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How much should it cost to install a transfer switch to run to a generator?
  • Building off these discussions:

    http://forum.maplewoodonline.com/vc/discussion/89243/heat-question-boiler
    &
    http://forum.maplewoodonline.com/vc/discussion/89638/a-burnham-independence-gas-steam-boiler-takes-40-watts-of-120v-power-to-operate.

    We have a gas furnace (and no power right now, of course!), and just had this recommendation from a friend:

    " Your generator has a 30amp plug on it that would allow an electritian to install a switch plate which would provide power to atleast 6 breakers most importantly the furnace...the cost is $1400,I know but its an investment that you'll always be able to rely on whenever your panel loses power from pseg."

    I know nothing about this kind of work - is this a reasonable ballpark figure for this kind of work?

    Thanks!
  • $1K is what I heard last year.
  • Yes, in that range. But the determining factor is the complexity of the transfer switch. Better yet have a smart switch installed , like the Nexus DLM. The switch will cost a bit more but installing it actually less
  • Woolley was charging $388 last year for a transfer switch for just the boiler. I don't know if they will add additional breakers, and if so for how much.
  • Check out www.interlockkit.com

    This is a fantastic way to go, it's legal, your electrician can pull permits, life is good.

    Any questions I will refer you to my guy!
  • Consumer Reports says $500-$900. Figure in this area we are at the upper end of that estimate.
  • The Reliance ones look ridiculously simple to install. As soon as one comes in stock somewhere and I have a little cash, I'm doing my own. Only around $300-$500 for the switch, depending on your exact configuration.
  • Look at the Interlock - you guys won't be sorry.
  • I paid $545 this past Friday to have Woolley oil install a transfer switch. Best $500 I've spent all year.
  • Our alternative to the generator--transfer switch--furnace issue: We installed a freestanding natural gas Fireplace in our basement in 1999. It can put out a max of 40,000 BTU and needs NO electricity. We've run it during the blackout on low or medium and have had no problem keeping the entire house at 73 degrees.

    It doesn't solve the no lights & no refrigerator problem, but it's kept us toasty.
    VENTLESS GAS STOVE.JPG
    Post edited by metaphysician at 2012-11-06 17:21:42
  • There's no way that thing is running my PS3!
  • Not without getting all melty. :-D
  • Our alternative to the generator--transfer switch--furnace issue: We installed a freestanding natural gas Fireplace in our basement in 1999. It can put out a max of 40,000 BTU and needs NO electricity. We've run it during the blackout on low or medium and have had no problem keeping the entire house at 73 degrees.

    It doesn't solve the no lights & no refrigerator problem, but it's kept us toasty.



    Probably has one of them new fangled "pilot lights" I've been reading about... I hear they're way better than these clunky old electronic ignition systems.
  • @metaphysician:

    If it's in the basement, how does it heat the whole house? Sorry if this is a totally stupid question.
  • paid $1,000 in January .... included: permit fees, interlock kit, watt meter and installation

    worked like a charm last week during power outage ...... (4-pin from generator connects to a 4-pin outlet on the outside)

    you flip-on breakers that you need and monitor the usage via the watt meter

    I've a 5700 (running) watts gasoline generator - I powered on the entire house (essentials including hot water radiator heat for whole house) + couple of appliances/lights in neighbors house
  • @metaphysician, do you have it vented somehow? We don't have a fireplace but I've always wondered about installing one.
  • Bd37703...do you happen to know the make of the watt meter? I plan on going the interlock route and a watt meter would be invaluable. How do you like the model you have?
  • case said:

    Check out www.interlockkit.com

    This is a fantastic way to go, it's legal, your electrician can pull permits, life is good.

    Any questions I will refer you to my guy!



    These are nice kits but are NOT UL LISTED and will not pass inspection any longer in NJ. I know because my electrician installed one and had to remove it because they lost there listing in NJ. Instead he installed a small transfer switch that was mentioned in a earlier post that backs up my most important circuits. If anyone is interested give Greg a call 201-306-1493 he has reasonable prices.
  • honestguy said:

    case said:

    Check out www.interlockkit.com

    This is a fantastic way to go, it's legal, your electrician can pull permits, life is good.

    Any questions I will refer you to my guy!



    These are nice kits but are NOT UL LISTED and will not pass inspection any longer in NJ. I know because my electrician installed one and had to remove it because they lost there listing in NJ. Instead he installed a small transfer switch that was mentioned in a earlier post that backs up my most important circuits. If anyone is interested give Greg a call 201-306-1493 he has reasonable prices.



    when was this?
  • This is on their site

    "InterLock kits are intended to be installed by qualified electricians. The kits are designed, manufactured, and tested by Wyle Labs are to meet the National Electrical Code and the National Fire Protection Code. Wyle Labs r is a nationally recognized testing laboratory that test to UL and other standards. Test results are available from Wyle Labs."
  • This is on their site

    "InterLock kits are intended to be installed by qualified electricians. The kits are designed, manufactured, and tested by Wyle Labs are to meet the National Electrical Code and the National Fire Protection Code. Wyle Labs r is a nationally recognized testing laboratory that test to UL and other standards. Test results are available from Wyle Labs."



    Believe me guys I went through all of this with Greg and do not install them if you want them to pass inspection. Because they are tested does not mean they are UL Listed. From the horses mouth:

    At this time, it appears the InterlockKit device is not listed by a national testing laboratory and, if installed, would therefore be a product violating the code, as covered in the Uniform Construction Code (N.J.A.C. 5:23-3.8). Previously, InterlockKit had provided a letter stating that they are presently going through another recognized testing lab to obtain listing/labeling of their product. The list of nationally recognized testing laboratories can be found here: http://www.osha.gov/dts/otpca/nrtl/. Therefore, until InterlockKit receives a new listing/labeling from a testing lab, the product is not permitted to be installed/used.

    This is a email my electrician forwarded to me from the DCA.
  • honestguy said:

    This is on their site

    "InterLock kits are intended to be installed by qualified electricians. The kits are designed, manufactured, and tested by Wyle Labs are to meet the National Electrical Code and the National Fire Protection Code. Wyle Labs r is a nationally recognized testing laboratory that test to UL and other standards. Test results are available from Wyle Labs."



    Believe me guys I went through all of this with Greg and do not install them if you want them to pass inspection. Because they are tested does not mean they are UL Listed. From the horses mouth:

    At this time, it appears the InterlockKit device is not listed by a national testing laboratory and, if installed, would therefore be a product violating the code, as covered in the Uniform Construction Code (N.J.A.C. 5:23-3.8). Previously, InterlockKit had provided a letter stating that they are presently going through another recognized testing lab to obtain listing/labeling of their product. The list of nationally recognized testing laboratories can be found here: http://www.osha.gov/dts/otpca/nrtl/. Therefore, until InterlockKit receives a new listing/labeling from a testing lab, the product is not permitted to be installed/used.

    This is a email my electrician forwarded to me from the DCA.



    I find this VERY surprising - again, when did it happen? Because it was not my recent experience.
  • case said:

    honestguy said:

    This is on their site

    "InterLock kits are intended to be installed by qualified electricians. The kits are designed, manufactured, and tested by Wyle Labs are to meet the National Electrical Code and the National Fire Protection Code. Wyle Labs r is a nationally recognized testing laboratory that test to UL and other standards. Test results are available from Wyle Labs."



    Believe me guys I went through all of this with Greg and do not install them if you want them to pass inspection. Because they are tested does not mean they are UL Listed. From the horses mouth:

    At this time, it appears the InterlockKit device is not listed by a national testing laboratory and, if installed, would therefore be a product violating the code, as covered in the Uniform Construction Code (N.J.A.C. 5:23-3.8). Previously, InterlockKit had provided a letter stating that they are presently going through another recognized testing lab to obtain listing/labeling of their product. The list of nationally recognized testing laboratories can be found here: http://www.osha.gov/dts/otpca/nrtl/. Therefore, until InterlockKit receives a new listing/labeling from a testing lab, the product is not permitted to be installed/used.

    This is a email my electrician forwarded to me from the DCA.



    I find this VERY surprising - again, when did it happen? Because it was not my recent experience.


    Around 6 months ago.
  • See, awhile back you said that you never went through this yourself:

    honestguy said:

    case said:

    honestguy said:

    For anyone who plans on getting a interlock kit "third party" from interlockkit.com do NOT! They are not UL listed and will be red stickered by your local inspector.



    I know two electricians who have pulled permits for the Interlock in Maplewood and gotten approval. So... this is a very interesting development that jobs are being flagged. DId this happen to you?



    No but a electrician I use told me that they were UL listed until just recently so now the inspectors are turning them down. He told me its not that they are not safe its just a labeling thing.





    and now you're saying that it DID happen to you and you had to pull out the Interlock and install a transfer panel.



    So which is is?
  • I am familiar with APC's commercial devices and have always been very happy with their products and customer service. Never purchased an item made for residential use but this might be something to look into. http://www.apc.com/products/family/index.cfm?id=371
  • Many inspectors are obviously not as sharp as others and do not know it is not listed. And it did happen to me but didn't mention it in a earlier post. Also not sure of the exact time the listing was terminated but if anyone has any questions call the DCA yourself and they will tell you exactly what I stated.
  • Maplewood's electrical guy (in Mittermeyer's office) just confirmed that the Interlock is legal, safe, certified and available for permit. Check with your town... just don't take someone's word for it.

    Honestguy, I know you know a lot about electrical - in fact, it seems 85% of your posts are about electrical, and most of those are recommending your electrician - but the maplewood building office sees NO issues with the interlock kit.

    www.interlockkit.com

    I've got one, several of my friends have them and they are simple, foolproof and a godsend in these types of situations. Oh yeah... did I mention that you can easily pull a permit for one? ;)

  • What is the cost to install the interlock if you provide the kit? and can some also provide recommendations for electricians.
  • There are some great electricians in the area (and you should search the board to get recs and perspectives). My guy is Jim Honrath; licensed, bonded, 100% legit and an all-around great guy. 973 494 4472. he lives in maplewood and has worked here for a long time; first with Sileo Electric (another great guy) and now on his own.

    He's obviously a tad busy these days but perhaps you could call him next week to arrange a conversation. I would strongly suggest NOT providing the kit yourself; Jim needs to look at your panel and make sure the damn thing will fit! Also, he's not going to soak you on the parts - you're much safer letting him do the job.

    Incidentally, I would say that about ANY electrician or contractor - let them get the parts - but just ask them what kind of markup they apply. with the website (www.interlockkit.com) it's not like there are going to be any secrets.


    remember, the Interlock is a guaranteed "yes" in maplewood but if you live elsewhere you should ask your electrician to call the appropriate township.


    Regarding price... it varies based on your panel and how much work is required to cut in, but I believe it is always less expensive than a transfer panel (unless something HUGE comes up with the Interlock, but any electrician would know that ahead of time).

  • You're a little too enthusiastic about it, and frankly, it causes me to doubt your (and its) legitimacy.
  • deiscane said:

    You're a little too enthusiastic about it, and frankly, it causes me to doubt your (and its) legitimacy.



    Whoa. Pretty harsh, dude.

    I think a little research would help with any doubts people might have. You might want to talk to the township, your home insurance company and a licensed electrician. If you are looking to drop several hundred bucks on a home project it is a good idea to do your research. No offense @case but I think when people are making electrical changes to their home they should be a little circumspect. :)
  • greg (powerplus) installed my interlock kit 1/12 - passed inspection from millburn township 2/7/12 .... btw, greg is a licensed electrician
  • I am a renter. Is this portable? Can you remove it and have it reinstalled someplace else, in say, two years?
  • And, a related question. This option seems much cheaper and more reliable than a portable generator. Why don't more homeowners do this? What are the drawbacks?
  • deiscane said:

    You're a little too enthusiastic about it, and frankly, it causes me to doubt your (and its) legitimacy.




    You're entitled to your opinion, of course, but it seems like Maplewood and Millburn buiding departments are both on board with this as per my comments and bd's comments. Oh, and someone else just emailed me that they reached out to the South Orange building department and confirmed that it is approved in that town as well.

    I can only hope and pray that you do not take the willingness of the three building departments to issue permits for the Interlock as suspicious! ;)

    I'm very happy with my system (or, as you put it, "too enthusiastic") and when I read about people spending a fair amount of money for a solution that only covers the furnace... I'd like to make sure they understand their alternatives.


    So... I suppose I agree with mrincredible that your comment seems somewhat harsh. If that's your only issue then... well... best of luck to you?
  • alias said:

    Bd37703...do you happen to know the make of the watt meter? I plan on going the interlock route and a watt meter would be invaluable. How do you like the model you have?



    Reliance Controls MB75 30-Amp Indoor Wattage Meter

    I like the whole setup - makes it easy to deal with power outages
    Post edited by bd37703 at 2012-11-07 12:50:26
  • Hahaha said:

    I am a renter. Is this portable? Can you remove it and have it reinstalled someplace else, in say, two years?



    The Interlock is not something you'd want to install and then remove. Same would go for a transfer panel (though I suppose it IS possible in the latter case).

    Both solutions (interlock on the main panel or transfer panel) would still require a portable generator to provide electricity... what's being talked about on this thread is the way you'd connect the generator to the house wiring system.

    I'd say more but I'm afraid that it might come across as too enthusiastic and (frankly) I would expect that to cause people to doubt the fact that I'm legitimate.

    PS - I'm emailing Mom right now to ask about this and will report back as soon as I get a copy of my parents' marriage certificate and my birth certificate.

  • deiscane said:

    You're a little too enthusiastic about it, and frankly, it causes me to doubt your (and its) legitimacy.



    Whoa. Pretty harsh, dude.

    I think a little research would help with any doubts people might have. You might want to talk to the township, your home insurance company and a licensed electrician. If you are looking to drop several hundred bucks on a home project it is a good idea to do your research. No offense @case but I think when people are making electrical changes to their home they should be a little circumspect. :)



    None taken - I pull permits for every job that I do (or gets done) at my house, so I'm all about being as above-board as possible. I'd much rather have an issue with getting a permit than to have a more serious problem later down the road!
  • honestguy said:

    Many inspectors are obviously not as sharp as others and do not know it is not listed. And it did happen to me but didn't mention it in a earlier post. Also not sure of the exact time the listing was terminated but if anyone has any questions call the DCA yourself and they will tell you exactly what I stated.



    Just to close the loop here, I spoke to Maplewood, bd spoke to Millburn and another MOL poster from another thread reached out to South Orange on this topic. All responses positive, but have your electrician call for you (or call yourself).
  • five hundy for the switch box and five hundy to set it up.

  • " Your generator has a 30amp plug on it that would allow an electritian to install a switch plate which would provide power to atleast 6 breakers most importantly the furnace...the cost is $1400,I know but its an investment that you'll always be able to rely on whenever your panel loses power from pseg."
    !



    This sounds a little miss leading. No matter how many breakers you have in the panel, there's still only 30 amps to feed it.

  • Reliance Controls manual transfer switches are very easy to install by a DIYer with basic home electrical knowledge. They come in 1 to 10 or more circuits and have watt meters built in.

    The interlock device requires at least 2 empty breaker spaces in your box or the use of piggyback breakers. Also, the homeowner will have to have a sense of the capacity of their generator and what they can or cannot turn on or some sort of meter would need to be installed so that the generator is not overloaded.

    Prices above sound high to me, but electricians charge a lot for labor. The equipment is $150 to $350 dollars.
    Post edited by tourn at 2012-11-07 23:01:58
  • aelfkins said:


    " Your generator has a 30amp plug on it that would allow an electritian to install a switch plate which would provide power to atleast 6 breakers most importantly the furnace...the cost is $1400,I know but its an investment that you'll always be able to rely on whenever your panel loses power from pseg."
    !




    This sounds a little miss leading. No matter how many breakers you have in the panel, there's still only 30 amps to feed it.





    Agreed, but I think if you add it up you'd be surprised to learn how much you can get out of those 30 amps! As previously stated, I'm more of a fan of an Interlock kit on the main panel than a separate transfer panel but the 30 amp restriction remains the same.

    For me, it was nice to be able to turn on the dishwasher breaker and do a load of dishes last week, then turn the breaker off when I was done. (Of course, I could have just left the breaker on and the machine off... but I was playing with my new toy!). And of course, if I had run into a situation where I needed to manually prioritize, I just click off some circuits and let the other circuits take the power they need.

  • Thanks for all the useful feedback here; I really appreciate it.

    We ended up going with a more basic and less expensive option, as just getting heat in the house had become a priority. Right before the snow hit, our electrician was able to install a simple switch box that only switches between the breaker that supplies the furnace and a separate plug that now runs to the generator. $275. The breaker is turned off just to be safe, and the house has heat now, and if this ever happens again.
    Post edited by MartinKFoys at 2012-11-08 05:31:10
  • I like the inexpensiveness of the Interlock, but it sounds like electrician installation is an absolute must. I'm much more inclined to do the Reliance kit myself. One issue I have with the Reliance units is that they come with a certain number of 20 amp breakers and a certain number of 15 amp ones, and the 20's on the Reliance unit can only be connected to a 20 in your main panel. (The reliance 15's can be used on either 15 or 20 amp circuits.)

    After mapping out all the switches in my panel -- which took over an hour of running around and I still can't figure out what's on 2 or 3 of my breakers -- I realized that I had 10 circuits I wanted to be able to power, and only 2 of them were 20 amp circuits ... but there are 4 20 amp breakers in the 10 circuit Reliance units. So I gave them a call, and turns out they'll happily swap those out for you as an even exchange -- mail them back 2 of the 20 amp breakers and they'll send you a couple of 15's. Works for me!
  • That's good to know!
  • Everyone is different, I guess, in terms of knowledge and experience - but I refuse to do panel work. So I agree with Ken that having an electrician do the Interlock makes a ton of sense (if you're going in that direction).
  • case said:

    Everyone is different, I guess, in terms of knowledge and experience - but I refuse to do panel work. So I agree with Ken that having an electrician do the Interlock makes a ton of sense (if you're going in that direction).



    Come on.. just throw the main while you're working and don't touch the big fat wire coming in :-)

    I'm lucky, when we had our service upgraded the new main entered on the opposite end of the house. Code requires a cutoff within so many feet of the main entering the house. What that means is I have a cutoff on one end of the house and the panel on the other.. so when I throw the cutoff, my panel is COMPLETELY dead. The only live wire (the incoming one) is on the other end of the basement.

    Just don't forget to pull a tax return.. ehr.. I mean permit from the town :-)
  • I like how simple this option is. A mechanical lock out and adding a circuit breaker, and you're set.

    What I don't like is, this requires discipline -- e.g., turn off the breakers for the electric range, a/c, etc. and you need to tell who ever is in the house -- not to turn on more than a couple lights at a time, watch their use of hair dryers and toasters, etc. And for the electrician -- the breakers must be in certain physical places, so that could well mean moving wiring and breakers around.

    I noticed over the past few days comments by people whose significant other was out of town, so they were left to run the generator. I suppose that's not so uncommon. And those people might could easily make a mistake with something like this.

    Still - an elegantly simple option.
    Post edited by peteglider at 2012-11-08 15:01:22
  • What I would like to see is this - in order to utilize the "alternative source" you must first turn off All of the other circuits. (Just throwing the Main switch won't accomplish what is needed.) Then you turn on the Alternative and selectively switch the breakers you want on. Our house seems very "gerrymandered" to me. There is an odd mix of things on each breaker. I believe it runs essentially horizontal within the house. So something that powers the washer and dryer in the basement also powers the microwave and the toaster and the light at the back of the kitchen. Whereas the switch that powers the livingroom AC and the front porch and entry hall lights also powers the basement freezer, etc. which happens to be toward the front of the house as well. Is this the usual set-up? And honestly, I don't know which breaker controls the furnace (having an electronic ignition on the gas boiler is one of the changes since we moved in 20 years ago. Grrr.)
  • As MartinKFoys posted, there's a 15A model for $99. That'll easily run your furnace. You put that in the line between the furnace the the circuit box and plug the generator into it.

    For other stuff, just split the line coming from the generator and plug other things in directly to the other end of the generator line. The issue with the furnace is that it doesn't have a plug, so you can't just plug it into the generator; it's hardwired into the house electric line (I assume for code reasons).

    The reason more people don't get the bigger versions or alternate heaters is that they aren't needed for well over 99% of the time in this area. Or at least they haven't been. :-) So why spend the money?

    But honestly you could likely run your furnace off your car with the appropriate transformer. It only has to run a few hours a day, except in the coldest conditions. Then battery-powered lights for lighting, gas stove or outdoor grill for food, gas water heater (that doesn't need electricity). All that without a generator.

    You need to figure out what you're comfortable with, but if we had had the transfer switch, I'd have been ok in my house for the week we were without power. Not super-happy, but OK.
    Post edited by eponymous at 2012-11-08 15:35:19
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