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  #1   IP: 71.14.107.74
Old June 13th, 2008, 09:28 AM
McThumbs McThumbs is offline
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Question Circuit question on EB6500SX Honda Generator

Hi, newbie here. Just found this forum and hope to learn a few things along with assisting where I can.

Although new to this forum, I am a Moderator on an extremely large forum with upwards of 20,000 members, so I trust you'll find you can trust me to not spam or anything.

Now, my issue at hand...

I have a 9 year old Honda EB6500SX generator that up until last night ran fine. It puts out a total of 45.8 amps, split between the two legs. All together when connected to my panel it runs the entire house with no problems.

When I connected it last night - main breaker off, etc - I found that only 1/2 of the house circuits were working. I reset the panel breaker and the breaker at the generator and got low power output evident by the dim lights in the living room, etc (the 1/2 of the house that hadn't had power when I first turned the gen on).

I then tested the output to the panel and found the red wire leg putting out 117.1 volts and pulling 14.2 amps. The black leg was only showing what appeared to be backfeed voltage of up to 22+/- volts and .1 amps. When I checked the right and left house electrical panel sides to each other I only got something like 22 volts, which confirmed to me that the black wire side from the generator wasn't putting anything out.

I shut off the panel breaker (double pole 30 amp) from the generator, disconnected the generator cord and checked the GFCI Reset button. It had worked when I first tested it when I turned on the generator, but now the Reset button won't pop with I push the Test button, and it doesn't trip the AC Circuit Breaker on the generator.

Those two parts, the GFCI Reset/Relay and the AC Circuit Breaker cost close to $300, so I want to make sure I only replace what needs to be replaced.

What can I test to verify which part is bad? Or if something else is the problem?

Despite my name of "McThumbs", I am relatively adept at this stuff with instructions.

Thanks.
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Old June 13th, 2008, 11:38 AM
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joed joed is offline
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Welcome to our forums. We won't ban you until you actually post some spam.

Can you test output right at the generator? Sounds like one side of 240 volts is dead. Could be anywhere from generator winding to the house panel.

Found that unit online.
http://mayberrys.com/honda/generator/models/eb6500.htm
It seems to have 120/240 switch. Make sure it is at 240 setting. Then start testing the receptacles on the generator for 240 volts.
Here is a link to the switch info.

http://mayberrys.com/honda/generator/html/120-240.htm


Last edited by joed : June 13th, 2008 at 11:41 AM.
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  #3   IP: 71.14.107.74
Old June 13th, 2008, 12:32 PM
McThumbs McThumbs is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joed View Post
Can you test output right at the generator? Sounds like one side of 240 volts is dead. Could be anywhere from generator winding to the house panel.

Found that unit online.
http://mayberrys.com/honda/generator/models/eb6500.htm
It seems to have 120/240 switch. Make sure it is at 240 setting. Then start testing the receptacles on the generator for 240 volts.
Here is a link to the switch info.

http://mayberrys.com/honda/generator/html/120-240.htm

Thanks for the welcome.

The house panel itself seems to be working fine in that every circuit in the house that connects to either side of the panel has power today (and has since power came back last night).

It is still possible that I have a bad breaker on the house panel. I'll need to check that yet.

The 120/240 switch was/is in the correct 240 position. That was one of the first things I checked.

The diagram above is basically the same as that for the EB6500. It's the Black (left side in the 240v diagram) that's not putting out, or appears not to be.

I'm going out in a few minutes to pull the front panel of the generator to see if my friendly mice have somehow found a way in there, which wouldn't surprise me anymore, or if some corrosion or something is breaking the circuit. The connections only have some natural "patina" on them, no visible corrosion that I can see, but you never know. I'm just hoping to fine a simple, low-cost solution to this without having to start replacing $190 relays.

Any ideas or suggestion are greatly appreciated!

Thanks.
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Old June 15th, 2008, 04:52 PM
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Did you test for voltage at teh generator? It could also be a problem with your cord.
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  #5   IP: 64.83.225.185
Old June 15th, 2008, 08:10 PM
junkcollector junkcollector is offline
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First thing I would do is make sure that I am getting 120 volts to neutral on each hot slot of the twistlock receptacle. If not, make note of which one. With the gen shut down, I would take the panel off an follow that wire back to wherever it goes. It probably goes to one side of a circuit breaker. I would then fire the generator back up and test for voltage between that terminal and nuetral. If there is power, the receptacle is not making contact. If the terminal is dead, then either the circuit breaker is bad, or there is a bad connection. Then test between the line side of the circuit breaker and neutral. If you find that one of the leads is dead, then you may have a problem deeper in the alternator. It could be a blown winding, a brush (If it has any, most do not) Either of these are probably not repairable.

Now I have to ask, do you have a proper listed transfer switch to prevent backfeeding the utility? (Not just a DP breaker in the house panel, with no mechanical interlock) Reason I ask is that if this generator attempted to power the house when utility power was on could have severely damaged the generator or related equipment.(Not to mention cause a very dangerous situation indeed)

Quote:
When I connected it last night - main breaker off, etc - I found that only 1/2 of the house circuits were working. I reset the panel breaker and the breaker at the generator and got low power output evident by the dim lights in the living room, etc (the 1/2 of the house that hadn't had power when I first turned the gen on).

I shut off the panel breaker (double pole 30 amp) from the generator, disconnected the generator cord and checked the GFCI Reset button.
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  #6   IP: 76.104.172.149
Old June 15th, 2008, 11:06 PM
suemarkp suemarkp is online now
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Also tell us more about the GFCI. In most residential settings, you can't feed a house panel from a GFCI source because the main bonding jumper in your house panel shorts neutral and ground which can trip a GFCI (depends on where/if the ground in your generator is connected and whether it floats from neutral and how much it really floats). If the GFCI's are only on 15A or 20A circuits, and you're not powering the house with those, then you're fine. But if that 30A twist lock is GFCI'd, it may not work reliably.

But I agree with the others -- test the generator by itself first without connecting it to the house (physically unplug that 30A twist lock). Verify you have 240V across the hots and 120V from each hot to neutral. Then put a 120V load on one receptacle (something heavy like a toaster), and recheck the voltages. Then, repeat using a 120V receptacle on the other leg and check voltages. If all of these are fine, then suspect the house connection.
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Old June 18th, 2008, 07:57 PM
McThumbs McThumbs is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by junkcollector View Post
First thing I would do is make sure that I am getting 120 volts to neutral on each hot slot of the twistlock receptacle. If not, make note of which one. With the gen shut down, I would take the panel off an follow that wire back to wherever it goes. It probably goes to one side of a circuit breaker. I would then fire the generator back up and test for voltage between that terminal and nuetral. If there is power, the receptacle is not making contact. If the terminal is dead, then either the circuit breaker is bad, or there is a bad connection. Then test between the line side of the circuit breaker and neutral. If you find that one of the leads is dead, then you may have a problem deeper in the alternator. It could be a blown winding, a brush (If it has any, most do not) Either of these are probably not repairable.
I've done a bunch of measurements and will attempt to lay this out so it makes sense, although I've now seen some variations that are confusing.

Fwiw, all readings are being taken with a Sperry DIGISNAP DSA-400 so it's not a cheap Radio Shack piece of equipment.

Generator running, not connected to any load, no output cord attached...

In the 240v mode @ 5:45pm on 6/16/08 - (the time noted for a reason shown below):
B to G - 155.5v!
R to G - 84.1v
B to W - 119.7v
R to W - 119.8v
B to R - didn't read
G to W - didn't read

Fired her back up at 7:10pm and got the following readings:
B to G - 122.1v
R to G - 110.8v
B to W - 119.6v
R to W - 119.6v
B to R - 238v
G to W - 7.7v feedback

Shut it down, checked my numbers, etc, and fired her back up at 7:15pm and got these readings:

In 240v mode -
B to G - 122.1v
R to G - 110.2v
B to W - 119.2v
R to W - 119.4v
B to R - 238v
G to W - 7.9v feedback

I did put a portable 1500 watt heater load on a 120v circuit at this point (didn't think of it when I got that 155v reading) and things held fairly steady.

In 120v mode - (The Black circuit should be dead/feedback only)
B to G - 9.9v
R to G - 75.9v
B to W - 21.5v
R to W - 119.4v
B to R - 11.9v
G to W - 39.8v feedback

Also again noted that the GFCI relay isn't working properly. The 'Test' button does not pop the 'Reset' and kick off the circuit breaker.

On a side note, this generator only has 122.4 hours on it, sits under roof cover, is covered with a generator cover, and only has dust and some mouse tracks on it. Other than that it's almost pristine condition. I did rebuild the carburator in 2005.

I've just gotten my hands on a copy of some test pages from the repair manual and haven't had a chance to test the motor leads and brushes, etc. Yes, there apparently are brushes on this motor.

I did check continuity on the cord and that all checked out.

Quote:
Also tell us more about the GFCI. In most residential settings, you can't feed a house panel from a GFCI source because the main bonding jumper in your house panel shorts neutral and ground which can trip a GFCI (depends on where/if the ground in your generator is connected and whether it floats from neutral and how much it really floats). If the GFCI's are only on 15A or 20A circuits, and you're not powering the house with those, then you're fine. But if that 30A twist lock is GFCI'd, it may not work reliably.
The "Neutral Bond Wire" has been removed on this unit by the original seller (Mayberry's) since I was going to use it to power the house circuits. If I was going to use it stand-alone I'd reinstall that wire.

Quote:
Originally Posted by junkcollector View Post
Now I have to ask, do you have a proper listed transfer switch to prevent backfeeding the utility? (Not just a DP breaker in the house panel, with no mechanical interlock) Reason I ask is that if this generator attempted to power the house when utility power was on could have severely damaged the generator or related equipment.(Not to mention cause a very dangerous situation indeed)
I'll be honest, no, I do not have a transfer switch installed at this point. There was supposed to be a whole-house unit installed when we built the house, but I was in Europe a lot at the time and missed that it wasn't done. (I had the Elec. contractor fired the week before we finished and held his last check, docking him $1500 for stuff I had to finish myself to meet the deadlines - rewire ceiling fans, rewire alarm system, complete basement workshop wiring, etc. My work was then verified by a licensed electrician.). Since that time I've secured estimates to do it and just haven't been able to budget it yet (several grand). Since my 82 yr. old father-in-law is living with us it's hard to separate just 8-10 circuits for a partial switch so it needs to be a whole-house unit, which this generator handles fine.

I am fully aware of the dangers involved if the main circuit were kept open and thus I am the only one who switches any breakers and makes any connections until the transfer switch system gets installed.

Anyway, at this point I have several concerns:

1. The GFCI isn't popping the circuit breaker
2. This variation of 120 to 155v, whereas last week when this all started I got only about 9v's of feedback on B to G circuit (in 240v mode). When I checked inside the front panel I did find mud wasp evidence on the backside open sockets of the 120v/240v switch. I cleaned all that out and washed the sockets with CRC and blew it dry.
3. Potential AC Voltage Regulator problem (?)

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Thanks!
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  #8   IP: 76.104.172.149
Old June 18th, 2008, 09:56 PM
suemarkp suemarkp is online now
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Since your generator ground is not bonded to the neutral, the voltages (in theory) from line to ground should be 0. But because they are unloaded, induced currents can be produced in those wires and your high impedance meter won't draw them down. So I'd consider retesting those measurements to ground with a small load connected from each line to ground as you measure (a 120V nightlight on pigtails would be enough to load it down). If the voltages are not zero or 120V, then something is wrong.

How is the GFCI implemented? Is it a receptacle type, or a separate unit which protects all output lines or some output lines? Most GFCI's can leak current to the upstream neutral, so they can be tested without the ground wire. But if this one assumed the ground was bonded to the generator neutral, that could explain why it doesn't work. So try bonding the neutral and ground and see if the GFCI then works.

When you power your house with this generator, you need to keep the neutral and ground unbonded at the generator unless you have a transfer switch that switches the neutral. Hardly any do, so hopefully it will work OK with the ground unbonded. When you plug the 30A cord to the house, the main bonding jumper in your house panel will bond the neutral and ground together (assuming all the wires in the cord are well connected).

Since you have the correct overall voltages and the correct line to neutral voltages, the generator appears OK at this point (assuming the floating things go to 0 when you load them). When you loaded the circuits with the 1500W heater, did you laod both sides of the generator (black and red) to make sure both legs will run the heater? If all that checks out, then I'd check the wiring in your 30A cord (both ends) and the circuit breaker you're backfeeding. Something is probably loose or defective.

Also please tell me you at least have a recessed or female receptacle at your main panel you're using to backfeed. If you have a male cord there, you're in for a world of hurt if you turn on that backfeed breaker and the main is still on and live.
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Old June 20th, 2008, 10:31 AM
McThumbs McThumbs is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suemarkp View Post
Since your generator ground is not bonded to the neutral, the voltages (in theory) from line to ground should be 0. But because they are unloaded, induced currents can be produced in those wires and your high impedance meter won't draw them down. So I'd consider retesting those measurements to ground with a small load connected from each line to ground as you measure (a 120V nightlight on pigtails would be enough to load it down). If the voltages are not zero or 120V, then something is wrong.
I assume I should reconnect the "Neutral Bond Wire" prior to taking these measurements, correct? That way the generator will be "bonded to frame" as if it was stand-alone on a job site.

When you say to pigtail a nightlight into each circuit, do you mean to rig up a pigtail to each side of the 240v plug (R to W and B to G), each of which should put out 120v and up to 22.8a?

Quote:
How is the GFCI implemented? Is it a receptacle type, or a separate unit which protects all output lines or some output lines? Most GFCI's can leak current to the upstream neutral, so they can be tested without the ground wire. But if this one assumed the ground was bonded to the generator neutral, that could explain why it doesn't work. So try bonding the neutral and ground and see if the GFCI then works.
The GFCI is a push button variety that is inline to the 30 amp 240v plug on the black wire, and to all the other plugs via the red wire.

Quote:
When you power your house with this generator, you need to keep the neutral and ground unbonded at the generator unless you have a transfer switch that switches the neutral. Hardly any do, so hopefully it will work OK with the ground unbonded. When you plug the 30A cord to the house, the main bonding jumper in your house panel will bond the neutral and ground together (assuming all the wires in the cord are well connected).
Yes, that's why the 'Neutral Bond Wire' is removed from the generator at this point and is hanging on the key chain.

Quote:
Since you have the correct overall voltages and the correct line to neutral voltages, the generator appears OK at this point (assuming the floating things go to 0 when you load them).
What about the reading I got of 155v? Isn't that kind of odd?

Quote:
When you loaded the circuits with the 1500W heater, did you laod both sides of the generator (black and red) to make sure both legs will run the heater?
I plugged the 1500W heater into one of the 120v 20amp receptacles. I didn't pigtail it to the two sides of the 30 amp 240v receptacle. Is that what I should be doing? I guess it sounds like it.

Quote:
If all that checks out, then I'd check the wiring in your 30A cord (both ends) and the circuit breaker you're backfeeding. Something is probably loose or defective.
Will verify each.

Quote:
Also please tell me you at least have a recessed or female receptacle at your main panel you're using to backfeed. If you have a male cord there, you're in for a world of hurt if you turn on that backfeed breaker and the main is still on and live.
The receptacle I'm plugging the generator into is a 30amp GenTran recessed male receptacle in a box similar to this, but larger. The corresponding plug is female as the opposite cord plug is male and plugs into the generator.

http://www.nooutage.com/images/Relia...s-PBclosed.jpg

Just a curious question... I'd be in a world of hurt no matter what if I left the main breaker on, with power on, and had the generator connected and running, so what difference does it make if the cord receptacle is male or female?

Thanks. Will get back to you with those other measurements.
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  #10   IP: 76.104.172.149
Old June 20th, 2008, 07:41 PM
suemarkp suemarkp is online now
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The neutral bond wire needs to be in place if you doing any measuring relative to the ground pin. If it is floating, it could have a lot of voltage on it, even more than 120V.

Yes, you need to put probe wires on a light, or you can use an analog voltmeter instead of a digital one. You can even plug in a normal load as long as you know you're loading down both legs of the generator. Ideally, you'd put the light and the meter directly on the generator neutral and then red or black when you measure. Otherwise, you need to know exactly where each prong of each receptacle goes to get it right.

Make sure you DO NOT connect any 120V appliance or light across the red and black -- that will put 240V across ti and burn up the load.

For the 30A plug comment, I was thinking if you left the cord coiled by the power panel and it was not connected to the generator. Or, if it was otherwise disconnected from the generator and someone forgot to throw the 30A breaker in the main panel off when power was restored. Leaving it plugged into the generator is just asking to burn it up should someone move that 30A breaker when utility power is active (...oops, I thought that was the breaker for the clothes dryer that isn't working, or water heater,...)
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