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

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

Ah yes power vent thank you.

The gene has a ground bolt on it, I ran 25 feet of 8awg stranded wire from that bolt, to a stake of solid 10awg which I stripped of insulation and drove into the ground about 6 inches.

No transfer switch, I run extension cords direct.

I know it isn't the best thing to ask advice on, but is there any way I could circumvent that neutral to ground requirement or build a junction to do that in between the gene and the heater? I am no electrician obviously, but I would literally be sitting in front of the thing for the 20minutes it takes to heat the water then disconnect it...my wife and kids are starting to stink


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

is there any way I could circumvent that neutral to ground requirement

That requirement is for your safety and hopefully your water heater is built in such a way to make it more difficult to bypass the safety feature then it is to use it properly.

At the minimum you need to connect neutral and ground at your generator (that is easy enough to do). However I would also suggest to take that 25ft 8 awg wire and connect the generator ground to your building ground (at the grounding rod would be perfect but anywhere is better then that 10 awg wire stuck in the earth).
--
Got some spare cpu cycles ? Join Team Helix or Team Starfire!


alkizmo

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

is there any way I could circumvent that neutral to ground requirement or build a junction to do that in between the gene and the heater?

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

Find a 3-prong plug that you can "dispose" of, as in, you don't care.

Cut off the cable on that plug while leaving a good 3 to 6 inches of cable still on it.

Strip the green and white wires inside that cable, and join them together with a wire nut. (Cut off the "hot" prong and cap the "hot" wire). Then plug that into a free socket on your generator. That will make a "removable" neutral/ground bond.

Now if it's "safe", I don't know, I just know it's not the proper way to do it, but I'm guessing you're in an "emergency" situation.


Frink
Professor
Premium
join:2000-07-13
Scotch Plains, NJ
Thanks everyone for your input. Greatly appreciated.


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

said by Frink:

is there any way I could circumvent that neutral to ground requirement or build a junction to do that in between the gene and the heater?

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

Find a 3-prong plug that you can "dispose" of, as in, you don't care.

Cut off the cable on that plug while leaving a good 3 to 6 inches of cable still on it.

Strip the green and white wires inside that cable, and join them together with a wire nut. (Cut off the "hot" prong and cap the "hot" wire). Then plug that into a free socket on your generator. That will make a "removable" neutral/ground bond.

Now if it's "safe", I don't know, I just know it's not the proper way to do it, but I'm guessing you're in an "emergency" situation.

So, in theory of course, I would plug that modified plug in to one of the two 120v outlets on the front of the generator, then the second would go straight to the water heater, correct? ...and wouldn't connect anything else for the period of time the heater needs to run, then remove the modified plug once complete. Thanks.


alkizmo

join:2007-06-25
Pierrefonds, QC
kudos:1
The modified plug would join the ground to the neutral. Your WH is looking for that bond so it can know it was properly grounded.


Frink
Professor
Premium
join:2000-07-13
Scotch Plains, NJ
said by alkizmo:

The modified plug would join the ground to the neutral. Your WH is looking for that bond so it can know it was properly grounded.

Got it, so if I have two 120v 3 prong outlets on my generator, one gets the modified plug, and the second just goes to the WH?


alkizmo

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

Got it, so if I have two 120v 3 prong outlets on my generator, one gets the modified plug, and the second just goes to the WH?

Yes exactly, you gotta sacrifice one outlet for the modified plug.

If you can wait, I would hold out until one of our pros come to comment in this thread. I'm not even sure if I would do this modification myself without having my generator's chassis grounded to the house's ground.


tp0d
yabbazooie
Premium
join:2001-02-13
Carnegie, PA
kudos:6
I`m an AO Smith warranty service agent, and I can honestly say I havent run into this situation yet.

The control needs a good ground to prove flame properly. If you bond the water heater to the ground rod, it may work. (ie-- run a #14 conductor from chassis ground on the heater to the ground rod)

I know generators can provide noisy power. I have seen noisy power/bad power kill a powervent control. Hope you dont let the smoke out..

good luck, stinky :P

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


nunya
LXI 483
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:13
Reviews:
·Charter
·voip.ms

1 recommendation

reply to alkizmo
said by alkizmo:

said by Frink:

is there any way I could circumvent that neutral to ground requirement or build a junction to do that in between the gene and the heater?

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

Find a 3-prong plug that you can "dispose" of, as in, you don't care.

Cut off the cable on that plug while leaving a good 3 to 6 inches of cable still on it.

Strip the green and white wires inside that cable, and join them together with a wire nut. (Cut off the "hot" prong and cap the "hot" wire). Then plug that into a free socket on your generator. That will make a "removable" neutral/ground bond.

Now if it's "safe", I don't know, I just know it's not the proper way to do it, but I'm guessing you're in an "emergency" situation.

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.

As explained, your WH is looking for neutral and ground to be bonded. Ordinarily, this would be in the main disconnect (main panel). In your case, it would need to be at the genset.

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.
--
If someone refers to herself / himself as a "guru", they probably aren't.


jack b
Gone Fishing
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-08
Cape Cod
kudos:1

2 recommendations

Scenario gives a whole new meaning to "hot water heater"...


Kurtis

@myvzw.com
I have the same problem and AO smith told me today too bad! They stated that their units are not intended to wOrk with generators. I see lots of opinions on this post but not a clear safe answer?


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

I have the same problem and AO smith told me today too bad! They stated that their units are not intended to wOrk with generators. I see lots of opinions on this post but not a clear safe answer?

Get a transfer panel and a decent generator.


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

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.

Amen. Amazing how people want their comforts like hot water and A/C in the midst of a power outage. I can see wanting to run a fridge or freezer and a water pump on a well and maybe a stove, but a hot water heater?
--
Need-based health care not greed-based health care.


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

1 edit
said by DKS:

said by nunya:

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.

Amen. Amazing how people want their comforts like hot water and A/C in the midst of a power outage. I can see wanting to run a fridge or freezer and a water pump on a well and maybe a stove, but a hot water heater?

I use my generator to heat my water for showers. What's wrong with that? I just turn off everything else and turn the breaker on for the water heater and let it heat. It only takes about an hour. The hot water is enough for 2 showers and hot water for hand washing etc through the day.

So why do you have a problem with that? There is nothing "amazing" about it. Why take cold showers when you don't have to?


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

2 recommendations

said by Jack_in_VA:

said by DKS:

said by nunya:

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.

Amen. Amazing how people want their comforts like hot water and A/C in the midst of a power outage. I can see wanting to run a fridge or freezer and a water pump on a well and maybe a stove, but a hot water heater?

I use my generator to heat my water for showers.

So why do you have a problem with that? There is nothing "amazing" about it. Why take cold showers when you don't have to?

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.
--
Need-based health care not greed-based health care.


chamberc
Premium
join:2008-08-05
Irving, TX

1 recommendation

reply to alkizmo
said by alkizmo:

said by Frink:

is there any way I could circumvent that neutral to ground requirement or build a junction to do that in between the gene and the heater?

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

Find a 3-prong plug that you can "dispose" of, as in, you don't care.

Cut off the cable on that plug while leaving a good 3 to 6 inches of cable still on it.

Strip the green and white wires inside that cable, and join them together with a wire nut. (Cut off the "hot" prong and cap the "hot" wire). Then plug that into a free socket on your generator. That will make a "removable" neutral/ground bond.

Now if it's "safe", I don't know, I just know it's not the proper way to do it, but I'm guessing you're in an "emergency" situation.

It'll work... not the best solution, but "safe enough" for temporary use.


TheTechGuru

join:2004-03-25
TEXAS
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Charter
·HughesNet Satell..
·WesTex Connect
reply to DKS
Some people need the generator for not only a water heater but a water well pump too.

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.
--
CompTIA Network+ Certified


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

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?


Frink
Professor
Premium
join:2000-07-13
Scotch Plains, NJ
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...


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


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


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 ...


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