Standby Generators

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I want to connect a portable generator to my house when the power goes out, via a transfer switch. When I hook it up, do I need to run a ground wire from the generator to a ground rod or is the ground connection at the main panel and existing ground rod sufficient?

A portable generator for temporary power (i.e. during a power failure) is not considered a separately derived source as defined by the National Electric Code, so a separate ground rod is not required. If the system is wired through a transfer switch as per the manufacturer's instructions and grounding is done to the switch (and the switch to the panel), then you should be fine.

If you want to add one anyway, that's OK - it would be considered a supplemental ground rod and it must be bonded to the building's grounding system.

Just be careful not to ground the generator to a ground rod INSTEAD of to the building grounding system, as this may cause an unsafe and potentially hazardous condition.

When running a portable generator I can power my fridge, stove, air conditioner, etc. However, if I plug in a battery backup device such as my APC XS 1500 the battery backup device does NOT recognize it as a good power source and therefore will not go "offline." It continues to run on its own battery power. I’m thinking the generator is not quite putting out 60Hz which may be the problem. Is there a line conditioner I can get or something else I can do so the battery backup works as it should?

Well, the line conditioner would be the battery backup device you're trying to plug in!

A couple things to check:

1. Many generators require an 'exciter' current of a substantial enough amperage in order to start delivering power. For instance, if you were to plug only a cell phone charger into your generator, chances are good that it wouldn't charge your phone. However, if you first plug in a lamp with a 60 watt bulb and THEN plug in the charger, it would probably start working. Does your battery backup device work if something else is plugged into the generator along with it?

2. If that doesn't work, you may want to check with APC tech support. UPS units are designed to work with dirty power to clean it up - that's their primary purpose. If yours doesn't work with your generator power and you tried the tip above, there might be another problem with the unit.

Wurtsboro Electric Service, Inc.

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