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Old 11-17-2021, 08:34 PM   #1
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Default Extension Cord type for Generator use?

I just purchased a 6000 kw portable generator. Generator has 4 120v connections. One of the connections will be used powering my pellet stove (going to keep this separate from others). One connection will power a refrigerator/freezer (probably keep this on a dedicated line), and two other connections will be used to power several lights and charge phones & PC's.

Based on my description what 'gauge' extension cords do I need to connect to generator for these devises ? 16/3...or 14/3 ? The distance from generator into house will not be more than 75'.

Thoughts?
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Old 11-17-2021, 09:48 PM   #2
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When used this way, it depends on the amperage that will run down each.
And you have to allow for surge, like when a refrigerator first starts its cycle.
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Old 11-17-2021, 10:16 PM   #3
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Thanks John, will take your comment into consideration.

Forgot to add, I plan to plug pellet stove into a power-strip with surge protector,
then that surge protector into generator extension. Don't want any surges going back to pellet stove to fry circuit boar.

Just a FYI, my Champion generator has a surge protection feature built into the system, it's referred to as a 'volt guard'.

Here is the description of the volt guard device from the company site:
"Champion's Cold Start Technology ensures a quick start in cold weather, the Volt Guard™ built-in surge protector prevents overloads and keeps your equipment safe from spikes in voltage and the voltmeter allows you to easily monitor power output anytime."

Kinda cool !
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Old 11-17-2021, 11:23 PM   #4
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6000kw or 6000 watt? I'm assuming the latter.

Why go through the trouble of running multiple cords and separate connections? If the machine has a 220v output, run it directly to your panel with a mechanical interlock and then you can run any of the circuits in your house.

Because I am fully electric—heat, clothes dryer, water heater, etc.—I can't run my whole house off a portable generator, but it's a breeze to click off those circuits (that I've marked with pink stickers) and electrify the rest, which means any lights, fridge, garage door openers, computer network gear, etc. can be used.

Much easier than running multiple cords, etc.

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Old 11-17-2021, 11:29 PM   #5
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The basic answer is use 12/3 for 20 amp (2400 watt) and 14/3 for 15 amp (1800 watt). However the temperature rating of the wire is the important thing. If you use high temp cord rated at 90 degrees C you can get more amps through it safely. Another consideration is you should go up a wire size when going more than 50 feet.

Simple answer 12/3.
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Old 11-18-2021, 01:10 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by thinkxingu View Post
6000kw or 6000 watt? I'm assuming the latter.

Why go through the trouble of running multiple cords and separate connections? If the machine has a 220v output, run it directly to your panel with a mechanical interlock and then you can run any of the circuits in your house.

Because I am fully electric—heat, clothes dryer, water heater, etc.—I can't run my whole house off a portable generator, but it's a breeze to click off those circuits (that I've marked with pink stickers) and electrify the rest, which means any lights, fridge, garage door openers, computer network gear, etc. can be used.

Much easier than running multiple cords, etc.

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His unit might not have 220V. Many don’t. Also need to be careful some generators have 220V but no neutral on it. Not safe to run those to a panel. But might be ok direct to say a pump that doesn’t need neutral. You can’t mix them with 120V.

But I agree with what you said and you can still do what you said with a 120V generator. That’s what I did. None of my 220V appliances are critical. I moved all the critical circuits onto the same phase and just feed that.

Agree with the 12/3 recommendation. If the generator has a 30A 120V you should go 10/3 and feed the panel with it.

You can get an external generator panel that you move critical circuits too. Or one of those “quicky” interlocks for your main panel if you can find one that fits your panel.
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Old 11-18-2021, 06:26 AM   #7
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Have we had this discussion previously?

https://www.winnipesaukee.com/forums...ight=generator
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Old 11-18-2021, 07:13 AM   #8
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Default 12/2 vs 12/3

12/2 wire has a total of 3 conductors and is used in 110 volt applications. It has 3 conductors…black is hot, white is neutral and the bare conductor is ground.
12/3 wire has 4 conductors and is most commonly used in 220 volt applications. It has 4 conductors… both black and red are hot, white is neutral and the bare conductor is ground.
If you are plugging into the 110 volt outlet on generator you should use 12/2 cords.
Good luck!
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Old 11-18-2021, 07:37 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thinkxingu View Post
6000kw or 6000 watt? I'm assuming the latter.

Why go through the trouble of running multiple cords and separate connections? If the machine has a 220v output, run it directly to your panel with a mechanical interlock and then you can run any of the circuits in your house.

Because I am fully electric—heat, clothes dryer, water heater, etc.—I can't run my whole house off a portable generator, but it's a breeze to click off those circuits (that I've marked with pink stickers) and electrify the rest, which means any lights, fridge, garage door openers, computer network gear, etc. can be used.

Much easier than running multiple cords, etc.

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Really have to be careful doing this, I knew somebody that burned their house down doing this very thing. They had an electrician come in and put in a mechanical cutout, wired the generator and did not tell them anything more such as you cannot just run everything with what they had.

It is critically important to understand what the generator can handle far as output both steady state and startup. Equally important in understanding the draw of what is being plugged in, and how many really both to know that?

When I wired my house I put in a sub panel and moved only the circuits I needed to power into it. That gave me some level of confidence I would never overdraw my generator's capacity. Of course when powering outlets anything can be plugged in but I just calculated the total amount of draw possible for the circuit and went with that.
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Old 11-18-2021, 09:52 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by bigdog View Post
Thanks John, will take your comment into consideration.

Forgot to add, I plan to plug pellet stove into a power-strip with surge protector,
then that surge protector into generator extension. Don't want any surges going back to pellet stove to fry circuit boar.

Just a FYI, my Champion generator has a surge protection feature built into the system, it's referred to as a 'volt guard'.

Here is the description of the volt guard device from the company site:
"Champion's Cold Start Technology ensures a quick start in cold weather, the Volt Guard™ built-in surge protector prevents overloads and keeps your equipment safe from spikes in voltage and the voltmeter allows you to easily monitor power output anytime."

Kinda cool !
The surge that I was talking about is not on the generating side of the equation.
When a refrigerator first starts up, it uses more power than once it is running.
This causes a quick spike in the draw on the wire.
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Old 11-18-2021, 09:57 AM   #11
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Really have to be careful doing this, I knew somebody that burned their house down doing this very thing. They had an electrician come in and put in a mechanical cutout, wired the generator and did not tell them anything more such as you cannot just run everything with what they had.

It is critically important to understand what the generator can handle far as output both steady state and startup. Equally important in understanding the draw of what is being plugged in, and how many really both to know that?

When I wired my house I put in a sub panel and moved only the circuits I needed to power into it. That gave me some level of confidence I would never overdraw my generator's capacity. Of course when powering outlets anything can be plugged in but I just calculated the total amount of draw possible for the circuit and went with that.
The genny's breaker didn't trip when pulling too much power? Weird.

The bigger danger is when people backfeed through a 220v outlet such as an electric clothes dryer or stove. That can leave the main open and backfeed the power lines resulting in major potential damage and death.

Using a (properly installed) mechanical interlock, the real only danger is having too many circuits on at the same time, and that's easily remedied by a few stickers.

The person looking to do this would, most likely at least, understand that much.

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Old 11-18-2021, 12:36 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lakeboater View Post
12/2 wire has a total of 3 conductors and is used in 110 volt applications. It has 3 conductors…black is hot, white is neutral and the bare conductor is ground.
12/3 wire has 4 conductors and is most commonly used in 220 volt applications. It has 4 conductors… both black and red are hot, white is neutral and the bare conductor is ground.
If you are plugging into the 110 volt outlet on generator you should use 12/2 cords.
Good luck!
Sorry... but you are wrong. You are describing wiring for installations. Such as 12/2 w/ground where the third conductor is bare for ground.

To connect a portable generator you must be using flexible cord which is different than wire. A 12/3 flexible cord has a white, black and green insulated conductors.
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Old 11-18-2021, 01:07 PM   #13
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Ya-knows ...... for a price like 99-cents you can get a white extension cord at that Saint Vincent de Paul thrift store ...... made with 16 or more likely with 18-gauge lamp cord ..... which is totally good-to-go for any and all your residential home heating and lighting needs ...... no worries! .....
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Old 11-18-2021, 02:37 PM   #14
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Default Extension cord type for generator use

Safety is the name of the game when using electricity, and your remarks are unsafe, irresponsible, and, not funny. If you want to make a joke, fine, but make it about something that can't kill you. This thread was started by someone with a legitimate question, and it doesn't deserve an illegitimate answer.
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Old 11-19-2021, 06:17 AM   #15
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Well ....... for $59.25 ........ walmart.com has a neon pink 12/3 50' extension cord ....... good to keep that outdoor hot tub humming when the power is down, and the generator comes alive.

Hey look ...... the hot tub is still going ...... whoopeee! ..... and it is HOT ..... grab me a beer! .... gotta love the winter in New Hampshire ..... ..... just keep one eye on that tip-up orange flag, out there

Off-topic ..... have you seen the giant black spider on the WeirsCam!
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Old 11-19-2021, 09:21 AM   #16
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Sorry... but you are wrong. You are describing wiring for installations. Such as 12/2 w/ground where the third conductor is bare for ground.

To connect a portable generator you must be using flexible cord which is different than wire. A 12/3 flexible cord has a white, black and green insulated conductors.
He’s right. If he only has 120V on generator it’s 12/2.
You can feed the house or sub panel with 120V.
It’s just not as flexible/ideal.

Even with a small generator sub panel you can still over load the generator.
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Old 11-19-2021, 10:02 AM   #17
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Good advice was given, for the OP's direct question use 12 gauge regardless of amp load due to his saying he may run 75 ft. Plus, since you said the pellet stove is plugged into a power strip, there's always the possibility that something else gets plugged in.

I TOTALLY agree with those suggesting correctly done generator wiring. It isn't expensive, gives a lot of comfort in the case of an extended outage, and is SAFE. You can do the sub panel as many suggest, I've chosen to do the full breaker panel capability where all circuits are available.
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Old 11-20-2021, 12:25 AM   #18
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Good advice was given, for the OP's direct question use 12 gauge regardless of amp load due to his saying he may run 75 ft. Plus, since you said the pellet stove is plugged into a power strip, there's always the possibility that something else gets plugged in.

I TOTALLY agree with those suggesting correctly done generator wiring. It isn't expensive, gives a lot of comfort in the case of an extended outage, and is SAFE. You can do the sub panel as many suggest, I've chosen to do the full breaker panel capability where all circuits are available.
Right. And you might want to rotate circuits. Say you have a freezer and a fridge. You could run each for say 4 hours at a time but not both at once.

One thing you do need to be careful of is going above 80% of designated amps. Which is possible even with a sub panel. For continuous load you probably want to keep it under 50% capacity of the generator. Leave the rest of the headroom for appliances that will surge.

Like someone said in the other thread. You do have to have some understanding of what’s going on. How some appliances surge. How much surge the generator can handle etc.

What ever you do, don’t run a microwave. Even small one would make my 4000 watt (non inverter type) generator go nuts. It’s a very odd load.

If the lights dim (or watch the volt meter going under say 105V) or generator is straining , back off on the load.
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Old 11-20-2021, 10:44 AM   #19
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I have six circuits wired on a 5k. Three are must have’s. Septic, well, and furnace. After that, it’s fridge and a few lights


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Old 11-20-2021, 11:02 AM   #20
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Why does your septic need power?
Serious question.
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Old 11-20-2021, 11:40 AM   #21
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Pumps uphill to the leaching field


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Old 11-20-2021, 12:18 PM   #22
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Right. And you might want to rotate circuits. Say you have a freezer and a fridge. You could run each for say 4 hours at a time but not both at once.

One thing you do need to be careful of is going above 80% of designated amps. Which is possible even with a sub panel. For continuous load you probably want to keep it under 50% capacity of the generator. Leave the rest of the headroom for appliances that will surge.

Like someone said in the other thread. You do have to have some understanding of what’s going on. How some appliances surge. How much surge the generator can handle etc.

What ever you do, don’t run a microwave. Even small one would make my 4000 watt (non inverter type) generator go nuts. It’s a very odd load.

If the lights dim (or watch the volt meter going under say 105V) or generator is straining , back off on the load.
I agree on needing some basic idea of what is going on, what kind of loads certain items are. I've also advised people to get a bigger generator than they first are thinking. The fuel burn of an 8,000 watt at 40-50% load is not much different from a 5,000 at 70-80% load. I realize the initial purchase cost is higher but gives you a ton of flexibility to have more capacity available. I think people tend to think about overnight outages, I'll unplug the fridge off and on like someone suggested. But in the rare occurrence of a multi day outage it's awful nice to have nearly everything available, be able to run a hot water heater or a burner on the stove, without worry.

I've always run a microwave during outages, with no problem.
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Old 11-20-2021, 12:52 PM   #23
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The refrigerator uses a lot of amperage on start-up, but the generator should have the capacity... as long as the extension cord does.

Newer appliances are gaining efficiency partial by changing how they start to reduce that initial start-up load.
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Old 11-21-2021, 01:25 AM   #24
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The refrigerator uses a lot of amperage on start-up, but the generator should have the capacity... as long as the extension cord does.

Newer appliances are gaining efficiency partial by changing how they start to reduce that initial start-up load.
Getting rid of start up load is not how they are more efficient. The practical removal of start up loads is a side effect of using variable speed DC motors continuously. DC motors can run efficiently at slow speeds and have variable control based on demand. Where AC motors were efficient at one speed (or a couple speeds) and usually at the max work they do.

Twice the work requires the square in power. Like for a pool my pump would run like 6 hours a day. But if I ran it half speed for twice as long (12 hrs) it would take half the amount of total power even though it’s running twice as long. Now cut the speed in half again and double time again I’m at 24hrs and use 1/4 the total power for the same amount of water filtered.

Refrigerators, AC/Heat Pumps, Water Pumps all are moving in this direction. They run continuously at the speed needed based on the demand. Instead of a burst at high speed for short bursts of time.
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Old 11-21-2021, 01:38 AM   #25
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I agree on needing some basic idea of what is going on, what kind of loads certain items are. I've also advised people to get a bigger generator than they first are thinking. The fuel burn of an 8,000 watt at 40-50% load is not much different from a 5,000 at 70-80% load. I realize the initial purchase cost is higher but gives you a ton of flexibility to have more capacity available. I think people tend to think about overnight outages, I'll unplug the fridge off and on like someone suggested. But in the rare occurrence of a multi day outage it's awful nice to have nearly everything available, be able to run a hot water heater or a burner on the stove, without worry.

I've always run a microwave during outages, with no problem.
All my large heating appliances are gas (hot water, cooking stove, furnace). So a 4000 watt generator for me is plenty. Fridge is probably the biggest thing. If I had electric hot water, yeah I’d want double that size. For an overnight power outage I typically don’t even bother with the generator. Note: I didn’t charge my car that day, which is a massive spike and dwarfs everything.

When I’m on generator I’m surprised how little I can comfortably get by with.

Here is a typical days usage. Both working from home. Never broke ~1600 watts. Do I really need a 8000 watt generator.


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Old 11-21-2021, 10:53 AM   #26
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Getting rid of start up load is not how they are more efficient. The practical removal of start up loads is a side effect of using variable speed DC motors continuously. DC motors can run efficiently at slow speeds and have variable control based on demand. Where AC motors were efficient at one speed (or a couple speeds) and usually at the max work they do.

Twice the work requires the square in power. Like for a pool my pump would run like 6 hours a day. But if I ran it half speed for twice as long (12 hrs) it would take half the amount of total power even though it’s running twice as long. Now cut the speed in half again and double time again I’m at 24hrs and use 1/4 the total power for the same amount of water filtered.

Refrigerators, AC/Heat Pumps, Water Pumps all are moving in this direction. They run continuously at the speed needed based on the demand. Instead of a burst at high speed for short bursts of time.
I did not state that they got rid of the start-up load, I stated they changed how they were starting, and did not go into the details of the updated technology.

Same thing with the ''smart thermostat'' with the furnace in another discussion. Explaining the difference between the old/new doesn't really help the OP, as it isn't something they really control.

The only difference being that the newer is more susceptible to supply variation that can damage the unit.
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Old 11-21-2021, 10:59 AM   #27
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That's a great setup, and you are right, in your case no need to upsize the generator.

At my home I have NG heat and hot water, but electric stove. Not using the stove is an obvious way to dramatically reduce capacity needs, but if you use both microwave and toaster oven instead it adds up. An electric stovetop burner is about the same wattage as a toaster oven. 6500 watts covers the house nicely, if we wanted to cook Thanksgiving dinner then you'd need 8000-9000 watts. I realize it's no hardship to go without using the oven for a few days!

Obviously I should have qualified my statement that it depends on house configuration, thanks for that clarification.
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Old 11-21-2021, 04:48 PM   #28
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I did not state that they got rid of the start-up load, I stated they changed how they were starting, and did not go into the details of the updated technology.

Same thing with the ''smart thermostat'' with the furnace in another discussion. Explaining the difference between the old/new doesn't really help the OP, as it isn't something they really control.

The only difference being that the newer is more susceptible to supply variation that can damage the unit.
I was referring to this statement.

"Newer appliances are gaining efficiency partial by changing how they start to reduce that initial start-up load."

If that was meant to simplify conversation that's fine by its misleading, confusing and basically wrong. That statement is implying by removing startup surge that that it is how they are more energy efficient. That's simply not the case. Startup surges were insignificant with regard to consumption because they were so short. But as I think you meant too convey by eliminating startup surges you reduce the cost in handling "peak loads". You can get by with smaller generator, smaller circuits because you can focus on the max continuous load only.

For example I changed my AC pool pump two decades ago from single speed AC to two speed AC pump. They both still had the same peak surge load. But I still got the same efficiency as a modern DC variable speed pump by running the pump at 1/8 the speed (low). That's how I gained huge efficiency with no change in surge.

On side note, whether the appliance is an old or new it should have a tag listing peak load. Likewise the generators all list peak and continuous load. And the major label on the generators that say like 8000 Watt generator is usually the peak capacity and not continuous load.

If you wanted a simple and correct version of what you meant

"A bonus in newer appliances gain in efficiency they have all but eliminated large start up surges".
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