1. The Topic of the Month for October is "Make this the Perfect Bugout Location". Please join the discussion in the TOTM forum.

The new Power Panel thread

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by Kingfish, Aug 9, 2011.

  1. Kingfish

    Kingfish Self Reliant

    Ok here are some pictures what we started with and what we have now. This system is as versatile as you can get and still be code in Michigan.
    First we removed the old 60 amp push pull junk breaker box and the old meter and 100 amp service. We then installed a new mast with 200 amp service into a new 200 amp distribution panel. That panel has a slide switch to go from Grid to Generator. That is where we pipe in the new Generac 8k Propane Genny. This allows us to run any functions in the house up to 8000 watts total. I can now run my water pump as long as I have propane.

    Fromm the 200 amp panel we branched out to a pair of smaller 100 amp distribution panels which both have slide switches so they can run off the Generac or isolated by them selves either single or ganged together with the junction box under the panels. Now I can run a 120 volt Generator or inverter on one or both of those smaller panels. It is very very versatile. My next purchase will be the inverter and am torn between the 4000 watt Zantrex and the 3600 watt Outback. Both are nice units and will do what we want next and that is to pull one of our panels off the gird and run it on solar. So have the base set up now. Total cost was $1950.00 and we reused one of the 100 amp distribution panels. so we saved like 60 bucks there. Here are the before and after. The before are blurry but its too late now as that stuff has been scrapped out. The last picture shows the incoming Black line from the 120 volt generator or Inverter or what ever I want to use.Mike
    P1010008.JPG P1010010.JPG P1010039.JPG P1010040.JPG P1010041.JPG
    smithcp2002, hank2222, Cephus and 2 others like this.
  2. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    That's a mighty nice set-up Kingfish. But way to complicated for me. Expensive too ! But, when someone has as much money as you do, what the heck right ? LOL
  3. Kingfish

    Kingfish Self Reliant

    Nadja, its not complicated at all. Its just three distribution panels. The two smaller ones are connected into the 200 amp main. The cool thing is I can Isolate any one of them or all three. Look close at the third picture. This is the slide switch. If I turn off the main 200 amp breaker I cut myself off from the grid then turn on that twin 40 amp breaker and start my Generac 8000 and feed all three panels. When I get my solar stuff hooked up Ill be isolating one of the 100 amp panels which are all 120 volt breakers. The way it is I am not grid tied but ready to go all off grid without having to use it now. Ill continue to use grid power until I lose it then just hit those slide switches and start my own power. You see each panel can be on or off the Grid. Kingfish
  4. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    Impressive. I hope to have something like that one day.
  5. CaboWabo5150

    CaboWabo5150 Lost in the woods

    Nice... Did you do the work youself?
    I've got a new transfer switch sitting in the box on my basement floor under the breaker box.. I just haven't gotten the nerve yet to go pokin' & prodin' with my fingers around that thing.. The directions make it look really easy - which is where I'd get it... If it were rocket science I'd dive in, but it's the easy ones where I tend to mess up..

    It's nice to see other MI people on here.. I'd like to hope there's a lot more around me getting prepared to take care of themselves when times get tough...
  6. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Very nice KingFish. Well thought out and implemented. Good for you....
  7. Kingfish

    Kingfish Self Reliant

    Thanks guys, Cabo, I had an electrician do it all. The slide switches take the place of a transfer switch. Its a mechanical metal bar that only allows the main OR the first breaker to function As you can see in the two close up pics. No need for a transfer switch. What I have is two feeds to the same Distribution panel. I have this option on all three panels. My first experiment will be to Isolate the panel on the Right and run it with an inverter and battery bank. Size of Batteries and inverter are still up in the air. Right now I have grid power at 200 amps in,My 8000 watt Propane Generac at 35 amps of 240 and my 3000 watt Gas powered Honda at 21.7 amps of 120 ..

    So if I lose the grid Ill have 35 amps of 240 and 20 amps of 120 right now as long as I have fuel. What I have now is just the base electrical system to build to. The rest is where I am going to need lots of help. Inverter, charge and batteries then the best Solar panels available meaning the most power for the money and size. Im looking at Shucco thanks to Nadja. I will keep this thread posted when we add parts. It we be a while before we get to the next phase. This last stretch cost us as follows.

    #1 Generac Guardian series 8K Propane generator 1,900.00
    #2 500 Gallon Propane tank with regulators and copper lines 1,100.00
    #3 Electrician, wire, service upgrade, Distribution panels. 1,950.00
    #4 400 gallons of Propane 800.00 at 1.99 per gallon.
    #5 100 pound propane back up cylinder 109.00
    #6 filled 100 pound cyl. 23 gallons at 78.00 OUCH!!!

    Total 5,937 and change. Might as well say 6 grand to get this far. Just wait till we start buying the rest of the stuff. And guys we are not rich. My wife has a good job and I make fishing lures. W e make about 85k per year. Kingfish
  8. beast

    beast backwoodsman

    lookin good kingfish
    oh, semper fi cabo
    nother mich man here
  9. CaboWabo5150

    CaboWabo5150 Lost in the woods

    Wow.. Thanks Kingfish, great info... I'm new here to the site, but not to the mindset... I used to live down by the Detroit area.. Couldn't stand it another minute.. Moved North about 10 years ago.. I just moved into a new house further out of town and with more property, so I'm pretty much just getting started with prepping this place to be livable if the grid goes down for a while (or forever of I can do it ).. Just seems like these days I feel like I'm running outta time...

    Thanks Beast !!
  10. Kingfish

    Kingfish Self Reliant

    CaboWabo5150, FIRST THING TO DO is to look at your main distribution panel and see what it is. How big is the panel? do you have room for a generator breaker and will the brand of panel accept a slide switch or transfer switch. This takes an Electrician. Problem with Electricians is once they touch it? they have to bring it up to code. My entire system was a hodge podge mess of outdated non complying junk. A simple generator switch (transfer switch) is fine with most any panel that has a main breaker. You however cant install that because it inserts in between the meter and your distribution panel. Most electricians will charge about 100 bucks to do this job plus 300 for the switch. If you have a panel like mine you can take the transfer switch back and for 100 bucks get this slide switch and a breaker that matches the output of your generator. See on my third picture. I have the 200 amp main and when I turn that off( Isolates from the grid) and slide the slide switch I am now running on the generator through that twin 40 amp breaker. If you go that route you wont have to have any wiring done. Drill three holes INTO THE COVER and install the slide switch and put the sticker on the breaker. Thats it. Then hook the output of your generator into that breaker. That feeds power to the the entire panel. Its really quite simple how they work and they eliminate the need for all that expensive wiring while still complying with Michigan code. KF
  11. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    FWIW, I figured out which circuits I want during an interruption of commercial power; took them out of the main panel and put them in a subpanel. The sub is fed from the main under normal operation, and can be put on the gennie via an interlocked slide switch if commercial power goes out. Doing it that way did not tap into the house feed, so was easy and didn't involve the power company coming out and pulling the meter for safety. Transfer switches are entirely too pricy, but also the (arguably) best way to go if you are powering the whole house from a non-commercial source and want to keep the commercial source on tap.

    The gennie can handle the reefer, well pump, a few lights and the computer without problems. Way oversized (5KW more or less) so the well pump starting load is easily handled, and loafs the rest of the time.

    Eventually, if I last long enough, I can feed the subpanel from solar, wind, whatever, and rearrange the main panel to accommodate the ultimate power plan. Long term project, there are some other things want done first.
  12. Nadja

    Nadja RIP 3-11-2013 Forum Leader

    Ghrit. When you are on emergancy power, I would recommend that you do not run your well pump with the refer pluged in to your gennie. The start up draw on the well pump could overwhelm the gennie especially if the refer was attempting to start up at the same time. Also, you want to check your gennerator for hertz which can be easily done with a simple kill a watt meter. They average about $20.00 which is not bad and you will find them very handy for a varity of things. If your hertz is more or less the 2 htz from the 60 cycles, you want to adjust it. To do that on most small gennies, you simply need to adjust your idle up or down untill you get as close as possible to the 60 htz mark. Also, a lot of these small gennies "creep" when they are still warming up. So keep a watch on it for awhile.
  13. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    We tested that out at the end of the install. Gennie didn't even grunt after leaving things off (open reefer door, bleed down the pressure tank) a while to force a simultaneous start. (Start gennie, let it come up to speed for a couple seconds, then socket into the outside connector.) 60 hertz +/- a couple tenths, rock steady after the transient as seen on an clamp on ammeter (less than a second.) (I still want/need the meter, just haven't gotten around to it.)
    BTPost and hank2222 like this.
  14. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    "The last picture shows the incoming Black line from the 120 volt generator or Inverter or what ever I want to use."

    Kingfish: The black line coming from the bottom is the one I assume you meant ? That is the feed ?

    Why does it split out to two male plugs ? Those would be hot whenever the generator is generating, yes ? I'm surprised an electrician would do that, it's such an obvious safety hazard.

    Why not simply permanently wire them in ?
  15. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Yea, I wondered about that as well.... Certainly isn't per NEC, (suicide cord) but... hey if it works for you.... Good....[peep]
  16. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    Here is my setup.

    The white panel to the left is the original 200amp main. I added the 100amp sub in the center, and moved all the 'critical' circuits to it that I would want to run off my solar in case of an outage.

    The feed to the sub panel runs from the main to the transfer switch on the right, then back into the sub. The feed from the solar comes from below the transfer switch and into it.

    Throwing the handle on the switch shuttles between grid or solar, if the grid is down...otherwise, there is no power on the solar infeed, as the Outback inverters normally feed all power to the grid, and only drop to the backup line ( to the transfer switch ) if they sense grid down.

  17. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    Yeah, Bruce.....that's the way I had my generator set up before I put in the solar.....about a 10' heavy cord with 240v male plug on each end. I'd sit the generator out in the driveway, and plug the cord in the receptacle to feed the house FIRST, then into the generator output receptacle....didn't meet code, of course,......but I KNOW what I'm doing.....I sure as heck wouldn't wire one up for somebody else that way. WAY too much liability issue.
  18. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    I found a pronged outdoor connector at the hardware that allows me to plug the gennie HD socket end extension cord into it. Safe, no code violation, no suicide wires. At dark o'clock in the rain (or snow) I get stupid, gotta keep me out of trouble.
    Nadja and BTPost like this.
  19. Kingfish

    Kingfish Self Reliant

    Ha Ha Ha you are all fooled. I dont need a separate panel. Mine are all separate or together. I can run them any way I want. Its all in the slide switches and was all inspected by the county inspector. He also said it was brilliant. The black line in is from my Honda 3000 watt and if I choose It will run both of the 100 amp sub panels depending on which slide switch is engaged.

    If you look at the top of the 200 amp main you will see a smaller pvc pipe coming in next to the 200 amp service(grid) That smaller one is the feed from my Generac. If I kill the main 200 amp breaker the Generac can feed all three panels savvy?

    Now to get tricky and sweet. I can now separate my 240 and 120 by simply using the slide switches on the two 100 amp panels and run them on solar, gas, wind what ever and not have to deal with the 240. Right now they are coupled so I can run my Honda into both 100 amp panels. Right now? those two lines are dead as is the black line because those are feeds and those breakers are off and protected by the slide switch. and they can not even be turned on unless the main is off savvy? Look at how the slide switch works ,study it. Its brilliant. No need for any transfer switches. I can ISOLATE any of the three panels and backfeed them. Breakers work both ways according to the electrical inspector and my electrician of 50 years. Also each 100 amp panel has two 100 amp breakers, one in the big 200 amp service and one at the top of each panel. I ssure you all its perfectly safe, legal and code.

    So the 8000 watt Generac is hard wired into the top of the main 200 amp panel. It goes to that twin 40 that is right under the slide switch which you will see is off. Turn off that 200 amp breaker and slide the bar up and turn on the twin 40 and start the Generac and Im running all three panels if I choose to. Lets say we are in a long term outage and I want to conserve Propane by only pumping water with it once per week. No problem. I just Isolate the the two 100 amp subs and run them with something else like solar eh???? ha ha ha Its brilliant. I dont need any second set of panels as these can all be set for any combination I want be it grid, , solar, gas , propane and any three combinations. For instance I can run my 200 amp main on the grid. Sub panel one on solar and sub panel two on wind or wood gasifier or both together using that coupler on any other source savvy? Every panel has two feeds at the slide switch get it yet? This is the most versatile system I have ever seen.

    Any more questions? Kingfish
    BTPost likes this.
  20. Kingfish

    Kingfish Self Reliant

    Its not a suicide cord. It has a male end on it and its not hot and cant ever be hot because the slide switch keeps you from turning the breaker on savvy? lol. I was very confused as well until he showed me how it works. The cord from my Honda is male at the Generator and female at the other end. THAT BLACK CORD IS A MALE END. Its dead until I feed it power from an outside source savvy? Ill take some more pictures. Kingfish
    P1010042.JPG P1010043.JPG P1010044.JPG P1010045.JPG P1010046.JPG
    BTPost likes this.
survivalmonkey SSL seal        survivalmonkey.com warrant canary