Electrical Question

barmanvarn

Member
Jul 11, 2017
20
Cabot
Apologies if wrong forum....didn't see anything specifically related to electrical.

Current setup:
I have a 220 line (as it used to feed power to a well pump) running to the pool. One of the 110 lines isn't used anymore. The other line feeds a 1.5hp Hayward pump (set to run on 110) and also feeds an electrical outlet by the pump). The 220 line runs through a 30amp, double-pole breaker in the house.

My breaker box at the house is currently full and I'm looking to free up a 220 spot in order to hook a generator to the house.

So I was thinking I could do the following and am looking to see if this is a good or bad idea:
1) Replace 2 of the single-pole 20 amp breakers in my box w/ 2 tandem 20amp breakers. This would give me two "new" 20 amp breakers.
2) Take the 110 line running to the pool pump and move it to one of the new 20amp breakers. Per the documentation on the pump, it's peak pull is approx 18.5 amps (< 19 for sure).
3) Take the other 110 (unused) line that runs to the pool and move it to the other new 20amp breaker. This would be used as a new circuit to feed the existing electrical outlet at the pool as well as some more outlets I'm hoping to add around the pool perimeter.
4) I could then use the 30amp double-pole (now unused) as a hookup for my generator.

I'll also be running this idea by an electrician that is coming out next week to give me a quote on replacing the main breaker (which is outside) with a new panel with breakers so that it can be used to power all outside lines (at some point in the future). Just wanted to check in here to see what you think of my plan.

thanks
 

CJadamec

TFP Expert
Apr 29, 2016
2,390
Quaker Hill, CT
Using a breaker to backfeed your panel with a generator is very against code. It can be potentially lethal to linemen in a storm if you forget to shut the main breaker off that connects you to the utility pole. The transformers on utility poles work both ways. They step down voltage to your house. But when there is no utility power on their lines and you connect you generator that transformer will step the voltage up to utility levels. If anyone or anything happens to be touching those wires when that happens they can easily be killed.

I understand people connect their generators like this all the time but you could save someone's life by taking the time to do it right and install a proper transfer switch or panel.

Any licensed electrician at best will lose their license if they get caught wiring a generator this way. At worst they could face criminal charges if someone gets hurt from the installation.
 

pooldv

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Moderator Emeritus
Aug 10, 2012
25,412
FL panhandle
Using a breaker to backfeed your panel with a generator is very against code. It can be potentially lethal to linemen in a storm if you forget to shut the main breaker off that connects you to the utility pole. The transformers on utility poles work both ways. They step down voltage to your house. But when there is no utility power on their lines and you connect you generator that transformer will step the voltage up to utility levels. If anyone or anything happens to be touching those wires when that happens they can easily be killed.

I understand people connect their generators like this all the time but you could save someone's life by taking the time to do it right and install a proper transfer switch or panel.

Any licensed electrician at best will lose their license if they get caught wiring a generator this way. At worst they could face criminal charges if someone gets hurt from the installation.
:goodpost:

It is critically important to make sure not to ever energize the power lines. Your electrician will be able to advise on how to properly connect a generator to you breaker panel.
 

JoeGolan

Bronze Supporter
Nov 2, 2016
200
Palm Coast, FL
Using a breaker to backfeed your panel with a generator is very against code. It can be potentially lethal to linemen in a storm if you forget to shut the main breaker off that connects you to the utility pole. The transformers on utility poles work both ways. They step down voltage to your house. But when there is no utility power on their lines and you connect you generator that transformer will step the voltage up to utility levels. If anyone or anything happens to be touching those wires when that happens they can easily be killed.

I understand people connect their generators like this all the time but you could save someone's life by taking the time to do it right and install a proper transfer switch or panel.

Any licensed electrician at best will lose their license if they get caught wiring a generator this way. At worst they could face criminal charges if someone gets hurt from the installation.
:goodpost:

It is critically important to make sure not to ever energize the power lines. Your electrician will be able to advise on how to properly connect a generator to you breaker panel.

:goodpost:
I agree, it is best and safer to have a proper transfer panel or interlock installed. All work should be performed by a licensed electrician.:rockon:

If your main breaker is in your distribution panel you MAY be able to use an interlock kit, If your main breaker is in a separate panel you will need a transfer panel.
 

douglasj76

Well-known member
Aug 27, 2017
45
Westlake, Ohio
I installed my own transfer switch I got from home depot. It was about $250 and works perfect. I would recommend installing that with a generator hookup that you can install outside.
 

tim5055

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 11, 2014
10,728
Franklin, NC
Just to be the person to nit-pick here, there are ways to back feed a generator through a breaker that both pass UL and the National Electrical Code.

While the way most “harry homeowner” DIY folks fail both tests, you can (I have one installed) install a Standby Power Mechanical Interlock which allows you to either have the main breaker on or the generator breaker on, but not both.

Here is an example of an installation of a “generic” interlock, but mine was made by my panel manufacturer. How a Generator Interlock Kit Works - YouTube
 

CJadamec

TFP Expert
Apr 29, 2016
2,390
Quaker Hill, CT
I should have mentioned interlock kits but they aren't always available for the breaker panel you have. You need to find a kit that will work with the equipment you already have. Also when backfeeding a breaker it needs to be held in place with a tie down straps (part of the kit). A large portion of people won't be able to find a kit for their panel.

When I installed the panel in my house I bought a service panel with a generator interlock built into the panel. It even has handy ammeters built into it so I can keep an eye on the load on the generator.
 

Catanzaro

Platinum Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 30, 2014
3,409
Monmouth County, New Jersey
Below is my interlock kit. A great idea as I am allowed to pick and choose my circuits. This would have been nice during the 10 day power outage on the east coast. A few extension cords, no heat, no hot water even with a generator was no fun. This would have been a great idea before the storm.

Unfortunately since Superstorm Sandy, we have not had more than a 4 hour power outage. Each year I stock up on at least 5 - 5 gallons of gasoline with stabilizer in it. Start up generator once a month for maintenance purposes. Installation was straight forward. Although, had to have an electrician come in and move some breakers around. This is prior to the pool being installed. Now, a little different.

Even though I ordered mine through the Home Depot out west somewhere (The whole east coast - up and down the corridor was out), and I was lucky, this website offers them for every box, including real old ones. They are a bit expensive as mine was about $65 (If I remember correctly). This place pretty much has one for every panel.

Generator Interlocks

Manual Transfer Switch Kits | Generator Interlock Kit

Above is the website for the video posted by Tim from You Tube. Shop around as there are many vendors out there.

Generator Interlock Kit # 1.jpg
 

PoolGate

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 7, 2017
4,496
Damascus, MD
To answer your original question, it looks like you are replacing a 15 amp breaker with a 20 amp breaker. The breaker protects the wire. You can replace a 15 with a 20 only if the wire is 12 gauge or larger. If the electrical lines are 14 gauge then you can only use a 15 amp breaker on that wire.
 

dfahrion

Bronze Supporter
Oct 18, 2013
89
Iowa
I just wanted to add, in addition to the issues stated already you do not want to replace a 220 line with two 110 lines like you proposed. Currently you have a 220 line, with two 110 hot lines and a single neutral all on a single 220 30A breaker. If you split the two 110 hot lines into two separate 20A breakers you would have the potential of putting 40A on that single neutral. The single breaker makes sure that doesn't happen, splitting it into two breakers it would be easy to more one wire to the wrong breaker and overload the neutral. Someone would also have to know to shut down both breakers before doing any service to either line which would be an additional danger, as that neutral is carrying current with either breaker on.