and L2. These are both hot, too. Like I said, "black wire death."  What people do they buy the same male plug that their electrical stove, or more common there electrical dryer uses in the garage. They will wire, neutral to neutral, the bottom round pin to the bottom round pin, and then the wire L1 to one of the big spades on the dryer and then they'll run L2 to one of the big spaces on the plug for the dryer. Now you have a male to male cord, with one and that is the same as your dryer and the other one that plugs into your generator. You now have a suicide cord at 240 volts. If your dryer has four holes in it, then you'll have hook up L1, L2, neutral, and ground each other. Again if you don't understand this you damn well better find someone who does or have an electrician help you. Or don't do it all. I'm going to cover the safe and legal way to do it, in a little bit. The people then go and turn off all the main breakers. They turn off the main breaker and then they turn off all the breakers. The generator is off. There is no power in the house. There's no power at the generator. One side of the suicide cord is plugged into the house. All the breakers are off. Then you go and plug the suicide cord into the generator and you start the generator.  There is no load on the generator, because all the breakers are off. Once the generator is on and going, they then go to their breaker panel and the start turn on the breakers in the box that they want powered. The main breaker is still off and always will be off. Both sides of the box are now powered by the generator at 240 volts, with a neutral. That way all the circuits in house are live. You have  240 volts across L1 and L2, you got 120 volts crossed L1 and neutral, you have 120 V across L2 and neutral.  This is how the generator with 240 volts, L1, L2, and neutral is backfeeding the entire panel and powering everything in the house. You still have the same problem as you did before. You are feeding the entire house through one cable, one outlets. That cable now at 240 volt cable and is usually designed for 30 Amps going to your dryer. 30 Amps max. 30 Amps x 240 volts is 7200 watts maximum. Stay below 5000 watts, if you did this to be on the safe side. That is if I was suggesting you did this, and I am not. Because I told you how dangerous it is and you can electrocute yourself or your kids or your dog. Or if you pulled too much power through this one line, even it can handle 7200 watts by theory, you can start fire. Especially if you got a loose connection, it will burn down your entire house.


Jack Spirko: Now look, I know a lot of people at there are wondering why Steve just took all this time to explain the intricate details of how to do something that you should not. I'm a tell you why, even though he hasn't told me because I know. It's because I've got out and look for the stuff myself. If you go out and look for information on how to do it, there are nimrods out there that make it sound a whole lot simpler than it really is. They make it sound a lot safer than it really is. And you will either kill yourself, somebody else, or burn your house down. Steve is taking the time here to put this intricate detail in, to make you really understand that no matter who told you this is a good idea, it's not a good idea. Did I get that right, Steve?

Steven Harris: You got it perfectly. In an absolute emergency, but when the shit hits the fan or the crap hits the fan and there is no civilization, there's no government, there is no electrical codes, and have nothing... this would be still something that could be done as a last ditch effort. Especially if you're your wife was electrician and she knew how to do this. How is that.

Jack Spirko: Yeah basically, I think if you need to be told how to do it, you don't need to be doing it, even in the apocalypse. If you know how to do it, then you know the risk. As we move out of the realm of houses down, killing electrical workers, and killing ourselves and our dog. And we move toward the legal end of the spectrum, we move toward something called an InterLock. What is that about?

Steven Harris: Jack, like you said we are starting to move towards the legal portion of the show.  I told you this was going to be the most show I have ever talked to you about and it is. If you have the interlock plate installed is this getting towards legal or fully legal. And then you still check your code. What people do, is instead of back feeding their house with the suicide plug through the dryer plug. They might have an open 240 volt breaker, like I do at my house in the electoral panel. For example I got a natural gas stove that used to be an electrical stove. We put in a natural gas, took out the electrical stove. Now I got a free 240 volt breaker and it is a 30 amp circuit breaker. This is what went to the stove. People will throw the main breaker on the box to turn all the power off. Then they will wire into the 240 volt electrical socket sitting next to breaker box. They'll wire the 240 volt socket into the 240 volt breaker. This means you are to putting lines into the breakers. The power had better be off,  you better know what you are doing. Actually, Steve Harris does not mess around inside of his electrical box. I don't even do this myself.


Jack Spirko: You sound like me. I have a rule. If I don't completely know something I'll try it, unless it can kill me and then I don't touch it.

Steven Harris: That is right. The breakers always stay off, until you backfeed the house through the InterLock. This little 240 volt 30 amp breaker that you just put the backfeed, from a dedicated socket.  This always stays off and the InterLock is what keeps it off. There are several things both legal and illegal. During a power failure people will turn off the main breakers, as you always do and always leave it off. The breaker to the InterLock is off. They then turn off all the breakers in the panel, you plug in the suicide cord into the socket, going to the 240 volt breaker. You plug the other end to the generator that is turned off. Then you start the generator. Then you turn on the 240 volt AC breaker, that's going to where your suicide cord  has been wired in and you still leaving the main breaker off. You then will start to turn on all the other individual circuit breakers for the parts that you want power in the house. This is where the word InterLock comes in. There are companies that make InterLocks, which is nothing but a piece of cut sheet metal that is on the front of your circuit breakers in your box. The way the sheet is cut, when the main breakers are on and the grid is working and there is no power failure, it will prevent you from turning on the 240 volt breaker that goes to your backfeed socket. This will be, typically a recessed male socket usually with a cap on it. That way the 240 volt breaker can never be turned on and energized the socket, that you could stick your finger into. Just like you could stick your finger in a regular wall outlet if you are real dexterous and electrocute yourself. You could electrocute yourself if you stuck your finger into the 240 volt socket. Which is why the InterLock keeps that breaker off, so that never gets energized. When the power fails you slide this sheet of metal down about an inch and it has slots on it that lets this happen for you. It forces you to turn off the main breaker. Then it unblocks your 240 volt 30 amp backfeed breaker. It unblocks it so it can be turned on. What an InterLock does is, when the main breaker is on and you got grid power, it prevents the 240 volt InterLock from being on. When the power is off, in a failure it forces you to turn the main breaker off and let you turn on 240 volts 30 amp InterLock. That is now on, you can backfeed the house. You then go and start your generator, and it is already plugged into the house. Then you go turn on all the breakers. That way you are not turning the generator on to the load. Now you take the normal cable that has the right connectors on it and you plug into a generator , that is turned off. You plug into your inlet that goes into your InterLock. This is not a suicide plug when you have an inlet plug at this time because this is a male socket and you are holding a female plug in your hand like any other extension cable.

Post by: Hootie on November 17, 2012, 05:13:40 PM

Jack Spirko: Sure, it makes sense.

Steven Harris: Right. You plug in the cable, start the generator, let it get going and then you go back to the panel and start to turn on the breakers to the rest of the house to power it up. I keep ones off that don't need power. This can be legal depending on where you are. This is usually installed by a certified electrician and it really should be. Connect the cable that goes from your generator all the way to your house. He will put in the the male InterLock connection socket, next to the breaker panel. And he will he will InterLock on your panel. Now you're getting to a point where you are a lot safer and you are beginning to meet code.

Jack Spirko: When I listen all of that, I just think that there is a right way to do this that is much safer. Also it is going probably involve electrician, but you mentioned it earlier. That's moving into world of a transfer switch.


Steven Harris: Now we get the transfer switch. This is the right way to have it done. Especially if a certified electrician does it. The transfer switch, I mean the big one, in a metal cabinet on it's own. It is is not in your breaker panel. It's got a big lever on the side. It has been on the top and it has an off the middle and I has a second on position on the bottom. What a certified electrician will do, is he'll pull your power meter off your house. That totally disconnects you from the grid. It disconnects your panel from the grid. The electrical panel is now completely dead. He'll take the main lines coming into the house L1, L2, and neutral lines going to your panel, and we will wire it into one half of the transfer switch. Then he'll wire from the transfer switch back to your electrical panel. This'll be the top on position. Then he'll put the 240 volt inlet receptacle, as previously described, on the other half of the transfer switch box. Usually this is the bottom half. The top half is usually for grid power. The box with the transfer switch has the big lever on the side.  It had got an up position that is on. A middle position that is off and a lower position that is on. It's going to be up for normal operation, for power from the grid. When the power fails you go to the circuit breaker box, turn off the main breaker, then you turn off all individual breakers. Ok, we are still doing that. You throw the transfer switch down to the middle position off. It is going to go <clunk> and you are going to hear it. Now nothing is powered, not the breaker box, not the  of the generator, nothing.  You then plug your generator cable into the generator and plug it into the inlet plug goes into the transfer switch. Everything is still off. You turn on your generator and let it get going. Then you throw the big transfer switch down to the other on position. This is the on position for power from the generator. The generator is now feeding your entire electrical panel from the top of the panel, the main wires going to into electrical panel. You so actually turn on the main breakers because the transfer switch has disconnector you completely from the grid. You're not I on the grid because transfer switch will allow it in any shape or form. The main breakers actually have to come on because it's feeding the entire box from the top. It's not backfeeding and it is not airlocked. It's going to top the box, the way God wanted it to happen. I said, it's actually impossible for type of transfer switch the electricity back onto the grid and hurt a lineman. Now you go and turn on your individual breakers and you leave everything on, as long as the generator is running. The entire house is now feed from the generator. There is a guy YouTube, who has a lot of this very well as illustrated in his video. I'm going to put that video on and the show notes so you can see half of the stuff I just talk about. You'll get the see what an inlet socket looks like, what a L1430 twistlock receptacle and plug looks like, and he has got an inexpensive InterLock on his box that might be an option for you. He doesn't have the bigger one, I was talking about. His InteLock goes to his circuit breaker. He does not have a big transfer switch, which I think is best. He only powers half to circuits. The ones he thinks are critical. It is okay video so can get an overview. Actually, I now have 3 videos up there. I got this one. I got another one that shows another interlock. I got one that shows you the great big 200 amp transfer switch and how works. The guy is an electrician. He has the transfer switch box open and he's throwing the lever arm, from on to off to on. You can see how it goes clunk clunk back-and-forth. This is to give you a pretty good over overview. Jack, that about covers it for hooking up your generator or your inverter to your house. I'm sorry there was so many details. I tried to be really explicit on how i was telling it to you. I think I told it to you the best way that I can.


Jack Spirko: I would like to ask you one question for people, to maybe understand that there is certain things go on during a power outage. Just befor I say this, we both agree the transfer switch is the way to go, if you are do the extension cord thing?

Steven Harris: Right

Jack Spirko: You got a transfer switch hooked up. The generator is out there humming away <Grrrrrrr> it's humming away for a long time. The power has still not come back on. You go out and look at your happy little generator, that that used to have the little gage set up to F, now it is down near E. We now need to refuel the generator. We need to do everything you said basically in reversal, while we shut the generator down, then  refuel it, and power it back up, right?

Post by: Hootie on November 19, 2012, 08:31:01 PM

Steven Harris: Yeah you don't want to turn generator on into a load. The inverter generators, you can actually turn into load because the inverter has a little computer in it in there. It looks and says, "Oh, I have a load." It ramps itself up and then kicks the inverter on. The general rule of thumb you don't want to start a generator into load, for a regular generator. That's why you turn off all your breakers, plug everything, turn on the generator, and then you back and go flip flip flip flip flip and turn on everything individually.So you're not thrown a great big load on to the generator at the same time.


Jack Spirko: As an army mechanic I am going tell you, don't go hot fueling generators. We had very specific procedures to hot fuel vehicles, aircraft, etc in the military. It was done in emergency purposes only. It is not worth it. It takes five minutes to shut everything down and let it cool little bit and then fuel generator. Don't hot fuel anything, unless you absolutely have too.

Steven Harris: By hot fuel he means fueling it while it is running.

Jack Spirko: Correct. It is just not a good idea. It is a lot different than not advising you not to hot fuel a vehicle. If you hot hot fuel a vehicle your gas is going into place very far away from your motor. When you are sitting over a generator that is screaming hot because it has been running for 8 hours and you need to refill it, and you are sitting right next to the motor, it is just a bad idea. You got electrical cords and everything else there. Just shut it down and, fuel it up. It is probably good to give it that little break anyways.

Steven Harris: Yep. Definitely.


Jack Spirko: Now lets talk about fuel. You promised to cover gasoline, diesel, natural gas, and propane.

Steven Harris: Ok. Gasoline and diesel generators are pretty straightforward. You pour fuel into it, when it is off, and you start it. I covered the storage and the usage of fuel in my last appearance of on TSP, actually the one before the other one that we just did. I did it in explicit detail. You can find "The fuel and fuel storage show," along with the "How to power your house from an inverter in you car show on Which is my dedicated radio show website. Natural gas and propane... Like I said gasoline and diesel you pour it in and you run it. Really we need to talk about natural gas and propane. I think natural gas is one of the more incredible fuels available to the public, because you have an infinite supply of it going right to your house. The entire natural gas system is run and pressurized by the natural gas itself. If the crap hits the fan the natural gas system will still be up for months without anything doing anything to maintain it. I got this directly from the experts at the natural gas company who have worked there for over 30 years. It will be there for your entire hurricane or blizzard or ice storm or most disasters that are going to hit you. The exception to this is earthquake country like California, Oregon, or Washington. An earthquake will rupture natural gas lines. They will start fires. The natural gas system is automatically shutdown when an earthquake hits. Natural gas sucks for powering your house after an earthquake, but that is the price you pay for living in wonderful California. <laughs> The rest of us, basically, have an infinite amount of fuel, that we do not have to store in our house or in drums or add treatments to. It will never go bad or change. Hell, natural gas is already 10's of millions of years old. It is not going to go bad or spoil. It is just like air. How old do you think that oxygen molecule is, that you are breathing?

Post by: Hootie on November 21, 2012, 08:32:35 PM

Jack Spirko: 4.5 billion years is the age of the earth and it probably predates that.

Steven Harris: Oxygen and all elements were formed in the middle of a super nova's. That would be the beginning of the universe. All the oxygen on the planet earth came from comets which deposited water on the earth. That means that the oxygen molecule you are breathing is probably about 12 billion years old. You ponder that for a while when you are going to sleep tonight. For the people with propane, you usually have a 500 or a 1000 gallon pig. That is a big metal tank on your property, they are called pigs. Some people get cleaver and get 2 of them on their property. One is always full and the other one is always being used. The propane is always there, it is like natural gas. It is never going to spoil it is never going to breakdown. You are going to have a lot of it stored very perfectly. Infact using my calculator, if there are 91,500 BTUs per gallons of propane and 120,000 BTUs per gallon of gasoline. Then your 500 gallon propane pig is like having 380 gallons of gasoline stored perfectly. This would be the same 26 15 gallon HDPE drums that we talked about in our fuel storage show. Plus, propane is a lot cheaper than gasoline or diesel. There is a money saving there. I should say that propane is cheaper when you have 500 gallon or a 1000 gallon pig filled up by the big propane truck. It is not cheaper when you buy 40 barbeque containers from Home Depot or the hardware store. So don't think you are going to go get propane in a barbeque bottle and think you are going to be saving money over gasoline. You are not. You do when you have a big pig. How do you run your generator on natural gas or propane? First, it has to be a gasoline generator. It is true that a diesel engine can run on natural gas or propane. Indeed I, Steve Harris, have done it. Even in my Dodge Ram. But it still requires 10% diesel to at the same time for ignition purposes. Plus it does not follow the load very well. For the sake of this conversation and this show, we will stick with the conversion of a gasoline generator to natural gas or propane. I know you all stepped up to the edge of seat and you are listening very carefully. It is true that i have run gasoline motors on conversions I made uses nothing more than pipes and pipe valves. I have even made an air/fuel mixer for natural gas to run a gasoline generator from a block of wood, that I drilled, cut, and carved out. But these were for only running the generator at one speed. You actually had to turn a valve to speed up or slow down the engine. This is the same problem we talked about with PTO generators. You have to manually follow the load. This is not what you want to do. This is the wrong way to do it for a generator because it was going to go up and down a load as you turn things on and off in your house. the generator need to maintain a constant speed. To do this you need a natural gas or propane demand regulator. You used the same regulator for natural gas as you do for propane but you would just the regulator to allow less propane in than the natural gas because propane has 2.5 times more energy per cubic foot than natural does. You need to allow more natural gas in than you do for propane. Either way the same demand base regulator will work for what you want to do. The heavier load of engine, the more the regular automatically opens up and allows more fuel in. When I said there are two things that affect engine, that is speed and load, Load was measured by the manifold absolute pressure or MAP. Which is more commonly called engine vacuum that is what a demand regulator works on. It works on that vacuum. The more demand for you get in the engine, the more demand for fuel, the more it will  open up. To do this correctly, and here's the hard part, the carburetor on the generator need to be drilled and a small tube needs to be silver soldered into it. This is not something you normally do at home and how to do this is beyond the scope of the show, at this time. Hell, look at how long I have already gone on. I have already gone on for 2 shows. I can't tell you have to drill and tap your carburetor. This is how you run your generator natural gas. If you buy a brand-new generator, what you do is you take off the carburetor, and you send it to a company and they send you back a new carburetor that is already drilled out. And they send you the demand pressure regulator and all the connectors and all the parts to make your generator to run off natural gas, and everything you need one generator. You are swapping out a new carb, for a new drill carb. If you have used generator but you want to run on natural gas. You need to take the carburetor off, send it to the company, and they will drill it and send it back to you with everything else that you need, like I just mentioned. This usually takes a week longer than if you have a new carb that you are just trading out. You are not going to power your generator off of natural gas and propane, if it's a gasoline generator and your disaster is already hit you, sorry. I'm sorry, but to do it right and to do it the way that you can depend on and bet your life on, you got to either buy it already converted to try feel generator; gasoline, propane, and natural gas and ready to go or you have to send in your carburetor. And then get the kit back, and install it. I sent my carburetor in, and had it drill and tap, and then got kicked back and put it on my Honda EU 2000i. Which I have to say is my favorite generator. It is an inverter generator, it weighs 42 pounds, you can pick it up easily. It runs on gasoline, natural gas, or propane. The kit only cost me $179 plus shipping, so it is pretty affordable. When you do this conversion and it is done right you, do not lose nor do you want to lose the ability to run it from gasoline. That always your backup method for fueling your generator. Two is one and one is none. Plus, you might want to put the generator in your pickup truck and take camping. Or you can take it to your parents' house that has a power outage or something. That is why it's called tri-fuel generator. It will run on gasoline, natural gas, or propane. If you have gasoline in it, and you want to run natural gas or propane. You then turn off a valve, inside the cover of the generator, and it turns off the gasoline. So the gasoline can stay in the tank, turn off the valve and it will run off of natural gas or propane. You know how generator sometimes hard to start on gasoline, if they've been sitting around for a while. Pull, pull, pull, pull. That is not true with natural gas or propane. You just push the priming valve, on the demand regulator. It squirts some natural gas in. Pull it, and it starts up on first pull almost every darn time. You will really like starting your natural gas or propane generator.

Post by: Hootie on November 27, 2012, 05:56:03 PM

Jack Spirko: Where's the best place to get conversion kits? Or do you get a converter generator? Or send these things to get done.

Steven Harris: There's only two places in United States that are worth a darn. I like one a lot more, than I do the other but both will do the job for you. One of them, you'll see, has more videos for people to watch and they are the ones I don't like as much. First, there is It is called Central Maine Diesel is there real name. These guys, I'll like them a lot. They have done a lot of business with me. I done a lot of business with them. I bought my generators from them. I sent my friends there and they have bought generators from them. They have tri-fuel kits as well as generators, ready to go on gasoline, natural gas, and propane. Again, they have the tri-fuel kits that you can install yourself and you can send me a carburetor and they will drill it. Or you can buy the generated from them ready to go. They are just not a place that helps you convert. They are someone who will sell you everything ready to go, so you don't have to do it. Again is it called tri-fuel generators. This website has the most generators of all types, of all sizes, in one place on the web that you ever find. They also have a real clean website. They got videos on different generators on their site. It is a nice place to go visit. I am not sending my friends to any place that is not excellent, because they would bitch and bitch and yell at me forever and I would never hear the end of it. I'm supposed to be the expert on the subject. If I tell people bad things, they yell at me. I send people the places that work. Not places that cause problems. If Jack called me and asked me about propane or natural gas generator or tri-fuel generator, this is where I would send him in a heartbeat. The customer service of been excellent. I talk to them. I told them, I wanted to talk about them during the show right now. They're offering all TSP people a discounted shipping on anything they buy, if they use the code TSP when checking out. Or you call Bill directly at there phone number. Yeah, a company you can actually call and they answer the phone. Tell them Steve Harris and TSP sent you and they will get you taken care of and give you the discount. If you use the TSP code online, you'll have to put it after your name, in the business name field or the second address field. Just through it someplace grown into your order. I am telling you everything about everyone out there that I know of, okay. Next there is US Carburetion. They make and sell kits. They will drill your carburetor. They even have kits that don't require drilling but then your generator will not, repeat not, run off of gasoline. It will be natural gas and propane only. These people sell kits. They will drill it and send you back a kit. Or they will sell you a kit. that you don't have to drill but you won't be be tri-fuel. You will be mono-fuel. You will be natural gas or propane. The company is US Carburetion and their website is I will put a link to them as well as on for you. It is my personal opinion, that you need to have a secret decoder ring to figure out what kit to get from these guys.I'm am talking about US Carburetion and propane generators. They have A and C kits, type 1 kits, type 2 kits, type 3 kits, type 4 kits, and they're all different. They all do different things and they are all different, for different generators. Then you need different kits. I think it is a mess to figure out on there site. But they give you phone number you can call. You can call them and talk to them. I'm told from others, that they have pretty good customer service. They have just not updated their website in last 10 years and for some reason they want to make it cryptic for you, to guess which conversion kit you need. If you really want test the waters, and convert it yourself and not use any of these two people, God bless, you can do that. You go on eBay and find conversion kits from other people. People that I haven't tested or don't know about. You  will find also all the parts. Wou'll find all of the demand regulators by themselves. You'll find a lot of parts that all used in propane forklifts. These are all the same parts for using to run the generator on natural gas or propane. They are all forklift propane parts. They're not that expensive. You are going to spend about $100 probably instead of paying $179 for the entire kit. I'm not leaving anything out of here for you guys. Some of you guys are masters of 'figuring stuff out.' I believe in enabling you, which means I tell you how it's done, why it is done, and where to get it. For those of you who want to see more and more of it, of all this. Go to YouTube and look underneath the following search terms. Search for US Carburetion, search for tri-fuel generator, search for natural gas generator, and search for propane generator. You will see a lot of people who have done conversion. You'll see what it looks like. You'll get a better feel for how works and what I'm talking about. This is radio and this is audio so it is kind of hard to show you things. So I am telling you where to go and look at it.

Post by: Hootie on November 28, 2012, 10:46:04 PM

Jack Spirko: When we switched the natural gas, do we end up losing power?

Steven Harris: Yes Jack, you do lose power ability because natural gas and propane is not as dense as liquid gasoline being evaporated in a carburetor. It's hard to shove into the cylinder that much fuel with these gases as you can with gasoline. Here are some hard numbers. I got a friend that has a Honda EU 6500i generator and he runs for 12 hours a day every day every day. He does it on natural gas. He got the kit directly from Generator Sales. He refuses to pay $.24 a kilowatt hour for electricity in California, so he makes his own for his house with cheaper natural gas. The EU 6500i is of course a 6500 watt generator. He consistently runs 5500 watt off the 6500i, off of natural gas. He can't go anymore than that because will start to run rough and sputter because it is being fuel starved and conks out. To be generous, you can run the 5000 W on natural gas from a 6500 W generator. Which I think is what you got Jack, you got a 6500 W generator.

Jack Spirko: Absolutely


Steven Harris: That would run about 5000 W on natural gas. That is 75%. You lose 25% using natural gas. A 1000 W generator will only output 750W on natural gas. these are rules of thumb that you can count on. In the automotive field...  Remember I was a development engineer for Chrysler for 10 years so know somethings about about this. This is what is generally accepted in the automotive field, that when we run on natural gas you'll have 75% of the power on natural gas that you get on gasoline if you use the demand style regulators that have been used for last 30 years. We are talking about the forklift conversion stuff.

Jack Spirko: With propane we lose some, but we don't we don't loose much as natural gas, right?

Steven Harris: That's right. You don't lose anywhere as near as much as you do with natural gas. You can fill a balloon with natural gas and it will float away. Felix Baumgartner is now famous for his flight 220,000 feet for a  space jump, could've actually done that in his balloon on natural gas instead of helium. But his balloon would have had to have been 60,000,000 cubic feet instead of 30,000,000 cubic feet, as natural gas is lighter than air but helium is still lighter. If you fill a balloon with propane, it doesn't float it sinks right to the ground, pretty quickly. Propane is a lot more dense than natural gas and it is a lot more dense than air. In fact, propane has 2.5 times of BTUs per cubic foot than natural gas does but it's still not as dense of gasoline. You get 85% to 90% of energy out of propane generator as you do with a gasoline generator. If you think this is a problem for you and you don't have enough power, then get a bigger generator. It is a small price to pay to have an infinite amount of fuel that will not spoil. One more thing, someone actually wrote me and asked me me this. They asked, "How much energy will 6000 W propane generator out put?"  It is like asking who buried in Grants to this General Grant. If it is at the 6000 W propane generator and it is dedicate to propane, it will out put 6000 W. If it is a conversion, as we are talking about it will be less.


Jack Spirko: That makes perfect sense. We have talk about all these different options. You obviously care about the stuff, because you know all the stuff. With that said, what do you personally own? We know you got that Honda, that is your go to. What else?

Steven Harris: The Honda EU 2000i is my go to generator. It is 2000 W, it's an inverter generator, it is quiet. Mine has a tri-fuel kit on it. I have used it during many power failures. I have run mine off of biogas and doing experiments. It is my favorite. When I would drive around the country, in the future and have a bigger trailer, I am going to use Honda EU 3000i to run the AC in the trailer. The Honda is my favorite. I have other Honda engines like the smaller engines, not the inverter style generator. And the regular frame generators, I got those. I probably have about 6 to 8 of them around the shop. Some are 2-cycles ones from Harbor freight and various s different types that I have used for doing different conversion experiments around the different years. To tell you the truth the only generator I really going to use is the Honda EU 2000i. It is the number one for me and I'm not going to hook up my house to a 240 volt generator and power whole thing. I'm actually going to have a honda sitting outside and I got inverters on my pick up truck. My pick up trucks have dual deep-cycle battery. Which I will talk about in the battery show. I'll run off a combination of battery inverter power and I'll run up combination of power off of my Honda EU 2000i. I'm not going to get a bigger generator. I am not going to backfeed my entire panel. It is just not something I feel I need to do because the majority of my food preparedness this is all shelf stable and doesn't need refrigeration. I can eat everything in my refrigerator by the time it warms up. That's what I, Steve Harris, is doing. The Honda EU line is pretty much the top of the line inverter style generators. If there is anyone out there who makes one of good of the Honda, then it is the Yamaha inverter style generator. I have no end of people with me and said how great this Yamaha is. If you read the feedback on Amazon about it is all five-star feedback. There is very few 4 or 3 stars. There's no 2 or 1 one stars. The Yamaha bit cheaper than the Honda. I got one list up on You can also buy it from by itself. You can buy it already converted to tri-fuel and ready to go. You can buy it and the the kit and install it yourself. Personally if you're going to go buy a $1000 Yamaha generator spend the extra $200 and have them install tri-fuel kit for you and send it to you ready to go. Some of you guys are DIY and you want know how every darn little thing works and you want to install it yourself, that's fine. Get the kit and install it yourself, it's not that hard. That way if something goes wrong you'll understand it even better. Some of you are all about that and so am I. I have one more thing mentioned I know will be an excellent tool and an excellent company. My Honda runs for about six hours, on full load, and a full tank of fuel. This is a bit of a pain so I have an external fuel tank for it. All my friends have the same generator as I do, have this external fuel tank for it. We all run off the external fuel tank for days. Instead of running the Honda for about six hours and having to go off and refuel the think, we have 6 gallon external fuel tank. It plugs directly into the Honda through it's cap, with an adapter. I can run for about 2.5 days on the external 6 gallon tank before I put more fuel into the tank. Since the tank is about 4 feet away from the Honda, you can actually hot fuel it. You can pour more fuel into the tank because it is nowhere near the hot generator or any ignition source. Again, I'm not recommending you do that. Something I saw someone else do.


Jack Spirko: That one makes sense though. I think that makes perfect sense, that if you have that distance  you are a lot safer. As opposed to, the generator got the fuel tank on the top but you are dumping gasoline on top of a hot running machine. You have talked a lot about running natural gas and how we have is infinite supply to our house but that's inside the house. So how do you pull that off?

Steven Harris: Let me backup of one second. I forgot to mention the website. The people at the great external tank is I have no affiliation or anything with them. They have just been such a great company. I had one of the real early fuel tanks and the cap failed. The bleed valve off it just disappeared on me. I called  the guy and asked, "Can you send me a new cap." He said, "Sure." He sent me a whole new darn tank.

Jack Spirko: Oh, wow. That is great.

Steven Harris: That's just the way the guy is. That is why I'm taking time to mention him on TSP, is just because he has been so freaking awesome. How do you look up natural gas to your house, into the generator outside. Oh Lord.... this is about as bad as back feeding your house. It is dangerous. Some of the listeners are going to have a conniption fit over what I have seen other people do. I am not suggesting that you do this. We will also talk about the very legal and very correct way to do this, but want to start off with the most dangerous way first. Natural gas is a lot safer than electricity but people are more scared of it. Maybe it is because they see stories about houses blowing up from a natural gas leaks. People are not scared of propane for some reason, but are scared of natural gas. True, if you let a bunch of natural gas to leak into your house and it gets to the right air fuel ratio and hit the pilot flame of your furnace or your hot water heater or stove. It will blow your house into million pieces but there is an odorant in natural gas to let you know that it is leaking. For it to get to the concentration where it is dangerous, to blow up your house, the order would be so bad you would be puking from the oder, and running out a house like a mad person to get away from the oder , and calling the gas company saying "Come fix this." A bit of natural gas coming out end of a hose outside is not going to be a problem. It is not something you need to be scared of. You can fill up a trash bag and wash it float away into the sky, your kids love it. If you have a problem with doing anything I'm talking about or what other people done. Then get a plumber. Plumbers work on natural gas. Get a plumber in to help you with the natural gas. Even then they might not do what we are going to talk about. Usually you have a main natural gas line running to your house in the 1 inch iron pipe. It will then branch off and go to your furnace and your hot water heater in separate half inch iron pipes. The easiest way to get natural gas to your generator is to go to your hot water heater and turn off the natural gas valve. This'll be the valve someplace on the line going down  to the hot water heater. It is not on the water heater. Turning off the water heater will not turn off the natural gas going to the water heater. You have to turn off natural gas before the water heater. The natural gas line to the water heater generally runs down to the bottom of the hot water heater. On the bottom of the half inch iron pipe is going down to hot water heater you'll find a part of the iron pipe sticking down about 2 or 3 or 4 inches, below where it goes into the water heater. This is for any moister that might be in the natural gas. If it condenses it drips down into that little peice of pipe which caped off. Then it evaporates go back to the gas gets burned up in the burner. This is where you going to tap into. What people have done it after the natural gas is turned off to the water heater, is they unscrew the half inch iron cap from the bottom of this pipe and then screw in a half inch iron pipe T into the bottom. Then they screw in another piece of about 2 inch iron pipe up on the T. Then they put the cap on the bottom of that. Please note, that when you're screwing on these pieces of natural gas pipe you are putting yellow colored natural gas thread sealant tape on all the threads before screwing them on. This prevents any natural gas from getting out of the threads and it will. If you don't know what this is or have not done it, then do not do it. Ask someone, like a plumber to help you. This is where you can make a big mistake and have a natural gas leak in your house, that will make either a big stink or fire and explosion. Now that you have the side of the T come out perpendicular to the pipe, the part of the open toward you, you screw in about 2 inches of half inch iron pipe and using yellow pipe thread sealant. I'm sure you know that you need to use a real pipe wrench to make sure all of these connections are very tight. You cannot make it tight by hand. You can't do it with pair of pliers. You really need a pipe wrench to do it right. You can't make can't make a tight enough seal to do it any other way. You then screw on the half inch natural gas valve to this pipe. Again with yellow thread tape sealant and a pipe wrench. The natural gas valve is available at Home Depot or Lowes, is all about $4. It is brass in color and has a red turn knob handle on it. Make sure you have a turn off when you're putting it on. That would be the knob perpendicular to the line. When the knob is inline to the pipe the gas is flowing. Into the natural gas valve you used thread tape and screw in a half inch NPT brass fitting, that has 3/8 inch hose barb on the other end. This is an off-the-shelf part from Home Depot and it cost about $5. What you've done, is you have put on an iron pipe, a valve, and hose barb to the bottom of your hot water tank natural gas line. You can continue the shop Home Depot or Lowes or go to Harbor freight and get a 3/8 inch airline like what you get for your compressor. They come with the screw connections on each end. Cut them off so you just got the hose. Get either 25 feet, 50 feet, or 100 feet of line. Just enough to go from your water heater, all the way outside where your natural gas generators going to be outside away from your house. You'll put the same 3/8 inch hose barb on your natural gas demand regulator on your generator that is outside, that you are going to plug natural gas line into. You should use hose clamps at both ends, to screw down airline to the hose barb, so no one pulls it loose and startest letting natural gas out. You are wondering if you can run natural gas through an airline. The answer is yes. It's not going to magically move through the skin of the hose and come out. Airline is normally use on 150 pounds per square incH (PSI) air. It's burst rating, the PSI that the line will blowup is usually around 1250 PSI. The natural gas you're running through it is at 4 inches of water column pressure, which equates to 0.15 pounds per square inch of pressure. The airline is overrated by 8000 times to run natural gas through it. Methane or natural gas  molecules which is CH4, is a lot bigger than the molecule of diatomic nitrogen or oxygen that you are breathing right now, or would be in the airline. It's not going to magically slip through. Not even hydrogen is going to slip though the airline, so stop thinking that it will. The reason you don't run airline through your house, instead of iron pipe is because airline can be cut. Just like you have cut off the ends to put on the hose barbs It can be cut and gas is going to leak out. If you got a fire it can melt and then get natural gas fueling the fire. Iron pipe won't do this. Iron pipe is a lot more permanent airline. That's why we are only talking about using the airline in case of a power failure, crap hits the fan, end of the world scenario, cats and dogs living with each other, and all that other nice kind of stuff. A 100 feet is about as far as you're going to go with a 3/8 inch airline with natural gas running through and the pressure of natural gas that in your house. The pressure is real low. I have seen a 40,000 BTUs natural gas run through a 100 foot 3/8 inch airline to 40,000 BTU an hour heater. And it did not have any problems. This would equate to using 1/3 of a gallon of gasoline per hour. Most generators will not use more than that. If you're trying to run a bigger 10,000 W or 20,000 W generator from natural gas, you're going to have to use a bigger line or a shorter line. You'd actually is garden hose and come off your 1 inch line like I described with a 1/2 inch line. If you were going to run something that big. Take my advice I'm going to give you at the end of this section on how do it legally. But that would be the redneck, backwards, Third World, you are probably going to hurt yourself, way of doing it. Here is the big problem. If you have kids, or even a clumsy big oaf of a dog. Think Jack has a few clumsy dogs, don't you?

Jack Spirko:  Yeah, big dogs.

Post by: Hootie on November 28, 2012, 11:09:35 PM

Steven Harris: Yeah, big dogs. They might accidentally hit this valve and turn it on and there won't be anything connected to it. Just the hose barb there. So you got natural gas steadily flowing into your house. You got a big problem there. If you are stuck putting your natural gas airline in that location, next to the floor, low enough so the kids or dog can get to it. Then you are going to have to put in not a natural gas valve, but a bulb valve. It is also sold at Home Depot. It is going to be a half inch ball valve and it will have a long handle on it. About as long as the palm of your hand, 3 inches. Then you have to go to There's Granger stores in every major city. You'll get an accuform ball valve lockout. It's less than $20 and it will let you lock the ball valve to the off position with a padlock so no one can mess with it or accidentally turned it on. That is if you are preparing in this method. The other thing you can do, is if you have a basement is there is usually someplace in your main 1 inch line  or your half inch line, there  will be a T with a plug in it. This is so you can run a gas line to the stove or natural gas dryer or something else. You can turn off natural gas to the house at the meter and unscrew the plug and then screw the natural gas valve and barb, as I had just mentioned. That way it's in the exposed ceiling and little kids can't get up that high to mess with it and the big ones know that if that if they mess with it they will blow the house up. Note, if you know how to turn your natural gas on and off at the meter with a wrench, when you turn it on, turn it on very slowly. Take a good 10 or 15 seconds to open it up. That way the line to your house are pressurized slowly. This is what power company recommends, in fact the the power company says just call them, they will come out and do it. But a lot of you guys want to know how to do this yourself. Keep in mind, that sense you turn off your natural gas to your entire house. If you have a pilot flame in your furnace, hot water heater, or stove you're going to have to go through the process of relighting all those. Again, if you do not done this, do not do it. Ask for help if you are going to do it, and I am not recommending that you do it and neither is Jack. Again this is not something you should be doing. It's dangerous. It is not to code at all. You were probably going to have to talk with the plumber that is friendly to you tell him what you want to do. Have them help you with some of these behind-the-scenes modifications, that could be safer for your situation. Note, none of this will be up to code and it is all a violation of some type. Any plumbers that is going to follow code, will want to run an iron pipe out of the house, with natural gas in it, under the ground to a spot where you would put the generator outside. He will give you a flex line connection to go from the iron pipe, in valve on your generator to the natural gas line. This will be exactly the same type of flex line that goes to your natural gas stove or natural gas dryer. It is sold at Home Depot. That is how you do it to code. That is how you do it correctly. You do it just like you want put in a natural gas barbecue outside your house. This is a something plumbers do all the time. You have a plumber run an iron line and have everything hooked up to code. If you can run a barbecue safely outside, you will be able to run your natural gas generator just as safe outside. This is the way you should be doing it if you're going to have a natural gas generator. I love natural gas generators. If you're serious about long-term power, you what power for more than weeks, you want power for months, you are going to have to look at a natural gas generator. Hooking up your propane to your generator is easier, because the propane pig is outside the house already. You need to turn off the propane pig and T into the line after the pressure regulator. I am saying split the line afte  pressure regulator, with iron pipe, not before the pressure regulator. Then run the propane through an airline, like I mentioned, or a hard iron gas line if you want, to your generator. Make sure it's the low pressure propane that is coming off after the regulator, and not off the tank. You want the same pressure that is going to barbecue grill that is after the regulator. With a propane pig, this can be all outside and none of it inside. Youu can get away with the airline a lot easier. You might still want to put a ball valve on your new T, that is going into your line after your regulator on your propane tanks. And and one of those lock out that I described. That way kids can't open it up and vent all your 500 gallons of propane into the air. And you going to use your generated during emergency or turn on your furnace once times, and like "there is no propane." Again, I'm not suggesting you do any of this. Except for the stuff I mentioned that is legally done by licensed professionals and it's up to code. This is just what I have seen other people do. I am relating relating it to you with all of the safety concerns. If you're going to do the natural gas, get a hard metal line install by plumber, outside of your house. Just like a natural gas barbecue and connect it to your generator with a flex line. Wow Jack, that was a show.

Post by: Hootie on November 28, 2012, 11:28:34 PM

Jack Spirko: Let me add to what you said there, that it isn't that expensive to have gas run like that by plumber. It is the easy and safe way to do it. I imagine it's what you use at your house and it is what you would do.

Steven Harris: Absolutely, I definitely would. Specially with the wife and everything and neighbors and stuff. How about when you move to Texas, Jack? You going to have natural gas when you move to Texas?

Jack Spirko: It will depend on the property that finding. And with what I'm looking at, it will be highly likely that I'll be bring in couple thousand gallon worth of propane because be will be unlikely that I will not have gas access. If I do great, if I don't I will go with the propane.

Steven Harris: Are you going put in a propane generator, like we talked about?

Jack Spirko: Yeah, I probably will. It will probably go little lower on some other things that need to be done initially, because our to have a 6500 W generator. And I have a 1200 W small generator and I have a battery box back up system. It will be probably a 2nd-year project because there are some other hardscaping things on the property that will come in the budget first. But that's a long-term plan, is to put in a generator that can run off of that, that will run whole house, because it is just easier.

Steven Harris: Yeah. If you had natural gas or propane to it, available to you, you would eventually do this?

Jack Spirko: Absolutely

Steven Harris: And I do it, okay. I have natural gas hooked up, such that I can run my generator off of it. Both at my shop and at my house. Like I said before, natural gas burns a lot cleaner and it is a lot easier on the oil. The generator just loves to run off of it. You get a lot less wear. It is a great fuel. It is a wonderful fuel. Don't believe the bad rumors about it out there. That has got me about out of breath, Jack.

Jack Spirko: Alright, I appreciate you doing 2 shows in 2 day, Steve. I think people have a lot to think about. I am sure they will be looking forward to your next appearance.


Steven Harris: Again, everything I talked about I am putting everything on the website so you can see it and links to everything on I have all of my previous TSP shows up there. You can listen everything I have talked about. Most of it will stream directly to your smart phone without downloading. I have buttons up there, so you can download everything directly as well it is a convenient place to go listen to stuff, when you are commuting or working or exercising. I put it up there and made it easy for you. You can also listen to everything  done at Jack's website as well, he has the same thing. I put everything in one spot for you. With that guys, you are wonderful. I have put a lot of work into this show. It is for you guys. I want you to save. I wanted to clear up a lot of rumors. I wanted you to know exactly how do it right. I wanted you to hear about the wrong ways to do it, so you understand it, if you see it or if you see your neighbor doing it wrong. You know to stand back and not mess with it. With that Jack, thanks so much.


Jack Spirko: Steve, again thanks for being here. Folks with that, this have been Jack Spirko today, along with Steven Harris. Helping you to figure out how to live that better life, if times get tough or even if they don't.