dslreports logo
site
 
    All Forums Hot Topics Gallery
spc

spacer




how-to block ads


Search Topic:
uniqs
13025
share rss forum feed

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

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.
--
USNG:
16TDN2870
Find your USNG coordinates:
USNGWeb

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.


Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Millenicom
reply to sk1939

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

said by sk1939:

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).

Really? Why and why can't you power a water heater with an extension cord as long as the capacity of the cord and the protections are correct? (Breaker or Fuse size).


Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1
reply to robbin

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

Not if it's not connected to the house wiring in any way. Just life the 10-2 and ground wire from the heater.


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

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

said by Jack_in_VA:

said by sk1939:

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).

Really? Why and why can't you power a water heater with an extension cord as long as the capacity of the cord and the protections are correct? (Breaker or Fuse size).

Simply because you have to use solid wire (romex or THHN) or stranded THHN to connect hardwired appliances (non-vibration) or using SOOW if it is a piece of vibrating equipment (like a motor).


Jack_in_VA
Premium
join:2007-11-26
North, VA
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Millenicom
said by sk1939:

Simply because you have to use solid wire (romex or THHN) or stranded THHN to connect hardwired appliances (non-vibration) or using SOOW if it is a piece of vibrating equipment (like a motor).

Really? In 52 years of electrical work I've never heard that. Looks like my Heatpump is out of compliance and illegal. It has Romex to the pull out disconnect but THHN stranded to the unit which definitely vibrates and has a motor (Compressor).

As far as the water heater I can sit it in the yard and wire it up with a portable cord to the generator and use hoses to connect the water to the house.

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

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

said by Jack_in_VA:

Not if it's not connected to the house wiring in any way. Just life the 10-2 and ground wire from the heater.

Ok, so if the water heater is connected to the plumbing system by plastic pipe and not directly bonded to the ground system then it would't be connected. My guess is that at this point in time, the majority of homes in the US have metal pipe.


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

said by Jack_in_VA:

Not if it's not connected to the house wiring in any way. Just life the 10-2 and ground wire from the heater.

Ok, so if the water heater is connected to the plumbing system by plastic pipe and not directly bonded to the ground system then it would't be connected. My guess is that at this point in time, the majority of homes in the US have metal pipe.
[/BQUOTE

Majority? Maybe but definitely not all.


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

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

said by Jack_in_VA:

said by sk1939:

Simply because you have to use solid wire (romex or THHN) or stranded THHN to connect hardwired appliances (non-vibration) or using SOOW if it is a piece of vibrating equipment (like a motor).

Really? In 52 years of electrical work I've never heard that. Looks like my Heatpump is out of compliance and illegal. It has Romex to the pull out disconnect but THHN stranded to the unit which definitely vibrates and has a motor (Compressor).

As far as the water heater I can sit it in the yard and wire it up with a portable cord to the generator and use hoses to connect the water to the house.

Not really, since it's not a requirement to use SOOW cable for vibration-prone devices, just a recommendation to prevent wear on cable. The use of THHN though is a requirement (same requirement where you can't use SJT or lamp cord to wire outlets).

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

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

said by Jack_in_VA:

Majority? Maybe but definitely not all.

True, but all gas water heaters are connected by a metal gas line and that line is bonded to the ground system. Same difference, still connected.


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

said by Jack_in_VA:

Majority? Maybe but definitely not all.

True, but all gas water heaters are connected by a metal gas line and that line is bonded to the ground system. Same difference, still connected.

I don't recall specifying that I was talking about a gas fired water heater. More specifically I was using my electric water heater.


tp0d
yabbazooie
Premium
join:2001-02-13
Carnegie, PA
kudos:6
reply to Frink

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

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...

So you got it to work? Bonding N to GND did it?

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

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

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

said by Jack_in_VA:

I don't recall specifying that I was talking about a gas fired water heater.

That's what the thread is about. I responded to gary2k and then you responded to what I said.

Gas water heater / generator / extension cord / neutral ground bond. It connects to the electric system of the house. It is not isolated.

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

said by Jack_in_VA:

I don't recall specifying that I was talking about a gas fired water heater.

That's what the thread is about. I responded to gary2k and then you responded to what I said.

Gas water heater / generator / extension cord / neutral ground bond. It connects to the electric system of the house. It is not isolated.

How's that? If the water heater is disconnected from the breaker, then connected to the generator via an extension cord, the generator's ground and neutral are bonded and then the generator's frame is connected (bonded, ideally) to the house ground, HOW are they "not isolated?"

garys_2k
Premium
join:2004-05-07
Farmington, MI
Reviews:
·Callcentric
reply to sk1939

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

said by sk1939:

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.

You did say "dead short." If you want to now talk about an overload, that's fine, but I can't see how any fault current would be available elsewhere on the system. The fault current would run back to the source, the generator.
said by sk1939:

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).

What code is that? If it's an emergency and the water heater is disconnected from the panel then what code is being violated here?


ArgMeMatey

join:2001-08-09
Milwaukee, WI
kudos:2
Reviews:
·voip.ms
·AT&T Midwest
·Time Warner Cable
reply to garys_2k

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

said by garys_2k:

Nobody is talking (here) about connecting between the house wiring and a generator, other than the ground.
...
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.

1) I was referring to this subthread and similar posts ... »Re: Generator doesn't work with Direct Vent Hot Water Heater

2) I was thinking about places where a secondary cable feeds more than one home. If one customer connects their generator and fails to turn off the main, the secondary is backfed. I am guessing this would often just trip the generator breaker because of the loads that are still connected, but if it didn't, another customer doing their own hot-wire setup, not thinking like a professional line worker, could get a shock.
--
USNG:
16TDN2870
Find your USNG coordinates:
USNGWeb


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

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

Click for full size
said by tp0d:

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...

So you got it to work? Bonding N to GND did it?

-j

Yup!

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

Oh, I forgot about THAT suggestion, yeah, bad bad bad. So easy to mix up the switching, kind of like 1) drop the magazine, then 2) clear the chamber. Don't mix those up, either!

I've also thought that it'd be likely that a home generator would just drop its breaker if the main was thrown, may be more of a real safety hazard in rural areas where there may be only one house on a long stretch of line. In any case, it's not anything that should be possible to happen, even by mistake.

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

said by robbin:

Gas water heater / generator / extension cord / neutral ground bond. It connects to the electric system of the house. It is not isolated.

How's that? If the water heater is disconnected from the breaker, then connected to the generator via an extension cord, the generator's ground and neutral are bonded and then the generator's frame is connected (bonded, ideally) to the house ground, HOW are they "not isolated?"

Well, I can quote you multiple times in this thread where you stated that a proper bond to ground was not required. However my original point, which you would know if you had read my prior posts, is that the water heater is still connected to the house via the ground system on metal water pipes as well as the gas line. This creates hazards. Especially with multiple extension cords laying around.

said by garys_2k:

Nobody is talking (here) about connecting between the house wiring and a generator, other than the ground.

Why do you believe that the generator neutral is not connected to the entire house ground and neutral via the neutral / ground bond as I have described??


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:

You did say "dead short." If you want to now talk about an overload, that's fine, but I can't see how any fault current would be available elsewhere on the system. The fault current would run back to the source, the generator.

True, if that was the only thing connected to the generator, and that the hot water heater wasn't connected to the house's ground/neutral system via the water pipes.

said by garys_2k:

What code is that? If it's an emergency and the water heater is disconnected from the panel then what code is being violated here?

An emergency is if you need hot water to give birth or treat critical injuries. It is not an emergency to take a warm shower when the power is out for 6 hours. As far as code, using flexible cable for a hardwired appliance. Minor when compared to the neutral/ground issue though when you account for the risk of energizing the neutral/ground.


TheTechGuru

join:2004-03-25
TEXAS
kudos:2
Reviews:
·HughesNet Satell..
·WesTex Connect
said by sk1939:

An emergency is if you need hot water to give birth or treat critical injuries. It is not an emergency to take a warm shower when the power is out for 6 hours.

6 hours? Try 6 to 16 days!!!

Anyway, our 8000 watt john deer ran our 4000 watt normal conventional 30 gallon water heater just fine after Ike.

Thing is, from my understanding, the OP's water heater is gas, but since it's electronically controlled with fan forced exhaust he could run it off a 200watt generator but it has to be wired right.

Modern things sure are a PITA aren't they. That's why I drive 20yr old cars.
--
CompTIA Network+ Certified


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:

However my original point, which you would know if you had read my prior posts, is that the water heater is still connected to the house via the ground system on metal water pipes as well as the gas line. This creates hazards. Especially with multiple extension cords laying around.

Why do you believe that the generator neutral is not connected to the entire house ground and neutral via the neutral / ground bond as I have described??

1 - Multiple extension cords laying around, but plugged in the generator, is a hazard by itself.

2 - Yes the generator would be effectively bonded to the house's ground through the copper pipes of the water heater. But what's your point? All ground systems should be bonded, even if they are from separately derived systems.

2.1 - Maybe you're thinking that the house's N/G bond is considered as a SECOND N/G bond, but that's incorrect, because the generator's neutral isn't connected to the house's neutral through a second line.