View Full Version : Generator Question

02-28-11, 05:04 PM
I have a small shed in my back yard. Its not a tiny metal garden shed but about 14 ft by 14 ft. its made of brick etc and has outlets and light fixtures built in already.

The problem is that the wires which fed the building power were cut and the meter box disabled.

We were originally going to wire the building back to the box. He said we'd have to call in the power company, buy a box, buy a meter etc etc and it would run into the 1/2000 range. I kinda felt it was a cop out because i had a hard time getting him there in the first place. Anyway he mentioned buying a generator which actually doesnt sound like a bad idea.

I do however need to make sure im understanding the way a generator works correctly.

Is it possible to connect a generator directly to the buildings power supply. There are a couple of light fixtures and a couple of outlets.
What kind of generator would i need?
At most i would want a good bright light to work at night with
An outlet to hook my polisher, vac, portable shop lights or even a fan up to

any advice would be appreciated

02-28-11, 05:14 PM
A generator in the 4500 Watt range would work, BUT at today's gas prices you'd go broke if you did much nighttime work, and a decent, reliable unit is not cheap. For a portable generator the 115 volt AC wiring hookup is usually one or more 20 amp 3-wire wall sockets, a 30 amp 3-way locking outlet, and maybe a 12V DC outlet

Why not get into the shed wiring, separate the electrical sockets from the lighting bus, and simply run a couple of marine grade 14 gauge 3-wire extension cords to the shed. Portable. (If the wire run is over 100 feet that compounds the problem.)

Surf through the Northern Tool website for both generators and contractor grade HD extension cords - the heavier the wire gauge, the less voltage/current drop per length.

02-28-11, 05:34 PM
its WAY over 100 ft away. probably a football field away

02-28-11, 05:41 PM
Your too honest for your own good, sometimes it doesn't pay to get local (he said ?) involved, I'm not saying a shoddy repair should happen, but I'm sure someone could do a proper and safe repair,
Dont get involved with a generator, it's another machine too contend with.

02-28-11, 07:16 PM
Or think a little farther outside the box...

http://www.discountpv.com/index.htm solar & wind options on a more personal scale.

03-02-11, 05:58 PM
I must be the only one that thinks 1-2k to completely refurbish the wiring out to such a far away shed, plus the meter installation and everything that goes with it isn't that bad...

I mean, unless a quality generator can be had for like 500 bucks what's the point of going with that alternative in the first place, plus the fuel to run it, plus the maintenance associated with a mechanical device that won't get frequent use. A couple grand sounds mighty good to me to avoid all of that nonsense.

03-02-11, 06:28 PM
Dont get me wrong, i totally agree, if it was MY house. We're renting the place, and though we plan to stay for a while, its still not mine.

03-02-11, 07:10 PM
Can the shed be moved closer?

03-02-11, 09:28 PM
no unfortunately. Its a small brick building complete with a foundation.

Sent from my Dell Streak

03-03-11, 01:46 AM
Ahh, I missed the rental part. Now I understand!

03-03-11, 11:09 AM
my fault, i didnt mention it.

On the flip side, we DO plan on staying for a few more years, and yesterday I almost felt like calling the damn power company myself. Our landlord would probably either help with some of the costs or deduct it from rent for a while. Maybe I'll at least call to see what it would actually cost.

So, I bought a new window switch for the allante, I installed it and the passenger window started going crazy, which meant something inside the switch was stuck, easy fix. Bad thing is its a bad idea to take a window switch apart in the dark. I had to drive the SRX all the way back to our place, take it apart in the house, make an adjustment, then drive it back to the shed/car. My adjustment wasnt enough so i had to drive back and forth a few times. The allante is up on jackstands so i couldnt just drive that up closer. it was VERY frustrating

03-03-11, 11:40 AM
If you do go the generator route, I use a Craftsman 3500W /5000 Surge watts generator at work. (Doesnt sound like alot but the thing really delivers) I think it has a 7 hp OHV 1cyl engine. I have used a pipe threader (1500watts), jackhammer (900w), drills/sawzalls (300?w each), and a radio all at the same time without it breaking a sweat. Some generators even have idle speed control to conserve gas when not under load. Unless you're using the shed as a full time machine shop, I think a genny like mine or one a bit bigger, plus a couple heavy gauge extention cords would suit your needs well. Its also a good investment in case of emergencies. AND, unlike a permanent installation, you could always sell the genny and get some of your money back if/when you move out.

03-03-11, 02:26 PM
If you bought a used generator you could probably sell it again for what you paid. People like me have one to deal with power outages to drive the sump pump, furnace fan, wife's curling iron etc.

03-03-11, 02:38 PM
Or - Wait for a hurricane, then come down to Florida and flip it for DOUBLE what you paid!

03-03-11, 07:01 PM
ok, so there are a couple of 3500w generators im checking out. If i go that route, will i need to connect my stuff directly to the generator? or is there a way to connect the building to the generator and then connect my stuff to the building...

the reason i ask is because the lights have switches mounted into the wall also, there are outlets in convenient places in the building.

03-03-11, 07:16 PM
Just make sure you're not buying based on surge watts. Like car amplifiers, surge watts is peak power for a short period....

Im no electrician so if you're not comfortable messing with it, obviously talk to someone with the proper experience, but with that said -

Same deal as in post #2, just run ext cord to generator rather than the house. Generators have built in circuit breakers so if you mess up, you just trip the breaker. If it were me, I'd treat the building as if it were one electrical device, following the wiring back to the original service box, deleting it, and splicing hot, neutral, and ground to their respective leads on my extension cord.

Of course, you are getting this information from a plumber so DIY'er beware!!

03-03-11, 07:18 PM
ok im following...

with that 3500w generator you listed a lot of high draw items that you were running, could i get by with say, a 1000w unit?

generators are best left in doors of course right?

03-03-11, 07:24 PM
I've ran them for short periods in the rain without incident... I think long term the issue would be corrosion plus the danger of getting shocked by a wet ext cord.... For permanent installation and to keep the noise at a minimum, I'd build a large doghouse for it and set it away from the building. I think you could still do all this for less than the cost of having the utility company come out.

03-03-11, 07:32 PM
I've ran them for short periods in the rain without incident... I think long term the issue would be corrosion plus the danger of getting shocked by a wet ext cord.... For permanent installation and to keep the noise at a minimum, I'd build a large doghouse for it and set it away from the building. I think you could still do all this for less than the cost of having the utility company come out.

good idea thanks. yea youre right and the benefit with the generator is that i can
a) take it with me, when i leave
b) use it in case of an emergency
c) flip it for profit during a hurricane in florida

the only downside i see is that it can break or be stolen

03-04-11, 08:22 AM
ok im following...

generators are best left in doors of course right?

Generators have internal combustion engines that produce carbon monoxide. Do not run it inside of a shed or garage where you will be working.

There are ways to safely connect a generator to your electrical system. It can get expensive. I have a transfer switch and distribution panel in the basement for my system. The generator is stored outside of the house.

This may give you some ideas.