on September 11, 2010
There are two ways to get power from an emergency generator fed to appliances that need to be run during a power outage.
The first is to run multiple cables from the generator to each appliance, which is cumbersome, requires running cables all over the place - leaving more things to trip on in the dark.
The second is to feed the generator output to the home wiring. I've seen this done by back-feeding the generator 240V/30A output to the home wiring through the dryer socket after switching the main breaker off. Back-feeding is completely illegal, and very unsafe - especially for linesmen working on downed utility lines.
The correct and safe way to connect an emergency generator to home wiring is through a transfer switch. The Reliance Controls 31406/30306 LOAD-SIDE transfer switch was perfect to connect our DuroMax XP4400E 3600 watt generator to our home wiring. The transfer switch can support up to 6 circuits (labeled A-F), two of which are 20 Amp (C & D), and the others are 15 Amp, and generator output of up to 7500 watt. Circuits A-C are on one 120V leg of the 240V generator output, while D-F are on the other. You can probably use generators with higher output, as long as your appliances do not draw MORE than 7500 watts.
The transfer switch comes pre-wired with a single neutral (10 gauge wire), single ground (10 gauge wire), and six pairs of red/black wires (12 gauge) that run to each of the switches/breakers on the transfer switch. The two wires in each set are labeled with the identity of the circuit, i.e. red and black wires labeled "A" connect to circuit A on the transfer panel. Connecting the panel to the main electrical panel is very, very easy - requiring just three steps. Make sure you turn your main breaker off before connecting the transfer switch to the main panel as described below:
a) Remove the cover off the main electrical panel, and feed the transfer switch wires to the main panel through a cut-out on the main panel.
b) Cut the neutral wire (white) to a suitable length and connect it to the neutral bar in the main panel.
c) Connect the ground wire (green) to the ground bar in the main panel.
Now, identify the circuits that you wish to be used with emergency power from the generator, and decide which transfer panel switch to connect each of these circuits to. Keep in mind that a 20 Amp circuit on the main panel can only be connected to a 20 Amp breaker on the transfer panel, but a 15 Amp circuit on the main panel can be connected to either a 20 Amp or 15 Amp breaker on the transfer panel. Once the circuits are identified, you can continue - but make sure that you only work on one circuit at a time:
d) Disconnect the black wire from the desired circuit breaker on your main panel, and connect it to the black wire from the appropriate switch (eg. "A") on the transfer panel using a YELLOW wire connector.
e) Now, connect the red wire from the same switch ("A" in this example) to the main panel breaker that you disconnected in step "d".
Repeat for each of the five other switches on the transfer switch and the five breakers you selected on the main electrical panel.
Put the cover back on the main panel, flip the breakers on the main panel back on, and you're done!
Each switch on the transfer panel has three positions:
Because this is a load-side transfer switch, when the switch is in line mode, the circuit is connected to power from the utility through the appropriate breaker on the main panel. In the generator position, the circuit is connected to power from the generator, using the appropriate breaker on the transfer panel. In the off position, the circuit is disconnected from both the utility and generator feeds.
The load-side design completely isolates the utility and generator sides of each circuit. When using the generator, you do not have to turn off the main breaker on the main panel, or even the breakers for the circuits fed by the generator. When utility power is restored, the switch can be flipped from the generator to the line position without any danger of a back-feed to the generator, which can cause it to break and potentially explode.
The transfer panel can be directly wired with a plug for a L14-30 outlet from the generator (see the pictures), and comes with wattmeters to ensure that both 120V legs from the 240V generator output are used equally. Circuits C & D on the transfer panel can be used together for 240V/30A output to an appliance if necessary.
The main panel in our house is flush mounted in the garage. Reliance Controls sells a flush mount kit (part # KF06) to flush mount the 31406/30406, and attach it to a stud.
Flush mounting the 31406/30406 in the drywall took me longer than making all the connections in the main panel - but over all the entire process only took 2.5 hours. Following the instructions that come with the transfer switch makes the process very simple for any DIYer.
on December 14, 2007
We recently bought a 5000 watt generator to power essential home appliances--this is if and when a power outage should occur.
To make this convenient, we installed a Reliance transfer switch. (Note that the Amazon description is inaccurate in regard that the Reliance Kit 31406CRK is actually rated at 7500 watts).
We connected the switch to the house wiring right at the circuit box (as required). We found installation of the generator transfer switch to not at all be difficult (only a rudimentary knowledge of electrical circuitry is required).
When the electrical power from the grid is out, we can now keep essential appliances (well pump, refrigerator, and lights) in operation by running them off of the generator. The transfer switch allows connecting 4 house circuits at 120 volts, and 1 house circuit at 240 volts; or 6 house circuits at 120 volts.
As a side note, safe operation of sensitive electronic devices requires a clean power supply. Consequently, when running off of a generator, devices like TV's and computers should additionally be connected to a protected outlet. Ideally, the current should pass through a line power conditioner that has a voltage regulator. (Note that Tripp Lite sells a 600 watt line conditioner with voltage regulator for less than $100). Another good option for more safely operating electronic equipment when the grid is down would be through an DC-to-AC inverter.
All-in-all we find the 5000 watt generator combined with the Reliance transfer switch (the kit) to comprise an effective (yet inexpensive) system that can power most of our essential home appliances.
on August 27, 2010
If your not comfortable working with electrical wiring you should use an electrician. Also, always turn off the main circuit breaker when working with your box.
Installing this switch depends on several factors. First you must have space for the 7" x 7" box next to your electrical panel. They say it can be 18" away but the kit comes with a 90 degree elbow so unless you plan on buying a new connector --using theirs requires a u in the cable. Make it more like 10" away. Also you will need a 3/4 inch hole in your electrical box. All boxes have punch outs but most are 1/2". After you locate the 3/4 punch out, open the panel cover, you'll need space inside for a boat load of wires coming into your box. Make sure your not punching out into something inside the box, like a bunch of wiring, a grounding bar, etc.
Second the labeling on the individual wires for this device is actually on the wire. You will require serious light for this project. So when you turn off the main to the house to start wiring, you better have an extension cord on your generator to plug in to so you can see. We are talking micro letters on the side of wire. C and D, E and F on black and red wires in smudged micro print. What ever you do don't start until you've clearly marked the breakers as well your going to wire. I put a letter on each switch so when the cover was removed I could still tell which ones I was dealing with. Make sure the breaker is controlling what you think it is, and you know any other secondary functions. With careful planning and lots of pre-marking the actual wiring will go relatively fast. Make sure you have 2 spaces on your grounding bar by the way. Mine was stuffed with things. Have lots of large wire connectors since they are needed everywhere.
I installed an external plug in my garage which I reach with a 20' extension cord to the generator. I was going to put the box outside but after seeing the box --it did not look terribly weather worthy to me.
This box does use proprietary breaker switches and is not upgradable. For me this was not a problem since -1) I only use it for emergencies, so I doubt I'll wear it out 2)I wasn't looking to light up the whole house. Over the last 5 years we've had 4 outages of over 3 days. With refrigerator,natural gas furnace (floor fans for those summer outages),52" large screen TV, half a dozen lights, pool cover motor we have been good to go. We're talking less than 2,500 watts.
on November 26, 2010
This kit is nice. You cannot beat the price if you were to get all that's included separately.
Again its a very nice kit but I'm not so sure about the well built comments I read in some of the other reviews.
I installed mine in about two hours. I turn back on the power feeding the six circuits that I'm feeding with the transfer switch and one by one I flipped each switch on the transfer switch to the line position. Once all of the six circuits were on I then checked around the house to see that everything had power and worked. Well, I found that my furnace and one of the two bedroom circuits were dead. You know DEAD, as in No power, dark and cold. WTF. So I'm thinking to myself, ok Ive been working for one of the largest companies on ALL OF EARTH as a electrician building industrial equipment for the last 21 years and I'm very confident that I didn't make any mistakes. But, I'm only human. So I checked all Of my connections and found that all was good. Next I made sure that none of the breakers just needed reset and found that this too was ok. Next out of frustration like you would an old tv I gave the side of the transfer switch a good smack. Well not so funny to me as it may sound to you readers but that worked for the bedroom circuit. "LIGHT ARE ON IN THE BEDROOM" my wife gave a yell. OK I don't know about the rest of you, but this to me was not acceptable. It did however give me a clue as too what was wrong. Everybody say it together now "SOMETHING IN THERE IS LOOSE". I Turned off the power to the SIX circuits feeding through the switch and removed the two screws in the case to try and see what was amiss. THERE IT WAS PLAIN AS DAY. ONE OF THE WIRES WAS NOT EVEN PUSHED ONTO ITS POST ON ONE OF THE SWITCHES AND THE OTHER WAS ABOUT TO COME OFF(bedroom circuit). Firstly, why are all of these connection made with just push on connections. We call these "fast on connection" at work. Secondly, and more importantly why are they not on there termination points. WHATS WITH THIS CRAP. I SHOULDN'T HAVE TO BE TAKING EQUIPMENT APART TO MAKE REPAIRS TO IT. Anyway, I pushed the two wires onto there termination points and closed the box up and turned the power back on. TA DA! everything worked. Are you all still with me? There's more. Anyway, an hour later the family and I return from getting lunch and wouldn't you know it. Both of the bedroom circuits are not working. I found that the two bedroom arc fault breakers in my main breaker panel were tripped. This to me automatically indicated to me that Something is loose and is, are you ready for this? Something is ARCING. Arcing is bad. Arcing leads to electrical fires under the right conditions. BUT, My arc fault breakers did there job. So again I open the transfer switch to see what was loose. I found that everyone of the push on or fast on connections were loose and needed some attention. One by one I had to remove and with needle nose pliers make all of these connections tighter by slightly closing or crushing each of the push on crimps. This is NOT something anyone should need to do on any new piece of equipment EVER. But since I was really not into the idea of tearing it all out and returning it to Amazon for a new one, only to receive another half assed unit from a company that's apparently not that concerned with quality. I decided to just make the repairs. And to add insult to injury I was disappointed to see that this shabby work was made in the USA according to the box. COME ON GUYS WERE BETTER THAN THAT. I would have expected this type of work from elsewhere on the planet.
ANYWAY, that all having been said. I would have giving this Kit a five star if it weren't for these wiring issues. Its a nice kit with all that it comes with for the money. Easy to install with some basic electric knowledge and a few tools. I guess I would recommend this kit as I hope this is just an isolated case. I did write a lengthy e-mail to Reliance controls support team about my issue two weeks ago and as of this writing and have not received even a peep from them.
OK Ive said enough, or to much, you decide.
on March 1, 2010
I purchased this transfer switch in the Fall from Home Depot (it would have been cheaper getting it through Amazon) along with an Elite Series 6200 generator from Sears. Even though we lost power several times this winter, I was putting off the installation because it involved running 100 feet of wire. Well, we lost power again and that prompted me to finally give it a whirl.
The first thing to note is the great installation videos, available on the DVD that comes with the kit and also online. I actually watched the videos online before I made the purchase, which is what made me feel comfortable about doing this on my own in the first place. I watched the videos several times and made notes for the section of the procedure where I wouldn't have power. These were:
(1) Label switches A, B, C&D, E, F
(2) Turn off main and remove cover.
(3) Tap out knockout and pull wires though (you also need to tighten the clamp ring, not mentioned in the video).
(4) Mount transfer switch (I had prepared the area ahead of time).
(5) Connect white wire to open position in neutral bar (explained in the video).
(6) Connect green wire to grounding (neutral) bar (all this is explained in the video).
(7) For wire A, turn off breaker and remove existing wire, cut red wire A, strip, and connect to breaker. Take black wire A, cut and strip, and attach to wire taken out of circuit with yellow wire nut.
(8) Repeat for the rest of the wires.
(9) Tuck wires in a bit and replace.
This procedure went very smoothly.
Similarly, installing the remote port and wiring it and the transfer switch was easy to do following the instructions. I did have to run out and get wire conduit clamps, but in the end I was feeling quite confident, fired up the generator, and started testing the circuits.
Circuits C&D (my well) and F (my boiler) received power. Unfortunately, circuits A (my fridge) and B and E (misc) were not working. I spent a while trying to troubleshoot this, checking to see if the generator was overloaded, etc., and realized that these circuits were failing even when they were the only ones the generator was powering. The amp meters read zero. It seemed to me that my wiring in the main panel must be OK because the appliances work in LINE mode, and turn off in the OFF setting. Finally, I called customer support.
I can't say enough about the customer support. The technician was patient and knowledgeable, and together we analyzed the problem. Because my well was working on circuits C&D, he said that the generator was probably not the problem, since it was sending power on both "legs" (another thing explained in the video). He had me check the switches by watching the fridge after switching to GEN, and then pushing on the switch (upward, checking for a loose connection). Still, no power. He suggested that it might be the circuit breakers, which could be accessed by removing the black ring and screw, and then two additional screws in the transfer panel at which point the upper assembly can tip forward and out. I told him I would try swapping the good F breaker with the failing A breaker and call him back with the results.
Well, when I had the switch apart and was swapping those circuit breakers (wiggling them free from their connectors) I noticed that one of the connectors on the A switch seemed loose, so I tightened it. Also, one of the two connectors on the B breaker was off, although that might have been caused by my efforts in swapping the two breakers.
Anyway, I button the thing back up and not only does the A circuit work, but all the other circuits as well.
I'm sure that my experience was unusual, but it's good to know that where I had problems they were readily resolved through good technical support. I will definitely recommend this product to my friends, and maybe for a beer I'll even help them install it.
ADD: made it through this October 2011 storm a week without power, and the switch worked like a charm. One other "gotcha" I recall that took a while to troubleshoot was the conduit clamps for the remote port: make sure you don't tighten then too tightly whereby they pierce and short the wire. Not that I was gangbusters tightening them, but that happened to me.
on February 13, 2015
I cannot say enough good things about this product and this company. I purchased this transfer switch in July of 2014 to go along with my new Westinghouse WH6500E portable generator. I am reasonably handy, and have done a small amount of electrical projects before, but by no means am I a professional. I did all the setup, installation, and wiring myself. My setup includes the portable generator with a 30 amp power cord feeding into a Reliance Controls power inlet box mounted on the house. I then installed permanent 10 gauge building wire between the power inlet box outside and the transfer switch mounted inside next to my panel. For the most part it was all very straightforward and I expected to have no problems.
After initial setup I got the generator running to do a quick test. Long story short, there was a problem, and I could not run off the generator power. I struggled for 6 months to figure out what was wrong. I did various tests, but did not want to break down and pay an electrician, so I continued to hunt for the issue myself. After 6 months, I finally decided to call Reliance customer support. I was impressed to get connected to a very helpful lady from Racine, WI. Imagine that, good ole US of A customer support! She was extremely helpful, and was happy to give me her email address so I could send pictures of my setup for diagnostic purposes. We communicated via phone and email over the course of 2 days, and she quickly helped determine my issue after having me run 2 tests.
The problem was entirely mine, the Reliance Controls transfer switch works flawlessly. In fact, the problem I had was a clamp that was too tight on my building wire, and was causing a short. I had arc marks on the transfer switch due to my wiring short. That did not phase the Reliance Controls transfer switch at all. The breakers on the switch and the generator worked as they should. Everything is fixed and working correctly now, thanks to the great customer service at Reliance Controls. This product is extremely robust and well designed. I would recommend this to anyone!
A couple of lessons learned from my experience. Professional electricians would obviously already know this stuff, but I was learning as I went.
1) Be careful not to over tighten cable clamps, it's easy to do.
2) The power inlet cord gave me some issues. You need to make sure you really get the cord at the inlet box pushed in and turned as far as it will go. It may take a slight bit of force, but if you don't, you may only get one side of the power coming through.
3) The instructions are slightly misleading for the wiring of the watt meters in the transfer switch. Make sure you only have 1 side of the black wire and 1 side of the red wire passing through each of the watt meters.
on November 8, 2011
You must spend the money and get a transfer case for a portable generator.It is a saftey item that prevents backfeed to the power line when the electricity is restored.Also,a little known fact is these transfer cases actually increase the capacity of the generator by allowing various circuits to be turned on sequentially.I have a ten year old 5,000 watt generator and with this set-up,I can run a furnace,2 referigerators,a well pump,and a kitchen panel for a microwave,coffeemaker,kitchen lights,and I also hook-up my T.V. to an extension from the kitchen to living room!The transfer case makes all the difference,so,even though the parts and professional hook-up(highly recommended fot about 150-200 dollars)may cost as much as a generator,it IS WELL WORTH IT!
on January 17, 2008
Great item for adding power inlet and control to your home. This will only cover a very small amount of circuits and not a lot of input power but great for the medium size generators out there for home use. Very Very easy to install with all the parts you need. If you connect the outside inlet box based on most code requirements you will need to buy a couple of things from your local hardware store. If you are not an electrician or do not have this kind of knowledge HIRE THIS OUT. It is simple and will not cost a lot to have the right person do this right. If you have the background to install it this cannot get any easier. ALL THE PARTS YOU NEED ARE THERE.
on July 25, 2012
I bought this to install on a commercial walk-in-cooler. The cooler has separate circuits for lights, the inside evaporator coil fan, outside compressor, and condenser fan. If the power goes out, it would be a catastrophe for our company... In steps this product: this transfer switch is our "ace in the hole" for the next power outage.
For the install, it was very straight forward! The wires were color-coded and easy to figure out. The instructions were very helpful, legible, and obviously written by a native English speaker. The pigtail cord they supply is perfect and I had no problems plugging it right into our generator. (cord is 10AWG X 4 conductor and 10' long)
One thing to be aware of, the circuit breakers are fixed and cannot be upgraded or changed. For us, this isn't an issue, but if you are running a super-heavy duty load, 15 amps per 120v circuit may not be enough.
Here is the transfer switch lay out:
on June 28, 2012
I purchased the DuroMax XP4400E generator from Amazon and decided that
it would be a nuisance to run extension cords around the house so I decided
to purchase this Reliance Kit. It comes with everything you will need for
installation except the 10-3 wire and any 3/4 conduit you might need. The kit
was delivered in pristine condition along with a full installation manual. I
contacted my electrician and he came out and quoted me $1150.00 to install.
Needless to say, I sent him on his way and he became my ex-electrician. I
studied the manual and the on-line video over and over and being familiar
to a degree with basic wiring, tackled the job myself. It took me all of 1-1/2
hours to install and wire the transfer box and another 2 hours (the next day
to run the 10-3 from the transfer box to the inlet box I installed on the
exterior of my home. I used 50ft of 10-3 purchased also on Amazon. I called
Reliance once to clarify something in the manual and was given the information
immediately. Everything tested out perfect and I saved a bundle of money.
I guess the electrician needed his $328.57 an hour but he wasnt getting it
from me.. Anyone with a basic knowledge of house wiring can install this by
themselves without any problems as long as you FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS. My
neighbor who does concrete work poured a 36x32" slab on the exterior near the
Inlet Box to hold my Generator If you are leery or are in the dark about electricity,
GET PROPER HELP and dont take a chance on getting hurt, or worse!!