House Backup Power

Adding a whole house backup generator,

First I ended up getting a great deal on a Coleman  8000 watt nominal, 10,000 watt peak generator. For the first year I just used extension cords to run into the house to power needed devices throughout a power outage. After that I wanted to do something a bit more permanent and manageable if i’m not around during an outage. First I made a list of the important things that I wanted to run and the circuits connected to those items.

1) Well pump, 2) Refrigerator, 3) Deep freezer, 4) Hallway lights, 5) Home networking equipment, 6) Son and Daughters rooms, 7) Front room tv radio ect. Our well pump is a 240v 2o amp  circuit and the rest were an assortment of 15-20 amp circuits. I started doing research on manual transfer switches until I found something that would run the circuits that I needed. I came across a “Q510C Pro/Tran” transfer switch that would meet my needs plus a little bit more.


I purchased it and an outdoor power box that lets you plug in a l14-30r power cord, then I found a 2 breaker box that I could put a 30 amp 240v breaker in for an outside power disconnect, Bought a bunch of the proper gauge wire and conduit and male and female l14-30p (male) & l14-30r (female)


 ends for a homemade extension cord. Also bought some flexible exhaust pipe and conduit fittings so I could enclose my generator inside a tool shed and pipe the exhaust outside.


I mounted the transfer switch next to my power panel and ran conduit between the units, shut off the breakers that I was moving over and took the leads from the transfer switch and wired them into my panels corresponding  breakers and connected the output leads from the transfer switch to my home circuits with wire nuts


Then I ran the conduit and wires outside to the power from the generator input breakers and power plug-in


Plugged the extension cord that I built into the generator and then into the receptacle and fired the generator up, turned on the outside disconnect and then flipped the transfer switch breakers over to generator power and verified that it all works. Tested the load on the generator with the well and the hot water heater. The heater was a later addition since I had an extra 240v circuit that wasn’t being used. This is the max capacity that it would be consuming and in a real power outage we would probably just use the essential circuits and have the well running when we need it.


After having this unit in place for over a year I have been checking the oil and starting it up once a month. I noticed that after the generator ran for about 15 minutes it started to bog down and stutter so I determined that it was an exhaust leak that was filling the shed with co2 so I added an extension cord and a box fan to the generator so when the generator turns on i can put the box fan in the doorway to help blow some fresh air into the shed. I will probably work on a way of piping direct air from the outside into the intake but until then this works like a charm. I decided I needed to help it keep its battery charged since pull start on this big of a generator is a bit of a chore. I added a five watt solar panel and charge controller to the shed so it will keep a trickle charge on the battery at all times.

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Solar Shower & Hot Water Heater

Two years ago I decided I wanted to be able to harness the suns energy to create hot water. As a proof of concept and usefulness I decided to make an outdoor shower. After spending a day outside working in the pasture mowing ect being able to just run into a shower without going inside covered in dirt is a great thing not to mention when one of our dogs are covered in mud or sprayed by a skunk is awesome. So I started looking up plans for solar water heaters and found all different kinds of plans.

I started to think about what we had laying around that I could use for an insulated box and with a sad turn of events our refrigerator of over 20+ years died on us. I saw this as a great resource and a possible new life. I took the doors off and cut out the divider that goes between the freezer and the refrigerator. I measured the inside of the refrigerator and guessed after looking around that a standard 5o gallon water heater tank would fit inside of it. After that I posted an add on craigslist looking for a dead hot water heater that didn’t leak. I received probably 20 emails from people that were looking to haul their heaters to the dump but didn’t want to have to pay for it. I ended up picking one up and brought it home and stripped the outside insulation off, the one that I picked up had foam insulation on it and if I had to do it all over I might of looked for one with fiberglass insulation instead because removing the foam was kind of a chore.

I fit the water tank inside the refrigerator with a couple pieces of wood that I cut to help support it and covered the entire inside of the fridge with reflective insulation to help point the sun light at the tank. Next I painted the water tank flat black to help it absorb as much radiant heat as I could get from the sun. I installed the tank, cut a couple holes in the top for the plumbing and installed a drain valve off the bottom of the tank so I could drain it in the winter time. Then I mounted the refrigerator at a 45 degree angle on the southern side of the house and ran plumbing to it. Currently its just hooked up to a good quality garden hose so I can disconnect it all in winter. Finally I added a sheet of glass that I purchased from a local vendor for $35

I ended up covering it with some cedar fencing to make it more aesthetic than having a refrigerator in your back yard and added some privacy and a bit of a wind break on those windy days. I will vouch on a sunny day this thing will hold hot enough water to take a shower at 2 am. During the hot part of the summer I have to add cold water to it because it can almost burn you. I dug a hole for the drain in the middle and burried a 3 ft pipe with holes in it and gravel around it for a drain. Here is some pics from the finished product, I wasn’t blogging back then so I didn’t take any pictures during the creation of it but here ya go, I hope you get the idea.

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Heat From Junkmail

This summer I was annoyed at the literal barrage of junk mail that we received so I found this at on sale for 19 bucks, I figured hey its worth a try right? Instead of using gas to haul something away why cant I just make use of it on our property. This was originally made for newspaper but with a paper shredder which we already had it made short work of even cardboard to turn into presto style logs.


After soaking the paper in 5 gallon buckets and turning the mixture every couple days to help break up the paper and card stock. I came up with this after about 20 minutes of pressing the liquid out of it and then let it dry outside in the summer heat.533053_2321659016593_334025834_noverall thoughts, its a defiantly good use if you have a fireplace, the press could be built a bit sturdier but for the price I’m not complaining. I still haven’t signed up for all the free junk mail I could find but if your ever in a pinch financially id bet if you were determined enough you could collect your neighbors unwanted junk mail and heat yourselves thru the winter. Just remember to remove those plastic windowed envelopes and fake plastic credit cards from the mail.