No doubt, there’s a lot of us that build less than ideal stuff for our own use. It’s because we are thrifty and think we can get away with things.. sometimes we don’t
Fact is, when the lights go out, we are sometimes under pressure and in a hurry. This is when a lot of stuff gets burned up, and many people will tell you.. “sure I knew better”, but I just forgot to open that breaker before I did this or that. Since your wife claims to own a good number of appliances, you best think about reducing the risk of burning HER stuff up; cause you know you’ll never hear the end of it, and your meals could be pretty basic for a while.
I talked about how inexpensive it is to buy a Kill A Watt, and how everyone who owns one should use it to monitor frequency and voltage, but there’s something just as important that we should all consider… an ‘interlocking transfer switch!’
This simple to make device will allow only one ‘source’ to power your appliances at a time, and it will assure you don’t make smoke, ruin a generator, or electrocute the man on the power pole who is attempting to restore your power.
You might read my article ‘How to install an generator transfer switch at Zach’s house first. This will give you an idea how to do it best. The way I show here is far better than nothing, and if you want to run more than one circuit like the loop of wall plugs in the family room, you could find a box with four positions, and cut two notches in the interlock.. Hey, you’re a DIYer right? Once you have the idea, you can roll your own, and make it the way you need it..
If you are wiring this in permanent, the lead marked grid will be connected to the output of your circuit breaker in the main box. The lead marked load will be tied to the wire in the circuit box that feeds the circuit you want to power with the generator, and of course, the Generator lead goes back to the generator, or the box that contains the plug in where you will cross connect your portable power when you need it.
For $20, can you afford to keep running your extension cord through the window to a junction box, and then attempt to run your important stuff off other extension cords from there? Are you tired of looking for the cords in the dark when you need them?
If $20 is too much, there’s another trick I used for years that cost me two dollars that made my life a little easier. It does require that you remember to open a breaker! I went to a plug in the family room that shared a wall with the garage. I opened the wall plug and proved that only wall board was between the back of that plastic plug box, and the garage. Once I was satisfied things were ok, I pushed a sharp piece of wire thru the wall (a piece of coat hanger) to locate the spot. I then went just below that box to assure I had adequate room for what they call an ‘old work box’. This is found in near any hardware store, a plastic box that has wings that fold out behind the sheet rock to secure it instead of mounting the box to a stud as new construction boxes do.
Hold the box in place, use a pencil to trace around it, and then carefull cut the hole for the box.. do not crowd the wall stud! Once you have your box in, you can wire in a recessed male plug, you should consider having a cover over it if you have curious kids, use your good judgement. Some people make a back to back male to male plug and store it with their generator.. (this is also risky and you need think when you use it). The advantage? you keep the generator outside the garage door, the extension cord doesn’t have to get slammed in the door, or go through an open window, the carbon monoxide stays outside, you stay inside.
The DIYer Transfer switch might even be legal in your area if the breakers are ‘switch rated’ you can read more about that in the other article mention above.
Facts are, we are likely to see more power outages in our future, so why not get ready for it? You don’t need to invest much, and many times a small generator will run that blower in your natural gas furnace and allow you to stay warm, watch TV, run the microwave, and wonder what the people who didn’t plan at all are doing? Maybe you invite your good neighbors over for a game of cards?
Remember.. you will always check with your city, county, state, and Federal authorities, I have no license to tell you a thing. This article is all about things you might investigate doing..
the parts I used? A box and two breakers from Home depot, I like Square D Homeline as they seem good and are cheaper for me to buy. I also used a piece of alum sheet metal, also found at Home depot, and a few small screw and nuts from the junk drawer.
Yes, I did cheat on the slots, but it your careful you can do as good with steel and a 1/4 die grinder with a cut off wheel, just drill the holes at the ends first, and cut to them using a guide. And you can make your template out of paper, and then glue it to your work one you have the slots proven on the front of your box.
How about a bit of trivia to end this post? All Kill A Watts I’ve ever seen have a miinor error.. when you have a real solid 60.00 HZ, they read 99.9. when you see 99.9 there’s a very good chance you’re looking at commercial power. If you or a friend has a lapse, and wonders what you’re running of of.. a steady 99.9 is a pretty strong clue..