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.

Postby AntiM » Sat May 22, 2010 8:17 am

O'scope, dude.

I've actually had to shut down an entire Naval Communication Station to switch power from one leg to another, as the AC generated on base was "dirty", causing reset spikes through the DC rectifier. Brown-outs aren't caused by bad connections, they're a lack of juice compared to use. Period. UPS is a VERY good idea, there's a reason the military uses them for critical systems.
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Postby bm_cricket » Sat May 22, 2010 8:25 am

AntiM wrote:O'scope, dude.

I've actually had to shut down an entire Naval Communication Station to switch power from one leg to another, as the AC generated on base was "dirty", causing reset spikes through the DC rectifier. Brown-outs aren't caused by bad connections, they're a lack of juice compared to use. Period. UPS is a VERY good idea, there's a reason the military uses them for critical systems.


Doomdoomdoomdoom..

I just checked my UPS and, during the hours my computer is on and keeping track of it my UPS had to intervene this week 6 times for blackouts, 3 for under voltages and 4 for over-voltages. Those are just during day time hours when I'm actually on my computer..... in a week? That can't be normal.. Not to mention loosing at least one light bulb a week in the apartment...
)'(
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Postby gyre » Sat May 22, 2010 8:32 am

bm_cricket wrote: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.

If it's a neutral ground issue, it's a fire hazard.
You can get it fixed.

But anything inside the apartment can be fixed easily enough by yourself.
And the main contact is a utility issue.
Call them yourself.
First check the connections in the fusebox, if possible.
And find out if this is the issue.
If you have trouble, use the magic words, fire and liability.

Bad connections you can do yourself.
Decent receptacles aren't high.
Don't use the crap for 40 cents.

The house next to me caught fire three times.
It had been renovated, rewired and inspected.
I found the tenant sleeping outside on the porch for fear.
ALL the connections were barely in contact.
I taught him how to redo the wiring himself.
No fires since.


Most scopes have been replaced by meters that do the same things and more.
The recording functions are especially useful.

Electronics should have adequate built in protection, but sadly, most are shit now.
You could feed anything but lightning into old sony vcrs, borg-carland and BGW amps.
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Postby AntiM » Sat May 22, 2010 8:35 am

bm_cricket wrote:
AntiM wrote:O'scope, dude.

I've actually had to shut down an entire Naval Communication Station to switch power from one leg to another, as the AC generated on base was "dirty", causing reset spikes through the DC rectifier. Brown-outs aren't caused by bad connections, they're a lack of juice compared to use. Period. UPS is a VERY good idea, there's a reason the military uses them for critical systems.


Doomdoomdoomdoom..

I just checked my UPS and, during the hours my computer is on and keeping track of it my UPS had to intervene this week 6 times for blackouts, 3 for under voltages and 4 for over-voltages. Those are just during day time hours when I'm actually on my computer..... in a week? That can't be normal.. Not to mention loosing at least one light bulb a week in the apartment...


Yeah, sadly the CommSta I was at didn't have the funding for an UPS retrofit, although they needed it. Perhaps I should have said "critical systems at newer facilities" or "critical systems at commands with funding". I have worked with an UPS system big enough to fill a small apartment. That was fun.

Building-wide like that, I'd guess the breaker box is doing more than it was designed for. Move when you get the chance. Urge everyone to get surge protectors at a minimum. I've lost a programmable coffee maker here when we had summer brownouts, too many people on an old grid turning on the AC all at once. Everything in the house is on surge protectors now.
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Postby gyre » Sat May 22, 2010 8:35 am

bm_cricket wrote:I just checked my UPS and, during the hours my computer is on and keeping track of it my UPS had to intervene this week 6 times for blackouts, 3 for under voltages and 4 for over-voltages. Those are just during day time hours when I'm actually on my computer..... in a week? That can't be normal.. Not to mention loosing at least one light bulb a week in the apartment...

That sounds like the neutral issue.
Spiking is serious, whatever the cause.
Not normal.
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Postby bm_cricket » Sat May 22, 2010 8:36 am

gyre wrote:If it's a neutral ground issue, it's a fire hazard.
You can get it fixed.


I've complained, they tell me to stop worrying. On the bright side they haven't had an electrical fire in a long time? They must be doing something right...
)'(
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Postby gyre » Sat May 22, 2010 8:44 am

First confirm the cause.
Neutral issues are repeatable.
Check your connections.

Then the box, if you can.
Often just loose contacts there.

Then call the utility yourself.

If that isn't possible I can tell you how to complain more effectively.

At that point, you don't want administration listening to you.
You want the admin listening to legal.
A last step might be a letter asking them to acknowledge assuming full liability for your death.
Meaningless, but it usually gets the point across.

Gradual steps though.
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Postby bm_cricket » Sat May 22, 2010 8:46 am

AntiM wrote:Urge everyone to get surge protectors at a minimum. I've lost a programmable coffee maker here when we had summer brownouts, too many people on an old grid turning on the AC all at once. Everything in the house is on surge protectors now.


I've heard that surge protectors do little or nothing. They do give you more outlets?

I tell everyone to use a UPS. Most people here don't plug anything more complicated than a TV, game system, or computer into the wall.. and last year in a building of 20 apartments there were 4 brand new (dead) TVs in 8 months... Why didn't they listen to me!!? Whyyyy??!!!

Anyway, my experience is as a computer tech (8 years?), not an electrician.. I can replace an outlet if the contacts are worn out but anything more complicated I expect an electrician to do... In my experience the investment of a cheap APC UPS (Big enough for the job.. usually cheap) will extend the life of a computer well beyond it's productive lifespan. I guess I'm not as concerned about coffee makers and microwaves because 1) I don't own a microwave and 2) all my small kitchen appliances are dumpster dives anyway. It's amazing what college students throw out at the end of the year. ;-)
)'(
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Postby bm_cricket » Sat May 22, 2010 8:50 am

gyre wrote:Then call the utility yourself.


PG&E supplies the campus but I'm almost sure the campus has it's own service crew. Budget cuts what they are I bet it's one person, a broken down pickup truck, and a telescoping latter with no locks. And I'm sure all the safety rubber grips have been worn off the tools...

I guess it isn't that bad.. This is California, not Pakistan?
)'(
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Postby gyre » Sat May 22, 2010 8:57 am

If this is a voltage balance issue, it isn't about appliances, it's potential life and death.

In a fusebox, use an insulated screwdriver if you feel you need it.
Turn off power when you can.
Use only one hand when possible,
Keep the other behind your back, off the box anyway.
Tighten connections.
Check visually for issues.
That's it.

If those steps don't help, go further.
The usual problem is the big long term connections used by the power company.

And I recommend medical grade receptacles for computers.
At least 'commercial' elsewhere.
And use 12 gauge extension cords for anything over 100 watts.
Or better 10 gauge.

Surge protectors do vary in rating.
They don't help for low voltage.
I don't know how they perform with consistent higher voltage.
That's not what they are for.
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Postby AntiM » Sat May 22, 2010 9:00 am

An UPS is better than a surge protector, but in many instances, a surge protector is better than nothing.
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Postby gyre » Sat May 22, 2010 9:08 am

Image
Image
Image
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Postby motskyroonmatick » Sat May 22, 2010 9:20 am

Smoke detectors are cheap lifesaving insurance. I bought a house with wired in detectors and immediately backed them up with brand new battery powered ones. It helps me sleep better at night. Just a thought if fire is a concern.

Crazy pictures Gyre.

What a rats nest of phone and cable lines. The third picture ... down right scary.
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Postby gyre » Sat May 22, 2010 9:26 am

Not even the worst I've seen.

Wired in detectors are typically better, though they can age too.
Some are dual power.
Most are photoelectric, which is far superior to ionization type for smoke.
I use dual photo/ ion styles.
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Sat May 22, 2010 4:33 pm

Wow BM Cricket, you've got an unusually shitty power situation! I sure don't ever mean to infer that a UPS isn't a good idea, only that an EU2000 Honda's power is about as "clean". I don't think I'd plug anything directly into one of the outlets you're being supplied with! Yikes!
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Postby gyre » Sat May 22, 2010 5:01 pm

Can you diagnose the problem with this wiring?

Image


Hint
It's alive.
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Postby bm_cricket » Sat May 22, 2010 5:06 pm

Captain Goddammit wrote:Wow BM Cricket, you've got an unusually shitty power situation! I sure don't ever mean to infer that a UPS isn't a good idea, only that an EU2000 Honda's power is about as "clean". I don't think I'd plug anything directly into one of the outlets you're being supplied with! Yikes!


I guess that by comparison I'd rather take an EU2000. I'm not sure about using UPS on a generator but maybe that would solve my worries. Either way I agree with you about using my outlets. I'm worried to be using them for anything. I have never heard of an electrical fire in these buildings...

And either way, I still love my EU3000 gennies. A single one runs everything I personally need out there. I guess that it's always possible it will die on me.. I just try to keep my equipment well maintained... Not that it makes a big difference, random accidents still happen.
)'(
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Postby gyre » Sat May 22, 2010 5:14 pm

My modem is not sensitive to power fluctuations.

Image
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Postby gyre » Sat May 22, 2010 5:32 pm

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Postby Captain Goddammit » Sat May 22, 2010 7:20 pm

The EU3000 is an awesome unit, a few friends have them. We've parallel-hooked them to my 2000s and they play well together.
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Postby gyre » Sat May 22, 2010 7:35 pm

How does the noise compare?
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Postby bm_cricket » Sat May 22, 2010 8:14 pm

gyre wrote:How does the noise compare?


When you are on the playa you can hardly hear it unless you are sitting on top of it. Even for how quiet it is I built a little box (just 4 sides that surrounded it so the noise mostly went up).
)'(
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Postby gyre » Sat May 22, 2010 8:24 pm

I mean compared to the EU2000.
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Postby bm_cricket » Sat May 22, 2010 8:27 pm

gyre wrote:I mean compared to the EU2000.


I guess I can't read. ;-)
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Postby gyre » Sat May 22, 2010 8:31 pm

It could be read that way.
I know it's quiet, but the 3000 specs slightly louder.
But that doesn't tell the whole story.
Often the bigger units are better with nvh, and may have a lower tone too.

I slept really well near a big diesel unit.
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Postby bm_cricket » Sat May 22, 2010 8:43 pm

gyre wrote:It could be read that way.
I know it's quiet, but the 3000 specs slightly louder.
But that doesn't tell the whole story.
Often the bigger units are better with nvh, and may have a lower tone too.

I slept really well near a big diesel unit.

If I had this running in my living room I could still watch TV at a reasonable volume? Is that a better idea? When it's running two big coffee makers or a freezer it will get a little louder. Still, I think I would only have to turn the TV in my example up a few notches. Not "granny forgot to replace her hearing aid" volume, but when it's on full load I probably wouldn't want it in my living room any more.

The playa is so cacophonous I don't think you would even hear it when it's running at max from 15 feet away.
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Postby Snow » Sat May 22, 2010 9:06 pm

And if you were where I was last year, on the Esplanade, right between Hookah Dome and Opulent temple, you wouldn't hear it with your ear on the muffler.
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Postby Token » Sun May 23, 2010 7:20 am

For a given load, the 3k will be quieter than the 2k assuming the load is big enough to bring the 2k out of idle.

However, the reverse is often true of dual 2k units compared to a 3k.

When you double the amount of sound it only ups the decibel level by 3dB.

Another big impact on percieved noise is the tone produced. The Honda EU series mask the cam/valve clackity clack and intake noise very well.
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Postby gyre » Sun May 23, 2010 7:31 am

Yes, that's the NVH I mentioned.

"Only 3db" is double the noise, and the area the sound spreads in goes up faster than that.
3 db is substantial, though relative.


Contrary to what wiki says, nvh applies to anything producing noise.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noise,_vib ... _harshness
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Postby Token » Sun May 23, 2010 7:58 am

Relative is the key word here.

Absolute silence as perceived by most folks is not 0dB. It is anywhere from 20 to 30dB, and even then it pales in comparison to the tinnitus most urban folks have, myself included.

Human hearing is one of them fields where art and science come together.

It's all about perception through the individuals damaged aparatus.
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