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Tool Talk Discussion Board

OT Furnace

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Posted by jeffcat on November 05, 2012 at 18:12:27 from (

Hey folks. About two months ago I had my new big and bad 80,000BTU 95% gas heater installed. Boy does it work nicely and I hope it really cuts the gas bill.

Now here is why I posted. There have been several posts about how to power your heater with a generator if the power goes out. Some say you will blow up the circut boards or blower motors or a control of some type. This is enough to make you worry. Being a commercial equipment repair tech who works on many pieces of equipment with all kinds of sensative controls and computer controls in them....I did a little research.
Here is what i did. Gave a call to YORK/Johnson control heater systems and talked with one of the service techs. He and I went over many things about types of systems and generator types and power output and hook ups ETC....
These are the facts from him. You need a GOOD size generator of around 4000 watts or up. This is around the $400.oo range at harbor freight. You must have both ground and neutral to GROUND like a cold water pipe or like I have a full house gen. system that is up to code. The flame sensor on these units measure the flame at the micro NOT milivolt level and poor grounds or neutral problems will not allow them to sense the flame for conformation. It will fire and burn for 3 or 4 seconds and then go out.
The next problem with not enough power is the blower fans. You have one for the air in and out for the burner plus the big blower to your house. These have air pressure switches on them and if they do not get the correct pressure get a shut down. Also the house blower is multi speed and it must work at speed. ALSO make sure you have CLEAN air filters with these furnaces. They cause those air switches to shut you down!
The BIGGEST problem is the FREQUENCY of your generator. All three of my generators are on the nose. I have a FLUKE 179 digital true RMS meter that will measure frequecy to 59.95hz or 60hz or 60.10hz etc. The tech support guy said you MUST set your generator on the nose! If you have a very good tach most gen. sets are run at 3600rpm. Many people think you set that generator at 120 volts 0r 115 or 220 etc. This is WRONG. Frequency people!!!! One of my generators has brushes so it puts out a TRUE sine wave like your power grid. The new generators are really alternators and put out a square wave. Big generators like military or hospital or industrial etc. all put out a sine wave.
So a quick set of rules are..
Exact 60hz
Good neutal and ground
Enought power to run your furnace with NO power lags.
As I said, the tech and I went over a lot of questions and answers in about 20 minutes of conversation and he has had several calls from the New Jersey area service people with the hurricane Sandy disaster. There are Generators all over the place around here! This is a good coverage of what he and I went over.
He said a lot of people just refuse to ground their generators and then you get the flame sensor troubles. That is why they have that nut on the generator for a ground wire But he realy wanted that frequecy checked.
That is about all I can tell ya, but this is right from the horses mouth folks. Have a warm winter. Jeffcat


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