General Generator Advice

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General Generator Advice

Postby 1=1? » Fri Jul 19, 2013 6:30 pm

Please help. I keep getting different information from everywhere I look and everyone I talk to.

We are a first year camp. We are running a sound system that I'm told is 8kW, we have a freezer that should be running around 600-800W, we have LEDs to illuminate our camp, we have a battery charger to charge AA and AAA batteries and that effectively is it for the power our camp will need. We could bring a few more things to power if we have excess power (kitchen supplies/1 AC for common space.

I was planning on getting 1 or 2 of the honda eu2000i for camp and then an renting an 8k for the sound system on demand ( a few nights throughout the week ). I was also going to get an inverter and some deep cycle batteries to run the freezer and lights at night so that we don't have to run the genny all night.

I've been told this is not a good idea and that I should just get one 15kW or 25kW diesel generator because it will be more efficient and I probably won't have to refill it. I am reading through the threads on here and seeing that it seems like 25kW would be kind of a ton of power. I also can't get any answers to approximately how many gallons of fuel either of these setups would take. I only have my own calculations and came up with ~100 Gallons. That seems like too much.

My questions are:

Should I get a 25kW generator? or try to get a smaller one to use for sound and 2-4kW separately for camp?
How much fuel would I need to run a 25kW at such low load?
Would my fuel consumption be better of I off-loaded the camp power to the smaller generators?

Thanks. I would appreciate any advice here. I'm feeling more lost the more I learn.
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Re: General Generator Advice

Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:14 pm

Just get the hondas. as many as you need. connect in series.

That's more or less the standard answer to gennie questions, here.
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Re: General Generator Advice

Postby Captain Goddammit » Fri Jul 19, 2013 8:45 pm

No... daisy-chaining that many Honda EU2000s (at least 6) for a load that big is a terrible idea. And DO NOT CONNECT IN SERIES!!!! Connect in parallel if you ever connect them.
To make this kind of decision, we'll need to know what that 8kW sound system consists of. Is it multiple 120VAC amps or really huge 240VAC stuff?
If any of it is 240VAC the little Hondas are out anyway, and even if it's all 120, using that many of them would be inefficient, extremely expensive, and a pain in the ass.
The big diesel is the way to go if you want to support a total of 10kW or so, and if you go through the same vendor Burning Man does you can probably have on-playa refueling taken care of by the rental company.

But the main thing we need to know is exactly what that 8kW load is. How many different circuits? What voltage? How many watts is each circuit?
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Re: General Generator Advice

Postby Gazmatron » Fri Jul 19, 2013 9:25 pm

I’m assuming you’ll have multiple amplifiers, so if you have the option of splitting the load fairly evenly, you could buy 2 x 5000W generators to run the sound and just split the load between them (i.e. plug half your gear into one and the other half into the other). At about $650 each (quick search on Google), it’s a cheap option and although two isn’t as efficient, you have a backup in case one breaks so could at least run at reduced sound output if you had to. Then get the Hondas for the camp cos they’re nice and quiet. Plus, you have the extra flexibility of being able to locate the 5Ks near the sound gear and the Hondas near your camping area - saves running power cables everywhere.
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Re: General Generator Advice

Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Jul 19, 2013 9:54 pm

Never listen to my generator advice.
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Re: General Generator Advice

Postby maladroit » Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:18 pm

If you aren't placed in the sound camp areas at 2:00 or 10:00, you can't run more than 300 watts of amplified sound. So...maybe your power concerns have just gone away.
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Re: General Generator Advice

Postby maladroit » Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:20 pm

Gazmatron wrote:I’m assuming you’ll have multiple amplifiers, so if you have the option of splitting the load fairly evenly, you could buy 2 x 5000W generators to run the sound and just split the load between them (i.e. plug half your gear into one and the other half into the other). At about $650 each (quick search on Google), it’s a cheap option and although two isn’t as efficient, you have a backup in case one breaks so could at least run at reduced sound output if you had to. Then get the Hondas for the camp cos they’re nice and quiet. Plus, you have the extra flexibility of being able to locate the 5Ks near the sound gear and the Hondas near your camping area - saves running power cables everywhere.


A $650, 5000W generator would be louder than the sound system it's powering. The EU2000i's cost closer to $1000 because they're quiet enough to actually use somewhere other than a construction site.
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Re: General Generator Advice

Postby Gazmatron » Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:56 pm

maladroit wrote:
Gazmatron wrote:I’m assuming you’ll have multiple amplifiers, so if you have the option of splitting the load fairly evenly, you could buy 2 x 5000W generators to run the sound and just split the load between them (i.e. plug half your gear into one and the other half into the other). At about $650 each (quick search on Google), it’s a cheap option and although two isn’t as efficient, you have a backup in case one breaks so could at least run at reduced sound output if you had to. Then get the Hondas for the camp cos they’re nice and quiet. Plus, you have the extra flexibility of being able to locate the 5Ks near the sound gear and the Hondas near your camping area - saves running power cables everywhere.


A $650, 5000W generator would be louder than the sound system it's powering. The EU2000i's cost closer to $1000 because they're quiet enough to actually use somewhere other than a construction site.


My thinking was actually the opposite, that with 8KW of sound, you could use a cheap (i.e. louder than average) generator and get away with it because 8KW is such a powerful PA system. It's a fair point though - best check the db rating of the unit first to make sure it's not ludicrously high ;)
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Re: General Generator Advice

Postby Sic Pup » Sat Jul 20, 2013 2:50 am

theCryptofishist wrote:Never listen to my generator advice.


Hey, you get what you pay for (and sometimes you pay for what you get).

I can't be the only one that read this thread title and anticipated some really detailed strategic military musings, can I?
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Re: General Generator Advice

Postby maladroit » Sat Jul 20, 2013 3:01 am

Music is sound separated by intervals of less sound. A 95dB BRAPPPPP is not going to gently mix into the sick beats laid down by these important DJs.
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Re: General Generator Advice

Postby Zhust » Sat Jul 20, 2013 5:21 am

theCryptofishist wrote:Never listen to my generator advice.


Lies.

Please do bring 8 Honda 2000i generators, hook them in series, and connect them to your sound system. Then you can play exactly the right amount of shitty techno at exactly the right volume for everyone! JKJK

Just to ballpark some numbers, take a 15 KW diesel generator and run it 24 hours a day and you'll produce 360 kilowatt-hours. Let's say a generator like that is really quite efficient, so, say, 30%, so to get 360 KWH out, you'd need to put 1200 KWH of fuel into it each day. Diesel is 41.5 KWH per U.S. gallon so that would be 29 gallons of diesel per day.
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Re: General Generator Advice

Postby Token » Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:29 am

This can be done with two EU 6500 Hondas. They do make more than just the EU2/3000. I'd stay away from it tho.

The biggest hastle with multiple generators is maintanance and fueling.

Fueling is a pain in the ass. This is exactly why us Honda fkos invented elaborate central fueling vacuum based gizmos to eliminate the chore. I run all my Hondas from an external tank. No refueling. Methinks the Captain does the same.

Then there is dealing with different fuel types etc.

Just go with single rental diesel and bring a backup Honda EU2000 for the freezer, just in case.

Do your math on the diesel fuel, build a great fuel dump that exceeds the requirements on the main website and don't skimp on the fire extinguishers.

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Re: General Generator Advice

Postby GreyCoyote » Sat Jul 20, 2013 6:47 am

My gut tells me you could run this camp on a couple of Honda's, but since we have no data, that really is nothing more than a wild-assed guess. Obviously if you are going to pump-out 8KW of noise you will need at least that much peak capacity out of the genset, and you wont get that with a pair of Hondas. Amps really benefit from having a "stiff" source of power. If you try to run an amp at the full nameplate rating without a stable, stiff and ample input driver, it will distort, clip and make a mess of your audio experience, which is why many big sound camps overspec the genny.

An 8KW sound system is a highly variable load. As others have said, you are limited by the BORG as to the total acoustic watts delivered, so if you observe the rules, this would be like driving a Ferrari in rush-hour traffic. Lots of bragging rights, but you are not getting home any faster than anyone else. In your case you would be exposing a lot of expensive audio gear to the beast that is the playa, but that may be acceptable to you.

The notion of splitting amps/audio gear between two generators is problematic. Google "ground loops" and "floating neutral output". If you do this you may need to tie the grounds together, and might want to bring along some audio isolation transformers with you. The sound experts have spent a lot of time cussing these issues, and in the end most decide to power all of the audio chain from one genset. (BTW: Paralleled Hondas count as a single genset. The small sound camps run these with no problems whatsoever)

As to the numbers being quoted for diesel fuel consumption, real-world values are slightly different. As stated, a combustion engine peaks-out at 30-something percent at full load. But this figure is somewhat misleading. For an average 20KW generator, you will burn almost a half gallon of diesel per hour even with NOTHING plugged into it. Just sitting there making noise, it is still burning fuel at the rate of about a half-gallon per hour. This is called the "parasitic" draw. The "loads" in this case are the radiator fan, generator fan, alternator, water pump, injector pump, etc. The power to run this stuff is not free, and in a lightly loaded genset, it will be a large portion of your total fuel burned. And as the size of the genset increases, so does the parasitic burn. On an 80KW Deere-powered 1800 rpm set (a fairly typical, middle-of-the-road rental set), this will be nearly a gallon per hour.

Once you understand the parasitic load concept, you can start adding-in "real" power draws like amps, gear, refrigerators, etc at the rate of about 10KW per gallon.

Lets do some back-of-the-napkin math:
24 hours of parasitic load (24hr x 0.4gal) = ~9.5 gals
6 hours of 8KW audio load (8hr x 8KW x 0.085) = ~5.5 gals
24 hrs of 1KW misc load (24hr * 1kw x 0.085) = ~2 gals

So your total burn is something like 17 gals/day.

Note: 1 KW of electrical load takes about 0.085 gallons per hour in the real world.

In actuality I think you will do a little better than this because your 8KW sound system will be throttled to a tiny fraction of what it is capable of doing. But do notice that your single biggest fuel item is just spinning the genset. That is burning fuel to the tune of 10 gallons per day. At $4.25/gal pump price, you will spend about $75/day just to hear the exhaust note. And the larger the genset, the more your parasitic load will become.

A fuel calc specifically for generators, which is only slightly optimistic, is here: http://hardydiesel.com/generator-fuel-c ... lator.html
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Re: General Generator Advice

Postby Token » Sat Jul 20, 2013 8:26 am

Good words there GC. Props.
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