Staying Lit from Dusk to Dawn

A place to discuss all things involving power and lighting. Generator tips, alternative energy, lighting your camp/bike/art/self and more.

Staying Lit from Dusk to Dawn

Postby Quidam » Wed May 19, 2010 9:58 am

Some lighting and power questions for the beloved hive mind.

I recently ordered a Chauvet Cosmos 2 for the camp and note that it's got two 300W bulbs in it, plus the motor. I've got a Honda 2ki that generally runs all we need at night- we're not a high-power sound camp, really. I don't want to get so close to the edge that we start browning out, though- what's the best way of calculating your draw vs. yield?

Along the same train of thought, I'm considering picking up another 2ki and linking the two together, in part to allow us some more leeway in our power budget. Another thought would be the hope that we might be able to get through the whole night without having to fill the generator.

Not that there's not a certain amount of playa cred to be earned from gasoline fumes at three in the morning, but I've had my fill of that particular form of cred. I seem to recall hearing about external tanks for that model, but haven't found any yet.

Any suggestions, warnings, or catcalls welcome.
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Re: Staying Lit from Dusk to Dawn

Postby bm_cricket » Wed May 19, 2010 10:35 am

A word to the wise, disco balls need to be cleaned about once every 30 minutes if the dust picks up even slightly. once the mirrors are dusty they don't work.

As for power demands... Don't bother with another Honda 2000. Relatively quiet but really low output and I would never plug "sensitive" electronics into it. I wouldn't even charge my cell phone on one. Get a Honda 3000iSA. It can do damn near anything and ... does cost twice as much new.... Still, you can run a decent (small) camp on just one jenny, that includes kegerator, lights, chargers for what ever little electronics you have. Just be sure you change the filter after about 100 hours on the playa. It won't be a problem if you only come for the main week but those filters are the only things keeping your generator from choking to death. Also, the air intake is often on the bottom of the freaking gennie!!
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mahalo

Postby Quidam » Wed May 19, 2010 10:59 am

Thanks for the tip- I'll be sure to look into the 3000iSA. It might just be worth the expense.

The light I'm referring to isn't so much a disco mirror-ball as it is a dual-axis light projector. That said, I'm already considering how to protect it- from as simple as a plexiglass terrarium to some diffraction-graded geodesic sphere. But that'd have to be next year at this point.
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Postby CapSmashy » Wed May 19, 2010 1:11 pm

An EU2000 is a clean wave generator for electronics.
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Postby gyre » Wed May 19, 2010 1:26 pm

Can you get by with lower light output?

You could reduce draw that way.
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Postby bm_cricket » Wed May 19, 2010 2:15 pm

CapSmashy wrote:An EU2000 is a clean wave generator for electronics.


I've seen laptops fry with the EU2000 series... *shrug*

Oh, but back to the thread topic, you can always just give it a dry run back home. See how it actually handles the load, how long it lasts... I test anything I can before I get out to the playa.
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Postby Token » Wed May 19, 2010 2:50 pm

The Honda 2k is rated at ~ 1700 VA for continuous operation.

With your lamps and motor gizmo eating up ~ 700 VA of juice plus the altitude derating of 10% on the generator you are using up ~ half the available power.

Even a relatively small additional load will force the generato to rev up full throtle. This can be anoying since it increases the noise a lot.

Running two eu2k generators half load is always better wrt noise than a single at full throttle.

You can build a cable for about $20 worth of parts. Lots of instructions on the net.

Same for the external fuel tank. I ordred two extra gas caps from Honda and drilled n tapped them for a fuel line fitting. A 5 gallon can runs my two eu2k genies all day.
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Postby bm_cricket » Wed May 19, 2010 2:56 pm

Token wrote:The Honda 2k is rated at ~ 1700 VA for continuous operation.

With your lamps and motor gizmo eating up ~ 700 VA of juice plus the altitude derating of 10% on the generator you are using up ~ half the available power.

Even a relatively small additional load will force the generato to rev up full throtle. This can be anoying since it increases the noise a lot.

Running two eu2k generators half load is always better wrt noise than a single at full throttle.

You can build a cable for about $20 worth of parts. Lots of instructions on the net.

Same for the external fuel tank. I ordred two extra gas caps from Honda and drilled n tapped them for a fuel line fitting. A 5 gallon can runs my two eu2k genies all day.


A Honda 3000iSA runs a 25 ft^3 chest freezer for a day on a tank with enough juice for lights. It also runs the same freezer for almost a 4 days on one tank when it's adapted as a kegerator. Just say'n. I love my 3000 gennies.
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bravo

Postby Quidam » Wed May 19, 2010 5:40 pm

These are exactly the sort of replies I count on the eplaya to yield. Thanks, both of you. I love it when it's a matter of choosing between solutions what'll do the trick. At this point I'm leaning towards the second 2k due to cost, noise and fault tolerance- if one goes out I still have one.

I'll poke around and dig up the tutorials, but may hit you up later, Token, as a topical Font of Knowledge.

Thanks again.
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Postby Elorrum » Wed May 19, 2010 7:24 pm

lights and generators? I thought this was gonna be about intoxication.
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Postby gyre » Wed May 19, 2010 7:56 pm

My understanding is that different size EUs can be used together.
This seems like a bigger advantage than being true sine wave to me.

I like the 3000.
It seems more rugged and specs only slightly louder.
I suspect it may be less annoying in nvh, which is harder to quantify.

Maybe a 3000 and a smaller one?
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Postby bm_cricket » Wed May 19, 2010 8:24 pm

gyre wrote:My understanding is that different size EUs can be used together.
This seems like a bigger advantage than being true sine wave to me.

I like the 3000.
It seems more rugged and specs only slightly louder.
I suspect it may be less annoying in nvh, which is harder to quantify.

Maybe a 3000 and a smaller one?


I've never tried rigging my two 3000 gennies together but I've been told a million times it's do-able. I like it because from 10 feet away you can't hear it over the playa noise, and from 20 feet away you can't hear it in normal city noise. And I've never overloaded one unless I was doing something stupid. Three coffee pots at the same time will overload it easily! ;-)
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Postby Token » Wed May 19, 2010 10:55 pm

The one downside to the 3k is the weight. I can't load and unload one from the truck by my lonesome.

You can connect any EUxx00 together for greater capacity. Honda even sells the parts, but they are insanely expensive for what they provide.

Honda also has a new EU6500.
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Postby teardropper » Thu May 20, 2010 6:03 am

I don't know 'cause I have solar, but I was wondering, I run a sine wave inverter off the batteries. Wonderful for electronics. Could you use the gennie to charge a small, sealed battery and then put an inverter on it for charging electonics? Or is this just circular thinking? If there were any doubt about hooking sensitives onto a gen, I would consider an alternate plan. Any thoughts on whether the battery scheme would work?
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Postby tevo » Thu May 20, 2010 6:19 am

I'll throw in my vote for another eu2000 as well. I use two paralleled to power everything in my rv, and have run sensitive electronics of them with no problem at all.
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Postby teardropper » Thu May 20, 2010 6:54 am

It sounds like the battery may not be required. And with the length of time you are running, you probably don't need a battery reserve, like for those times you need small loads and don't want to turn the gennie on. May or may not be usable.
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Generators

Postby kingtom » Thu May 20, 2010 2:09 pm

I have a Honda 2000 and a Onan 4000. The built in Onan will run every thing in my R/V , but the Honda is quieter and uses less fuel. I just tested the Honda and it has no problem running the refrigerator and the A/C, but I don't plan on using it accept to charge the batteries and run a fan.If and when I use the A/C I'll start the Onan.I'm bringing 15 gallons of fuel for the Honda that might be a over kill , but that's okay. The things we do.
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Fri May 21, 2010 7:11 am

bm_cricket wrote:
CapSmashy wrote:An EU2000 is a clean wave generator for electronics.


I've seen laptops fry with the EU2000 series... *shrug*



This is misinformation... maybe I'll even post links to waveform photos proving the EU2000 provides EXTREMELY clean power. Laptops don't even run directly on the power from a generator, they run on their DC battery that gets charged from the generator. You can run a laptop on shitty power, it's DC by the time the computer sees it, which has no waveform. You don't have to take my word, Google it all over the web or look at it on an oscilloscope yourself, the EU2000 is an excellent source of power for sensitive electronics.

Here's my external fuel tank plans: http://ilynne.com/captaingoddammit/
I run mine from a fuel line coming from an old 50-gallon truck fuel tank and never bother refueling at BM anymore.

The EU3000 is a great unit, but don't dismiss getting a second EU2000, especially if you already have one. There are many advantages to the twin-2000s. They produce a lot more power. They are infinitely easier to transport and lift, at under 50 pounds each instead of 140+. They can be used separately for other things off-playa. If one unit does fail, you still have power.

I like running twins even when a single is adequate because the sound of twins barely idling is nicer than the sound of one unit throttled up.

When calculating your playa power needs, remember to subtract 10 - 15% from your generator's available output due to the nearly mile-high altitude. I've test-run heavy loads at home with no problem that immediately overloaded the gennys on the playa.
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Postby gyre » Fri May 21, 2010 9:02 am

That makes sense, but dells seem to be extremely sensitive to the input power.
I've seen them fail to run on generic power supplies, that on paper test well enough to work.
They even bitch and moan when run on a dell supply if it's sized slightly differently, but do run.


Any idea how much power a 3000 will generate at idle before cranking up?
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Postby bm_cricket » Fri May 21, 2010 10:20 am

Captain Goddammit wrote:...You can run a laptop on shitty power...


That is simply not true. Laptops are not designed for anything but perfectly clean power. It's a great way to kill them.

Maybe the EU2000 wasn't what killed my friend's Piece of Shit HP dv something but I can promise you that modern computers don't run their power through the battery and run off the battery but even if they were that wouldn't solve the problem. The last time I saw one that did that was probably a 486 Toshiba Satellite. Most modern laptops run the way a battery backup does (like a UPS) where they switch to battery the moment they need to. The problem is.. laptops aren't designed to handle bad power! If you are lucky then your AC/DC converter will die, simple replacement. All you do is buy a new one. If you aren't as lucky but you have a well designed laptop it's just the discreet DC controller board that dies. Most laptops don't have separate boards and it's just part of the motherboard. The moral of the story is that you should only run your laptop on clean power. Maybe the EU2000 wasn't to blame for his laptop but I personally won't risk it on any of my electronics.
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Postby AntiM » Fri May 21, 2010 10:25 am

MyLarry runs his laptop of the 12V DC of his semi, through an inverter and back through the DC adapter. May be a POS Gateway, but it lives in the semi, in a bracket, running near full time. Six years and counting. That's hardly "clean" power!
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Postby Boijoy » Fri May 21, 2010 10:37 am

so, what your saying is,, the shittier the computer the better it does with "dirty" power??
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Postby bm_cricket » Fri May 21, 2010 11:05 am

AntiM wrote:MyLarry runs his laptop of the 12V DC of his semi, through an inverter and back through the DC adapter. May be a POS Gateway, but it lives in the semi, in a bracket, running near full time. Six years and counting. That's hardly "clean" power!


Kick ass and take names! I guess the moral of the story is that all laptops aren't created equal.

Maybe I'm just paranoid. I've never tried it (and it may be redundant or down-right bad) but if I had to use a computer on the playa I'd probably drag along a UPS. I don't worry as much about the big appliances I've taken out there (like fridges).

I don't trust PG&E to give me even close to consistent power at home so I'm sure not going to trust a little generator in the desert. Every "sensitive electronic device" in my house runs through a UPS. I also wear tinfoil hats to keep the aliens from controlling my thoughts. :roll:

*shrug*. I'm out of my fucking element, man.
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Fri May 21, 2010 11:19 am

Lol, ironically, appliances like fridges are MORE likely to have trouble with crappy, square-wave AC power than a laptop!
Appliances with electric motors that see heavy start-up current, like a fridge, tend to get hot and run sluggishly when not fed sine-wave AC.
Microwaves have trouble on "dirty" AC too.

Funny you trust a UPS so unconditionally when it's just another inverter itself. I bet if you looked at it's output on a scope it's not likely to be better than that of the Honda's inverter.
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Postby bm_cricket » Fri May 21, 2010 11:24 am

Captain Goddammit wrote:Lol, ironically, appliances like fridges are MORE likely to have trouble with crappy, square-wave AC power than a laptop!
Appliances with electric motors that see heavy start-up current, like a fridge, tend to get hot and run sluggishly when not fed sine-wave AC.
Microwaves have trouble on "dirty" AC too.

Funny you trust a UPS so unconditionally when it's just another inverter itself. I bet if you looked at it's output on a scope it's not likely to be better than that of the Honda's inverter.


I'm sure fridges don't like it at all.. But the big appliances in my house are property of the land lord. If the landlord doesn't want to re-wire the house and I'm not responsible for buying new appliances then I'm not really going to run around complaining..

But you're making me worry now. Time to dust off my multi-meter and go around the house.. Ack!
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Postby gyre » Fri May 21, 2010 11:34 am

Cricket , watch out for neutral failures that cause voltage to spike on one loop and drop on the other.
Utility companies rarely do maintenance.
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Fri May 21, 2010 10:40 pm

A multimeter will show you the voltage but not the waveform; "dirty" (more of a squarewave) power looks identical on a voltmeter to "clean" (closer to perfect sinewave) AC.
Utility company supplied power is almost always quite "clean" as far as waveform goes. It's perfectly safe, a pure sinewave can't hurt you. Grab both wires and see for yourself!



OK just kidding...


Like, really!

So... DON'T do that...
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Postby bm_cricket » Fri May 21, 2010 10:52 pm

Captain Goddammit wrote:A multimeter will show you the voltage but not the waveform; "dirty" (more of a squarewave) power looks identical on a voltmeter to "clean" (closer to perfect sinewave) AC.
Utility company supplied power is almost always quite "clean" as far as waveform goes. It's perfectly safe, a pure sinewave can't hurt you. Grab both wires and see for yourself!



OK just kidding...


Like, really!

So... DON'T do that...


Okayokayokay. So, I'm not an electrical master. My complex array of UPS batteries running all my electronics seem to kick on a few times a day and the lights flicker at weird intervals, usually when someone in another room turns something on. (which usually coincides with the UPS turning on). That and we have weekly brown outs. I'm just glad all the appliances belong with the apartment and I'm not stuck replacing them if they blow! (PS, I live in university housing at UC Santa Cruz! Yay budget cuts!) Anyway, they will never have the time or money to rewire this whole student housing complex.

The moral of the story is: My power is shitty so I have batteries on my most sensitive gadgets.

That and I have no idea how to test for how clean a power signal is. Oh, but when the lights all get really dim for a few seconds and then really bright and a few of them pop.. that's when I call the housing office!!

Oh, and you are right! The power is relatively clean. Muy thhonggueeee still thinglllesss..
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Postby gyre » Sat May 22, 2010 4:28 am

Voltage changing when other things are turned on or off, especially rising, is a sign of a neutral issue.
A drop can be caused by overloaded wiring.
A spike is likely to be a neutral issue.
It can go as far as 240 volts.
That issue needs to be fixed.
Usual cause is corrosion at the neutral connection where the utility connects, or at the pole.

A voltmeter will check for this.
When the neutral fails, the other circuits act as conductors for the load and change the voltage, especially things with large loads.
Check the opposing circuits on the fusebox.
See if a fridge or microwave on the opposite circuit makes voltage go up.
It might even go down drastically.
Spiking up is more dangerous and better confirmation.

It may be worth checking connections to receptacles or even replacing crucial ones (computer).
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Postby bm_cricket » Sat May 22, 2010 8:10 am

gyre wrote:Voltage changing when other things are turned on or off, especially rising, is a sign of a neutral issue.
A drop can be caused by overloaded wiring.
A spike is likely to be a neutral issue.
It can go as far as 240 volts.
That issue needs to be fixed.
Usual cause is corrosion at the neutral connection where the utility connects, or at the pole.

A voltmeter will check for this.
When the neutral fails, the other circuits act as conductors for the load and change the voltage, especially things with large loads.
Check the opposing circuits on the fusebox.
See if a fridge or microwave on the opposite circuit makes voltage go up.
It might even go down drastically.
Spiking up is more dangerous and better confirmation.

It may be worth checking connections to receptacles or even replacing crucial ones (computer).


If this was my house I'd fix it.. Living in on campus apartments has it's problems... The big one is that issues like this don't get fixed unless something goes really wrong (fires, exploding appliances). A few light bulbs going out and a dozen dead TVs per building per year don't seem to bother them. I know my UPS solution won't fix everything but it's still better than what I get when I call them for issues like this.

I'm sure you are right but unfortunately it's not likely to get fixed. For now I just cross my fingers.
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