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KFCS22EVMS8 Kitchen Aid refrigerator won't work with generator power

Cal_Lefty

Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2022
Messages
1
Location
California
Model Number
KFCS22EVMS8
Brand
KitchenAid
Age
6-10 years
With power outages in my area the past few years, I want to power my refrigerator/freezer (KitchenAid KFCS22EVMS8) by generator. I have everything set up, but the refrigerator does not come on at all. There are no lights and no cooling.

The generator is a Costco-sourced Firman WHO3242 dual fuel inverter generator. The inverter type generator produces electricity with less harmonic distortion and is safer for sensitive electronic equipment. There is more than enough wattage to start up and power the fridge.

I have an outdoor Square D Homeline electrical panel. I installed a generator interlock from Square D, following their exact instructions (with help from Youtube). The generator has a NEMA TT-30R 120V 30A RV connector, so I used a compatible outdoor power inlet box and connected to my panel using 10 gauge wiring. The input is fed into a 30 A circuit breaker. The refrigerator outlet is powered by it's own 20 A circuit breaker.

With the generator running on gasoline, connected to the power inlet box, I first switch all the breakers in my panel to OFF. Then I switch the main city power breaker to OFF. I activate the interlock slider and turn my 30A generator backfeed breaker to ON. Then I turn on selected circuits on my panel that I wish to power. I can successfully restore power to various home circuits with this method. When I switch a circuit on, for instance my garage and bedroom circuit that powers an upright freezer unit in the garage, the generator will momentarily kick up activity. The upright freezer works great, the lights in the house work great, even the dishwasher works. I obviously do not plan on powering the dishwasher, washer/dryer, or HVAC unit during a power failure.

But even with all the other circuits OFF, when I flip the refrigerator circuit ON, nothing happens. The generator does not react. The refrigerator makes no noise, has no lights, no display, and no cooling. I have tried flipping the circuit on and off a bunch of times.

The procedure for switching back to city power for me is to shut OFF all circuit breakers, flip my generator backfeed breaker to OFF, move the interlock device, and flip city power to ON. Then as soon as I flip the refrigerator circuit to ON, the fridge works totally fine. And then I turn all my other circuits back to ON.

This is what I've worked through on my own (I'm not an electrician):
1. The wiring is wrong.
I believe I wired everything correctly. All the circuits work fine on city power. Every circuit except the refrigerator works fine on generator power. It's hard for me to believe a wiring problem could exist only for the refrigerator circuit and only on generator power.

2. The generator doesn't have enough power.
The generator has 3200 running watts and 4000 starting watts. The refrigerator label says "AMPS 7.10" and "115VAC/60Hz". From what I've read, this requires 816 watts to run, and if we overestimate (3x) for starting it's still only 2449 watts. The generator starts my upright freezer just fine.

3. The generator power is deficient in quality to power the fridge.
I got an inverter generator specifically to have the "cleanest" power possible, appropriate for computers and sensitive electronics. There is another thread about Samsung refrigerators simply not able to power on generator, perhaps due to "dirty" power. Is that what is happening to me? Maybe KitchenAid has so many electronics that it requires city power, and even a Total Harmonic Distortion of 3% is enough to disrupt the fridge startup.

I have called KitchenAid support, and they were extremely unhelpful. They went through their online support documents and came up empty. I also exhaustively went through KitchenAid support and all I could find was a generic document about running KitchenAid appliances on generator. It was mostly concerned with having appropriate wattage. It said nothing about line quality. It did not say "Refrigerators should never be run on generator power". But the KitchenAid support representative, and her manager, ultimately told me that their fridges are not made to run on generator power and they don't recommend it.

This can't be right. Plenty of people run refrigerators on generators. What is the point of a generator if you can't power your home's most perishable asset? I called Firman Support, and they were significantly more helpful, walking me through all the steps, and concluding that everything seems like it should work. They don't know why my fridge will power with city power but not with their generator.

4. There is something about the way the system is grounded that disrupts the generator power.
Another helpful person from the Firman Facebook group, pointed me to the issue of how generators are grounded. I'm not an electrician, but apparently, generators that are connected to home power should have a floating neutral ground, and not be grounded themselves because the home panel is already grounded. Generators supplying freestanding power should be grounded. In my case, according to Firman, the WHO3242, has a floating neutral ground. This is an area that I don't fully understand.

Can someone give me any advice or knowledge?

Yes, eventually, I will try to pull out my fridge (it has to be empty in order for me to move it) and plug it directly into the generator. I will also be able to measure the outlet behind the refrigerator when I'm hooked up to generator power. But I don't think this should be necessary. And even if the fridge "works" when directly connected to my generator, such a measure would defeat the purpose of getting a generator for me, because I simply cannot move the fridge or access its power cord without completely emptying the fridge.
 
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