singlecoil
Hello all,

I recently purchased a new 5518 8kw generator and am attempting to get the thing to run.
I have switched it to LP, and used 1/2 inch black iron pipe for the approximately 20 foot run from my regulator. The regulator is rated for 350,000 BTU, so that should be plenty. The generator cranks, but won't start. The propane company is coming out tomorrow with a manometer to make sure I'm getting 10-12 inches of water column pressure. I checked for leaks when I assembled the pipe, and didn't see any. I also tested the fuel solenoid at it is getting 12v when the generator is cranking.
Here are some pictures of my setup:








The other issue that I have is that I want to hook this thing up to run on a manual transfer switch. My panel has a simple manual transfer switch in it that I would like to use. That way I can power any circuit in the house and don't have to deal with the expense of wiring in a sub panel. We only lose power every other year or so and the most important thing I need to power is the well, followed by the septic pump. Here is what my panel looks like.


The issue I've run into with this is that I don't have N1 and N2 lines run to the generator. I was thinking that wouldn't matter, but I've come to discover that it won't do its exercise unless it is left in Auto and if I leave it in Auto with N1 and N2 not hooked up, the thing will attempt to start as it thinks the utility power has failed. I definitely want the auto exercise feature to work so I was thinking I could just fool it into thinking that utility power is present. Since I have 120V power running into the generator to power the battery charger, I could just wire nut two wires off of that, put in-line fuses in them for safety, and run those wires to N1 and N2. That way the generator will be able to run its exercise program. The downside of this is that when I do lose power, the generator will start and run by itself since the line powering the battery charger would lose power. If I just threw the breakers so that the generator was powering the house, the generator would then shut itself back off since power would be back on the battery charger line. So, in this case I would have to put the generator in manual mode, then throw the breakers to power the house.
I thought it would be really clever to hook up an inverter to the battery in the generator, then take the 120V lines off the inverter to run to N1 and N2. That way, the generator would never auto start, even when the utility power failed. I could just go out, start it in manual mode, then throw the transfer switch. Unfortunately when I hook the inverter up to the generator's battery, I can only get 104V out of it, not 120V. I think this is due to the fact that the battery charger is keeping the battery at 13.5 V instead of 12V. The inverters are calibrated for 12V car batteries so I think it is getting thrown off at 13.5 V.
So can anyone think of any problems of hooking up the 120V line that runs to the battery charger to N1 and N2?

Thanks!
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Skip Douglas SkipD
I didn't have time to read all the details, but the first thing that hit me was the location of the generator. [B]YOU SHOULD MOVE IT IMMEDIATELY to a [U]safe[/U] location prior to running it[/B]. The exhaust is right under your windows. That is very dangerous, as exhaust vapors could get into the house and kill people. NFPA 37 has some very specific clearance distances to openings in an occupied building that must be followed.

You should move the generator to the spot presently occupied by the LP tanks and move the tanks to the right.

Wiring the generator properly is the only way to get it to run properly. The N1/N2 wiring is NOT 120VAC but 240VAC. They are connected to the two "hot" wires coming into your house from the electric utility.

More to come I'm sure. There are several codes that must be adhered to for safety when installing a generator.
Skip Douglas
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singlecoil
Thanks for the concern on the placement. That is actually my garage that the generator is outside of. The propane company said the tanks had to be 10 feet from a window (I think), so that is where the tanks ended up. On the back side of the garage around the corner is the only other place it could go, but that would be putting it directly under the fresh air intake of my furnace. Those windows are never opened so I'm really not concerned about that, but thanks.

As for the power, 240V wiring is just 2 120V hot wires. So the N1 is a 120V wire, and the N2 is a 120V wire. Together, they are combined inside the controller to make 240V. But they really only exist to monitor the utility power.
To make sure my theory was correct, I removed the cover of my panel and very carefully measured the voltage of the two large hot wires coming in from the utility. They are each 120V. I guess someone could slap a voltmeter on their N1's and N2's to be sure, but I can't figure out what else they possible could be. So I'm going to go with the idea of using the 120V wire powering the battery charger, taking two leads off that, putting fuses on each lead with a 2 amp fuse on each, and connecting those to N1 and N2. Then N1 and N2 would each have a 120V connection, just as they would if they were wired to an automatic transfer switch. Again, this is only to get the auto exercise feature working. I will be doing manual switching to power the house. I'm thinking the current draw would be extremely low as the wiring diagram calls for 18 AWG wire. I'll be using the fuses just to be extra careful.

Now if I can just get the thing to start....
I'm really hoping my propane pressure is too low and that it can be easily adjusted.
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Skip Douglas SkipD
Sorry to sound a bit brusque regarding the location relative to windows, but it was not obvious in the photos that it wasn't an "inhabited" room behind the windows. I hope you understand my concern.

To the electrical stuff.....

Merely using a single 120VAC branch circuit feed which goes to service, in this case, the charger will not suffice for the N1/N2 feed. The 120VAC branch circuit consists of a single "hot" lead and a "neutral" lead.

You need [U]both sides[/U] of the utility service's 240V feed (two "hot" leads 180° out of phase of each other) to go to the generator's N1 and N2 terminals. You should [U]not[/U] involve a neutral connection in the N1/N2 wiring. You could tap into an existing dual-breaker that supplies 240V to other circuits in the house.

If you don't want the generator to run automatically during a power failure, you could merely keep the auto/off/manual switch in the generator in the "off" position.

You should periodically run the generator (emulating the timed exercise cycle) by occasionally putting the switch into the "manual" position to keep the engine's interior surfaces lubricated and to make sure it runs properly.

I don't recognize what you are calling a "simple manual transfer switch" in the breaker panel in your photo. A transfer switch MUST be a device that positively prohibits any possibility of cross-connecting utility power and the generator power. There are manual transfer switches available, but I don't think you have one - at least not in your photographs.

To properly do a "whole house" generator installation, you need a proper transfer switch assembly that has places to wire in the utility power and the generator power. This unit should have a full-service-rated breaker for the utility power becomes the "primary disconnect" for the utility power. The same type of equipment should be present for the generator side. The output of the transfer switch contactor would then be wired to your breaker panel, replacing the original utility power connections to the panel.

There are quite a few very important National Electrical Code items that need to be followed for this sort of installation. For example, if you wire things as I described above, the main breaker panel no longer is the "primary disconnect" for the utility power. This requires all "equipment ground" connections (green or bare wires) to be completely separated from "neutral" connections (white wires), even though they may be connected to the same terminal strips now. The list goes on....
Skip Douglas
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WB5CCO
Examining the photo of his breaker panel, it appears the Main and top right braker are configured whereas when the Main is on, the top right breaker is forced off and, when the top right breaker is switched on, the Main is forced off.
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singlecoil
WB5CCO;2629 wrote:
Examining the photo of his breaker panel, it appears the Main and top right braker are configured whereas when the Main is on, the top right breaker is forced off and, when the top right breaker is switched on, the Main is forced off.


That is exactly how it works, I could post a closeup if that would help.
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singlecoil
SkipD;2628 wrote:
Sorry to sound a bit brusque regarding the location relative to windows, but it was not obvious in the photos that it wasn't an "inhabited" room behind the windows. I hope you understand my concern.



I absolutely do and I appreciate it.
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ohmslaw
Singlecoil
Pull the air filter cover off and try to cover the intake hole for a few seconds as the generator tries to start. This may get it going.
Tim
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Rail Dawg
I had to replace my 1/2" NG pipe with a 1" pipe with a run of about 25 feet. The generator would not idle until I replaced the line. It would start but it was very rough.

I still need to measure the water column to ensure my flow is good. I have a 5242 13000 watt Guardian.

Good luck.

Chuck
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WB5CCO
Many propane gas suppliers will run the high pressure line from the tank to a point next to the generator where they install their regulator.
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singlecoil
Well the propane guy came out and it measured 11 inches of pressure at the generator, and more significantly, 11 inches of pressure immediately downstream of the solenoid. He pulled the bottom pressure tap screw, the one just above the large opening in this photo. That measured 11 inches only when the engine was cranking. I then pulled the other end of the black fuel hose that runs from this to the air box and cranked the engine. There doesn't seem to be any fuel coming out of it. That seems to indicate the unit in the picture is bad. It looks fairly easy to pull and the plate just has screws covering it. How hard is it to change out the diaphragm, or test the diaphragm?
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singlecoil
Update:

I had a warranty repair guy out to look at it and he ended up ordering the thing in the picture, I can't remember what it is called. Hopefully that will do the trick.
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singlecoil
Update:

I had the diaphragm gas valve unit replaced and it fired right up. The pressure and pipe sizing were all good.
As for wiring it for a manual switch, I figured that out as well. I just had to let it spin around in the brain for a while after I got the whole phase concept down. Basically, I needed to be able to leave the switch in auto to get the thing to do it's weekly exercise. To be able to do that, you have to have 240V power hooked up to it, otherwise it thinks there is a power loss and will fire up.

I ended up putting in a new 15 amp 240V breaker in my panel that hooks straight up to the N1 and N2 240V sense on the generac. To be safe, I put 2 amp inline fuses on each line (N1 and N2) before they contacted the generac. I measured the actual amps and it was only .1 mA. There is no work being done on that line, it is merely sensing voltage.
So now, I can leave the switch in auto and when power fails, the generator starts automatically. I then go to the garage, open the panel and do the following: turn off the gen sense circuit mentioned above, turn off utility power, turn off unnecessary circuits, move my mechanical lockout up, and flip the generator input breaker. I don't have to touch the generator itself at all, and I can decide which circuits to power. If I'm careful of what is on and what isn't, I can power every circuit but my heatpump. I can use my electric stove, just not all 4 elements at once. Almost every lightbulb in the house is a CFL so that helps as well.
I have pictures if anyone is interested but I think that sums it up.
Thanks for the feedback.
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Skip Douglas SkipD
I have a suggestion: Since the generator won't shut off when utility power is restored, consider adding an alarm circuit (audible or visual indicator or both) that will tell you when the utility power is restored. Otherwise, you'll possibly be running the generator more than you need to.

Use a small relay and a "silence" button to turn off the alarm after power is back, and the alarm will automatically be set to go off when you again lose power. If you need, I can send you a little circuit diagram for the alarm/silence circuit that would be functionally similar what we use all the time in industrial control systems.
Skip Douglas
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singlecoil
SkipD;2917 wrote:
I have a suggestion: Since the generator won't shut off when utility power is restored, consider adding an alarm circuit (audible or visual indicator or both) that will tell you when the utility power is restored. Otherwise, you'll possibly be running the generator more than you need to.

Use a small relay and a "silence" button to turn off the alarm after power is back, and the alarm will automatically be set to go off when you again lose power. If you need, I can send you a little circuit diagram for the alarm/silence circuit that would be functionally similar what we use all the time in industrial control systems.


That would be fantastic! That's the only part of this puzzle I don't have figured out. My only idea up to now is to have the neighbors call when the power comes back on, or periodically go out and flip the switches to see if it back. It would have to be before my main breaker as that is off to run the generator. I'm not sure how I could hook anything to those wires without killing myself, however.

Thanks.
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Skip Douglas SkipD
singlecoil;2919 wrote:
That would be fantastic! That's the only part of this puzzle I don't have figured out. My only idea up to now is to have the neighbors call when the power comes back on, or periodically go out and flip the switches to see if it back. [B]It would have to be before my main breaker as that is off to run the generator.[/B] I'm not sure how I could hook anything to those wires without killing myself, however.
I hadn't thought of that part, as I forgot how your "manual transfer switch" works.

Even though I have a copy of the [I]2008 National Electric Code[/I], I'm not sure if you can - within the code - hook up a sampling circuit ahead of the primary disconnect. If connecting the circuit ahead of the primary disconnect would be legal, I'm would guess that it would have to be fused to isolate the circuit in the event of a short, etc.

Can any of the licenced electricians give us a read on this issue? All we need connected to the utility power source is a relay coil via a contact or two.
Skip Douglas
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singlecoil
Just a quick update:
It turns out I have a digital power meter that is completely blank when the utility power is down, and has numbers on it when utility power is up. During an outage, I just go out every few hours and look at the meter to see if utility power is back up or not. We've had one 12 hour outage this winter and my generator ran the whole house like a champ. It started automatically, then I just had to throw some switches on the breaker panel and I was set. Thanks for the help.
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Ira
SkipD;2921 wrote:
I hadn't thought of that part, as I forgot how your "manual transfer switch" works.

Even though I have a copy of the [I]2008 National Electric Code[/I], I'm not sure if you can - within the code - hook up a sampling circuit ahead of the primary disconnect. If connecting the circuit ahead of the primary disconnect would be legal, I'm would guess that it would have to be fused to isolate the circuit in the event of a short, etc.

Can any of the licenced electricians give us a read on this issue? All we need connected to the utility power source is a relay coil via a contact or two.


I know the above post is kinda old, but I just saw it. I'm not an electrician, but I believe NEC 230.82 specifies what kind of taps can be made on the line side of the service disconnect. I found the list somewhere when I was researching whether or not my installer broke the NEC code when he put the genset battery charger hot wire on one of the line side lugs.
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MASTERTECH-MW
Mastertech

WB5CCO;2638 wrote:
Many propane gas suppliers will run the high pressure line from the tank to a point next to the generator where they install their regulator.


I have found gas line size and flex with no type of kink whatsoever. Also put a gas trap in your pipe.
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