Just checking

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It seemed only fitting yesterday to turn off the power at the main breaker, fire up the generator and determine, first, if the wires to the house were sufficient to handle the load, and second, what lights, appliances, etc. the 8.5 kw generator would handle. We showed 240 volts going into the house (the same as the local co-op) and the generator hummed along nicely. I even turned on the television set and it responded with a nice, clear picture and no rolling. Obviously, we can't run much 220 (the water well pump is an exception), but some lifetsyle changes will be necessary. On a related matter, made the 25-miles drive to Sam's today for a few more items for the stash. Unlike the last time I was there a couple of months ago, there were more people like me there, puching baskets with 50-pound sacks of rice and other similar items in them. Hmmm.

-- Vic Parker (francisco@d'anconia.com), January 02, 1999



Very interesting. May we compare notes?

I have a Northstar 13k(peak)- 11.5k(continuous)- gas gen with a Honda V-Twin engine. We also did the same as you with very good results. The Northstar puts out a very clean sine wave with around 5 to 6% distortion. Tried a Dyna gen, made by Winco, at my office and had nothing but trouble. The computer UPS systems we use (made by American Power Conversion) would not recognize the AC wave and acted as if nothing was connected. My home UPS not only saw the AC with this gen, but accurately tracked the voltage - as compared to the meter I installed at the generator. The UPS is an older APC 600 Model running Powerchute software.

A distorted AC signal can really wreak havoc with electronics, particularly computers. Do you have a computer at home?

Hopefully, your post will bring more useful comments from other users. BW

-- Bob Walton (waltonb@kdsi.net), January 02, 1999.

After this weekend of y2k blitz I bet there will be quite a few people out there pushing grocery baskets laden with prize y2k stash!

-- Moore Dinty moore (not@thistime.com), January 02, 1999.

Hi, Dinty!

You are correct sir. We are waiting for CSPAN to announce their schedule for the balance of the evening. I have the VCR ready to tape the repeat of Hyatt and Keyes program on early today. Tried to get the schedule from www.cspan.org, but the Purdue schedule server is apparently down. (Earlier post from gilda).

Does anyone know the exact schedule?


-- Bob Walton (waltonb@kdsi.net), January 02, 1999.


Didn't try the computer... should have, and will next time. We 're using a propane-powered Onan that's actually a welding rig. With a 1,000-gallon tank and a pair of 250s, we think we have about a year's supply, provided we husband our resources.

-- Vic Parker (francisco@d'anconia.com), January 02, 1999.


You certainly answered the next question about "fuel". Is your main tank buried?

I will soon have 500 gals of gasoline above ground, but camouflaged well - I hope!

We live in Iowa, so heat becomes a real issue. Most of us aren't planning on having natural gas all the time, so....the gen will ignite the gas, if and when we have it. Our group has opted for and have purchased kerosene heaters for backup. Messy, but very efficient. You apparently won't have to worry about that, if I'm right on your locale.


-- Bob Walton (waltonb@kdsi.net), January 02, 1999.

A related note:

Poorly designed generators aren't the only thing that has a very non-sine "sine" wave. Many of the "pseudo-sine" or so-called "step-sine" wave inverters are anything but. Sensitive electronic gear .. especially computers .. can and will be sent to an early death by power sources such as these. If you will be running an inverter with anything other than incandescent lamps (which are very inefficient devices themselves...), then use a true sine wave device. Exeltech (Houston, TX) and Trace (Seattle, WA) are two of the more quality oriented true-sine inverter manufacturers. I prefer the Exeltech for its overall edge in quality and other technical reasons .. but both are good companies.

If you plan to use an inverter with your sensitive gear .. sine wave is the only way to go. They are more $ .. but far easier on your expensive gear than pseudo-sine.

-- Dan (DanTCC@Yahoo.com), January 02, 1999.

Good post, Dan!

Those "pseudo-sine" or so-called "step-sine" wave forms you refer to are often are nothing but square waves - tough leading and trailing edges - to say the least.

The Dyna gen wave form we tested was a bit better, but very jagged at the peaks. Not a good choice if you expect to keep your electronics running without big problems! And we haven't even talked about frequency stabilization.

Suggestion: If you're going to buy a gen, you can find a pretty stable unit for about the same money as one that you'll regret.



-- Bob Walton (waltonb@kdsi.net), January 02, 1999.

I've ordered a generator as a backup to the solar rig I've got, and am unsure about it's useability with sensitive electronics. I'm getting a Generac 4000XL. Catalog doesn't say whether it's a true sine wave output, and I didn't know to ask about it before I ordered it.

Any suggestions as to what I can do to ensure that it won't fry the sensitive electronics? I don't have nor need a DC to AC inverter, so it'd have to be hooked to the AC output of the generator.

Likely to be only used with the TV, or computer.

-- Bill (billclo@hotmail.com), January 03, 1999.


Two thoughts. Call Generac customer service and see if you can get a picture of the actual AC output. It should be relatively smooth at the plus and minus peaks with even transition. It is commonly called the signal, or envelope - the "sine wave". It gets its name from its shape. The better generators will be pushing out less than 5 - 7% distortion, although some will dispute that percentage. The more distorted the shape, the harder it is for an electronic power supply to creat clean DC current. At its worst, it can destroy the appliance. The generator must also be frequency stable at the chosen RPM - 60HZ in the US.

If you know someone in the electronics repair business, have them check the output with an oscilloscope. It won't lie.


-- Bob Walton (waltonb@kdsi.net), January 03, 1999.

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