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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.

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<intro/housekeeping 0:00 – 3:40>

<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.



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.




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.



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?



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