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Power indicator for when main is off?

ChrisJ
ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,969
Have a bit of a weird question, and yet I have to ask.
My parent's have an interlock on their QO panel to hold the main off when they use their generator. The problem of course is, how do you know when the power comes back on?

Their closest neighbor is quite far, you'd never see anything and there are no street lights.

I keep thinking there must be some kind of solution for this but I don't even know where to start looking.

Does someone make a fused pilot light(s) that can be wired before the main? They make the interlock, and my parent's cannot be the only ones with this issue, can they?

I can easily wire up some panel mount LED's with inline fuses and wire them in, but this obviously will look terrible and I doubt would impress any inspector. I tend to avoid doing such things for obvious reasons.

I'd love some kind of approved off the shelf solution.

Even better would be pilot lights that have an alarm that chirps when the power returns.

Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment

Comments

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,039
    You would think there would be, wouldn't you? I haven't seen one, and I have the same problem myself -- although I do have neighbours I can see.

    If you should run across one, let me know!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,931
    The transfer switch (manual?) switches the entire panel to the generator?

    In the old days of commercial wiring, it was allowed to tap the main service conductors ahead of the main to supply another fused service disconnect that fed Exit lighting. (Thinking that the main would be opened in the event of an emergency and then the Exit lights would still be on.)
    You can have more than one service disconnect to a building but it needs to near the existing main and labeled as such...1 of 2....2 of 2 etc. The only catch in today's code (and probably was overlooked in the past) is having more than one conductor under a lug. This tap used to be #10 copper stuck in the hot lug above the main disconnect CB with large service wire. To be totally correct today there are insulating biting taps that can be bolted to that service conductor for this purpose. I might comment that of all these taps I have seen a single #10 copper wire stuck in with 2/0 to 4/0 copper or even aluminum wire, there has never been an issue.
    It is best to pull the meter or up stream disconnect if your lucky, for connecting this tap.
    Although I know of electricians who could do this hot....very carefully......don't try this at home. ;)
    ChrisJ
  • BornForDying
    BornForDying Member Posts: 40
    edited January 2017
    Google found this. No clue if it's any good or not.

    http://m.homedepot.com/p/Reliance-Controls-PowerBack-Utility-Power-Return-Alert-THP108/202216506?cm_mmc=Shopping|THD|G|0|G-VF-PLA-D27E-Electrical|&gclid=Cj0KEQiAtqHEBRCNrdC6rYq9_oYBEiQAejvRl5VMpEJITJ0LCgzbzW--h6Xjzh2DmKHb54uyMZcc61EaAob58P8HAQ&gclsrc=aw.ds

    "The PowerBack is intended to be installed on a manual transfer panel or generator-ready load center. During a power outage, when the main breaker has been turned off to allow the generator to provide emergency power to the panel, the PowerBack can be activated and will emit a pulsing 105dB alarm when the power outage ends and utility power is again available. The PowerBack installs in a 1/2 trade size knockout in the panel within 20 in. of one of the utility hot legs. It includes an eight-inch current sensing antennae at the end of a 22 in. jacked lead. When wrapped around one of the hot legs to the main circuit breaker, the antennae will detect the returning utility current and activate the sonic alert."
    ChrisJ
  • BobC
    BobC Member Posts: 5,228
    Don't know if this would work but it might be worth looking into -

    http://www.homedepot.com/p/Reliance-Controls-PowerBack-Utility-Power-Return-Alert-THP108/202216506

    Just be VERY CAREFUL

    Bob
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @ 90,000 BTU, Single pipe steam
    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in
    3PSI gauge
    ChrisJ
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,969

    Google found this. No clue if it's any good or not.



    http://m.homedepot.com/p/Reliance-Controls-PowerBack-Utility-Power-Return-Alert-THP108/202216506?cm_mmc=Shopping|THD|G|0|G-VF-PLA-D27E-Electrical|&gclid=Cj0KEQiAtqHEBRCNrdC6rYq9_oYBEiQAejvRl5VMpEJITJ0LCgzbzW--h6Xjzh2DmKHb54uyMZcc61EaAob58P8HAQ&gclsrc=aw.ds



    "The PowerBack is intended to be installed on a manual transfer panel or generator-ready load center. During a power outage, when the main breaker has been turned off to allow the generator to provide emergency power to the panel, the PowerBack can be activated and will emit a pulsing 105dB alarm when the power outage ends and utility power is again available. The PowerBack installs in a 1/2 trade size knockout in the panel within 20 in. of one of the utility hot legs. It includes an eight-inch current sensing antennae at the end of a 22 in. jacked lead. When wrapped around one of the hot legs to the main circuit breaker, the antennae will detect the returning utility current and activate the sonic alert."

    BobC said:

    Don't know if this would work but it might be worth looking into -

    http://www.homedepot.com/p/Reliance-Controls-PowerBack-Utility-Power-Return-Alert-THP108/202216506

    Just be VERY CAREFUL

    Bob

    Nice,
    You both found it at the same time.

    I'll have to look into this.

    @JUGHNE I was going to have my dad's friend who is an electrician help out as I don't care for messing with a 200A service. Do you have an example of these piercing lugs you speak of?

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,969
    I emailed it to my dad, we'll see what he says.

    https://www.amazon.com/Reliance-Controls-Corporation-THP108-Return/dp/B003KREORA


    It looks exactly like what I was considering trying to build using a wireless detector.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,931
    I think the term "Insulation Biter" Tap is in the name.
    Most I have used are for tapping larger wire (3/0) to attach maybe #6 or larger. Not sure of the complete range available.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,969
    My dad decided he wanted to try the Reliance Controls product.
    I'll try to remember to update this thread with his findings. Maybe this will work for you too @Jamie Hall ?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,242
    At 105 decibels it is good there aren't any neighbors close by!
    Rick
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,969

    At 105 decibels it is good there aren't any neighbors close by!
    Rick

    I'm concerned it won't be quite loud enough being down in his basement. But we'll see.

    Reviews say it's more like 90dB.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,242
    90Db in a basement should be good. Hope this does what you need.
    Rick
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,304
    edited January 2017
    This is how I've done it. If you look in the upper left of the inside of the panel, you can see a fuse holder. I tap above the main, and the neon indicator and switch tell me if the line is back on even when the main breaker is off.

    The switch simply controls the neon indicator so it's only on when I run my generator. You could also just do this with a receptacle, then plug in a lamp, radio, etc for when the utility came back. As long as it has overcurrent protection, I'm comfortable doing that for customers.

    Forgive the wire nuts in the panel, it was a retrofit from a small GE.

    If you are not comfortable working live, then have a qualified electrician do this for you. Takes me about an hour. And I violate the one wire rule on the main with the tap as @JUGHNE points out.

    Taylor
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
    ChrisJ
  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    I have a single light in the hall that is not wired into the generator...when the power goes out I simply turn this light switch on..when the power come's on :open_mouth: I turn the generator off and get back to normal...
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,304
    Do you have a seperate generator panel? This is the cheap and dirty way of turning the main off before back feeding from an outbuilding where the generator is kept.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,969

    This is how I've done it. If you look in the upper left of the inside of the panel, you can see a fuse holder. I tap above the main, and the neon indicator and switch tell me if the line is back on even when the main breaker is off.



    The switch simply controls the neon indicator so it's only on when I run my generator. You could also just do this with a receptacle, then plug in a lamp, radio, etc for when the utility came back. As long as it has overcurrent protection, I'm comfortable doing that for customers.



    Forgive the wire nuts in the panel, it was a retrofit from a small GE.



    If you are not comfortable working live, then have a qualified electrician do this for you. Takes me about an hour. And I violate the one wire rule on the main with the tap as @JUGHNE points out.



    Taylor

    I like!
    Though, all of those doubled up neutrals...............

    :)
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,304
    Hey it's my own house I can break some rules! Actually back when I put this panel and I didn't have a ground bar so you can see what I did and I ended up doubling up the neutrals it was late at night.
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,969

    Hey it's my own house I can break some rules! Actually back when I put this panel and I didn't have a ground bar so you can see what I did and I ended up doubling up the neutrals it was late at night.

    Absolutely.
    The only reason I noticed it was my panel had the same thing and the electrical inspector wouldn't allow it, even though I installed a boiler, and it had nothing to do with the panel he wanted it rectified before he showed up for final inspection.

    He was right, and I didn't have a leg to stand on so I fixed it.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,304
    edited January 2017
    Double tap neutrals became a code violation in the 2002 NEC I believe.

    Didn't at all mean to sound sarcastic, it was a bit of "desperate times...desperate measures" panel change.

    If I don't do this on the job. Also if anyone wants a generator connection, I am obligated to install a transfer switch. As a setup like this could backfeed voltage to the line if the main were not turned off before the generator were connected.

    This is just a shoe-string way of having backup power with my personal "only accessible by qualified persons".
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,969

    Double tap neutrals became a code violation in the 2002 NEC I believe.



    Didn't at all mean to sound sarcastic, it was a bit of "desperate times...desperate measures" panel change.



    If I don't do this on the job. Also if anyone wants a generator connection, I am obligated to install a transfer switch. As a setup like this could backfeed voltage to the line if the main were not turned off before the generator were connected.



    This is just a shoe-string way of having backup power with my personal "only accessible by qualified persons".

    Your panel is a QO no?
    They make an interlock for it.

    It's a metal lever that won't move up and release the double pole breaker to the generator unless you shut the main off first. Then it moves up, and releases the generator's breaker to be turned on.

    As far as I know, it's to code and all.

    Here's an example.


    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 2,919
    The poor man's transfer switch. They're mighty proud of those things too, but since, technically, they're competing with a 200A service rate NEMA 3R transfer switch, they're a heck of a deal.

    You need a power inlet to plug the generator in also. I've only seen one style that I'd use, it has a lid that covers not just the receptacle but the connection as well, meaning that it can be used in the rain. The big box specials that just have a flap that covers the face of the recpt. aren't listed for use in wet locations...

  • Solid_Fuel_Man
    Solid_Fuel_Man Member Posts: 2,304
    edited January 2017
    Correct, most state "wet location when cover closed". The big glomey "in use" covers are the way to go in most cases.

    I'm not a huge fan of the LPG automatic generators. I have installed a dozen or so. On a windy -20F evening, what are the odds that will reliably start? Even with the cold weather kit, which is two heaters, one battery pad heater and one which slips over the oil filter. Both run continuously, with no control logic whatsoever. No thanks!

    Anyone seen the transfer switch which plugs into a meter socket? The meter ends up sticking out, and the generator plug is at the meter socket. http://www.generlink.com/about_generlink.cfm#
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC & Controls. I burn wood, it smells good!