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Anyone know how to ground a portable generator?

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Posted: 4/27/2011 1:44 PM

Anyone know how to ground a portable generator? 


((Changed subject line--new question))


I have a KingCraft portable generator I bought a few years ago, and have never operated it.  Last summer I took it out of the box at a campsite that I was going to use and realized I had no oil for it, so I did not operate it. 

Threw away the box, and, I guess, the owner's manual that came with it.  So now I'm trying to search for an owner's manual online for it, and so far, without any luck.

Someone told me I should use regular 10w-30 or 5w-30 motor oil, change it every 20 hours, and be good, but I'd really like to make sure I don't mess it up.  Our power went out for four hours this morning due to the storms, and the bad storms are supposed to be hitting this afternoon, so I'd like to be semi-prepared for a loss of power.  It's a small generator, 6.5 hp, 2500/3250 watts, but better than nothing.

Last edited 4/28/2011 9:02 PM by Darrell KSR

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Posted: 4/27/2011 2:04 PM

Re: Anyone know type oil to go into a KingCraft portable 


considering you'd most likely be using it in the winter time, I would use a 5w30. 5w30 would be better for colder weather because it's thinner. From my experience anything that requires 10w30 will do just as good or better with 5w30 but some things that require 5w30 don't do so well on 10w30 because it's too thick.

Last edited 4/27/2011 2:07 PM by bigbluemold

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Posted: 4/27/2011 2:59 PM

Re: Anyone know type oil to go into a KingCraft portable 


I just buy regular ol' 30 weight, four cycle engine oil in mine.
The sleeping giant is awakening.  

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Posted: 4/28/2011 1:21 PM

Re: Anyone know type oil to go into a KingCraft portable generat 


Thanks, guys.

Fortunately, I am with power today--and good health for my family, spared from the tornados yesterday and aftermath. I am prepared for a power outage now.

My, how small that inconvenience of being temporarily without power seems today.
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Posted: 4/28/2011 9:04 PM

Re: Anyone know how to ground a portable generator? 


New question--buddy of mine who lives in Fultondale and has no power just borrowed my generator--which I still have not used. We were reading the manual together and didn't understand step # 3, which related to grounding the generator.

It LOOKED like he needed to go buy a grounding wire??? And then attach it to a nut on the generator and stick it in the ground? Is there something specific he should do? Anything that he would already have at home that he could use?

He's slightly behind me in computer knowledge and engine expertise, if that tells you anything.
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Posted: 4/28/2011 9:23 PM

Re: Anyone know how to ground a portable generator? 


I don't believe you need to ground it. We have 2 portable generators. I just pull the cord on one or turn the key on the other. 

You do know how to run the generator into your house via the dryer plug, right?

Haters_midget

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Posted: 4/28/2011 9:26 PM

Re: Anyone know how to ground a portable generator? 


I've never heard of anyone externally grounding a portable generator.  Crank it up in an open (non enclosed) area, and run an extension cord to whatever appliances you intend to feed current.  And don't plug in more than your generator can supply.

  According to one post I read, the owners manual may say run a wire from the grounding bolt on the back of the generator to a rod stuck in the ground but I don't think it necessary.  Likely a warranty breaker thougth.

Whole house generators are another matter.

This guy knows it all  :)
http://www.dannylipford.com/vi...nerator-safely/
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends"
...MLK


Last edited 4/28/2011 9:36 PM by Kingcat

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Posted: 4/28/2011 10:03 PM

Re: Anyone know how to ground a portable generator? 


Sounds like a CYA addition by the manufacturer.  I wouldn't worry about it.
The sleeping giant is awakening.  

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Posted: 4/28/2011 10:13 PM

Re: Anyone know how to ground a portable generator? 


Grounding is pretty easy to do in a situation like this so why risk it.

Take a ~3ft or so metal rod and embed it in the ground. Attach a wire on the end sticking out of the ground and run it to the bolt. For a whole house setup, you NEED to ground the generator because otherwise, there will be a voltage differential between the neutral and the safety ground on any of the sockets. This can cause huge safety issues. Usually, lowes/home depot would be the first stop for something like this but I doubt that is an option right now.

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% what you make of it.

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Posted: 4/28/2011 11:37 PM

Re: Anyone know how to ground a portable generator? 


Nope, and don't want to go that far with it.  Using it to plug something into is fine, but I don't want to wire it into something in the house.  That sounds dangerous in the wrong hands (and I *am* the wrong hands).

Doc wrote: I don't believe you need to ground it. We have 2 portable generators. I just pull the cord on one or turn the key on the other. 

You do know how to run the generator into your house via the dryer plug, right?
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Posted: 4/28/2011 11:39 PM

Re: Anyone know how to ground a portable generator? 


Interestingly, I relayed this info to my buddy and he gave me a call immediately thereafter to tell me he had electricity--the Alabama Power type, not the generator type. He's hanging onto it just in case it's a temporary fix--where he lives, they were hit hard, and he was near-shocked they had power back so quickly.
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Posted: 4/29/2011 3:30 PM

Re: Anyone know how to ground a portable generator? 



Darrell KSR wrote: Nope, and don't want to go that far with it.  Using it to plug something into is fine, but I don't want to wire it into something in the house.  That sounds dangerous in the wrong hands (and I *am* the wrong hands).

Doc wrote: I don't believe you need to ground it. We have 2 portable generators. I just pull the cord on one or turn the key on the other. 

You do know how to run the generator into your house via the dryer plug, right?
Its actually very simple.

Turn off the power to the house (is a breaker when the power comes into the house---its outside).  Throw all the breakers in your breaker box to OFF. Find the one to the Dryer and turn it on. Now unplug your dryer and plug the generator into the Dryer socket. Start the generator...power is now flowing from your generator into the house and to the breaker panel thru your dryer plug (think of it as the electricity is going backwards) but no farther since all the breakers are on the "off" position. Now turn on what you want by throwing those breakers to those appliances. Using this method allows you to power stuff you can't unplug such as your refrig/freezer (if they are built in) or in my case, the well water pump which is hard wired and hence has no plug. Example: if you throw the breaker to your refrig the power will go from the box to the refrig. Keep in mind the generator will only supply so much so don't try to run your entire house. We have a big generator hard wired in but is uses the same technique (we have a breaker labelled "GENERATOR" that is always in the "off" position). When we lose power we shut off the outside breaker, start the generator and then throw that breaker to the "on" position. Even with our big generator (4 feet by 2 feet by 3 feet) we can only run so much. Usually one A/C, the Frig, the lights, the water and Television/entertainment stuff. If we need to cook then its ONLY the stove (no AC, no TV and only a couple lights). Its a bit like GREEN ACRES.  

When the power returns (you won't know it in your house because you have thrown the supply breaker however your neighbors now have power), you unplug your generator first (before re-establishing power by throwing the outside breaker). Put all the breakers in your breaker box to "OFF". Throw the outside breaker to on and then turn your breakers in your box back to the "on" position.

Haters_midget

Last edited 4/29/2011 3:39 PM by Doc

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Posted: 4/29/2011 9:44 PM

Re: Anyone know how to ground a portable generator? 


Doc, those are perfect instructions.  The most important part is turning the outside breaker off.  It is a breaker that is installed downstream of the meter base.  That breaker may be a common install in FL, but it is not in KY.  It is generally done as a retrofit, to allow for safe usage of generators.

If that breaker is not turned off, then the generator is feeding the line that comes to your house.  If the current goes to the transformer, then the voltage is stepped UP in reverse of what normally happens and the 240 volt current that is provided by the generator is boosted to 4,000 volts. Many electrical repairmen have been killed when coming into contact with the 4,000 volts in a line they "knew" was dead.
seeya
dan

Used to be these pinball machines that paid off. They had a big sticker, though, that said, "for entertainment purposes only". Message boards should have such a sticker.
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Posted: 4/30/2011 11:20 AM

Re: Anyone know how to ground a portable generator? 


Sounds like this is a bit of a moot discussion, but for sake of future reference.....

 

Darrell it depends on the generator afaik.  Some may have  ground fault detection which means it may test to see if it is grounded or not and may not function if it thinks there is no ground. I haven't worked with one that does that but I wouldn't be surprised in a world so obsessed with safety.  All of mine over the years have worked without grounding, but it's never a bad idea if it has a grounding option.

 

Either way grounding it is simple and I'm with Pedro 100% on this one (as with most everything he posts). Grounding it through the house is really the same as grounding it directly, and it is literally getting a metal rod into the ground.  A lot of houses used to ground on the water pipes,  but new code in a lot of places requires a dedicated grounding rod, usually copper.   For my money I think grounding it direct is easier, lower risk and more verifiable.  As Dan said, if you can't turn the house system into a completely closed one you have issues, and honestly a lot of houses may not be properly grounded anyway.  I've seen more than one with a ground to a water pipe that has come loose, the pipe was disconnected when replumbed, the grounding wire is a pitiful little piece of wire that is corroded on the pipe etc.  If you self-contain the house system but the grounding is inadequate you haven't grounded it at all.

 

In a pinch get a piece of rebar and any conducting wire will work.   I'd use copper grounding rod and copper wire, but I love copper, and if options are limited any grounding circuit is better than none in this case.  I'd use either a #6 (roughly 50A load) or lower wire, again preferably copper.  Gauge numbers are inverse to their width and thus load capacity. A 14 gauge wire, stock for a household 15Amp circuit, is much thinner than a 6 gauge.  I ran 4 for my 50A convection oven, but I run one gauge bigger for about everything.   I have some 00 laying around.  You can build bridges out of it. (once you get to #1, it goes 0, 00, 000, 0000.  I guess they needed bigger gauges and had already counted to one).

 

In a pinch multiple strands of smaller wire will add to load just as if they were a bigger wire, so a few  strands of 14 is a fine solution as well.  In an emergency situation it sounds morbid but in all the destruction there's bound to be household wiring lying around.

 

Anyway, any home depot type place will have the wire and probably the grounding rod and for sure the rebar if they are an option.  Drive the rod in the ground, a foot will do but a few feet is plenty, attach the copper wire (a clamp would be nice but tying it around the thing will work in a pinch), and connect the wire to a grounding point on the generator.  I'm assuming if it says to ground it they provided a place to attach a ground wire.

 

I'm guessing the newer smaller ones are double insulated to avoid electrocution on the frame of the generator.  This is why new tools suck versus old ones. They don't use all metal cases in part to avoid electrocution in case of a short that contacts the metal casing.  Also b/c they're just cheaper, but part is the electrical risk.

 

 

Everyone gets everything he wants.  

Last edited 4/30/2011 11:27 AM by CitizenBBN

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Posted: 4/30/2011 11:31 AM

Re: Anyone know how to ground a portable generator? 


Oh, forgot to mention you can ground to a water pipe if you have one to tie to.  Technically you can ground to a gas pipe, but it's seriously not recommended. Honestly I doubt there's much chance of an issue b/c it would need a spark in an oxygenated environment to ignite but if it did you'd be sorry. lol.

Everyone gets everything he wants.  

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Posted: 4/30/2011 12:39 PM

Re: Anyone know how to ground a portable generator? 



CitizenBBN wrote: Oh, forgot to mention you can ground to a water pipe if you have one to tie to.  Technically you can ground to a gas pipe, but it's seriously not recommended. Honestly I doubt there's much chance of an issue b/c it would need a spark in an oxygenated environment to ignite but if it did you'd be sorry. lol.

Reminded me of the old gas stove appliance repair joke 

Guy unsuccesfully jumps from a plane and sees a do-it-yourself'er rocketing into the air beside him so he asks   "Know anything 'bout parachutes?, 
The ascending guy responds..nope, know anything bout gas stoves?..
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends"
...MLK


Last edited 4/30/2011 12:41 PM by Kingcat

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Posted: 4/30/2011 2:03 PM

Re: Anyone know how to ground a portable generator? 



PedroDaGr8 wrote: Grounding is pretty easy to do in a situation like this so why risk it.

Take a ~3ft or so metal rod and embed it in the ground. Attach a wire on the end sticking out of the ground and run it to the bolt. For a whole house setup, you NEED to ground the generator because otherwise, there will be a voltage differential between the neutral and the safety ground on any of the sockets. This can cause huge safety issues. Usually, lowes/home depot would be the first stop for something like this but I doubt that is an option right now.
When I use mine here at home I ground the generator to my house's ground rod.  You can get a ground rod clamp at any hardware store, Lowe's, Home Depot, etc.  I recommend going with a solid #8 size copper wire for the ground for a generator.


 

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Posted: 4/30/2011 2:08 PM

Re: Anyone know how to ground a portable generator? 



Doc wrote:
Darrell KSR wrote: Nope, and don't want to go that far with it.  Using it to plug something into is fine, but I don't want to wire it into something in the house.  That sounds dangerous in the wrong hands (and I *am* the wrong hands).

Doc wrote: I don't believe you need to ground it. We have 2 portable generators. I just pull the cord on one or turn the key on the other. 

You do know how to run the generator into your house via the dryer plug, right?
Its actually very simple.

Turn off the power to the house (is a breaker when the power comes into the house---its outside).  Throw all the breakers in your breaker box to OFF. Find the one to the Dryer and turn it on. Now unplug your dryer and plug the generator into the Dryer socket. Start the generator...power is now flowing from your generator into the house and to the breaker panel thru your dryer plug (think of it as the electricity is going backwards) but no farther since all the breakers are on the "off" position. Now turn on what you want by throwing those breakers to those appliances. Using this method allows you to power stuff you can't unplug such as your refrig/freezer (if they are built in) or in my case, the well water pump which is hard wired and hence has no plug. Example: if you throw the breaker to your refrig the power will go from the box to the refrig. Keep in mind the generator will only supply so much so don't try to run your entire house. We have a big generator hard wired in but is uses the same technique (we have a breaker labelled "GENERATOR" that is always in the "off" position). When we lose power we shut off the outside breaker, start the generator and then throw that breaker to the "on" position. Even with our big generator (4 feet by 2 feet by 3 feet) we can only run so much. Usually one A/C, the Frig, the lights, the water and Television/entertainment stuff. If we need to cook then its ONLY the stove (no AC, no TV and only a couple lights). Its a bit like GREEN ACRES.  

When the power returns (you won't know it in your house because you have thrown the supply breaker however your neighbors now have power), you unplug your generator first (before re-establishing power by throwing the outside breaker). Put all the breakers in your breaker box to "OFF". Throw the outside breaker to on and then turn your breakers in your box back to the "on" position.
Not all main breakers are on the outside of the home, lots of them are located in the home.  In a breaker box the main is easy to spot, it will be labeled main and usually have a 200 Amp or 100 Amp label on it. 

You can also add a breaker to your box and use a plug outdoors where it is more accessible to your generator.


 

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Posted: 4/30/2011 2:16 PM

Re: Anyone know how to ground a portable generator? 



KeithKSR wrote:
Doc wrote:
Darrell KSR wrote: Nope, and don't want to go that far with it.  Using it to plug something into is fine, but I don't want to wire it into something in the house.  That sounds dangerous in the wrong hands (and I *am* the wrong hands).

Doc wrote: I don't believe you need to ground it. We have 2 portable generators. I just pull the cord on one or turn the key on the other. 

You do know how to run the generator into your house via the dryer plug, right?
Its actually very simple.

Turn off the power to the house (is a breaker when the power comes into the house---its outside).  Throw all the breakers in your breaker box to OFF. Find the one to the Dryer and turn it on. Now unplug your dryer and plug the generator into the Dryer socket. Start the generator...power is now flowing from your generator into the house and to the breaker panel thru your dryer plug (think of it as the electricity is going backwards) but no farther since all the breakers are on the "off" position. Now turn on what you want by throwing those breakers to those appliances. Using this method allows you to power stuff you can't unplug such as your refrig/freezer (if they are built in) or in my case, the well water pump which is hard wired and hence has no plug. Example: if you throw the breaker to your refrig the power will go from the box to the refrig. Keep in mind the generator will only supply so much so don't try to run your entire house. We have a big generator hard wired in but is uses the same technique (we have a breaker labelled "GENERATOR" that is always in the "off" position). When we lose power we shut off the outside breaker, start the generator and then throw that breaker to the "on" position. Even with our big generator (4 feet by 2 feet by 3 feet) we can only run so much. Usually one A/C, the Frig, the lights, the water and Television/entertainment stuff. If we need to cook then its ONLY the stove (no AC, no TV and only a couple lights). Its a bit like GREEN ACRES.  

When the power returns (you won't know it in your house because you have thrown the supply breaker however your neighbors now have power), you unplug your generator first (before re-establishing power by throwing the outside breaker). Put all the breakers in your breaker box to "OFF". Throw the outside breaker to on and then turn your breakers in your box back to the "on" position.
Not all main breakers are on the outside of the home, lots of them are located in the home.  In a breaker box the main is easy to spot, it will be labeled main and usually have a 200 Amp or 100 Amp label on it. 

You can also add a breaker to your box and use a plug outdoors where it is more accessible to your generator.

The code here calls for all main breakers to be located inside  Anyone remember the old main fuses we once had to change out evey once in a while?
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends"
...MLK


Last edited 4/30/2011 2:16 PM by Kingcat

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Posted: 4/30/2011 2:45 PM

Re: Anyone know how to ground a portable generator? 



Kingcat wrote:

The code here calls for all main breakers to be located inside  Anyone remember the old main fuses we once had to change out evey once in a while?

My in-laws' home had the old fuse style box until I upgraded it with a 200 amp service about 15 years ago.


 

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Posted: 5/1/2011 12:42 AM

Re: Anyone know how to ground a portable generator? 


The main "breaker" has to be inside the house, but most whole house generator set ups, have a disconnect or a breaker outside the house downstream of the meter.  This allows the electrical repair crews to have access to it at any time and i a safety feature they appreciate.

btw, a ground rod is required to be driven 8 feet into the ground, not 3 feet.
seeya
dan

Used to be these pinball machines that paid off. They had a big sticker, though, that said, "for entertainment purposes only". Message boards should have such a sticker.
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Posted: 5/1/2011 4:41 PM

Re: Anyone know how to ground a portable generator? 


All I know is my house has a big breaker on the outside that shuts off the power into the house. Throw it and nothing comes in. I've been told to be 100% sure that is no open connection between the house and the power lines before firing up the generator. In fact there is also a breaker on the main box which is also stops the power into the box. I guess is a beaker, wall, breaker set up. My instructions for my generator say throw both to  the off position.

Haters_midget

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Posted: 5/2/2011 2:35 PM

Re: Anyone know how to ground a portable generator? 


Lot of good info here. I'll use the simplest method, but appreciate all of it.

One thing I've always wanted to do, but have never done it--yet--and will now is to put together that "emergency box." You know, batteries, flashlights, matches, lantern, radio, etc. I have a couple of large tool boxes that I replaced with a larger one that are pretty ideal for my needs. I will go by Home Depot or Lowes and see about the simple grounding that has been recommended so I will have that if/when I need it next.

As always, this group is a wealth of information, and appreciated greatly.
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Posted: 5/2/2011 3:33 PM

Re: Anyone know how to ground a portable generator? 



Darrell KSR wrote: Lot of good info here. I'll use the simplest method, but appreciate all of it.

One thing I've always wanted to do, but have never done it--yet--and will now is to put together that "emergency box." You know, batteries, flashlights, matches, lantern, radio, etc. I have a couple of large tool boxes that I replaced with a larger one that are pretty ideal for my needs. I will go by Home Depot or Lowes and see about the simple grounding that has been recommended so I will have that if/when I need it next.

As always, this group is a wealth of information, and appreciated greatly.

The simplest way to ground the generator is to ground it directly to the ground rod, which should be near your service meter.

For the emergency kit I would go with a backpack or army duffel, makes it easier to make portable.  I would also include first aid stuff in it.  You never know when the emergency could require you to leave your home.


 

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