Talk to me about pure sine inverter generators that work with harmans.

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CBL

Member
Apr 16, 2013
138
MA
I've been in the market for a 2000w inverter generator. I'm under the impression I need a pure sine generator and most of the lower cost inverter generators put out a Stepped approximation to a sinewave. Unless I'm mistaken, this won't work with my harman as when it picks up a stepped sine wave signal it'll go into shut down mode.

So far the only model that puts out a pure sine wave i've seen is the Honda EU2000i. Are there any other generators to consider in this space?
 

bdud

Member
Sep 19, 2013
162
Franklin, MA
I have the Honda EU2000i and the Honda companion model which I use during power cuts.
They powered a Harman insert, oil burner (now removed), TV, electronics and the important coffee machine.
Worked great for me.
 

john193

Minister of Fire
Jan 11, 2010
1,053
Southeast PA
Search for champion inverter generator. Seems to have good reviews. The honda and yamaha rank the best, but command a premium price.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
4,706
Northern NH
Hard to beat the Hondas and Yamahas
 

IHATEPROPANE

Minister of Fire
Feb 24, 2011
1,387
NoPellettons, MA
I've been in the market for a 2000w inverter generator. I'm under the impression I need a pure sine generator and most of the lower cost inverter generators put out a Stepped approximation to a sinewave. Unless I'm mistaken, this won't work with my harman as when it picks up a stepped sine wave signal it'll go into shut down mode.

So far the only model that puts out a pure sine wave i've seen is the Honda EU2000i. Are there any other generators to consider in this space?

Which lower priced inverter generators put out a stepped sine wave? I have not come across any that are not pure sine wave.
 

alternativeheat

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2013
3,797
Cape Cod, Ma.
I've been in the market for a 2000w inverter generator. I'm under the impression I need a pure sine generator and most of the lower cost inverter generators put out a Stepped approximation to a sinewave. Unless I'm mistaken, this won't work with my harman as when it picks up a stepped sine wave signal it'll go into shut down mode.

So far the only model that puts out a pure sine wave i've seen is the Honda EU2000i. Are there any other generators to consider in this space?
I've looked into the same generator that you mention. However, I have an existing generator that already runs a good part of the house that is proven to be very even on voltage output. Still, like you I suspect the Harman will hiccup with it. I keep my boat battery in the basement in the winter and have a charger for it. I believe I can run a pure sine Wave inverter off of that combo with the charger hooked to my generator. Problem solved. Anyone else doing this? So the house stays on the Gen and the charger can either plug into a hot outlet or an auxiliary outlet on the Gen.
 
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Madcodger

Guest
I've looked into the same generator that you mention. However, I have an existing generator that already runs a good part of the house that is proven to be very even on voltage output. Still, like you I suspect the Harman will hiccup with it. I keep my boat battery in the basement in the winter and have a charger for it. I believe I can run a pure sine Wave inverter off of that combo with the charger hooked to my generator. Problem solved. Anyone else doing this? So the house stays on the Gen and the charger can either plug into a hot outlet or an auxiliary outlet on the Gen.
I do something very similar, and there is a thread or two in which it is discussed on this board. But here's a summary: I took an old UPS for a server that is capable of producing 1800 watts of sustained output with a sine wave form. This is essentially just a sine wave inverter with its own 48v battery and trickle charger, which is all a UPS really is a (self-contained battery, charger, and inverter, whether sine wave or not). This old UPS also accepts "dirty" generator power, which is critically important for you as well because many UPS and some chargers and inverters will simply shut down on generator power if the wave form is too "clipped", or unsmooth. Again, this is a crtical thing to test BEFORE you need this setup in an emergency.

I yanked the old batteries from the UPS when they died, and pulled the cover off. Then I bought four, 12Volt, deep cycle "marine batteries rated at about 110 amp hours, and wired them in series using 6AWG battery cables, to create a battery bank rated at 110 amp hours at 48 volts ( the requirement for THIS old UPS - others may be different, and this is critical). In your case, that would not be necessary and you would just have a 12 volt DC to 120 volt AC inverter running off of a single battery.

Now, my old UPS' trickle charger would probably take days to recharge those batteries, so I purchased four 12 volt chargers rated to do deep cycle batteries at up to a 15 amp recharge rate. I put one on each of the 12 volt batteries and plugged it into an AC outlet so that it can recharge over the course of a day (it still takes several hours). Also, I try not to cycle those batteries lower than 50% discharge when possible, and never below 80%, to preserve their longevity. You will hear people say that you should never go below 50%, but that's for batteries that cycle every day (e.g., on a solar system). For emergency use like this, that's not necessary IMO.

When the power goes out, we have an 8Kw generator that powers most of the house, including those battery chargers (again, a critical point is to make sure they will function on YOUR generator power). Thus, I can power a circuit from this UPS that is always on, producing pure sine wave, surge-protected power. You would be doing the same with your proposed setup, just with a lower power rating (I can do 1800 watts) and a smaller battery reserve.

We ended up running a single dedicated AC circuit that includes the MVAE, security system, home automation controller, FIOS interface, wireless router, and low power media center PC, that I run off of that UPS at all times (it's also plugged into household current, so most of the time it's just a big surge suppressor). My old Whitfield Quest also runs perfectly on the generator, so I haven't put it on the UPS (but may do so today). Even if I add the Quest I would only draw 250 watts at a time without the ignitor of the MVAE. It is also always connected to that converted UPS on that same circuit so I actually have no idea how it would perform on straight gen power, and given the cost of a new board I'm not going to test it. The UPS with that battery bank would easily power the MVAE (and much more) all night even with the ignitor cycling on and off, but I connect it to an identical, single deep cycle battery (MVAE's are designed for that) and just pull the plug at night when we shut down the generator. This allows me to rest the generator and stretch my fuel supply, which can be important in an emergency. I could likely add my refrigerator (maybe two) to this as they are very low power users, but if we keep the doors closed all night the temperature hardly moves, so I haven't done that. I think when the old UPS eventually goes I'll just buy a 48V inverter designed for solar systems, but hopefully that's a ways off.

Hope that helps. What you want to do sounds reasonable to me. Good luck, and keep us posted.
 
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Centurion

Member
Nov 27, 2008
115
Nr Albany, NY
Which lower priced inverter generators put out a stepped sine wave? I have not come across any that are not pure sine wave.
If it's an inverter generatot it will never have a stepped output that I am aware of. That term is more closely associated with a DC battery supplied inverter or a UPS. A non inverter generator uses speed to regulate the AC output therefore any hiccup in of the engine can affect the speed irradically can cause power spikes which can damage electronics such as a pellet stove controller board, AM/FM radios, TV, etc.
 
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alternativeheat

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2013
3,797
Cape Cod, Ma.
I do something very similar, and there is a thread or two in which it is discussed on this board. But here's a summary: I took an old UPS for a server that is capable of producing 1800 watts of sustained output with a sine wave form. This is essentially just a sine wave inverter with its own 48v battery and trickle charger, which is all a UPS really is a (self-contained battery, charger, and inverter, whether sine wave or not). This old UPS also accepts "dirty" generator power, which is critically important for you as well because many UPS and some chargers will simply shut down on generator power if the wave form is too "clipped", or unsmooth. Again, this is a crtical thing to test BEFORE you need this setup in an emergency.

I yanked the old batteries from the UPS when they died, and pulled the cover off. Then I bought four, 12Volt, deep cycle "marine batteries rated at about 110 amp hours, and wired them in series using 6AWG battery cables, to create a battery bank rated at 110 amp hours at 48 volts. In your case, that would not be necessary and you would just have a 12 volt DC to 120 volt AC inverter running off of a single battery.

Now, my old UPS' trickle charger would probably take a week to recharge those batteries, so I purchased four 12 volt chargers rated to do deep cycle batteries at up to a 15 amp recharge rate. I put one on each of the 12 volt batteries and plugged it into an AC outlet so that it can recharge over the course of a day (it still takes several hours). Also, I try not to cycle those batteries lower than 50% discharge when possible, and never below 80%, to preserve their longevity. You will hear people say that you should never go below 50%, but that's for batteries that cycle every day (e.g., on a solar system). For emergency use like this, that's not necessary IMO.

When the power goes out, we have an 8Kw generator that powers most of the house, including those battery chargers (again, a critical point). My old Whitfield Quest also runs perfectly on the generator. My Quad MVAE is always connected to that converted UPS, so I actually have no idea how it would perform on straight gen power, and given the cost of a new board I'm not going to test it. The UPS with that battery bank would easily power the MVAE (and much more) all night even with the ignitor cycling on and off, but I connect it to an identical, single deep cycle battery and just pull the plug at night when we shut down the generator. This allows me to rest the generator and stretch my fuel supply, which can be important in an emergency.

Hope that helps. What you want to do sounds reasonable to me.
Well then, my first step will be to see if my generator will power my charger just charging the battery. I haven't run it this month and I'd say the battery is about due for it's mid winter charge as well. The wife is going away overnight tonight and that will be something to do ! Thus far what I know about my generator is it runs two fridges, a small chest freezer, a microwave, the boiler, the gas hot water heater and it's blower, dining room lights, kitchen lights, downstairs bathroom lights and outlet and my most important item of all, Keurig Coffee Maker. All that and the gen barely ever runs over half power. It takes a bit of a hit on the microwave but walks away like a champ with it even with the other items powered up. It isn't essential that the stove run in a power outage as the boiler will but it would be nice if it could and not buy another generator.
 
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Madcodger

Guest
Well then, my first step will be to see if my generator will power my charger just charging the battery. I haven't run it this month and I'd say the battery is about due for it's mid winter charge as well. The wife is going away overnight tonight and that will be something to do ! Thus far what I know about my generator is it runs two fridges, a small chest freezer, a microwave, the boiler, the gas hot water heater and it's blower, dining room lights, kitchen lights, downstairs bathroom lights and outlet and my most important item of all, Keurig Coffee Maker. All that and the gen barely ever runs over half power. It takes a bit of a hit on the microwave but walks away like a champ with it even with the other items powered up. It isn't essential that the stove run in a power outage as the boils will but it would be nice if it could and not buy another generator.
My guess is that you'll be fine powering the charger, but this is a good time to check. The power draw will be minimal, maybe 1.5 amps AC at most (test it on the highest charge rate possible up to 15 amps DC). The question is whether the charger thinks the power is "clean" enough. Most chargers don't much care. It's UPS' that give people more problems. Good luck, and let us know.
 

IHATEPROPANE

Minister of Fire
Feb 24, 2011
1,387
NoPellettons, MA
If it's an inverter generatot it will never have a stepped output that I am aware of. That term is more closely associated with a DC battery supplied inverter or a UPS. A non inverter generator uses speed to regulate the AC output therefore any hiccup in of the engine can affect the speed irradically can cause power spikes which can damage electronics such as a pellet stove controller board, AM/FM radios, TV, etc.

Agreed....this is my understanding as well
 

alternativeheat

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2013
3,797
Cape Cod, Ma.
Agreed....this is my understanding as well
And mine. I had to have my generator serviced after my wife shut it down without cutting the power switch to the house. That blew the electronic voltage regulator in it. However, the tech that did the work and installed the new regulator said that my gen puts out very steady voltage, he was surprised at how steady it was he said. Probably because it has that electronic voltage regulator I suppose which may more accurately adjust for engine surge to some degree. Obviously, if the engine sags it can only do so much.
 

IHATEPROPANE

Minister of Fire
Feb 24, 2011
1,387
NoPellettons, MA
And mine. I had to have my generator serviced after my wife shut it down without cutting the power switch to the house. That blew the electronic voltage regulator in it. However, the tech that did the work and installed the new regulator said that my gen puts out very steady voltage, he was surprised at how steady it was he said. Probably because it has that electronic voltage regulator I suppose which may more accurately adjust for engine surge to some degree. Obviously, if the engine sags it can only do so much.
What kind if generator do you have? I have a small Inverter and a Champion 3500 Watt conventional generator. The Champion was fairly stable voltage and hertz when I checked it up to half load. It also has a protection built in that if the voltage gets too high it will kill the engine to help prevent / minimize any damage.
 

alternativeheat

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2013
3,797
Cape Cod, Ma.
What kind if generator do you have? I have a small Inverter and a Champion 3500 Watt conventional generator. The Champion was fairly stable voltage and hertz when I checked it up to half load. It also has a protection built in that if the voltage gets too high it will kill the engine to help prevent / minimize any damage.
Troybuilt 5500 watt with 8000 watt startup ( or so it says) capability. To my knowledge Troybuilt doesn't make this model any longer. My son asked me about the generator and I could not find it listed in their lineup. I'll tell you what though, you may not need often but when you do it's a whole different world from sitting around freezing your butt off. Last time the power went out we were offline for 3 days, the time before 3.5. What I don't care for about this gen is no low oil warning, that always bothers me because these little engines hold so little oil. But small price to pay.

I'd take your 3500 over no gen.
 

jslinger

Member
Jan 1, 2013
181
Vermont
I love my Honda. Don't have experience with any of the others. But having lots of experience with motorcycles, I would have no reason to doubt the Yamaha either.
 
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Madcodger

Guest
Our power went out Wednesday at 4 AM. Today is Sunday, and our power company is saying "sometime" this coming week. The Generac has been a lifesaver. Our house has been 68-72 with temps in the teens (falling to 5 tomorrow night). We've had people showering at our house, we've prepared a number of hot meals, and have offered up spare bedrooms (but no takers yet as most have family close by). I helped a neighbor drain their pipes yesterday, and may do two others today as single digits approach. I actually think I may look for a second, smaller generator as a backup after this, or perhaps go the other way and put in a somewhat larger one with a large propane tank. I just helped one neighbor select one that ships tomorrow, and another is saying, "just tell me what to buy". My personal view is that the weather we're seeing will become the norm. Using a generator may become more common.
 

alternativeheat

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2013
3,797
Cape Cod, Ma.
Our power went out Wednesday at 4 AM. Today is Sunday, and our power company is saying "sometime" this coming week. The Generac has been a lifesaver. Our house has been 68-72 with temps in the teens (falling to 5 tomorrow night). We've had people showering at our house, we've prepared a number of hot meals, and have offered up spare bedrooms (but no takers yet as most have family close by). I helped a neighbor drain their pipes yesterday, and may do two others today as single digits approach. I actually think I may look for a second, smaller generator as a backup after this, or perhaps go the other way and put in a somewhat larger one with a large propane tank. I just helped one neighbor select one that ships tomorrow, and another is saying, "just tell me what to buy". My personal view is that the weather we're seeing will become the norm. Using a generator may become more common.
Yes, when you have a generator and people come to your house who don't, then the light comes on their heads. Hey, I can do this !! Mine is a portable, runs on gasoline, it uses 5 gallons of gas every 12-14 hours but we are only powering essentials plus a luxury or two and it really doesn't work hard at all to do that. It will handle a couple of more circuits in the house. The transfer switch I bought at the time we got this gen was only six circuits, as the local stores were out of the eight and ten circuit ones. We had a big storm coming in and we had a 90 yo in our apartment and wanted this up and running. The house could heat on the coal stove but the apartment would have frozen up with no heat over there. I've never upgraded that transfer switch. Last year when the power went out , gas at a premium, one gas station here goes to the depot and gets their own gas and fuel oil and they have a generator, the line going in there was an hour long for cash only !! All utilities were out, including the credit card scanners. I had work after one day out because the facility there is on a big diesel gen.

I would love a standby gen but they say they eat crazy propane. I'll just stick with this, so many people have non it seems ludicrous. a local store clerk was so afraid of losing pipes in his house, he said never again.. He is a retired guy, they were sleeping in a 36 deg bedroom. He now owns a Honda 5500 watt gen. So far this winter we have not gone off line. They did a bunch of upgrading around here after last years storm and brought in another trunk line. Still the day will come, it comes in waves like everything else in life. A hurricane, a NE winter storm etc.
 

alternativeheat

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2013
3,797
Cape Cod, Ma.
I think the tri-fuel generators are the way to go. Propane doesn't go bad and if gas isn't available its an option. Buy and store the grill tanks until needed.
http://www.generatorsales.com/triple-fuel-generators.asp
I believe they make propane conversion kits for portable generators too. I have three propane grill tanks, actually two are larger, they were on my old camper but ya know those things go out of date, then they won't fill them for you ? But you are right, propane won't go bad like gas will. Something to think about for sure.
 

alternativeheat

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2013
3,797
Cape Cod, Ma.
M

Madcodger

Guest
And those little tanks used for a grill won't last long. Tri-fuel is a great idea (would be bi-fuel for us, as no NG here), but you need to have some decent-sized tanks. And remember that LP vaporizes slowly in cold temps, so you may need 2-3 to have enough gas to run even a medium gennie. As with most things, PLANNING required!
 
M

Madcodger

Guest
What about pressure dropping when it is cold out. Are there any issues running in the cold?
Yep. See post above. If above ground tanks, 2-3 (even 100 gallon "fatboys") may be needed as vaporization drops when cold. You're not going to reliably power a generator of any size on grill tanks...
 
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