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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

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?"

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

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??


alkizmo

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

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.

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

1 edit

said by alkizmo:

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.

The safety of a floating neutral generator is inherent in the design as since there is no ground, there is no shock or electrocution hazard from say standing in a wet puddle. The only way to be part of the current path is by touching both hot and neutral. Once the generator has a neutral ground bond added, this is no longer the case. My point is that the water heater is not isolated from the house as was posted. The entire house ground system is now energized. As a result, there are now many ways to receive an unhealthy or killing shock.

The fact that the Power Vent water heater only draws about 2 amps virtually guarantees that other devices will be powered concurrently with the water heater. As the generator has not been fully installed as code would require means that there is no shock protection for the house residents. Yes, every outlet in your kitchen has GFCI protection, but that extension cord coming in through the window does not (floating neutral generators do not have GFCI protection).

The generator as shipped by the manufacturer does not need to be grounded as it is isolated by design. There is nothing unsafe about using the generator without grounding it if it is used as it was designed to be used -- with extension cords only. Remember, the reason we need protection from ground faults is that our electrical distribution system is an earthed system, meaning that ground is part of the entire system. This is not the case with a portable, floating neutral generator. Generators which come with ground bonds also come with GFCI protection.


alkizmo

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

said by robbin:

The entire house ground system is now energized. As a result, there are now many ways to receive an unhealthy or killing shock.

it would normally trip the breaker on the generator (Or stall the generator) as the current would be flowing back to the neutral.

said by robbin:

The only way to be part of the current path is by touching both hot and neutral.

See I never knew that. I thought that no matter the source of current, you'd get shocked (Unless you were completely rubber proofed from touching anything that would conduct current to the ground).

I guess a precaution would be a GFCI protected extension cord.

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

said by alkizmo:

said by robbin:

The entire house ground system is now energized. As a result, there are now many ways to receive an unhealthy or killing shock.

it would normally trip the breaker on the generator (Or stall the generator) as the current would be flowing back to the neutral.

Breakers provide overcurrent protection to prevent fires. They do not protect human life.

said by alkizmo:

said by robbin:

The only way to be part of the current path is by touching both hot and neutral.

See I never knew that. I thought that no matter the source of current, you'd get shocked (Unless you were completely rubber proofed from touching anything that would conduct current to the ground).

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.


alkizmo

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

said by robbin:

Breakers provide overcurrent protection to prevent fires. They do not protect human life.

Right, but unless the short occurs while your touching something grounded, the breaker would trip quickly.

You're describing something that can happen with utility power in house circuits.

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

I am talking about human life. What you recommended provides no safety. It is dangerous.

No, it cannot happen to the same degree with utility power if the house is less than 30 years old. They have GFCI protection on at least some circuits. You have both a baby and inlaws from out of the country in your home. Would you want either of them exposed to the shock hazard I have described? Put another way, if your house had no GFCIs in either the kitchen or the bathroom, would you feel comfortable with your family's safety?


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

reply to alkizmo

said by alkizmo:

said by robbin:

Breakers provide overcurrent protection to prevent fires. They do not protect human life.

Right, but unless the short occurs while your touching something grounded, the breaker would trip quickly.

You're describing something that can happen with utility power in house circuits.

No, actually breakers don't trip unless you ground the circuit or overload the circuit. It takes very little current to stop your heart, which is why GFCI's trip so low. You get shocked when you complete the circuit by providing a path to ground. Ground potential is important here.

Generator and utility power isn't that different.


pike
Premium,MVM
join:2001-02-01
Washington, DC
kudos:3

1 recommendation

reply to alkizmo

said by alkizmo:

See I never knew that.

Precisely why you should refrain from dispensing electrical advice on a home improvement forum.

itguy05

join:2005-06-17
Carlisle, PA
reply to robbin

said by robbin:

Put another way, if your house had no GFCIs in either the kitchen or the bathroom, would you feel comfortable with your family's safety?

Yup. Why? Cause when I grew up in the 70's and 80's there were no GFCIs in the kitchen or bathroom. You learned real quick to be careful with electricity. May sound harsh but you could call it survival of the fittest.

Even used some home brew extension cords which were some heavy gauge wire and a steel box with a socket in the end. All the while using a 3 prong "cheater" adapter.


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

said by pike:

said by alkizmo:

See I never knew that.

Precisely why you should refrain from dispensing electrical advice on a home improvement forum.

I hope you are addressing that to a bunch of other posters and not just singling out alkizmo

robbin
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-21
Leander, TX
kudos:1
reply to itguy05

said by itguy05:

May sound harsh but you could call it survival of the fittest

That's what you think we do here -- cull the herd?


djrobx
Premium
join:2000-05-31
Valencia, CA
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·VOIPO
reply to itguy05

said by itguy05:

said by robbin:

Put another way, if your house had no GFCIs in either the kitchen or the bathroom, would you feel comfortable with your family's safety?

Yup. Why? Cause when I grew up in the 70's and 80's there were no GFCIs in the kitchen or bathroom. You learned real quick to be careful with electricity. May sound harsh but you could call it survival of the fittest.

Even used some home brew extension cords which were some heavy gauge wire and a steel box with a socket in the end. All the while using a 3 prong "cheater" adapter.

This.

The funniest part is that we had tons of those cheater adapters, because some brainiac thought it was a good idea to replace a good number of our home's three prong outlets with two-prong child safety plugs. *Smacks forehead*. They were spring loaded. You'd have to plug in sideways, twist 90 degrees, then fully insert.

I only recently cleaned up most of this mess because we sold the home. Replaced them with proper 3 prong outlets and verified them with a tester, and installed GFCIs in the bathrooms, kitchen, and garage.
--
AT&T U-Hearse - RIP Unlimited Internet 1995-2011
Rethink Billable.


alkizmo

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

said by pike:

Precisely why you should refrain from dispensing electrical advice on a home improvement forum.

And I did state in my kludge plug trick that he should wait for an electrician to give input and that it's probably wrong/unsafe. If Frink chose to use my trick, then that's his choice.

After that, it's all discussion/debate as to WHAT the risks are.

You guys keep talking about return path through ground... yes, I know that now, but I don't see how it is less safe than the typical wiring in a house.

The generator might be wet, extension cords yet, but even if his whole plumbing became live because of a short, the current would flow back to the neutral and trip the breaker.

People with a transfer switch that switch the neutral have N/G bond at the generator, a generator that can run outside. What exactly is different in this scenario that makes the transfer switch setup safe, but not a N/G bond with extension cords?

I'm trying to understand, but no one is giving me comparisons as to how a short would kill someone with a generator, but not with normal house wiring (Again, don't mention GFCIs, they aren't everywhere). The only ADDED risk I see, is AT the generator, outside, in the rain.

Can someone tell me what can happen differently between N/G bond in the generator vs. house wiring/transfer switch.

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

said by alkizmo:

I'm trying to understand, but no one is giving me comparisons as to how a short would kill someone with a generator, but not with normal house wiring (Again, don't mention GFCIs, they aren't everywhere). The only ADDED risk I see, is AT the generator, outside, in the rain.

You can't limit it unless you can convince the electrons not to take the path they choose. There are multiple risks added.. Either do it right or keep it separate.

said by nunya:

said by alkizmo:

Now I'll probably get grilled for this, but...

Now if it's "safe", I don't know, I just know it's not the proper way to do it

Don't do this. It's dangerous. Emergency or not. An "emergency" situation never constitutes doing stupid things. Quite the opposite. Don't create a "life or death" emergency trying to alleviate a "loss of comfort" situation...There are multiple things that could wrong using this cheat. Anything metallic connected to the WH could become energized by the generator in such a scenario. This includes the metallic case and any metallic piping (gas or water). This could electrocute anyone touching them.

Enough said


alkizmo

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

No not enough said and no real explanation/example was given as to why there are added risks to N/G bond with extension cords compared to N/G bond with transfer switch.

I want to know/learn/understand. Is it too much to ask or is this forum no longer about learning?


sk1939
Premium
join:2010-10-23
Mclean, VA
kudos:10
Reviews:
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reply to alkizmo

said by alkizmo:

You guys keep talking about return path through ground... yes, I know that now, but I don't see how it is less safe than the typical wiring in a house.

The generator might be wet, extension cords yet, but even if his whole plumbing became live because of a short, the current would flow back to the neutral and trip the breaker.

No, it wouldn't necessarily trip the breaker, and it definately wouldn't trip before someone touched something metallic and electrictued themselves.

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

Additionally, a N/G bond with extension cords can't handle the current load put on it (30-50A).

AC current is NOT DC, which means that it goes and comes back forming a loop. If it dosen't find a return via the neutral and/or has a shorter path to ground, it will take that, be it through a water pipe or a human. This is why you need to have a neutral and why a ground bond in two places is bad.


alkizmo

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

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.

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.

said by sk1939:

Additionally, a N/G bond with extension cords can't handle the current load put on it (30-50A).

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

said by sk1939:

AC current is NOT DC, which means that it goes and comes back forming a loop. If it dosen't find a return via the neutral and/or has a shorter path to ground, it will take that, be it through a water pipe or a human. This is why you need to have a neutral and why a ground bond in two places is bad.

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.

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

said by alkizmo:

I want to know/learn/understand. Is it too much to ask or is this forum no longer about learning?

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. You do realize that our most expert member is currently MIA as whizkid3 See Profile lists his location as Queens, NY. Hopefully everything is OK there and we will hear from him soon. I'm sure that his expert services will be in great demand as the city tries to get back to normal. Everything which was flooded probably now has to be inspected by an electrical engineer.


alkizmo

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

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.


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

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?



alkizmo

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

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).