Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

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vinuela vinny
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Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

Postby vinuela vinny » Sat Jun 10, 2017 6:22 am

Hi All

We live in the campo, and perhaps suffer more power cuts than those who live in the local town. Over the years we have become used to these minor annoyances and have learned to live with them, but they seem to have more consequence to some of our neighbouring friends

One of those friend tells us that he is thinking of sourcing a 2.5kw generator (Bricomart, around €250) for use during these occasional power cuts, and that he intends to "plug the generator into a normal power socket" to run the lights and minimal appliances.....

Can one of gurus advise whether such a process would work, please? Would there be complications when the mains power came back on? Any thoughts would be very gratefully welcomed

Thanks in advance

REgards to all

Vincent

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Re: Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

Postby gerryh » Sat Jun 10, 2017 7:36 am

You asked exactly the same question on May 26th.
See viewtopic.php?f=28&t=37458&p=369315&hilit=generator#p369315
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Re: Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

Postby AkoAko » Sat Jun 10, 2017 7:50 am

Your friend will need a switch in the system to isolate the mains input when the generator is running and visa versa , he can get an automatic change over switch that will disconnect the mains supply when the generator starts , its the power from the generator that activates the switch , when the generator stops the mains circuit becomes active again .

Installing 2 manually operated isolation switches ( there should already be one in the mans circuit ) will also do the same job , one in the mains circuit and another in the generator circuit , they need to be switched in the correct order , the mains switch should be switched OFF before generator switch is switched on prior to starting the generator and the reverse when mains power is returned , the generator switch should be switched OFF before the mains is switched back to on . The switch or switches should be installed before the input to the house , ie : immediately after the mains isolation switch remembering to turn it off before working on anything .

Any failing in the order the switches are used could result in power being fed backwards either to the generator or the Mains system , both have serious consequences if not done in the correct order however switched in the right order he is safe .

The same applies when you have a solar system that requires the use of a generator when batteries are low , the Solar system is disconnected in favor of the generator .

Although a simple job I would not recommend someone doing the wiring unless they are competent .

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Re: Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

Postby TorreDelAguila » Sat Jun 10, 2017 9:41 am

The advice above is dangerous. Although using two separate switches would work, it leaves open the possibility that the two switches would not be operated correctly. Do not do this.

What should be installed is a changeover switch. Telergon make a range of these, usually marked 1-0-2, in a variety of current ratings. In this case, this would be facilitate Normal-Off-Generator feed for the house, and make it impossible to accidentally connect the generator to the incoming mains.
Last edited by TorreDelAguila on Sat Jun 10, 2017 9:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

Postby AkoAko » Sat Jun 10, 2017 10:12 am

Yes i agree thats why i made it clear that the consequences of operating the switches the wrong way around , anything can be dangerous if not operated correctly . An automatic change over switch is preferable however the switch type you suggested would be my ideal option although for the last 15 years i have had an automatic change over switch and manual switches similar to the one like you mentioned , it will disconnected one circuit before making another thats because it passes through 0 when both circuits are disconnected so its only possible to connect one at a time , turn to the left or to the right .

I have a couple of these on my wind turbine circuit's , they have to be either in circuit to the batteries or shorted out , positive to negative , in this situation the only way damage can be done is if their left in the 0 position and can turn freely with no battery's connected to take their output .

Where i live in the hills not every property with mains has a generator for backup but many do , dozens that i know off , using 2 separate switches is how most are wired , some but the owners others by electricians , in all the time i have been here i haven't come across any that have made the mistake of messing up the switch sequences but i know everyone clearly marks each switch with a clear message to avoid the problem .

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Re: Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

Postby gerryh » Sat Jun 10, 2017 11:44 am

AkoAko wrote:... , using 2 separate switches is how most are wired , some but the owners others by electricians , in all the time i have been here i haven't come across any that have made the mistake of messing up the switch sequences but i know everyone clearly marks each switch with a clear message to avoid the problem .


I am aware that carefully used this type of system can work.
Not used correctly it can be dangerous.
It is not the sort of system that should be "advised/ suggested" on a public forum.
Only the use of 100% safe and correctly installed systems should be used.
I would hate to think someone used this sort of system, because they "read it on the internet" and a serious accident occurred.
Just my thoughts.
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Re: Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

Postby dxf » Sat Jun 10, 2017 9:25 pm

Hola

The "problem" as I see it is knowing when to switchback to normal mains if you are on the generator.

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Re: Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

Postby RichardCoeurdeLion » Sun Jun 11, 2017 5:49 am

I don't know anything about generators, but I believe there is an issue regarding ventilation when one is running.
When we had those floods in Worcester a few years ago, two men were using a generator to power a pump to pump out a basement. They were overcome by fumes and died.

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Re: Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

Postby TorreDelAguila » Sun Jun 11, 2017 1:16 pm

100% endorse Gerry's and Richard's remarks above.
The point about needing to know when the mains supply is restored is a good one. A well-installed system will include an audible/visible alert (eg beeper) connected to the incoming mains.

None of this should be attempted unless installed to professional standards. It is not a job for casual DIY'ers.
Chris

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Re: Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

Postby olive » Sun Jun 11, 2017 4:51 pm

I can't help but smile . Here we are doing what we expats do so well - coming up with sticking plaster solutions to problems.

Isn't there a way to lobby the power companies to fix whatever causes so many of these outages?

We had one for about 30 maybe 40 seconds on Friday at 4.58 p.m. I had seen some guys installing yet more irrigation infrastructure including pylons. Was 30 seconds long enough to make the connections? Planned outages is one thing you could just about swallow . I have tried raising the subject a couple of times with our " Alcalde" and his cronies. They just laugh, Spanish shrug and say nothing can be done.

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Re: Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

Postby Flexo » Sun Jun 11, 2017 6:12 pm

The Spanish power grid is hopelessly outdated and the regulations are complicated. Modernizing the grid is very expensive and is not really in the interest of the power companies as they often have more to lose on a better grid than profit, particularly now when off grid energy production is so cheap.

I think we will see development of parallel grids eventually, working on different voltage and current systems (like DC instead of AC for homeowners). That would be the only non-monopolized power system that truly works in a free market system.

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Re: Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

Postby TorreDelAguila » Sun Jun 11, 2017 9:13 pm

Which publications have you been reading, then?
Chris

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Re: Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

Postby dxf » Sun Jun 11, 2017 10:11 pm

olive wrote:I can't help but smile . Here we are doing what we expats do so well - coming up with sticking plaster solutions to problems.

Isn't there a way to lobby the power companies to fix whatever causes so many of these outages?



Hola

In a word - "NO" - stealing electricity is a popular pastime - at least round these parts - I've seen many a transformer up a pole so overloaded it catches fire. The authorities used to try to restrict "illegal builds" by restricting the legal connection of electricity - so people simply connected themselves to the nearest pole.

There needs to be a massive "sea change" in thinking to allow people to always be able to connect to legal electricity

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Re: Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

Postby TorreDelAguila » Mon Jun 12, 2017 10:54 am

Interesting.
Under what circumstances would you not be able apply for a legal connection to a legally-built property?
Chris

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Re: Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

Postby Flexo » Mon Jun 12, 2017 4:16 pm

If you don't have a connection to your property I think you need to seek permit from three different authorities to make a connection to the grid. If one of them says no you are screwed. However, off grid power is most likely much cheaper today than to dig a 500m cable connection or more and get the permits, particularly if you only use 5kWh or less per day. Last time I checked the limit was about 300 meters but the prices for both the panels and the batteries are much lower today than back then.

I asked the engineer what was cheaper for a well pump, a 150 meter electric cable or a solar panel and he said solar panel without even calculating the cost.

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Re: Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

Postby TorreDelAguila » Mon Jun 12, 2017 6:54 pm

And the "three different authorities" are...?
Chris

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Re: Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

Postby Flexo » Mon Jun 12, 2017 10:26 pm

Don't know, that was the information I was told when I was investigating my options but given the distance it was a no brainer. You can marginally reduce the cable cost by using aluminum instead of copper but it will still likely be more expensive than an off grid system, and even if you do put power in you still have to pay the bills and put up with all the power outages.

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Re: Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

Postby vinuela vinny » Fri Jun 16, 2017 5:26 pm

Hi All

Firstly an apology - when I posted originally I didn't tick the box requesting to be advised when someone replied to that post, and so receiving no notifications, I presumed that I had either received no replies, or even - getting older every day(!) - that I had not even posted the question in the first place. Apologies for my error - mea culpa - and particularly to gerryh and others who have provided such good advice.....

Secondly, thanks very much for that good advice, which I printed-out and took this morning to show my friend while having coffee in our local bar. Your excellent advice is very much appreciated, and he will not be following-up what is clearly a daft idea.......

Apologies again, and thank you to all (and I'll be more careful in the future!)

Heads up

Vincent


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