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garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
Reviews:
·Callcentric
·callwithus
reply to GenNewbie

Re: Generator doesn't work with Direct Vent Hot Water Heater

said by GenNewbie :

Thanks for all of the replies. Here is what I have and what I plan to do. My house is 10 years old so has a relatively modern electric system. There is no PEX or plastic supply lines in the water supply system, it is 100% copper pipe. My main water supply line comes in near the main 200 amp electric panel and is grounded via a thick unsheathed cooper wire. I can see that ground wire running between the water supply and service panel, they are only about 6 feet away from each other. I can also see a clear cooper run of pipe that goes from that area, across the basement to supply cold water to my propane hot water heater. The hot water heater has the same thick braided copper wire jumping hot and cold pipe on the water heater. Based on this I ASSUME that the jumper is a proper ground as I can see the clear, uninterupted run of cooper pipe, the hook up to the main panel and the jumper on the water heater.

If I make-up the modified extension cord (thanks for the picture it confirmed what I needed to do!) and tie the generator ground into the exposed jumper/ground on the water heater (which I truly believe to be 100% grounded based on the above), it is as safe as it can get?

Yes, then with the electrical-plumbing ground bond verified (and be REALLY sure) then grounding to the jumper between the hot and cold pipes ought to be alright, but it would be BETTER if you bonded it to the uninsulated line running from the panel to the piping. Can you do that?


alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1
reply to robbin

Re: Generator doesn't work with Power Vent Hot Water Heater

said by robbin:

Yes, this is too much to ask in an emergency situation. Give safe advice or don't give any. Don't give unsafe advice and expect the forum regulars to bail you out or teach you why what you are recommending is dangerous.

1 - I gave a suggestion to a direct question, with WARNINGS.

2 - So because we're in emergency mode, the forum must stop educating?

I say, if you can't explain the danger, then you don't understand it either.

It's okay to warn people of the danger, go ahead. I will stand back and I won't disagree, better safe than sorry. BUT, you should know that you are appearing like you're just repeating what Nunya said, but don't actually understand.

garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
Reviews:
·Callcentric
·callwithus
reply to robbin

said by robbin:

There was no ground and no need for it until the user followed your advice. Forget about ground, you need two conductors to complete a circuit. Ground is not one of them with a floating neutral generator.

The user followed his advice to get a neutral-ground bond in the generator. Not the best way to do it but it'll work and it's not bad for now.

Once the generator is also connected (better actually bonded) to the house's electrical system it's no more dangerous than the utility power would be. I doubt very much, no -- I guarantee -- that the utility feed to that water heater is not on a GFCI. So using the generator is no more dangerous, once it's connected to the house's ground, than the utility.

robbin
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-21
Leander, TX
kudos:1

That is assuming the OP is ONLY powering the water heater and not another appliance at the same time.



alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1

said by garys_2k:

Once the generator is also connected (better actually bonded) to the house's electrical system it's no more dangerous than the utility power would be.

Agreed, Frink should run out to buy some lenght of 6AWG braided bare copper and a split bolt, or a ground clamp, to link the generator's chassis bolt to wherever the house panel gets grounded (Copper pipe propably).

said by robbin:

That is assuming the OP is ONLY powering the water heater and not another appliance at the same time.

Assuming that he is running other appliances.... then what?

robbin
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-21
Leander, TX
kudos:1
reply to alkizmo

said by alkizmo:

I say, if you can't explain the danger, then you don't understand it either.

It's okay to warn people of the danger, go ahead. I will stand back and I won't disagree, better safe than sorry. BUT, you should know that you are appearing like you're just repeating what Nunya said, but don't actually understand.

I've explained the danger but you have ignored it.


alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1

said by robbin:

I've explained the danger but you have ignored it.

Quote those pertinent sections, I may have missed them, or thought you were wrong.

garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
Reviews:
·Callcentric
·callwithus
reply to robbin

said by robbin:

said by alkizmo:

I say, if you can't explain the danger, then you don't understand it either.

It's okay to warn people of the danger, go ahead. I will stand back and I won't disagree, better safe than sorry. BUT, you should know that you are appearing like you're just repeating what Nunya said, but don't actually understand.

I've explained the danger but you have ignored it.

Then I've missed it, too.

Let's say the neutral-ground connection cord was used at the generator, and the generator ground was connected to the house ground. Let's assume it's being used to power the WH with metallic piping. How is this more dangerous than using utility power? How is any danger made worse (compared to utility power) if the generator so configured is also powering other loads via extension cords?

robbin
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-21
Leander, TX
kudos:1

1 edit

1 recommendation

Simple. There is no ground fault protection. So when the old extension cord powering the electric skillet has a nick on the hot and that brushes against the wife or baby who is also touching any grounded device, it could create a life threatening situation. Everything is more dangerous when people are using extension cords and at times like this people drag out every old cord they can find. You don't plan for the best scenario, you plan for the worst. Unfortunately, as often happens in emergencies such as this one, people will lose their lives, not from the storm, but from taking chances they would not normally take.



tp0d
yabbazooie
Premium
join:2001-02-13
Carnegie, PA
kudos:5
reply to Frink

Re: Generator doesn't work with Direct Vent Hot Water Heater

Cool, glad to hear you fixed it.

power back yet? hope so

-j
--
if it aint broke, tweak it!!
currently on FiOS (kick aZZ!)


garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
Reviews:
·Callcentric
·callwithus
reply to robbin

Re: Generator doesn't work with Power Vent Hot Water Heater

So, the additional hazard you see is the lack of GFCIs. Granted, but for short term use this is not, IMHO, a significant issue.

GFCIs do save lives, mostly regarding use of appliances in wet areas, but the number of lives saved are significant when considered over a wide geographic area and over a long time. In essence, it's a statistical improvement.

The odds of being electrocuted with a source not protected via a GFCI are very small. Less with the protection, yes, but even without it's a very small increase in hazard. If the odds of being shocked went from 0.0001% to 0.00001% then sure, it's better, but was the danger really that high to begin with?



Frink
Professor
Premium
join:2000-07-13
Scotch Plains, NJ
reply to tp0d

Re: Generator doesn't work with Direct Vent Hot Water Heater

said by tp0d:

Cool, glad to hear you fixed it.

power back yet? hope so

-j

Nope I am out until at least Monday, and I think that actually means Thursday given the chain of substations leading to my house I heard experienced severe damage. I waited on line this morning for 3 hours for gas, that was an interesting experience.

Regarding the advice I was provided from alkizmo - thank you alkizmo, we are really grateful for a simple comfort like that. I stated I would only be plugging in the HW heater for 20 minutes at a time, on its own, watching it and things around it like a hawk for the period, then disconnect the N/G bond wire. I wouldn't run anything in the rain, and the gene is on a wooden box elevated above the ground I built. My one flaw is the improper ground rod, but it was the best I could find at my local Home Depot Wednesday. I'll check for a better copper stake shortly.


alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1
reply to robbin

Re: Generator doesn't work with Power Vent Hot Water Heater

said by robbin:

Simple. There is no ground fault protection. So when the old extension cord powering the electric skillet has a nick on the hot and that brushes against the wife or baby who is also touching any grounded device, it could create a life threatening situation. Everything is more dangerous when people are using extension cords

said by robbin:

Everything is more dangerous when people are using extension cords

Yes yes
And a floating neutral sort of helps on protection.
BUT someone getting in contact with a nicked extension cord connected to a N/G bonded generator will not get shocked any more than if it was connected to a house receptacle on utility power (unless it was a GFCI receptacle).

So instead, you should have said (And I am going to say it now): Frink, if you go to home depot, buy an extension cord with GFCI protection and run things through it. They will protect you, even if there is no ground.

Also, frink, copper rod = useless, if you do use one, you'd have to bond it with your house's grounding electrode (probably cold water entry).

Instead, buy copper wire #6 gauge long enough to connect your generator's chassis to the grounding conductor of your electrical panel (probably another #6 bare copper wire going to your cold water entry pipe).


tp0d
yabbazooie
Premium
join:2001-02-13
Carnegie, PA
kudos:5
reply to Frink

Re: Generator doesn't work with Direct Vent Hot Water Heater

what ground are you using for your building service? If you dont have a rod now, it would be a very good upgrade, and not too expensive to put the proper 2 in the ground. Safer..

when all this shit blows over, of course..

-j
--
if it aint broke, tweak it!!
currently on FiOS (kick aZZ!)


sk1939
Premium
join:2010-10-23
Mclean, VA
kudos:10
Reviews:
·T-Mobile US
·Verizon FiOS
reply to alkizmo

Re: Generator doesn't work with Power Vent Hot Water Heater

said by alkizmo:

Incorrect, it can be either in the panel OR at the generator.
Transfer switches can switch the neutral. Mine for example does such thing, so the bond is at the generator, as per an electrician's recommendation.

Some do, some don't, it depends highly on the transfer panel so you can't generalize. Interlock kits for example have a different approach.

said by alkizmo:

Yes it IS a kludge, but that isn't what's being debated.

If you know it's a kludge, why would you suggest it? It's like telling a kid that it's bad to have guns around other people, but go ahead and take it to school.

said by alkizmo:

I'm going to assume you were still talking about N/G bond not being good at the generator with a transfer switch. So yes, you're right, 2 bonds is bad. But again... the bond CAN be at the generator and be the only bond.

Yes, but the point of that is what when you need the bond to be at the panel once power is restored? That just creates more work for yourself.


GenNewbie

@rr.com
reply to garys_2k

Re: Generator doesn't work with Direct Vent Hot Water Heater

The issue is that the electrical service and panel and water supply come in one side of the house and the furnace and hot water heater are on the opposite side near the buried propane tank, so I'd either have to run a 45 foot extension cord or 45 foot ground wire or somehow try to split the difference. By using the jumper "ground" on the HW heater I can use a 10 foot extension cord and ground wire and be on the side of the house out of the way (north side) and right outside one of those small basement sliding windows. It is very convenient to hook it up and keeps the fumes and noise away from windows and doors and length of runs for extension cord and ground wire down, which I understand to be helpful and safer?

I am very confident but not 100% sure the cooper is continuous. There is one short run of about 3 feet that I can't see but they would have had to piece something in and mixed copper and plastic which would make no sense and probably not up to code. Of course some things I do make no sense.

I gather the bare #6 copper is the ground wire of choice? Is there a suitable insulated ground wire that is acceptable. I think I've seen # 10 at Home Depot but not # 8 or #6 but I am not sure. Is the #10 OK? Thanks!!!



alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1

said by sk1939:

Some do, some don't, it depends highly on the transfer panel so you can't generalize. Interlock kits for example have a different approach.

I didn't generalize, you did. You said the NG bond cannot be at the generator when they are connected to a transfer switch. They certainly can with certain transfer switches.

said by sk1939:

If you know it's a kludge, why would you suggest it? It's like telling a kid that it's bad to have guns around other people, but go ahead and take it to school.

Frink isn't a kid, and he was given warnings.
It's more like giving a gun to an adult and telling him to avoid shooting with it, but if he has to then he should be very careful.

He did do a very good job with the NG bond trick

said by sk1939:

Yes, but the point of that is what when you need the bond to be at the panel once power is restored? That just creates more work for yourself.

I doubt you understand how a transfer switch with neutral switching works.

said by GenNewbie :

I gather the bare #6 copper is the ground wire of choice? Is there a suitable insulated ground wire that is acceptable. I think I've seen # 10 at Home Depot but not # 8 or #6 but I am not sure. Is the #10 OK? Thanks!!!

Im not sure what you're trying to do, but for grounding a 30A generator (7200W or lower), then #10 is ok. Buy it green colored just so the color coding matches its purpose.

sk1939
Premium
join:2010-10-23
Mclean, VA
kudos:10
Reviews:
·T-Mobile US
·Verizon FiOS

said by alkizmo:

"I didn't generalize, you did. You said the NG bond cannot be at the generator when they are connected to a transfer switch. They certainly can with certain transfer switches."

Sure they can be bonded at the transfer switch, but then it's classified under "Separately Derived Power Generation" in the NEC when you do that. Neutral switching is only required if the grounds are tied together, to avoid having the neutral above ground potential.

You still have to bond the ground and neutral at only one place.

said by alkizmo:

I doubt you understand how a transfer switch with neutral switching works.

I know exactly how a transfer switch with neutral switching works, and not all transfer switches work that way.

Don't ask to "learn" and for people to explain things when all you do is shoot down things that go against your preconcieved notions and ideas. It's similar to a child asking "why" to everything, that's just not how it's done is the simplest explanation.


GenNewbie

@rr.com
reply to robbin

Re: Generator doesn't work with Power Vent Hot Water Heater

So I see for about $30-35 I can buy a 2 foot extension cord that appears to have a GFCI protected triplex plug. In other words, if I plug that into the generator and then the extension cord I want to run into that, does this solve many of the safety issues that is causing the stir?

I hope so as it would be a quick, convenient and easy fix and provide a great piece of mind. Thank you.


sk1939
Premium
join:2010-10-23
Mclean, VA
kudos:10

That would work so long as you are not connecting it to your house wiring.



Frink
Professor
Premium
join:2000-07-13
Scotch Plains, NJ
reply to tp0d

Re: Generator doesn't work with Direct Vent Hot Water Heater

said by tp0d:

what ground are you using for your building service? If you dont have a rod now, it would be a very good upgrade, and not too expensive to put the proper 2 in the ground. Safer..

when all this shit blows over, of course..

-j

Honestly I am not sure where the ground is in my home. I have not found any rods in the ground around my house, and I know my home pretty well. The only thing I have seen that comes close are green wires connecting to my water lines...definitely something I will be looking into when things are looking better.


alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1
reply to sk1939

said by sk1939:

Sure they can be bonded at the transfer switch, but then it's classified under "Separately Derived Power Generation" in the NEC when you do that.

Neutral switching is only required if the grounds are tied together, to avoid having the neutral above ground potential.

Yes you're right that it is classified as a Separately Derived system, but you're wrong about why neutral switching is required.

In a non-neutral-switching transfer switch, you still have to join the generator's ground to the house's ground.

You still have to bond the ground and neutral at only one place.

Neutral switching only serves to disconnect the N/G bond from the main panel when the generator already has a N/G bond.

said by sk1939:

I know exactly how a transfer switch with neutral switching works, and not all transfer switches work that way.

I know, maybe I should have said "SOME" transfer switches switch neutral, but you did say this...

said by sk1939:

As far as the N/G bond, it's not at the generator with a transfer switch, it's bonded at the panel.

You made it sound like N/G bond is never at the generator when connected to a transfer switch.

said by sk1939:

Don't ask to "learn" and for people to explain things when all you do is shoot down things that go against your preconcieved notions and ideas. It's similar to a child asking "why" to everything, that's just not how it's done is the simplest explanation.

I know plenty to understand the complicated explanation.
I shot down explanations that weren't correct, such as:

- N/G bond creates a potential path to ground which is more dangerous than with house wiring (That is not true, it is not more dangerous, it is AS dangerous).

- A short to grounded items such as copper pipes will not trip the breaker (That is not unique to generators with N/G bond, house wiring works like that as well).

My issue is that you guys made it sound like its riskier than if you used a transfer switch. A transfer switch simply prevents backfeeding. Grounding and neutral bonding can be done properly without the need for a transfer switch, you simply don't connect the hot to the house's panel's hot.


alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1
reply to Frink

said by Frink:

Honestly I am not sure where the ground is in my home. I have not found any rods in the ground around my house, and I know my home pretty well. The only thing I have seen that comes close are green wires connecting to my water lines...definitely something I will be looking into when things are looking better.

Look at where your utility's neutral (Entrace cable) connects to your panel, then look for another big wire (But likely to be no bigger than #6, either colored green, or bare copper) attached right next to it (And that they aren't isolated from each others, so they probably are on the same metal bar). That should be your grounding conductor that goes to your ground electrode (copper pipe or rod).


GenNewbie

@rr.com
reply to sk1939

Re: Generator doesn't work with Power Vent Hot Water Heater

By that you mean back feeding the panel? I am not doing that.

I am currently running 1 new 10 gauge outdoor type extension cord. I would plan to use this new short GFCI cord between that cord and the generator to "protect" the connection. If that works, it would seem like $30 very well spent.


garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
Reviews:
·Callcentric
·callwithus

said by GenNewbie :

By that you mean back feeding the panel? I am not doing that.

I am currently running 1 new 10 gauge outdoor type extension cord. I would plan to use this new short GFCI cord between that cord and the generator to "protect" the connection. If that works, it would seem like $30 very well spent.

You'll be fine. The GFCI does add some peace of mind and protection, good idea. The N-G bond "jumper cord" enables it to work with your WH, that's fine, too. Good luck on your outage!

garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
Reviews:
·Callcentric
·callwithus
reply to GenNewbie

Re: Generator doesn't work with Direct Vent Hot Water Heater

said by GenNewbie :

The issue is that the electrical service and panel and water supply come in one side of the house and the furnace and hot water heater are on the opposite side near the buried propane tank, so I'd either have to run a 45 foot extension cord or 45 foot ground wire or somehow try to split the difference. By using the jumper "ground" on the HW heater I can use a 10 foot extension cord and ground wire and be on the side of the house out of the way (north side) and right outside one of those small basement sliding windows. It is very convenient to hook it up and keeps the fumes and noise away from windows and doors and length of runs for extension cord and ground wire down, which I understand to be helpful and safer?

I am very confident but not 100% sure the cooper is continuous. There is one short run of about 3 feet that I can't see but they would have had to piece something in and mixed copper and plastic which would make no sense and probably not up to code. Of course some things I do make no sense.

I gather the bare #6 copper is the ground wire of choice? Is there a suitable insulated ground wire that is acceptable. I think I've seen # 10 at Home Depot but not # 8 or #6 but I am not sure. Is the #10 OK? Thanks!!!

Number 10 is fine for your generator and it sounds very much like the water pipe jumper is a solid ground, but if I had my druthers I'd put the ground onto the panel's ground wire. Can you get a longer piece of wire?


alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1

said by garys_2k:

but if I had my druthers I'd put the ground onto the panel's ground wire. Can you get a longer piece of wire?

It depends what is easier/closer.
In my case, I tied my generator's grounding conductor (The one that attaches to the generator chassis) to the copper wire that exited my main panel and went to the copper pipe, using a split bolt.

sk1939
Premium
join:2010-10-23
Mclean, VA
kudos:10
Reviews:
·T-Mobile US
·Verizon FiOS
reply to alkizmo

said by alkizmo:

Neutral switching only serves to disconnect the N/G bond from the main panel when the generator already has a N/G bond.

Again, depends on your transfer panel. Some only flip between
main and generator lines, rather than in between each circuit, like this one.

»www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R···ApBhrY4Y

said by alkizmo:

You made it sound like N/G bond is never at the generator when connected to a transfer switch.

Perhaps I should have clarified that in general it is at the panel, but it may be at the tranfer switch depending on your switch. For 95% of homes it is still at the panel.

said by alkizmo:

My issue is that you guys made it sound like its riskier than if you used a transfer switch. A transfer switch simply prevents backfeeding. Grounding and neutral bonding can be done properly without the need for a transfer switch, you simply don't connect the hot to the house's panel's hot.

My issue isn't with the use of a transfer switch, it's with the half-assed neutral-ground solution you suggested. That is what is dangerous for a variety of reasons. Yes it can be done without a transfer switch, but the majority of people aren't going to know how and will do it wrong, the extension cord plug trick included.

said by alkizmo:

I shot down explanations that weren't correct, such as:

- A short to grounded items such as copper pipes will not trip the breaker (That is not unique to generators with N/G bond, house wiring works like that as well).

Never said it was, don't fill in the spaces yourself.

said by alkizmo:

Grounding and neutral bonding can be done properly without the need for a transfer switch, you simply don't connect the hot to the house's panel's hot.

The point of that is what exactly then? Some generators provide the ability on the genset itself to bond the neutral to ground. It dosen't really matter if you use an extension cord with a GFCI, or are powering things that don't have a high risk of shock, like a lamp. It's still important to have a ground though, via ground rod.


GenNewbie

@rr.com
reply to garys_2k

Re: Generator doesn't work with Power Vent Hot Water Heater

Thanks very much. It will be great to have hot water and know that we are (mostly) safe. As always, I will be as safe as I can, use decent materials and try to be smart about things. I just never thought about the GFCI being in line in an extension cord. Genius!

I really appreciate the help!