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Gas Powered Generator Advice

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by k3c4forlife, Dec 10, 2009.

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  1. kartracer

    kartracer Member

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    I have 2 honda 2000 generators-can hook in parallel for more power.It's safe for electronics and will run 10-12 hrs on a gallon of gas,each.

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  2. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    this link is to a cheap one. you have to change batterys every few years but this type of thing is what i'm talking about. belden and tripp lite are better names, and i'm sure there are people that are in the computer field that can give you better names, but this type of thing will smooth out any power. look at the specs and you'll see how much time at full load and half load times. the killer is they'll tell you 390 watts of load and 650 volt-amps. watts is volts x amps = volt/amps = watts you get the picture.
    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=2448902&CatId=20
    oh and like anything, you get what you pay for.
  3. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    oh and by the way, i wouldn't run anything with electronics on a glorified power strip better know as a surge strip. those things have nothing to do with surges but they do take care of spikes. they should rename them spike strips. if a 1000 volt spike came in with your regular power you might not see it but the spike strip will groung out that spike. if you had a real surge and the voltage drops to 90 volts that spike strip or better know as a surge strip wouldn't do a thing. but your computer would know. same for that 55 inch plasma
  4. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Those little Hondas are great, lighweight, and quiet but very expensive (just under 1000$) and don't do 220 volt. In contrast, my champion 3500 watt genset was 300$ and does 220 so I can run my range and can backfeed all circuits in my house safely.

    I would love a little honda like that for camping.
  5. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I don't know fbelec, the good power strip style surge protectors actually specify surge and spike protection after defining each. The UPS that you linked didn't seem like it would do much more than a surge protector. Maybe when the power goes off it will fire up a little inverter to make choppy AC from the on-board battery. There were no claims of power conditioning, frequency regulation, or voltage regulation.

    I would hope that the more expensive ones use the supplied dirty power to run a true sine inverter 100% of the time to all outlets. That inverter would always be 60HZ and 120 volts. I'm not even too worried about the battery backup as I am about clean and steady output power nomatter how dirty the input power is.
  6. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    Unless your TV or computer has a dirt cheap power supply with no transformer on the A/C input side you will almost always get by with a modified sine wave.

    Watch AVR specs though, most have a frequency range they will work in . Go outside of it and the units often just quit.
  7. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    those little surge suppressors won't do a thing if something kicked on and dropped the voltage down to 90 volts. they have no way to supply power to kick it up to 120 volts, the hard drive wouldn't like it, but do ok when the voltage kicks up to much. the ups does smooth it out if your power went off and you were running a ups the switch over to the battery happens so fast that you or the computer would not see the change. it happens in milliseconds. that link was just a example. ups stands for Unintterruptable Power Supply.. if you were on the forum and walked away for a minute to load the stove and the power went out the computer would stay running and after a few minutes if the power did not come on and you were not near the computer the ups sends a signal to the computer to shut down the normal way so that there is no damage. anyway if power is a problem for anybody out there remember the next time your anywhere near a computer store and go in and take a look.
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    We live in an area with fluctuating rural voltages and frequent 1-2 second dropouts. As a result, our entire entertainment system is on a UPS as are our computers. UPS kicks in about every other week, sometimes even more frequently. I just wish I had a mini-ups on every device that has a clock. It's a PITA resetting them all when the power drops out for just a couple seconds.
  9. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    Now, I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure most electronic equipment is built now with filtering for dirty power. Stuff is shipped all over the world, and instead of building for different areas units are set up to handle bad grids. For example my laptop power is filtered through the battery as well as coming through a transformer that has its own filtering. The kid's WII is the same way, and even the 42" LCD has an exterior transformer, which can be swapped for 220v or 110v depending on the market place. I'm sure clean power helps but I don't think it's the factor it was 20-30 years ago. Most stuff is +/- 10%.

    A word of advice when it comes to spike protection: Power strips burn out after about a year. The spikes are continuous and they're not built for it. Real protection comes from a whole-house surge protector you wire into the main panel.
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    More and more electronics are starting to contain fairly powerful computers. With most stuff coming from China or other third world countries, I want it to last for longer than it was designed for. They seem to have no problem putting cheap capacitors, diodes and power supplies in some expensive equipment these days. For example, I just had to replace the crappy cheap power supply for our Roku Soundbridge. Lots of electronics are in our cabinet. A UPS is cheap insurance and saves me from having to reprogram more devices.
  11. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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    This is a fairly dicey area, getting clean power for electronics when running from a genset. Take just one area, PC type computers. A lot depends on the quality of the power supply design in the PC. Some have good 'holdup time' and will withstand a brief voltage sag, others will let that computer reboot if you lose power for many milliseconds at all.

    The best UPS devices are the online type. These are expensive. Yep, you get what you pay for. They 'synthesize' their own 120VAC 60Hz waveform from the dirty mains power. There is no direct through power connection. Falcon Electric is an example of an online UPS supplier.

    Then there are the cheaper offline UPS that most of us are used to. You can get one of those in most any computer store for under a hundred bucks to power an average computer setup. But they are passing through a lot of dirty mains power most of the time they because they are not triggered on until line voltage drops out.

    The cheapie UPS types would benefit from some filtering on their outputs if you want to power electronics. No, a 'surge strip' is not really adequate. It only clips very high transient voltage spikes, and not too well at that. And it doesn't mitigate voltage sags at all. There are much better, purpose built filters to correct this, such as the Islatrol Plus units made by Control Concepts. Here's an example of one from an Ebay auction. These are great filters and trade for around 25-50 dollars used. Plenty of them on Ebay usually. Heres a more durable link, scroll down to "Islatrol Plus" for a photo and brief description. One other measure, nearly as good, is to get hold of an old, surplus 'constant voltage transformer' like those made by Sola Electric. I have a couple of them here, rated 500VA and 100VA or so. They are nearly as good, especially the 'harmonic neutralized' types. Both of these basic filter types will 'eat' voltage spikes and dips. A 'surge strip' does a very lousy job, by comparison. You don't want 'spike clippers', you want 'line conditioning' filters. I almost think that the constant voltage transformers might be slightly better with a genset if that generator has poor output voltage regulation. The Islatrols can't correct for too high or low a supply voltage, they only clean up transients, but they are better at doing that.

    I agree, run your sensitive electronics from a UPS after the genset output, but if you use a cheap UPS you really must have a quality line conditioning filter after that. This is even true under normal home conditions: Dirty mains voltage + voltage sags - no line conditioning = frequent reboots.
  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Agreed. Our UPS won't work with the dirty voltage coming from a contractor type generator. It likes the cleaner sine-wave from a good inverter generator. I decided our refrig and appliances are too expensive to try on a cheapy genset. The quiet operation is just icing on the cake.
  13. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

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    I just bought a generator. The key for electronics is to buy an inverter generator! These generate DC voltage and then use an inverter to make it into AC. Honda makes these (but at expensive). i bought a honeywell 2000i (2000watts and $479 shipped from amazon). Not sure how well the honeywell will hold up, but for me, it will work for the ~20 hours a year i need it.

    My refrigerator is all digital, so i would not be comfortable running this with just a standarg contractor generator. Seems like the inverter generator is good for all of my needs (120VAC only) hopefully the honeywell will work well, it does has a 2 year factory warranty. The first hour and a half of use has been good. I also attached a tach/hour meter to it to monitor useage and maintenance, very pleased with it ($19 shipped from ebay)

    http://www.amazon.com/Honeywell-HW2...ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1268318062&sr=8-1

    [​IMG]

    YMMV
  14. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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    Yep- these are great for electronics. They do pretty much the same thing an 'online' type UPS is doing. No battery backup, of course.

    I think the regular generator types are fine for running hand tools, well pump, most refrigerators, etc.

    BTW the inverter types are probably vulnerable to burn up by overloading. I suspect it is pretty easy to fry the inverter electronics. I wonder how many of them have any effective anti- overload protection?

    The buyer comments on Amazon were quite useful. Some had quality issues with the Honeywell units. I'm wondering if the Chinese company that manufactures these, and fans and other such electrical stuff, is even associated with the American Honeywell?
  15. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

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    I suspect that Honeywell made the design then just contracted out the manufacturing of the unit.

    As for overloading it. I am sure that it would not be good running the thing at light overloading levels for hours on end. On the other hand, if the load spikes, it does catch it. I was testing it and fired the hair dryer up. The generator shut down right away. So i guess thats a good sign.

    While I have had a good expirance so far, based on the reviews I read, I would have expected more from a company like Honeywell.
  16. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Do you really want to trust the cheap generators coming out of China and sold by Honeywell, Champion, Generac, etc. when you really need a generator? These are imitations of good generators made by Honda, Yamaha, Subaru. I wouldn't rely on one of these units for emergency power any more than I would rely on a Scandia knockoff stove for heat.
  17. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

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    Well it all depends on your needs. If this is a matter of life and death, or if you make a living with it, then I agree, I would go out an buy a honda. However, I dont use the generator to make a living and it isnt the end of the world without it. it simpply helps provide comfort when the power goes out, probably only 20 hours a year... For me, I expect the generator to more than adaquatly provide for the infrequent light loading i have. It is more than enough to power my tv, tivo, fireplace, refrigerator, and a few lights. So to each their own, but this works find for me. I also buy my tools at harbor freight. My scuba gear, I make sure to get reliable stuff. Always trat your life support gear like your life depends on it.

    Rick
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