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Old 08-28-2013, 11:10 PM   #1
soj
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Default Installing a standby generator with ATS

I am in the process of installing a Kohler 14RESA generator with a 200A whole house transfer switch. I have taken a few pics along but haven't had time to post anything. If there is any interest in this type of project let me know and I will show what I have done so far.
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Old 08-28-2013, 11:17 PM   #2
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Default Re: Installing a standby generator with ATS

I'm interested!
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Old 08-29-2013, 01:00 AM   #3
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Default Re: Installing a standby generator with ATS

Lots of interest will sprout up once hurricane season cranks back up again. Same with ice problems in dead of winter. Might as well get a head start.

GJer's also interested in whether you have NG (natural gas) and/or LPG (propane . . . liquid petroleum gas) as your fuel source, and your costs to run during any outages. There's been a few on diesel, but more rare.

Post up your pics. We LOVE pics !!
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Old 08-29-2013, 08:54 AM   #4
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Default Re: Installing a standby generator with ATS

subscribed i am very interested
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Old 08-29-2013, 05:29 PM   #5
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Default Re: Installing a standby generator with ATS

Subscribing to help with possible electrical questions!!
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Old 08-30-2013, 12:23 AM   #6
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Default Re: Installing a standby generator with ATS

OK, I see a little interest, and I esp. like that wyliesdiesels is on board to keep me straight. I hope other electricians will follow along to not only help me, but the advice they give can be used by others. Does that statement tell you I am not an electrician? Good, because I am not, nor do I play one on TV. AND, I did NOT stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. So I am open to all help and suggestions from those who are.

So, on to the project at hand. Some background. I have been using a portable generator for backup power for about 4 years. I wired it through a GenTran 30A inlet box, then through a Reliance watt meter box (so I could monitor and try to balance the load on each hot leg), then through a interlocked back feed breaker. That worked great, through several outages, including a couple that lasted several days. Then the Generac 8kw portable crapped out on me. I couldn't fix it, and neither could an electric motor shop. The engine was fine, just no output. So I removed the generator from the engine and mounted a Harbor Freight "so called" 10kw generator head. It is really 7kw with a 10kw surge. That worked OK, even for one multi day outage. About a year ago I decided I was tired of having marginal power during outages and started planning for a standby, auto startup generator. My first step was eliminating electrical load so I could use a smaller unit. There was no gas in the house, but I do have a 500 Gal LP tank at my shop. First step was planning, sizing and installing a gas line from the tank to the house. Next was changing the water heater from electric tank to gas tankless. I wasn't sure when I would change the heat pump (with supplemental heat strips) to an AC / gas heat setup, but the old unit decided for me. About a month ago it crapped out and I replaced it with a Carrier unit with two stage gas heat. That is what prompted me to go ahead with the generator install.

Based on my major loads and how I plan to manage them (and replace one more with gas), I selected a 14kw Kohler. I bought it from a local dealer with a 200A ATS and startup, but no install. Once I get everything hooked up he will send a serviceman out to run through the Kohler checklist, fire it up, check it under load and register the startup date (which also starts the warranty) with Kohler. Without the dealer startup, the warranty starts on date of mfg.
I picked it up at the dealer, that saved delivery fee. The brown box is the ATS.



The slab on top of the box is an "Ultra Pad", made to fit the Kohler 14 and 20kw units. There are four cast in threaded inserts and they lined up perfectly with the holes in the base of the generator. It came with 4 SS bolts.



It is heavy, so have a forklift or lots of help to unload or move it.



The cardboard lifts off the wooden skid. Notice how close the vertical portion of that fork is to the end of the housing. It is not touching cause there was clearance there to remove the box...



But when I sat it down, the ground wasn't level and the housing leaned back against the fork...OUCH!



Made me sick! I buy a new generator, and the FIRST thing I do is bust it. After I get it installed I will remove that black grill and see if I can pop that crack back in place, maybe put some epoxy on the back side. The crack in the lighter colored part I better leave it alone, anything I do will probably make it worse. It won't affect performance, so I will just live with it. I only showed this to warn that altho the polymer housing is corrosion proof it can be cracked. Mind you, it took the full weight of the unit pushing back against the fork as I set it down. If it was metal I am sure it would have dented. Nothing is safe from an idiot on a tractor!

So, after I finished kicking myself, I found the big key tie wrapped to one of the grills and popped the hood...


There is an inner hood/insulator over the engine/generator compartment. It hinges up and is held open with a magnet under the main hood. The engine was full of oil. Kohler says use 5W30 synthetic.


This area, inside the border bricks, was all mulch. I put in the divider and the gravel bed once I knew what gen I was getting. I can get by with 3 feet clearance from the house since it is brick. Combustible wall coverings require 5 feet. Kohler recommends 6 inches of gravel on three sides and 4 feet on the exhaust end. My exhaust will be blowing away from the house, 6-8 inches from the grass. I am going to take my chances on damaging the grass cause I don't want to move the border out any further. If the grass dies then I will decide what to do.
The little box on the wall, next to the gutter, is the GenTran inlet for the portable setup. I will be expanding the hole there for the new power wires.


I sat the pad in place with my forks. Working alone, I lifted one end up while it was still on top of the gen. box. I put a 4X4 under it in the center so I could slide the forks under it. Then I set it on the stacks of 2X4s on the gravel and backed away. Then I could lift one corner at a time and slide the 2X4s out. Probably two guys could lift and set it in place. I think it weighs about 200 lbs. They make a thicker and heavier one for hurricane prone areas. You can see the preinstalled SS bolts here.


This is how I lifted the generator after unbolting it from the shipping skid. There are two holes in the base that I slid 3/4" water pipe through. The Vise Grip c-clamps are to keep it from sliding back against the forks. Once is enough!. I kept it from sliding off the forks by keeping it tilted back. It weighs 420lbs. The 20kw model weighs 535lbs. Four guys should have no trouble setting one in place with two pipes about 3-4 feet long.


There it is, safe in it's new home, and with no additional cracks in the housing! It is easy to slide on the pad to line up the bolt holes. I added a flat and lock washer to each bolt.


That's it for now. Tomorrow we will cut and thread some pipe for the gas.
jp
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Old 08-30-2013, 05:09 AM   #7
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Default Re: Installing a standby generator with ATS

Looks good. I believe the distance from around the generator is the same as generaac. 5' from any opening for the exsauhst fumes and 3' from sides and front of generator and 18" on just the back of generator all from combustible materials. From the last pic you have a drier vent, from the pic it looks deceiving but it looks closer than 5' from the generator.
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Old 08-30-2013, 05:18 AM   #8
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Default Re: Installing a standby generator with ATS

Do you have central air and if so did you size the generator to handle the a/c unit. There's a LRA on the name plate of the a/c unit and that will tell you how much amperage the surge is when the a/c starts. Looks like you got a 14 kw if so its should be good for 100a or so for the lock rotor amperage.
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Old 08-30-2013, 08:48 AM   #9
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Default Re: Installing a standby generator with ATS

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Originally Posted by frankzlt1 View Post
Looks good. I believe the distance from around the generator is the same as generaac. 5' from any opening for the exsauhst fumes and 3' from sides and front of generator and 18" on just the back of generator all from combustible materials. From the last pic you have a drier vent, from the pic it looks deceiving but it looks closer than 5' from the generator.
The dryer vent is 6 or more feet from the gen. Of more concern is the exhaust for the tankless WH, the white pipe higher up the wall. It is only offset a couple of feet from the gen. I may rotate that turndown elbow away from the gen. and possibly add some pipe to it. That is a condensing tankless, vented with PVC, so the exhaust is not very hot. When it is running you can only feel the heat about a foot or so below the pipe opening. Even though it is fan forced exhaust, as soon as the hot air gets free of the pipe it starts to rise.
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Old 08-30-2013, 08:54 AM   #10
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Default Re: Installing a standby generator with ATS

Quote:
Originally Posted by frankzlt1 View Post
Do you have central air and if so did you size the generator to handle the a/c unit. There's a LRA on the name plate of the a/c unit and that will tell you how much amperage the surge is when the a/c starts. Looks like you got a 14 kw if so its should be good for 100a or so for the lock rotor amperage.
Heat pump with supplemental gas heat. LRA is 82. For air conditioning, of course the compressor has to run, but for heat I can select gas only from the thermostat.
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Old 08-31-2013, 12:38 AM   #11
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Default Re: Installing a standby generator with ATS

As for the crack in the housing, this happens ALL THE TIME on the composite KOHLER, GENERAC, and ONAN air cooled generators; you can call a KOHLER dealer or wherever you bought the generator from and try to see if they will "warrant" the damage, I might go so far as to say the crack was there when it was received. Either way I'd throw a bitch fit questioning the durability of the unit, etc; until they sent a new panel. I know the bases on the KOHLERS can easily be broken too; personally witnessed damage when my EC has installed them on my new homes.
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Old 08-31-2013, 01:20 AM   #12
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Default Re: Installing a standby generator with ATS

A little background on the gas line. I had no real gas service to the house. I say no "real" service, but there was a 150 Gal tank plumbed into the fireplace for gas logs. They smoked so I got rid of them and put a space heater on the hearth. But when I started considering a LP powered generator I knew I would need more gas capacity. I already had a 500 Gal tank at the shop and space in the back yard of the house is kinda limited, so I decided to run a new line from the existing tank. The total distance is about 150 feet, so I needed a two stage system. The purpose of two stage (high pressure and low pressure) LP piping is to deliver more BTU over a greater distance than with a low pressure system. Usually LP tanks are close enough to the house to use only low pressure. I am not sure what the usual max distance is, but I knew 150 feet was too far. This is the type of two stage regulator that was feeding my shop.


That is not my shop tank, but the regulator is the same type

A little about LP gas pressures for those who are not familiar with them. There is tank pressure, then high pressure and finally, low pressure. Tank pressure varies with the temperature, high pressure is 10 psi and low pressure is 11"wc (water column). That regulator in the above pic has a high pressure section on the right, then the larger portion on the left is the low pressure section. For a two stage system, the tank has a high pressure regulator only. They are usually painted red. They look like this:


Naturally you can push more gas a greater distance with 10 psi than with 11"wc (roughly 1/2psi). But LP appliances require the 11"wc to operate properly, so a second stage, low pressure regulator is required close to the point of use, usually just outside the house. Here is the one feeding my shop after the change over from a low pressure system to two stage:


The copper tube at the top is coming from the high pressure regulator on top of the tank. The brown, low pressure regulator is feeding the shop through the copper tube going into the ground. The shop is only 10' away. The grey pipe going in the ground is feeding the house through 3/4" plastic pipe. The gray metal portion above ground is a "riser" which has the plastic pipe inside, fused to a threaded end. The riser makes a 90* bend to bring the pipe above ground. All parts of the plastic pipe have to be below ground for physical protection and to keep it out of sunlight. It is PB (polybutylene) and not sunlight resistant.

This is a riser in the ground, connected to the pipe. The riser has about a foot of pipe coming out of the metal (underground) and connects to the pipe with a fusion union. I got a plumber to make the connections for me. He has a tool that heats the OD of the pipe and the ID of the coupling at the same time. Then they are just pressed together by hand and they melt together. The gauge is to pressure test the whole system after he had fused all the joints.



This gives an idea of the distance to the shop.


The generator will be located about 10-12 feet behind the camera. That line was put in last spring.

The next two pics are of the generator piping I put in a few days ago.
From the backside of the gen:


And from the front:


You can see the second stage regulator on top of the riser pipe. The pipe going into the house feeds the water heater, and in the future, the kitchen stove. The other thing to notice here are separate shut off valves, a sediment trap at the end of the black iron pipe and a flexible section just before the generator. That flex pipe and the union came with the generator. The sediment trap is the short pipe pointing down off the tee just before the flex. That is supposed to catch any moisture and/or debris before it gets to the generator. Required on each appliance hookup.

After screwing it all together and pressure testing (no leaks!), it got a coat of primer:


Then a coat of black:


Then a stand to support the weight:

Rocks back over the base (treated plywood):

I used that same clamp and base to secure the riser to the house wall:


I still have to convert the generator from Nat. Gas to LP. That only involves moving the fuel line from the regulator in the generator (yes, another regulator!) from the NG port to the LP port. And unplugging a wire. That changes the timing in the electronic engine control. Not sure if it advances or retards the timing, Kohler doesn't say, just that the two wires are connected for NG, and disconnected for LP.
BTW, this regulator, mounted on the generator, is a demand regulator. It senses engine air flow, or vacuum, and puts out more gas to match more air. If the throttle closes, it reduces the amount of gas to match the air flow.

Tomorrow we start on the wiring
jp
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Old 08-31-2013, 01:28 AM   #13
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Default Re: Installing a standby generator with ATS

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowboyjosh View Post
As for the crack in the housing, this happens ALL THE TIME on the composite KOHLER, GENERAC, and ONAN air cooled generators; you can call a KOHLER dealer or wherever you bought the generator from and try to see if they will "warrant" the damage, I might go so far as to say the crack was there when it was received. Either way I'd throw a bitch fit questioning the durability of the unit, etc; until they sent a new panel. I know the bases on the KOHLERS can easily be broken too; personally witnessed damage when my EC has installed them on my new homes.
After the crack incident, I was a little gunshy of the composite housing. It made me glad I got the base to give it a good even support. Kohler says it is not necessary, but that is more marketing hype than anything else. I can see that if the gravel base (or the ground under it) is not compacted evenly that plastic would warp to follow the settling. At least with the concrete pad it is on a firm, level footing.

When I bolted the base to the pad I just snugged the bolts enough to compress the lock washers... didn't need more cracks!!
jp
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Old 08-31-2013, 02:59 AM   #14
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Default Re: Installing a standby generator with ATS

Subscribed! I'm interested!

VERY nice setup so far!

I might be able to help, if needed... I have experience with (backup) generators up to 1000 kW and automatic change over boxes/systems.. (http://www.atlascopco.com/Images/Gen...176-768667.pdf to give you an impression)..

Good luck with this project! You're off to a great start (besides the crack)!
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Old 08-31-2013, 09:27 AM   #15
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Default Re: Installing a standby generator with ATS

One of the issues you my have with the low pressure gas regulator is that its combined with other appliances, you'll never be able to adjust it for the generator gas pressure without messin with the appliance. You should have a seperate low pressure regulator for the generator off the same high pressure line. By the way nice job on the plumbing.
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Old 08-31-2013, 09:33 AM   #16
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Default Re: Installing a standby generator with ATS

You also want to have a static gas pressure at least 12.5-13 on the water column. The reason you want it that high is once other gas appliances come on with generator running it will drop the pressure.
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Old 08-31-2013, 12:12 PM   #17
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Default Re: Installing a standby generator with ATS

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Originally Posted by frankzlt1 View Post
One of the issues you my have with the low pressure gas regulator is that its combined with other appliances, you'll never be able to adjust it for the generator gas pressure without messin with the appliance. You should have a seperate low pressure regulator for the generator off the same high pressure line. By the way nice job on the plumbing.
I am hoping the one regulator will be enough. It is 3/4" inlet and outlet with 935,000 BTU capacity. The generator maxes out at 203,000 BTU at full load, the water heater is 157,000 BTU max. When I add a stove that will be 40,000 BTU. Probably not that much, but just a WAG for planing purposes. Always better to guess high. Add it all up to 400,000 BTU, I still have 535,000 left on that regulator, even with everything going wide open. The furnace is on a separate regulator, at the other end of the house, it is rated at 90,000 BTU. So my max total draw is 490,000 BTU. The 3/4" plastic pipe in the ground is rated for 1.6 or 1.8 million BTU at 150', depending on whose chart you go by.
Having said all that, as soon as I get the generator going I will put a gauge at the generator solenoid valve and check the wc at full load (or as best I can load it) with the water heater and furnace going at the same time. I don't want to just wait and see if it works OK during an outage, better to KNOW before hand.

Thanks for the kind words on the plumbing. There is plumbing, then there is pipefitting... I am not a plumber or a pipefitter, but I did cut and thread all the longer pieces in that run. I lined up to the generator inlet within a 1/4". Guess that is why I am not a pipefitter And thank goodness for the flex connection!

BTW, the piece going at an angle toward the wall was the most difficult to get the length right. But doing it that way allowed me to use only two 45* elbows. Otherwise it would take three 90*s to get to the wall and going in the right direction. Per the Kohler installation book, each 90* elbow adds 8' to the calculated length. Not sure how much a 45* adds, but it has to be less. Just as a guess, just say a 45* adds 5', I only added 10' to my calculated length, three 90*s would have added 24'.
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Old 09-01-2013, 01:26 AM   #18
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Default Re: Installing a standby generator with ATS

Next comes conduit. The generator is about 6-8 feet from the corner of the house. Right around the corner, on the end of the house, is the power meter. The easiest way to get to the meter area would be on the outside wall, but there is a downspout there and a fence post within an inch of the brick. Inside the house at that corner is the utility room with the breaker panel and the water heater. The inside wall covering (paneling) was removed when I wired in the portable generator. I had never replaced it cause I never felt that was a long-term, permanent solution. Also there are wiring problems at the breaker panel that needed to be fixed, so the wall where I need to run the generator wires is already open. Since I can't go around the outside of the corner I will go inside on the back wall of the house, then go through the end wall directly into the transfer switch. It will look better since there will be no conduit exposed on the end of the house except the existing feed from the ground up to the meter base.

This is the hole where the portable generator inlet box was located. I need to enlarge it for 1 1/4" conduit for the power wires. The marked circle is the size it needs to be. If you have ever used a hole saw you know you have to have a pilot bit in the center to keep it from "dancing" all around as you try to get it started. With that size hole in the center, a hole saw is useless.


But a wooden peg driven into the hole will give the pilot bit something to keep it centered.

And this is after I had started drilling:


The same hole from the inside:


This is after drilling through the brick and changing to a regular bi-metal saw for the wood. Three 2X4s together in that corner stud.


That will get the power wires from the generator into the wall. We will deal with going back through the wall into the ATS later. First, because it determines exactly where on the wall the ATS will mount, I will go through the wall for the new wires to feed the main panel.

The existing wires from the meter base to the main breaker will have to be removed and discarded. The meter base and main panel are back to back on the left side of the panel (as viewed from inside). Notice there is no plastic bushing on the end of that 2" conduit to protect the wires from its sharp edges. That will be corrected on the new setup.


The ATS will be mounted to the left of the meter (as viewed from outside). The new wires will go into the ATS through a short rainproof hub. Then from the ATS they will come into the main panel through the opposite corner from where the existing wires are in the previous pic.

This is the new entry location. I have to get a hole through the outside brick lined up exactly with this knockout:


So I work from the inside out. First I drill a 1/4" hole in the center of the knockout. I held a shop vac under the drill bit to catch the chips.


Using that hole as a guide, I drill through the brick with a 1/4" masonry bit:


Above you can also see the knockout I will be using in the side of the meter base to connect to the ATS.

Using that hole as a guide for the hole saw, I drill through the brick:

That is a 2 1/2" hole, which turned out to not be big enough for the raintight hub to fit into. I later opened it up with a hammer and chisel.

Here you can see it is lined up perfectly with the knock out in the box inside:


I don't have pics for the next few steps. Next I removed the knockout from the side of the meter base and installed a raintight hub with a short threaded nipple connected to another raintight hub, the one to be connected to the ATS. I then held the ATS against that hub and marked it for drilling. The ATS is in a NEMA 3R enclosure. That means outdoor rated, weather proof. There are no knockouts on the box, so holes can be drilled or punched where ever they need to be, provided they clear the internal switch components. Speaking of the switch, it is best to remove it from the box while drilling or punching holes. Kohler warns several times to not get chips in the switch, and to only use a vacuum (NEVER compressed air) to remove chips if the switch is in place. Removing the switch solves that problem, and makes the box much lighter. With that hole drilled I was able to place the box on the wall where it will be mounted. After leveling it, I had a helper hold it in place while I went inside with an extended length Sharpie and marked the location for the hole in the back. This is an extended length Sharpie:

(Sharpie taped to a piece of 1/2" conduit)

After drilling that hole it was just a matter of measuring inside the box to determine where the other two holes could be. You just have to pick a place that clears the switch and lugs and is also accessible from inside the wall. Fortunately I had a full 16" stud space to work in. Once you determine where the holes will be, drill the brick from inside as before, then use that 1/4" hole to guide the hole saw from the outside. Then hold the box back on the wall and mark the other two holes. This is the result, three holes in the back of the box:


And three matching holes in the wall:

(I had already ran the conduit when I took the pic.) That little grey wire is the phone wire I will have to make sure it doesn't get pinched behind the box when mounting it. It is too short to go around the box.

This is the new conduit into the main panel:


And with the plastic bushing on the end. All the raintight connectors in the ATS have bushings built in, that is what the yellow plastic is on the other end of the conduit.


And the finished conduit in the wall:


On the outside wall. Still needs clamps.


At the generator:


The generator connection panel:


I didn't get a pic of the switch mounted, I will post that tomorrow. As soon as I get the conduit mounted on the outside wall I will be ready to pull wire.
jp
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Old 09-01-2013, 07:03 AM   #19
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Default Re: Installing a standby generator with ATS

Are you having the power company schedule an outage to jerk the meter so you can replace the service entrance cable to the ATS vs panel or are you doing this yourself?
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Old 09-01-2013, 07:54 AM   #20
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Careful LP dissolves Teflon tape.
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