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Generator? Solid state equipment?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by babalu87, Nov 6, 2007.

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  1. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    After the power went out due to Noel, I got to thinking about running the Genset for long periods of time. Usually, I just run it to get the well pressure powered back up and the hot water in the boiler back to temp along with the fridge and freezers back down to temp.

    Should I be worried about running it for extended periods without a power conditioner or are things like TV's and DVD players usually OK?
    DVD and stereo are on a power strip as is the computer but the TV isnt. Maybe I should go get a power strip for the TV and cable box but what about the fridge/freezer and especially the well pump?

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  2. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I've wondered the same thing, since practically everything has some solid state stuff in it.
  3. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Most fridge/freezer and other "motor" type appliances should not have a problem running with a decent genset. It all comes down to the quality of the power coming from the genset. Its the impurity or "noise" of the output that affects electronics. In some cases, the gensets will create an a/c sine wave that is so "unnatural" (if that makes sense?) that it can also cause problems, but these are usually only a problem to somewhat "sensitive" equipment such as your tv, pc and possibly even control boards on pellet appliances and such. Unless you have a genset that states that is is approved for sensitive equipment, or you have an oscilloscope that you can read the sine wave from, I would limit the genset use to necessary stuff. I know its hard to believe, but I don't really consider a TV necessary.

    Some manuals for gensets (or in my case a generator head) will state what the acceptable use is and will warn against using it for electronics. Some gensets are approved for electronics as well, and if you have one of those, use it at will. Those that are approved will not harm electronics even with long term use.

    Note: one of the worst things you can do is to let the genset run out of fuel. This causes a "brown out" and can also harm any equipment.
  4. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    Thanks Jags
    Can a good power strip help a fridge and freezer........... even a TV?

    I think I'll bring the oscilloscope home and see how dirty my power is.
  5. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Most power strips don't have the ability to "condition" the power, so no, it would not help. A line conditioner or possibly some UPS can condition power coming in (then being sent to your equipment). You may wish to investigate these for you sensitive equipment. The genset can be used to recharge the UPSs' in most cases (it takes a/c and turns it back to d/c for the charging system, so the "impure" signal is mostly a non-issue).

    But before going to all the trouble, double check your manual on the genset to find out if it will/will not run electronic equip. Some do, and some don't.

    p.s. Some of the more "upscale" power strips do have the ability to line condition. These are typically expensive, but may be an option. See http://www.tripplite.com/products/conditioners/index.cfm for some examples.
  6. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    Mine says I should use a power conditioner for Solid State (pretty much everything)
    I figured there was something I could put in-line .............., those are expensive

    I am really concerned with my well pump. The thought of pulling 250 feet of 3/4 HP pump up a tube during a wind/rain/snow storm isnt very appealing.
  7. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Most motors are more sensitive to voltage and not so much to the clean sine wave of a/c. Yes, it can matter, but it would be very rare for a generator to hurt a motor, if in fact you are running the proper current (a/c or d/c) and voltage. If a generator isn't built well enough to at least run an electric motor, the only thing left is light bulbs.
  8. Mike Wilson

    Mike Wilson New Member

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    Make sure you buy a generator that has a pure sine wave output, not square wave. Most larger generators are all sine wave, most of the smaller ones (1-2K) are all square wave, as they use inverters to get the power up to 110. I have an 8,000 watt generator here, and have run it for days to power the well pump, fridge, boiler, TVs, and the 4 resident computers in the house, along with network gear and printers. Never a problem. Note, I do have a UPS on my main computer stations, not for the generator, just to handle short blips in power here, and to keep my Skype phone alive. As noted, motors are voltage sensitive more than anything else. Solid state as well, but depending on the size genset you're looking at, my concern would be what happens to the voltage on your line when the fridge is running, and suddenly the well pump engages. Therefore, buy large.

    YMMV, that's mine.

    -- Mike
  9. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    Mike, does yours say anything about a power conditioner in the manual?
    I didnt see anything about SINE in the manual either, how would I figure that out?

    I have run the TV and other appliances in the past without issue but I am looking to safeguard things when the power goes out. I dont want to blow up my TV so the kids can watch Monsters Inc. if I can help it.

    Mine is a 5500 continuous with 6500 surge.
  10. Hbbyloggr

    Hbbyloggr New Member

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    I have a 30 kw onan keeping us alive when the power's out. We added a UPS for the computers so we can keep the business running. I added it after one occasion, when transferring power from PSNH to GENERATOR Supply, the video card had a melt down. Hmmm. Have not had any problems since the UPS install. Also, you might need one for the garage door opener , if you have one. The door openers are pretty sensitive to voltage swings.

    Hbbyloggr
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