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DKS
Damn Kidney Stones
Premium,ExMod 2002
join:2001-03-22
Owen Sound, ON
kudos:2
reply to TheTechGuru

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

said by TheTechGuru:

Some people need the generator for not only a water heater but a water well pump too.

Yes, I know. I would include a well pump as "necessary".

Cold shower when it's below freezing outside and 40 degrees inside is a good way to become sick at a time you may not be able to get medical attention.

How so? Wash quickly and dry off fast.
--
Need-based health care not greed-based health care.


DKS
Damn Kidney Stones
Premium,ExMod 2002
join:2001-03-22
Owen Sound, ON
kudos:2
reply to garys_2k
said by garys_2k:

said by DKS:

Do you need a shower in the first place? Having been through many power outages over the years, some lasting days, I have discovered that a sponge bath is just fine. And soap, water and a wash cloth at any temp works just as well as anything warmer.

I would suggest that if this attitude is typical, people are going soft. Very soft.

Yeah, and I don't like to go camping, either; I like my modern conveniences. Tell you what: We'll all buy whatever capacity generators we want, to power whatever appliances we want (for me central air is good to have) and we'll leave the discussion about the technical details. Is that OK with you?

Capacity is part of the "technical details". There is always a limit to capacity.
--
Need-based health care not greed-based health care.

garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
Reviews:
·Callcentric
said by DKS:

Capacity is part of the "technical details". There is always a limit to capacity.

But your, or anyone's, opinion of what constitutes a reasonable amount of capacity, or what to power, is not a technical anything. As for limits, some people put in 40KW backups for their house, I doubt that's too limiting for most anything.


DKS
Damn Kidney Stones
Premium,ExMod 2002
join:2001-03-22
Owen Sound, ON
kudos:2

1 recommendation

reply to Frink
said by Frink:

Everyone's advice is totally appreciated, and I understand the risks completely. That being said, bathing my 2 & 3 year old this morning in water that would not make them scream made all of us a lot happier...

Kids are resilient. I would suggest that not wanting to hear your child "scream" is a parental issue, not an issue of basic safety or child care. Besides, unless a child is in diapers or is sick, washing daily isn't an essential. Let them go dirty for a few days as a treat.
--
Need-based health care not greed-based health care.


DKS
Damn Kidney Stones
Premium,ExMod 2002
join:2001-03-22
Owen Sound, ON
kudos:2
reply to garys_2k
said by garys_2k:

said by DKS:

Capacity is part of the "technical details". There is always a limit to capacity.

But your, or anyone's, opinion of what constitutes a reasonable amount of capacity, or what to power, is not a technical anything. As for limits, some people put in 40KW backups for their house, I doubt that's too limiting for most anything.

Sure it is. The system is not unlimited. Capacity is limited by technical issues, number of appliances, real need and such tangible things as money. The response to the OP was generally that "What you want to do is unsafe". That's a technical limitation. So Plan B is?
--
Need-based health care not greed-based health care.


alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1
reply to GenNewbie
said by GenNewbie :

My Honda has an external screw connection for a ground to be hooked up. If I sink a copper rod into the ground next to the concrete "pad" I use and hook that up to the ground on the generator and then fire it up, is that safe and would it work with the hot water heater issue?

This whole confusion about grounding, neutral/ground bond, etc etc, reminds me of myself last year when I was setting up my generator (I planned AHEAD )

I know most of the confusion comes from people thinking that the "ground" protection on extension cords is all about sending current to a rod that's burried deep. But that's incorrect.

In reality, the ground wire in extension cords and receptacles serve as a current return path to the neutral if a hot wire touches a metal casing of an appliance. That metal casing is tied to the ground wire on the extension cord, and shoots the current straight back to the generator (or electrical panel) where it is then returned to the neutral. Basically, it causes a short circuit that trips the breaker (Instead of leaving the metal casing electrically LIVE to shock anyone who touches it).

Floating neutral generators (no connection between the ground wire and the neutral) don't offer any protection through the ground wire on your extension cords. A ground rod won't help.

The screw is connected to the metal chassis of the generator.
The metal chassis of the generator is connected to the ground part of the outlets.
The ground part of the outlets is connected to NOTHING.

I'd really feel more comforable not explaining this, because I'm not an expert, I just understand the principle. I WILL miss important details in my above explanation. All I know is that my generator setup is safely grounded, but I don't know the exceptions when it comes to using extension wires. My setup has the neutral/ground bond at the generator, and my transfer switch breaks the neutral/ground bond from the electrical panel. So my experience doesn't apply well in cases in this thread.

Whizkid, Nunya, in this time of crisis, these people need a crash course

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

1 recommendation

reply to GenNewbie
said by GenNewbie :

Q. My Honda has an external screw connection for a ground to be hooked up. If I sink a copper rod into the ground next to the concrete "pad" I use and hook that up to the ground on the generator and then fire it up, is that safe and would it work with the hot water heater issue?

No, that wouldn't help. The problem is that, in your house's electric panel the incoming neutral and the ground wires are physically bonded together. The water heater depends on that continuity to work properly.

Some generators, and it sounds like yours is included, do not have that bonding between its neutral and ground. Hence, the water heater won't run.

What is needed is a connection between your generator's neutral wire and its ground wire, best made at the generator. Grounding your generator to a ground rod will mostly serve to reduce static electricity shocks. On the plus side, with the generator's neutral and ground wires bonded a short from the hot wire to a grounded appliances's chassis or frame will trip the generator's circuit breaker, a very good thing.

How to make the bond was covered above, with the mangled cord that alkizmo suggested on page 1 (and Nunya, a knowledgeable electrician ripped him a new one over). Basically, it's connecting the "third prong" of the outlet to the neutral prong of the outlet. That connection need only be done once, at one outlet, on the generator.

My generator already has that bond and it'd be fine with this type of water heater. What it's not so good with is connecting to my main panel, I had to break the bond when doing that so that the only bond would be the one IN the panel (more than one is not a good thing).


Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Millenicom
reply to DKS
said by DKS:

Do you need a shower in the first place? Having been through many power outages over the years, some lasting days, I have discovered that a sponge bath is just fine. And soap, water and a wash cloth at any temp works just as well as anything warmer.

I would suggest that if this attitude is typical, people are going soft. Very soft.

How can you call me soft when I can and will take a hot shower regardless of a power failure. You can live with a dirty body as a sponge bath doesn't cut it or you would never take a shower and just "sponge" off.

Heating the water is no problem for me so why is it a problem for you?


Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Millenicom
reply to garys_2k
said by garys_2k:

said by DKS:

Do you need a shower in the first place? Having been through many power outages over the years, some lasting days, I have discovered that a sponge bath is just fine. And soap, water and a wash cloth at any temp works just as well as anything warmer.

I would suggest that if this attitude is typical, people are going soft. Very soft.

Yeah, and I don't like to go camping, either; I like my modern conveniences. Tell you what: We'll all buy whatever capacity generators we want, to power whatever appliances we want (for me central air is good to have) and we'll leave the discussion about the technical details. Is that OK with you?

+1 What you said


leibold
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-09
Sunnyvale, CA
kudos:10
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
reply to GenNewbie
said by GenNewbie :

If I sink a copper rod into the ground next to the concrete "pad" I use and hook that up to the ground on the generator and then fire it up, is that safe and would it work with the hot water heater issue?

Installing a dedicated ground rod for a portable generator is the safe and correct procedure when using it in a outdoor scenario for which portable generators are generally designed.

When using a portable generator to power appliances inside a home this no longer applies! Having two independent grounding systems is unsafe and for this very reason a code violation. A proper bond between all grounding systems would be required but it is much easier to just connect the generator ground lug to the existing building ground then to install a new grounding rod.

The part about getting your water heater to work has already been answered correctly but I wanted to clarify the safety aspect of grounding the generator (which is distinct from the issue of the neutral - ground bond).
--
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Frink
Professor
Premium
join:2000-07-13
Scotch Plains, NJ
reply to DKS
said by DKS:

said by Frink:

Everyone's advice is totally appreciated, and I understand the risks completely. That being said, bathing my 2 & 3 year old this morning in water that would not make them scream made all of us a lot happier...

Kids are resilient. I would suggest that not wanting to hear your child "scream" is a parental issue, not an issue of basic safety or child care. Besides, unless a child is in diapers or is sick, washing daily isn't an essential. Let them go dirty for a few days as a treat.

Damn, I never saw a more appropriate use of a profile pic ...


Frink
Professor
Premium
join:2000-07-13
Scotch Plains, NJ
reply to leibold
Thx, this is a new poster asking about that...my improper ground was because that was the best I could do at Home Depot yesterday, I'll try to find an appropriate ground rod today.


DKS
Damn Kidney Stones
Premium,ExMod 2002
join:2001-03-22
Owen Sound, ON
kudos:2
reply to Frink
said by Frink:

said by DKS:

said by Frink:

Everyone's advice is totally appreciated, and I understand the risks completely. That being said, bathing my 2 & 3 year old this morning in water that would not make them scream made all of us a lot happier...

Kids are resilient. I would suggest that not wanting to hear your child "scream" is a parental issue, not an issue of basic safety or child care. Besides, unless a child is in diapers or is sick, washing daily isn't an essential. Let them go dirty for a few days as a treat.

Damn, I never saw a more appropriate use of a profile pic ...

And how many children do you have?
--
Need-based health care not greed-based health care.


DKS
Damn Kidney Stones
Premium,ExMod 2002
join:2001-03-22
Owen Sound, ON
kudos:2
reply to Jack_in_VA
said by Jack_in_VA:

said by DKS:

Do you need a shower in the first place? Having been through many power outages over the years, some lasting days, I have discovered that a sponge bath is just fine. And soap, water and a wash cloth at any temp works just as well as anything warmer.

I would suggest that if this attitude is typical, people are going soft. Very soft.

How can you call me soft when I can and will take a hot shower regardless of a power failure. You can live with a dirty body as a sponge bath doesn't cut it or you would never take a shower and just "sponge" off.

Heating the water is no problem for me so why is it a problem for you?

"Just because I can..." is one of the most selfish, self-centered ways of thinking in this world. "Just because I can" doesn't mean you should... especially in an emergency situation.
--
Need-based health care not greed-based health care.


alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1
said by DKS:

"Just because I can..." is one of the most selfish, self-centered ways of thinking in this world. "Just because I can" doesn't mean you should... especially in an emergency situation.

That's too much out of context.

He's not being selfish to use his generator to power his water heater if it doesn't affect others negatively.

It's no more selfish than taking a shower when there's utility power.


Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Millenicom
reply to DKS
said by DKS:

"Just because I can..." is one of the most selfish, self-centered ways of thinking in this world. "Just because I can" doesn't mean you should... especially in an emergency situation.

What's the emergency situation? It's not like I'm depriving others of limited power. It's my power and how I use it is up to me and hot showers is one of my priorities along with hot food, tv and internet.


alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1
said by Jack_in_VA:

hot food

THINK OF THE ETHIOPIANS!

garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
Reviews:
·Callcentric
reply to Frink
said by Frink:

Thx, this is a new poster asking about that...my improper ground was because that was the best I could do at Home Depot yesterday, I'll try to find an appropriate ground rod today.

Don't bother if you want to run your hot water heater, it won't make a difference. If you still need to power your hot water heater then the generator's neutral and ground wires need to be connected together.


nunya
LXI 483
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12

3 recommendations

reply to Frink

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

A lot of very poor advice in this thread. I don't even know where to start, so I'll stop. I hope nobody gets killed. I'm done with this one.
--
If someone refers to herself / himself as a "guru", they probably aren't.


GenNewbie

@rr.com
reply to leibold

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

Thanks for all of the quick replies. Seems like a "known issue" with an easy fix. Here is what my manual says "Honda portable generators have a system ground that connects generator frame components to the ground terminals in the AC output receptacles. The system ground is not connected to the AC neutral wire. If the generator is tested by a receptacle tester, it will not show the same ground circuit condition as for a home receptacle." Also since the new hot water was put in, there is a very thick braided copper wire that jumps the in and out pipe of the water heater. I assume this is helping to ground the entire system????

I want hot water, but I'd rather be smelly than dead so I am still trying to figure out if I am going to get killed if I use the modified ext. cord method and somebody touches the hot water heater, pipes or something else. I have wired circuits before and replaced many electric fixtures and am confident I could created the required cord pretty easily from materials on hand, but my rule with electricity is not to do something if I am uncomfortable doing it and right now that dire warning is scaring me just a little. Can't tell if it a chicken little warning or could actually happen in my situation. I love the internet

garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
Reviews:
·Callcentric
If you PROPERLY connect the generator's neutral and ground wires, as described in this post »Re: Generator doesn't work with Direct Vent Hot Water Heater then you will just make your generator act like your utility, at least as far as neutral/ground goes.

Then, the next thing to do is to connect the generator's ground terminal to your house's ground system. There are specialized parts to do that (a "split nut" on the panel's ground wire is ideal) but, in a pinch, you could connect it to a screw holding the cover plate onto one of your house's grounded outlets. That's NOT a proper ground bond, by any means, but it's better than nothing.


sk1939
Premium
join:2010-10-23
Mclean, VA
kudos:10
Reviews:
·T-Mobile US
·Verizon FiOS
reply to GenNewbie
The extension cord method assumes everything else works properly. Depending on the current draw of your water heater, should something dead short then all that current will be going through the neutral into anything else you have connected to your generator if it is not grounded properly. Hot water is not worth dying for (ignoring the fact that any fire damage caused by this will void your homeowners insurance policy).

The best (and only proper method) is to install an inlet and connect that to a transfer panel, or at the very least install a 30A breaker into your panel and use an interlock kit. Every other method is a hack job and assumes everything works the way it should (sort of like having your pool connected to a non-GFCI protected circuit).

garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
Reviews:
·Callcentric
said by sk1939:

The extension cord method assumes everything else works properly. Depending on the current draw of your water heater, should something dead short then all that current will be going through the neutral into anything else you have connected to your generator if it is not grounded properly.

No, it would trip the generator's breaker.
said by sk1939:

The best (and only proper method) is to install an inlet and connect that to a transfer panel, or at the very least install a 30A breaker into your panel and use an interlock kit. Every other method is a hack job and assumes everything works the way it should (sort of like having your pool connected to a non-GFCI protected circuit).

Generators are rated to work with extension cords, that's why there are outlets on them. Using them is perfectly safe (as long as you don't cut them or trip over them) and consistent with their directions and the NEC.

But, if tying into a house's electrical system then a proper means of connection should be used (such as an inlet) and either an interlock or a transfer switch. In some areas interlocks are not permitted by the AHJ.


Frink
Professor
Premium
join:2000-07-13
Scotch Plains, NJ
reply to DKS
said by DKS:

And how many children do you have?

I already discussed that I have two, a 2 and a 3 year old, both in diapers


GenNewbie

@rr.com
reply to garys_2k
Could I attach a ground wire from the gen to the thick braided cooper jump wire that is jumping the 2 pipes coming out of the hot water heater? I assume that is a grounding wire? It is accessible and since there is no sheathing and it is right near the same basement window, if it safe, it would be convenient. Thanks!


ArgMeMatey

join:2001-08-09
Milwaukee, WI
kudos:2
Reviews:
·voip.ms
·AT&T Midwest
·Time Warner Cable
reply to Frink

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

After seeing the where this thread has gone, I'm glad I insisted on the Direct Vent instead of the power vent that the plumber recommended!

We can probably agree that this thread reflects many different risk tolerances. We've all seen the redneck solution websites and the state-of-the-art, cost-is-no-object installations. This is neither, but the subject of interlocks is not even remotely a gray area.

We can also agree that once something has become a matter of law, violating that law increases the risk of being found criminally or civilly liable in the unlikely case that property damage, injury or death occurs because of your actions.

So the only advice I'll give is, get umbrella liability and be glad the prosecution will have a tough time compelling your family to testify in a criminal trial. Because somewhere on the East Coast right now, somebody is unintentionally backfeeding a power line, and somebody else is going to get shocked. Let's hope they can let go.
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garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
Reviews:
·Callcentric
reply to GenNewbie

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

said by GenNewbie :

Could I attach a ground wire from the gen to the thick braided cooper jump wire that is jumping the 2 pipes coming out of the hot water heater? I assume that is a grounding wire? It is accessible and since there is no sheathing and it is right near the same basement window, if it safe, it would be convenient. Thanks!

That new jumper was installed to prevent electrically isolating the hot water piping from the cold, that's all. The cold water side SHOULD be bonded to the breaker panel's ground bus, but it may not be unless you can see that it is. Any plastic pipe or dielectric fittings between that water heater jumper and any panel bond will disrupt that connection, too.

I'd stick with an electrical ground, not the plumbing system.

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

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

said by ArgMeMatey:

After seeing the where this thread has gone, I'm glad I insisted on the Direct Vent instead of the power vent that the plumber recommended!

We can probably agree that this thread reflects many different risk tolerances. We've all seen the redneck solution websites and the state-of-the-art, cost-is-no-object installations. This is neither, but the subject of interlocks is not even remotely a gray area.

We can also agree that once something has become a matter of law, violating that law increases the risk of being found criminally or civilly liable in the unlikely case that property damage, injury or death occurs because of your actions.

So the only advice I'll give is, get umbrella liability and be glad the prosecution will have a tough time compelling your family to testify in a criminal trial. Because somewhere on the East Coast right now, somebody is unintentionally backfeeding a power line, and somebody else is going to get shocked. Let's hope they can let go.

Nobody is talking (here) about connecting between the house wiring and a generator, other than the ground. This is about using a generator with an unbonded ground-neutral on a load that requires that bond.

Regarding interconnection, I'm with you. Do it right with an interlock or transfer switch.

As for the linemen, they treat all wires as hot and short the primaries together and then to ground before messing with them. They're well aware of the risks and realities of improperly connected generators.


sk1939
Premium
join:2010-10-23
Mclean, VA
kudos:10
Reviews:
·T-Mobile US
·Verizon FiOS
reply to garys_2k

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

said by garys_2k:

No, it would trip the generator's breaker.

Yes and no, it can take quite a bit of current for a breaker to trip depending on the type of short. If there is an arc (which typically is the cause of fires next to overloads) then it won't trip at all.

said by garys_2k:


Generators are rated to work with extension cords, that's why there are outlets on them. Using them is perfectly safe (as long as you don't cut them or trip over them) and consistent with their directions and the NEC.

Again yes, but you can't really (even if you could it would be wrong because it's against code) power a water heater off of an extension cord (other than a tankless single sink one perhaps).

robbin
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-21
Leander, TX
kudos:1
reply to garys_2k

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

Not connecting to the house wiring? When the water heater is plugged into the extension cord with the bonded neutral / ground, it will connect the generator neutral into the entire wiring system of the house on both the house neutral as well as ground systems.