Spark Chasing and Angry Pixies, Frustrations With Electricity

I have a dumb question.

I’d like to have a lockout kit installed for my panel box like one does for a generator. But if I were to run my generator on woodgas it would be best served charging a battery bank and using PSW Inverters.

My biggest issue is can one stack Off Grid designed inverters to the main breaker box that ties to all the other boxes throughout a property?

How would one do this SAFELY? Using multiple breaker switches and wiring up each one individually? Wiring them in series? I know parallel wiring can be difficult and usually ends up with you bricking an inverter or two.

I’m also leaving this Topic open for anybody else with electrical questions so we can all find it in one spot.

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A well needed topic you’ve set up Cody.
Suggestion: as the originator you can modify it’s title. Edit out your name to just the Spark Chasing, Angry Pixies, Frustrations with Electricity.
This will allow others to vent out ; ask their real questions; and allow the real working Sparkies amongst us to help out.

I was greatly from DOW Sparkies helped out with my outside new-aquired-house having one GFI with only half of 120 VAC.

I do not have your specific answers.
On Wallaces topic, Hacking the Small frame Honda; in answer to a question from BruceJ.
he’d put up an active link to online reading old Onan generator system installation manuals. They 1920’s early 1970 set up farms and far out compound with electrical power. Central generator shed location. Radially out then individual lines distribution to different buildings. Each branch could then at the generator shed be locked out as needed. Not an all-fed, or-nothing.
Grid-tied we all must dance tunes to others music.
My personal choice has been cutting off existing not-actual in-house usages to make-my own-electrical-power. Keeps her happy. Keeps me advancing forwards simplest.
Steve Unruh


This kind of transfer switch lets you select what circuits are important to you at any one time and turn them on or off depending on how much power capacity you have have.

I think this is the kind of system you are asking about.

Simple and inexpensive but its not automatic so you have to be there to select what you want to power and of course you have to plan what you are going to use.

You could also buy a second of third and run more than one Inverter as long as you do not deplete your battery bank faster than you can charge.


Well from what I’ve seen that’s up to code, all you need is to add in a new breaker switch to the box and wire power from the Genset to the box through that breaker usually a 30a one. Also the lockout tab to prevent the Grid switch being on at the same time as the Generator.

From that wiring you add the plug that will connect to the generator with an extension cord made just for that purpose.

I have one master breaker that takes in the grid power and runs to sub panels that run to different parts of the property.
What I’m wanting to know is if I can have say, 3 3000w inverters connected to the master breaker assuming I cut off Grid power like one would with a genset.
I can shut off unnecessary breakers in the sub panels, superfluous stuff I know we’d never use in a power outage. Our well pump runs to a sub panel that also goes to our A/C system and part of the house.

I know the Grid Tie inverters that can lower your power bill are stackable, but not sure about an off grid pure sine wave one. Issue with Grid Tie inverters is they don’t work without sensing power coming in from the power line for safety reasons.

I need to get my mother to email our power consumption, our suppliers show exactly how much we’ve used throughout the month and I need to see just how big I need to go to accommodate most of the house.

You do know you have to phase phase synchronize the generators cutting them into AC existing power, yes?

The new paralleling capable engine driven inverter generators do this automatically.
One plus for them.
Steve Unruh


That’s my worry about running them in parallel. Apparently the more MUCH more expensive PSW Inverters have communication connections so multiples can run with each other and sync up.

But maybe if the sub panels aren’t connected to each other on the merit of the master box being entirely switched off I could run different cells to different sub boxes?

I should really do a test run with the generator on charcoal to see if I can at least power basic necessities like the 3 fridges and the well pump. If I can do that I will accept the need to have everything else shut off.

I would love to change the well pump to a pure DC system powered by solar and an adequately sized battery bank. Just never have to worry about that. I think 4kw could power the rest of the essentials in the house and have breathing room for peaks/surges.


This may be what you looking for? How To Make A Generator Interlock For Your Breaker Box - YouTube

I know how to wire that, I was just seeing if Inverters play nice via either series or parallel but I’ve already got my answer for that: fat chance unless you buy primo. I just need to look for a 6kw PSW inverter that doesn’t break the bank or is offered with Shop Pay to divide into payments.

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If you just want to drive power back onto a grid connection to reduce your demand you can drive an induction motor and it will generate power without the need for synchronization and electronics.

Maybe I a missing the pointy ends of your question.

A real good choice is something like a 5Hp Baldor induction motor with run capacitor.
These are very efficient for an induction motor.
Motors as generators is a very common thing in micro hydro.

Ya I’m just not following…

Maybe get a picture of the main service and the the loads post that with some priorities…
Depending on where you live you can just use a simple lock out device like you describe to prevent a line being back fed.

There are all kinds of ways to connect a generator/aux power electronics to a residential power system some with batteries some without.

I am an electrician and have looked at the local rules about grid tie and auto transfer stuff specific to want.
Its expensive to do what they want in Ontario…

I don’t have power run through an approved auto transfer panel and probably never will because my house is old and I am not interested in an inspector ( likely someone I know already who has a huge stick up his butt ) asking me when I rewire this or that without a permit…

Sometimes I do my own thing just because I can.
I really like 12 volt LED lighting and not having my work shop connected to the house.
Then I can do what ever I like and not spend a lot of money…


Yeah I don’t want to grid tie, I don’t even think my power supplier offers to buy power generated. And I’ll have to look into powering the house with an induction motor. Is the voltage consistent enough for sensitive things like refrigerators? Or is there some way to just filter the “noise” out of the raw power?

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Depends on the Fridge.
Mine is pretty stupid, its from the 80s aslong as the voltage and frequency are within 10% of its name plate rating it does not care.
More Modern stuff with electronics will not operate well ( or just go POOF ) without some protection.

Lets say you have an inverter rated at 5000 watts and your near full load on it.
You could run an induction generator parallel to share some load without any concerns as long as the Inverter carries 50% of the load at all times.

The inverter will set the voltage and frequency the induction generator will match up too.
If the generator is putting out more power than the inverter then you will get some voltage changes and it will fight the inverter… Not a good thing.

Since I was not clear on what you are doing and why I threw that induction thing at the wall to see if it would stick and it doesn’t seem to fit what you ware doing.
They are fine for powering lights tools and a compressor ect in a shop.
Just not good for electronics.

Just for good measure now.
You have a large service in a central point on your property that powers several things inside and outside the home you want to selectively power.

See the Transfer panel I suggested.
The way you wire that you select the breakers in your main service that you want to power and wire them to the transfer pannel.
You select on the transfer panel what circuits or all if you can to be powered in an outage.

The product I suggested is good and easy to wire without significant cost in parts and labour.
But if you can use a lock out device and are going to select loads in your home to Isolate then thats fine too.
I just like reliance controls stuff because its wired in a way that you can see the load on the metering and select loads as you want.
Lets say you want o Isolate and run a pump or deep freeze for several hours and then shut them off and select other loads because you have limited power.
this kind of panel lets you see what you have on and how much power your using so you can make best use of your generator.


Thanks for being patient. I do like that kit and I think I’ll need that. Took some photos of all the house breakers, my shop has its own separate meter and breaker I’m not concerned about it.

This is just a nightmare to interpret as far as the first two breakers.

I can’t tell which one actually takes us off the Mains.

Top one says MAIN, left says SERVICE DISCONNECT, and the right one says HEAT SECTION

We have a gas stove electric oven, it can run without electricity. This appears to also run to the AC system but it’s confusing considering this next panel also has breakers for the AC. Another breaker says Wall Pack whatever the heck that is.

This one also has a breaker for the well pump, I’d probably only have this one on during a power outage. The arrows are meant to indicate which of the two Trane units we have for AC.

Here’s the breaker inside the house. Still odd it has a main disconnect at the top, I’m guessing it disconnects from the outside breaker?

Insanity honestly. House was built in the 60s so we still aren’t grounded.

I vote to burn down the house and build it all back up with Off Grid switching in mind.


I’m with Wallace about keeping those inspectors out. In the the early two thousands, I did a remodel for someone and the electrician had to add a sub panel. Spread out ranch style house. Inspector shows up to approve the panel and says, new rule in effect. All smoke detectors have to be hardwired daisy chained. I had the building permit and hired the electrician so I had to eat the redo of the detectors. some thousand dollars later and I was poorer and wiser.

At least here, if you alter your system by adding any kind of transfer switch and don’t have it inspected and approved then in the event of a fire it will be a real fight with your insurance company. They will try and blame it on your new wiring. They are not real friendly when it comes to covering claims no matter what the television commercials pretend.


Michigan code now allows wireless smoke detectors so if one goes off they all go off without rewiring them together.


Me too Wallace,
12vdc is plenty good enough for shop lighting. those 12vdc screw base rough service light bulb last forever. The #1 thing I used in the auto shops. #2 was D cell explosion proof mines flash light when gastanks dropping for fuel pump changing. 12vdc lighting was just fine for decades and decades in travel trailers, RV’s, live on boats.

Cody do not be so quick to say you with a 60’s built and wired you do not have grounds.
We had to have the distribution panel very expensively upgraded replaced from 100 amps to 200 amps to change out the folks 1959 house from oil furnace to electric furnace. Surprise! All the branch circuits ground wires were there.
The outlets and wall switches are all olds style metal. These boxes are grounded. There are special self-grounding (to the box) duplex outlets for those.
Stupid. Stupid. Me. I still have to go back and correct many of my previous replacement outlets I’d replaced out with the corrected ones before we sell this house. Sigh.
Always more work to be done.


I know we aren’t grounded because grandpa didn’t have it grounded when built, and we’ve never had the wiring overhauled. Now maybe the AC units and hot water heater are grounded since they’re new with new panels installed and wired, but they didn’t have to go through the house to do that.

My shop is grounded, built in the late 80s.

The house I bought in 1984 and put in a new upgrade breaker panel had the old fuse box grounded to the water pipe. That was a no go. Had to drive a grounding rod in the ground next to the foundation. I drove the rod in all the way except the last 2 ’ that it need to go. Hit something solid probably foundation footing. Now what. A friend of mine said just cut the extra off. Beat on it some more and hook up the ground wire and clamp. The inspector will never know. Lol.


I didn’t know that Don. It’s been 13 years since I last pulled a permit. Not a single thing I miss about the building business. My wife still makes me keep the license current, I guess as some kind of security blanket. Three hour class every two years, so not big deal. More stupidity. Now you can do it on-line and answer a couple questions at the end of each section and you surely don’t need to watch the video to answer them.


I put a new entrance service in for wife’s co-worker. Had to install 2 ground rods in series, single wire no breaks all the way to ground lug. I got an at-a-boy from inspector. :smiley: