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Question for standby generator owners - ibroussard - 09-07-2008 11:49 AM

I recently had a "whole house" standby generator and dedicated 500 gallon propane tank installed. My local county hurricane preparedness brochure says that if I evacuate for a storm, I should "turn off electricity at the main circuit breaker or fuse box to protect appliances from power surges and reduce the risk of live dangling wires after the storm."

I live fifteen miles inland, and predictions are that it would take at least a 22' storm surge to get it that far inland. Flooding is not that big a concern either. Biggest cause of damage would most likely be due to wind, including trees getting knocked down on house.

My question is...if I evacuate, should I do what the experts say, which would also imply turning off my generator so it won't start up if I lose power? I will shut off propane to my house because it is a different tank. My plan (before I read the brochure), was to switch off all individual breakers except the ones for my refrigerator, freezer, and (maybe) A/C. The issue is that if I evacuate, it may be several days before I can return.

What do all of you standby generator owners do before you evacuate?

Thanks,
Ira


Question for standby generator owners - Sirwriter - 09-07-2008 12:18 PM

I have yet to evacuate in the seven years I have lived right behind New Orleans, in St Tammany Parrish. I wish I had in 2005 when Katrina hit. That is when I bought a stand by generator. I am far enough inland that I don't have to worry about flooding, so I would not turn off my generator IF I evacuated.

I would shut off the main breaker (possibly removing the meter) so that if grid power started up while I was gone I would not feed back into the grid; I would merely continue to rely on generated power until I returned. I would probably leave on breakers for the freezer and fridge, a couple outside lights, and the A/C. (However, I would set the thermostat for A/c to something like 78). In this manner you needn't worry about surge power damage from power grids restarting because you wouldn't be hooked up to them.

I believe that the brochure was targeted to people who do not have a standby generator.


Question for standby generator owners - ibroussard - 09-07-2008 12:37 PM

That was kind of my thinking, too.

I'm using an automatic transfer switch, so the generator switches online automatically after 30 continuous seconds of utility company power loss and switches off after 15 seconds of power being restored.

Thanks,
Ira


Question for standby generator owners - SevereWxEnthusiast - 09-07-2008 01:21 PM

it depends on what is more important to you, being protected from surges or making sure your food stays good.

If you have plenty of fuel, my suggestion is to reduce the delay that your transfer swith waits before switching to generator. this way when the power first has problems your system will kick in and switch away from the grid on it's own. Then set your switch to not switch back to grid until it has been problem free for at least 10 minutes. This would be a good compromise and keep most surges out of your system and keep your food cold. :drink:


Question for standby generator owners - ibroussard - 09-07-2008 01:29 PM

SevereWxEnthusiast Wrote:it depends on what is more important to you, being protected from surges or making sure your food stays good.

If you have plenty of fuel, my suggestion is to reduce the delay that your transfer swith waits before switching to generator. this way when the power first has problems your system will kick in and switch away from the grid on it's own. Then set your switch to not switch back to grid until it has been problem free for at least 10 minutes. This would be a good compromise and keep most surges out of your system and keep your food cold. :drink:

Unfortunately, the generator and ATS I have don't have selectable delays for switching power sources. Certainly would have been nice if it did.


Question for standby generator owners - Windwatcher - 09-07-2008 01:40 PM

We have a generator, runs on natural gas. Because we have this, my husband refuses to evacuate. However, if we DID, I think we would only leave freezer and refridgerator on it and maybe ceiling fans to circulate air.


Question for standby generator owners - LSU TIGERS - 09-07-2008 04:01 PM

If it was properly installed, it will have an automatic cut-off at your source. The big danger isn't a surge to your appliances, but instead the possible electrocution of the poor souls trying to restore your power.

There is one other downside to leaving your system armed. If the utility workers can hear it running and you're not home, they will pull your meter every single time. And they won't leave it... What this means to you is that you will be the absolute last person in your area to have his power restored.


Question for standby generator owners - ibroussard - 09-07-2008 04:31 PM

LSU TIGERS Wrote:If it was properly installed, it will have an automatic cut-off at your source. The big danger isn't a surge to your appliances, but instead the possible electrocution of the poor souls trying to restore your power.

There is one other downside to leaving your system armed. If the utility workers can hear it running and you're not home, they will pull your meter every single time. And they won't leave it... What this means to you is that you will be the absolute last person in your area to have his power restored.

Never heard that before. Will they do that even if the generator is in plain site of the meter (15 feet away), and there is a sticker next to the meter that says the generator is controlled by an automatic transfer switch? Remember, this isn't a portable generator. It's bolted to a raised concrete slab, has no wheels, and weighs almost 1000 lbs. It's a smaller version of what commercial sites use. Because of the mechanical lockout function of an ATS, it's my understanding that there's virtually no way that power can get from the generator back to the meter/grid, or vice versa. That's one of the main reasons for having it controlled by an ATS. Maybe this is something I should ask the utility company about.


Question for standby generator owners - LSU TIGERS - 09-07-2008 04:47 PM

They got my neighbor and his has an ATS. And it was quite obvious that the meter wasn't moving. They heard it, they knocked, no one answered, they pulled it. Not sure if that is SOP for utility workers, but that's what happened here. His home is still running off of that generator...


Question for standby generator owners - Windwatcher - 09-07-2008 06:58 PM

Ours has some sort of safety feature on it that protects the utility workers from that surge going back thru the line. That was one of the first things I asked about before we got it.