As a homeowner, educated by the school of hard knocks, I've learned how to get [Yamaha] generators with auto-start capabilities (a.k.a. this does *not* apply to models that only have pull cords) to autostart and stop as a result of "conditions" -- the most common one of course being utility power outage.
I choose the word "conditions" because the need for such autostart/stop capabilities could just as much apply say, to a pond in the middle of nowhere, without access to electric, used for wild animal drinking, that when it gets too low, engages of float switch to start a generator to pump more water.
I also am very proficient in converting a Yamaha generator to run on propane, natural gas or gasoline.
I have nothing to sell; I don't work for companies that sell these products.
But if people have interest, I'm glad to answer questions.
Control of starting and stopping the generator is done through a control module, the most common one being either the Atkinson Electronics Generator Start Control Module (GSCM), or the "Mini" (GSCM-Mini) version of the product they market.
Either will work, but the non-Mini version has more customizable features (and a higher price), like, for example, whether you want the generator to run, and for how long, after utility power has been restored.
I'm glad to go into great detail right down to wiring on both the GSCM and generator ends, but for now let me explain things at a somewhat higher conceptual level.
When you get right down to it there are essentially 4 pairs of wires shared between this device (the GSCM) and the generator. 1) One pair comes off the generator's battery to power the GSCM, at 12 or 48 volt DC device 2) one comes off the GSCM to crank the generator, 3) one comes off the 120 VAC of the generator to tell the GSCM that the generator is on and producing electric, signifying that the prior cranking pair of wires on the GSCM can cease cranking, and the 4) final pair grounds the magneto on the generator, from the GSCM to shut it down when utility power is restored (the GSCM knows when utility power is restored.)
The wires that signal cranking essential perform the task of conceptually (not actually) moving the electric start key to the start position. The wires that ground the magneto can connect to the same wires detecting low oil, as this low oil situation grounds the magneto and prevents the generator from running until the oil is refilled. (I.e. you get the generator to shut down by making it think for a second its low on oil.)
Additional optional GSCM functionality allows the GSCM to monitor the generator's battery, and start the generator to charge that battery when it drops below a certain voltage threshold but I just have a trickle charger running off of house current on the generator's battery to do that.
An additional pair of wires is connected to 2 terminals in the GSCM that when shorted, get the GSCM to start the generator. This is done through a simple relay that is normally closed. Household current keeps it open. When that household current dies, the switch returns to its closed state, starting up the GSCM.
I think using some of the devices you mentioned may find you having to write the complex algorithms of generator start and stop, and the different things that can happen, effecting reinventing the wheel already programmed into the GSCM.
Needless to say, this content applies only to (Yamaha) generators with electric start.
I'd like to also point out that a generator which auto starts and stops itself may be of limited use in powering a home when the utility power goes out, if it runs on gasoline--given the limited time the generator can run before it needs to be shut down manually, and refueled (large supplemental gasoline tanks notwithstanding or recommended.)
I converted my Yamaha Generator, an EF3000iseB, to run on 3 fuels: its original gasoline, propane, and natural gas. I did it with a pretty easy to install kit from US Carburetion (a Yamaha dealer.) This modification does NOT void the Yamaha warranty.
As my utility provides natural gas independent of the electric they also provide, this gives me a source of fuel to run the generator off of until some other factor of the generator needs servicing: the closest next maintenance step being an oil change, arguably not needed for days after the generator has run continually.
People without such service can get large propane tanks, with the proper regulation--not that a 5 lb BBQ propane tank won't work just as well (some additional pretty affordable hardware from US Carburetion notwithstanding.)
Gasoline may be a BTU intensive fuel, but it goes stale in 6 months, and gums up carburetors. That's why mission critical facilities like hospitals run their generators off of other fuels, most likely diesel: which unfortunately can stink up a neighborhood.
Natural gas may have slightly less BTUs/volume than propane, but for many, that natural gas is free flowing from a utility, and the generator produces very little smell.
The conversion kit to tri fuels has an optional primer that (I use that) supplies fuel (i.e. propane/natural gas) into the engine at the same time, and using the same wires, that crank the engine. Once the engine is running it draws in propane/natural gas/gasoline automatically.
I consider there to be 3 legs to the Yamaha generator's ability to back up the essential needs of a home. The 1) (GSCM) control module: touched upon in a prior post, an 2) abundant fuel source: touched upon above, and a 3) UL-1008 approved transfer switch.
As most Yamaha generators are 120 volt only, I know of only one make of AUTOMATIC transfer switch (manually switches are another story) that can be used and still, in the States, be UL-1008 complaint: the APC 6 circuit universal transfer switch: which itself requires a UPS power supply to keep it running during the interval between when utility power goes out, and he generator kicks in.
There are tons of 120 volt automatic transfer switches for the motor home industry. They're cheap, and they work great, until the don't work great, and wires melt, and heat is generated, and the homeowner realizes why they're not UL-1008 complaint.
All this said, the prices of turnkey automatic generator systems, particular from the big box stores has come down in price recently. This may be a better way to go for home backup. I did my conversion and automatic startup/shutdown before these prices lowered, and because I have other portable uses for my generator.
But the system I describe here need not be used for home use. For example, one US Carburetion customers needed an electric source in the middle of nowhere to fill a watering hole for his lifestock.
The customer had a large propane tank installed near the sight, and used a Yamaha auto start generator, converted to run on propane, and GSCM control module, and a switch that, rather than monitor utility power like my setup, was a float switch that monitored water levels in the trough. When the water got too low, the same contacts on the GSCM I discuss in a prior thread were shorted, and the generator turned on, and it energized a water pump which pumped water into the trough.
Water levels then rose, the float switch un-shorted the GSCM contacts, the GSCM turned off the generator, and water stopped being pumped into the trough.
I switched to the full GSCM module from the GSCM mini this past year. The more feature rich control module provides me with two important features not available in the mini: 1) the ability to run the generator for a few (programmable) minutes to warm up, before connected to house power, and 2) the ability for the generator to run for a few minutes, to cool down, rather than immediately shut off, once utility power is restored.
The GSCM control module is most often used as a means to start and stop a generator when a battery bank, powered by solar panels, drops below a particular threshold, when energy used exceeds a solar charged battery supply, (e.g. at night, on cloudy days), to charge the battery bank in lieu of the sun's rays.
I have no financial ties to Yamaha, US Carburetion, or Atkinson electronics.
Good luck AJ. My goal was to have a couple of mission critical home power circuits energized automatically in the event of a power failure, from my Yamaha generator, and then automatically shut the generator down when utility power is restored--all without my being home.
The 3 critical pieces to do this are the 1) Atkinson Electronics GSCM or GSCM mini to control the generator, 2) a means to provide large amounts of fuel to the generator that does not go bad with lack of use, that doesn't smell (converting the generator to run also on natural gas or propane) and an auto primer from US Carburetion, and a means to safety, and up to code, automatically have some circuits in my home get powered off the generator (i.e. the APC 120 volt transfer switch and an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS)).
You may, for example, be content to have 1 or more of these steps be manual. For example, when I first did this project I manually moved power from the generator into the house, and only to the one natural gas furnace's sparker circuit, using a Reliance Controls Furnace Transfer switch.
A situation must always exist where the home wires are at most only on one power source (generator or utliity) at a time.
This guy has manual start generators, so a GSCM has no value to him. I might have converted these to run on natural gas or propane considering what he had to go through to have large amounts of gasoline available, all subject to become stale.
On Sun, Dec 10, 2017 at 4:38 PM, PR-AJ [via Yamaha Generator Fan Club] <[hidden email]> wrote:
This is spectacular information.
I have copied it offline on my generators notebook.
Thank you for taking the time for all that detailed write-up.
I concur with you that getting a GSCM would be better than reinventing the wheel.
I am going to look into prices of those units now,
and then re-read your replies.
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