DIY Remote Start and Remote Shutdown generator control.

You may have read the post about the transfer switch we wired at Zach’s house?

http://www.utterpower.com/installing-a-generator-transfer-switch-at-zachs-house-21211/

And it’s possible you read the post about the Urban Air Cooled Generator

http://www.utterpower.com/utterpowers-urban-backup-prototype-headed-to-a-new-test-site-soon/

As fo Feb 21, I’ve done quite a bit of experimenting and we’re close to doing the actual install where we tie all of this together.  If you have an electrical or electronic background, you’ll easily follow the wiring scheme. As I had mentioned before, the install is simplified because we only need deliver 120VAC to our transfer switch as there really aren’t any 240 VAC circuits we need to power in this house.

We’ll run three 10 gauge conductors between the generator and the transfer switch and main breaker panel.. (less than 40 foot run)  Hot, Neutral, and Ground. Along with those three, we will run a piece of CAT5 in the same plastic conduit for other functions,  one will be a battery lead from the 12 volt start battery in the generator cabinet, this is used for three purposes, one is a battery voltage monitor, two is a method to trickle charge the battery, and a third is to activate the relay controlled functions in the cabinet.  The run switch at the remote panel activates the fuel valve to open position.  The momentary push button activates the motorized decompressor, The momentary start button operates the starter. The decompressor is all about being kind to the starter and making it last longest and assuring we can start the set with a poorly charged battery if necessary. We have spare wires for added functions, but one lead sounds an alarm inside the house to report abnormal conditions, we can also add other functions like over temp, no lube oil pressure and more to shut the fuel off.

Today I added insulation to the cabinet to control noise, and tested the muffler modification. For those of you who remember the Olds 442, you may remember it had no muffler. Instead, Oldsmobile used an exhaust pipe that had accordion like pleats from the exhaust header darned near to the tail pipe. It was fairly quiet at idle.  I have a flexible exhaust pipe that screws into a pipe thread exhaust tip-off the stock muffler, the other end goes into a box full of fine mesh screen that acts like a diffuser. Since the pipe is stainless, it should last a lifetime.

Expect pictures and maybe a video or two during installation..

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5 Responses to DIY Remote Start and Remote Shutdown generator control.

  1. Thomas says:

    George,

    Interesting project –

    CAT 5 is pretty small wire, something 22-24 AWG. It sounds like you’re planning on having 12v from the battery run 40′ into the house, thru the start switch, and then back 40′ to the starter solenoid. I’ve seen starter solenoids that draw a lot of current until they engage, I suggest you wire up 40′ or so of cable and try it in your shop before you go on site for the install.

    FYI – the starter solenoids that I’ve seen have two coils, one that “pulls in” the solenoid and the other that “holds” the solenoid in. The pull-in coil is wired to the output of the solenoid so that after the solenoid engages, it no longer draws any current. I’ve seen these that draw upwards of 50amps (briefly). One solution is to use a 12v relay to drive the solenoid; another is to use heavier wire. Of course, if you test it and don’t have any problems, then all is OK!

    Good luck – I enjoy you’re site. Lots of good information.

    • George B. says:

      Thomas, excellent post! There are a lot of power boats out there that develop starting problems for exactly the reason you mention. Measure the wire from the starter switch to the starter solenoid and you will find that even 20 feet of 16 gauge can cause enough resistance (especially with 5 years of environmental corrosion) to cause a failure to draw in the solenoid. The cure in these boats, it to place a relay like that found at Radio Shack near the starter. The relay takes a few milliamps to pull up, the contacts will handle the current draws for years. Choose the right relay, and we can use a 1000 feet of cat 5 for a remote button.. I know you already know this, but I add it for readers that might not. I plan to show all durign the install.

  2. bob g says:

    personally i really like the little cube iso automotive relays
    they come in 30-40amp standards and 50amp heavy series

    they are cheap as dirt and nearly as reliable, every part store has them
    and they can always be found in a junk yard or out of the family car if an emergency pops up.

    i use a ton of them, the control system that automates my trigen uses
    11 of them so far, and will probably have that many more before it is fully implemented.

    fwiw

    bob g

  3. Sangay says:

    sir,

    Actually i have a diesel generator installed in some mountain top at approximately at 8 nm line of sight from the station located in the valley. i would like to start and shutdown the diesel generator when and as necessary from the station instead of going up to the generator station every time i want to get it started. is it possible to get a Remote Start and Remote Shutdown generator control for the above mentioned purpose?

    regards,
    Sang

    • George B. says:

      Sangay,

      There are a number of solutions like you mention that operate over a radio frequency like FRS radio, the Ham bands and more.. some used DTMF, there are others who use WIfi and directional antennas to easily cover the distance you mention. I’d like a turnkey solution based on Wifi, a way of directing the received info to a microcontroller than might monitor, autostart, stop the generator. I’m sure all the parts are on the shelf.. maybe another DIYer will share an answer here?

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