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How I Did It: Generac Home Backup Generator Installation

How I Did It: Generac Home Backup Generator Installation
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Last Updated: 02 June 2019

Today we put in the new transfer switch for the generator. The transfer switch I had was a 200 Amp manual transfer switch that I used to feed my generator, a Bobcat 225, and that would supply power to the house.

When we lost power, we just flipped the switch, plugged the generator in, and let her rip. But I had to replace this whole panel, including the meter panel, the main breaker and distribution breakers.

Installing the Generac Home Backup Generator

Everything was disconnected, and I got ready to get it off the wall, then I would punch a couple of two-inch holes. We reused the conduits, and I thought that, depending on their length, I might be able to reuse the load wires. The other ones were too short, for sure, but the load wires were just long enough, so I didn’t have to redo those, which was really nice. Power was off, of course, and everything’s been double-checked for safety.

Honestly, this is not the work that I think the average person would do. I have a lot of experience with this sort of thing, so this is really not a big deal to me, as I have many years of working in high voltage situations and with big industrial stuff. Therefore, this is not unfamiliar to me. But I don’t advise you to do it, unless you have good knowledge and maybe some experience, or unless you have somebody who does have that to help you with it.

Anyway, I will try to describe the process, so that this could come in handy. It took quite a few hours, probably, to get all this done. First, we got the panel punched. I got some knockout punches too, of course, to put the holes in, and we got that done and got this thing mounted up. Afterward, we did the wires.

We got the old panel off, and the wire stripped out of the conduit, measured and pre-drilled where the conduits need to go. Then we had to drill a 3/8 hole in there, then punch with a half-inch conduit punch, and afterward punch with a 2-inch conduit punch. A half inch Conduit punch is to make a big enough hole for the larger punch, which has a larger arbor. There are chunks that come out of it for the large conduit punch.

That’s all there is to the transfer panel: we have a 200 Amp breaker. Now, the utility feed will come in and attach through the 200 Amp breaker, and then the relay has a manual means of operating. You put a little bar in there, and you can flip the switch down, but that’s to solenoid coils, and it’s already connected here bus-wise.

Then you have the electronics to sense the voltage and for the generators to start. You should also have a neutral bar and the ground bar already bonded together. At the bottom of the relay, there are two connections that go to your load, and then there are two other connections – a little clip thing that comes off.

Anyway, the two connections on the top are for the generator, where the generator hookup is. There are two nuts – these are the load wires, so they’ll go from the bottom down here, and they go up here to the distribution. These are very tight bends in a very confined space, so we’re going to be able to reuse those. We’ll get them bent down and around and coming up in there.

We’ve got all this hooked up, as far as the primary goes. No generator, of course – I already mentioned that. But we had everything turned on, both mains were on, and everything was energized. I then got a couple of wires to stuff in. The old generator wire would then become our 220 receptacle. Then you should have the panels all back and covers back on.

This is a Generac unit. The generator has got eleven Kilowatts and stands right next to it. We just got to hook up the conduit and the wires for that, and it was ready to roll.

I went and rounded up the wire and a few conduit fittings and stuff, I got the conduit in, and then I ran the wires. Good things terminated, I put the battery in the generator and hoped that it’s gonna run. The conduit is a one-inch EMT that goes into the bottom of the box. It put it down around, snaked it behind, and placed that piece of flex right up into the generator. Pretty simple, except for doing all those bends in one piece was a little tricky – but still got it done.

I put the wire snake in and fish the wires through; I got them cut to an approximate length, and run them all in at once. I got my conductors all hooked together and taped. I kind of staggered them a bit, I think, so I could push that through without even snaking it. It’s not a very big bundle, and only a couple bends in here, so I thought that maybe I could just push on through. I tried that, and it was pretty easy. After I figured there should be plenty, I made sure my two lone ones reach up in the top, and the two shorter ones go in the bottom, then I was all good-to-go.

About the Generator

So just a little recap, here so with the electrical. I’ve got a Generac generator. They seem to be very well built and are fairly easy to install – their instructions are pretty good, so it wasn’t too hard, as far as all that goes. Mine’s an 11 Kilowatt unit with a full transfer panel – 200 Amp transfers with my whole service to everything.

I did all the tests in the installation manual. They say this is tested with a full load of 45 Amps. If I turn everything on I can’t get that, and I did get it up to 19 amps with a few lathes running, grinders running and things like that. So we’re probably never going even get to 20 amps here. We’ve even had the washing machine and a dryer running, so I’d be pretty lucky even to get that far. Also, during a power outage, we’re not gonna be doing anything big, as far as machinery goes, but if I wanted I could run everything in the shop.

The biggest thing I have in the shop, horsepower-wise, is my air compressor, and that’s five-horse. I have not tried it yet, but I don’t see a problem with that. As long as I don’t have too much other stuff on at the same time, this unit could handle everything we need plus more, so I’m pretty happy with that.

FAQ

Let’s do a little recap and answer some questions that people usually have when it comes to generators. First, for mine, I installed a valve. I didn’t check if I needed it, but I just did it. It’s an easy thing to do. The other concern was installing a dirt trap in my gasoline tank, but right inside the generator, there is a built-in dirt trap already (or sediment trap, or whatever you want to call it). I also intend to get it all painted. Black iron would be just fine outside – it takes two lifetimes for it to rust away. Plus, where I live we don’t have a lot of rain, it’s, actually, very dry here in the summer, so the rusting is usually very minimal.

When I Run the Unit, It Is Very Quiet

The green lights are on, telling it’s in full-automatic mode. The unit has got key lock latches – one on each end – it has shock absorbers or a spring tension or something, so it opens really nice and easy. The control panel is accessible, and everything’s serviceable. Also, the front panel just pops right off. On the left side, you have the oil filter, and the oil fill dipstick is in the top. It’s really easy to get to the main breaker – 50 amps right here on top. On the other side, there is a control panel.

As a test, I turned the breaker off, and then I manually started it. It got a bit loud, but only because the lead was open. The exhaust is on the far end, on the backside. This is a pretty nice unit, and I think it’s well worth it. Two to four times a year, depending on the season, it’s really nice that we always have electricity, without having to go out or do anything. This automatically comes in, and the transfer is done within about 30 seconds.

If you think about getting one of these, know, that it’s well worth it. It’s also not that hard to install. You can probably install one of these in two or three days.

A Lot of People Ask About the Accumulator

No, the accumulator is probably not necessary. It’s just that in the wintertime when it’s cold, it gives you an extra volume of gas to help in starting – that’s all it does. Most people around here put one in. You could build it with just pipe fittings – not a big deal. It could help a little bit, especially when it’s cold, having that extra volume of gas right there. My regulators are all appropriately sized to handle this, and the furnace and everything is good, so I’m pretty happy with it. Like I said, Generac!

In the End

By the way, I bought this unit, so this is not a paid advertisement, but I’ll say they have some good stuff. It is nice looking, it’s quiet, and it runs well. I have quite a few friends that have one of these, and they pretty much had trouble-free service for years. Gonna be pretty happy with it here. Anyway, I hope this review helps you to choose the right thing for you!

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