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Thread: Master thread for disasters and generators.

  1. #691
    *Flashaholic* Lynx_Arc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    Quote Originally Posted by idleprocess View Post
    A tad outside of the scope of this thread, however...


    Much like roofs also succumbing to hail, that's what homeowners' insurance is for.
    Not sure solar panels are included in normal homeowners' insurance or not, it may be an added charge
    The economics in my region (and likely yours as well) dictate a grid-tie system designed around bill reduction. As such solar is best treated as a producing asset that averages X kWh per week in a given season. Ideally, the inverter is on the panel side of the meter, production 'makes the meter spin backwards', the system is sized for peak loads during the season of lowest demand, thus you're not counting on a check from the utility generated via mystery meat accounting and substituting a consistent slice of your electrical bill for payments on the array until it's paid off.
    I'm sure they would allow backfeeding, but power here is cheaper than most areas due to state natural gas and oil resources
    Adding a battery bank is a great way to double or more the cost of the system and introduce additional maintenance expenses. The main place a battery bank makes much sense is truly offgrid or in a situation where commercial power is extremely unreliable and routinely running a generator is more expensive than maintenance on a battery bank.
    power here used to be finicky but since 2007 ice storm it has been rather reliable so the expense and hassle of maintaining a generator is not much of a temptation.
    The federal subsidy has been a thing for some time. All utilities are required to accept and compensate backfeed from distributed generation systems that meet minimum safety standards; the compensation they offer can range from compensation for each kWH at retail rates (net metering) priced at what they're worth at the moment (Time-Of-Use or TOU) to refunding some fraction of the wholesale value of the electricity less byzantine accounting fees. I'm not personally aware of anything more advantageous to the typical homeowner-level solar array than net metering + TOU, but I've mostly looked at the laws in CA (because there's an abundance of literature on them), and TX which does not much incentivize installations.

    Payback times using with a bill reduction logic is indeed >15 years every time I've crunched the numbers in my area, thus I've not pursued the matter in spite of miraculous claims by local installation firms.
    Some states have had tax breaks for the cost of the solar system which can pay perhaps 25% or more of the cost making it take less time to pay itself off perhaps from 15 to 12 years or less even. Likely if you had batteries they would have to be replaced 2-4 times over the years adding further to the cost. If I were to build a house I probably would consider a solar system, 2 of them even as solar water heating is probably more efficient than electric power generation. I've decided that since in my lifetime no more than 3-5 days for power outages going without power vs investing in a rarely used generator is a no brainer. I have invested in 12vdc and 5vdc entertainment and chargers for both voltages including car charging. I would have to have longer than a few days outage more than once every 15+ years to find the loss of some food and sweating in the summer a problem.
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  2. #692
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Arc View Post
    Not sure solar panels are included in normal homeowners' insurance or not, it may be an added charge
    Professor Google suggests it's a standard coverage item with most insurers.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Arc View Post
    I'm sure they would allow backfeeding
    As far as I know it's been a federal requirement to allow safe, permitted backfeeding for decades.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Arc View Post
    but power here is cheaper than most areas
    [...]
    power here used to be finicky but since 2007 ice storm it has been rather reliable so the expense and hassle of maintaining a generator is not much of a temptation.
    [...]
    I've decided that since in my lifetime no more than 3-5 days for power outages going without power vs investing in a rarely used generator is a no brainer. I have invested in 12vdc and 5vdc entertainment and chargers for both voltages including car charging. I would have to have longer than a few days outage more than once every 15+ years to find the loss of some food and sweating in the summer a problem.
    It's a decision you have to make for yourself with many variables to account for.

    My situation is work from home. The events of the 2nd week of February merely strengthened the case for a modest home backup power situation - and as of last week I no longer have an office to trek to. While I can cut it to the absolute minimum and hotspot off the phone, LTE quickly becomes near-useless when the power goes out and it's not advisable to go squat in a public setting due to the nature of my work. It's also becoming an interesting project.

    I don't expect that maintenance on a couple of portable inverter generators will prove any more challenging than other outdoor power equipment.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  3. #693
    *Flashaholic* Lynx_Arc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    Quote Originally Posted by idleprocess View Post
    Professor Google suggests it's a standard coverage item with most insurers.


    As far as I know it's been a federal requirement to allow safe, permitted backfeeding for decades.


    It's a decision you have to make for yourself with many variables to account for.

    My situation is work from home. The events of the 2nd week of February merely strengthened the case for a modest home backup power situation - and as of last week I no longer have an office to trek to. While I can cut it to the absolute minimum and hotspot off the phone, LTE quickly becomes near-useless when the power goes out and it's not advisable to go squat in a public setting due to the nature of my work. It's also becoming an interesting project.

    I don't expect that maintenance on a couple of portable inverter generators will prove any more challenging than other outdoor power equipment.
    If you work from home it is possible you could write off the expense of a backup power source as without power you cannot work.
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  4. #694
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    Quote Originally Posted by idleprocess View Post
    <SNIP>

    My thinking for powering the immediate neighbor is an extension cord that has a low-amperage breaker (10A or less) on a box near the plug on my end with no more than 50' going over the fence to their place so they won't pull enough to overload my genset running a big space heater or window unit.
    idleprocess,
    I thought that was a great idea, and wondered what a project it would be to build a breaker box for an extension cord, then it struck me...
    A power strip with a 10A breaker!

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  5. #695
    *Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    FYI, I know enough about breakers to know they are not all the same. Some trip more easily than others. Some are made to operate at or near their capacity for long periods of time.

    Worked with some specialty breakers getting a whole-house on-demand ELECTRIC water heater working. Used (4) 40 amp breakers at 240v... or 38KVA of power. Normal breakers from home depot would trip. Had to get some fancy type I can't remember.

    People forget that fuses are still a thing and are sometimes more desirable than breakers.

    A 10 amp breaker takes more than 10a to trip, how much more depends on time and the amount over 10a.
    Last edited by turbodog; 03-31-2021 at 05:17 PM.
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  6. #696
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    Quote Originally Posted by turbodog View Post
    FYI, I know enough about breakers to know they are not all the same. Some trip more easily than others. Some are made to operate at or near their capacity for long periods of time.

    People forget that fuses are still a thing and are sometimes more desirable than breakers.

    A 10 amp breaker takes more than 10a to trip, how much more depends on time and the amount over 10a.
    Also worth stating, there are slow-burn and fast-burn fuses ....... something I just learned last week at the ripe old age of 64. Makes sense now that I think about it.
    Sometimes I wonder if I've purchased my last flashlight.

  7. #697
    *Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    Fuses are to protect equipment. Breakers protect wiring.

    Trying to 'loan' power to a neighbor is nice, but difficult. Also... when your generator surges and blows up the electronic control in their fridge, tv, computer, etc... that might be a difficult conversation.
    This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time.
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  8. #698
    *Flashaholic* Lynx_Arc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    I agree with TD here..... unless you are "managing" the connection of devices in your neighbors house there is a temptation for them to plug everything possible in and have kids not thinking and plugging in a hairdryer or microwave oven and BLAM.... they have a brownout that could damage things including your generator.
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  9. #699
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    Quote Originally Posted by turbodog View Post
    FYI, I know enough about breakers to know they are not all the same. Some trip more easily than others. Some are made to operate at or near their capacity for long periods of time.
    Former co-worker of mine was an electrician in a previous career and had witnessed many a GE breaker fail to even protect wiring - relayed a few incidents where wires had gotten so hot the insulation melted off while the breakers merrily did nothing - probably looking something like this.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  10. #700
    Flashaholic* orbital's Avatar
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    +

    Several years ago I switched my home & auto insurance together, all was good and I was happy with my rates.
    About a month later I got a letter form my insurer that I needed to replace my breaker box with a new 200A unit.

    I thought; that's great, I get this after setting up my contract.

    Talked to my agent & he agreed that the old breaker box in my house was a well documented fire hazard.
    >>> it failed to trip when it was very much supposed to.

    Anyway, told this to a friend of mine & he asked me if I installed the new 200A breaker box myself, the short answer is nope

    At one time there were two electrician trucks, a WE Energies truck & a building inspector vehicle in my drive (maybe 5 or 6 professionals in the field)
    ..I'll pass on doing that myself.

  11. #701
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    Rethinking this whole thing about feeding power to my neighbors, I guess I'll just see how a prolonged outage plays out, if we ever have another one. During super storm sandy November 2012, my neighbors lost power for 3 - 11 days. One to the left 11 days, and one to the right 3 days. Mine was out 3 1/2 days. Since then if power went out, it was for a couple of hours, and that was only once or twice.

    Friends and neighbors handled - loss of power - pretty well for the first couple of days, after Sandy, but by the third day, many started getting a little antsy.

    If an outage occurs during the winter, long enough, I'm sure that I'll supply enough power to run their furnaces for heat. Damage due to frozen pipes can be a bummer.

    There's a senior village near my home, and some of the occupants are on oxygen, or in electric wheel chairs. We did a door to door search to check on them and found that many were rationing their oxygen due to the inability to create more, and others were concerned that their mobility units were running low on charge. I wished that I had a means to power them up. Now, with that little 2K inverter generator, I can help a bunch of people out.
    My Grand Kids call me Poppy

  12. #702
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    Quote Originally Posted by Poppy View Post
    Rethinking this whole thing about feeding power to my neighbors, I guess I'll just see how a prolonged outage plays out, if we ever have another one. During super storm sandy November 2012, my neighbors lost power for 3 - 11 days. One to the left 11 days, and one to the right 3 days. Mine was out 3 1/2 days. Since then if power went out, it was for a couple of hours, and that was only once or twice.
    My thinking is that if I end up treating generators like I do UPSs I'll end up with a fleet of small units and fuel will become the rather pronounced bottleneck. I can envision reasonable storage for 20 - 40 at the most - gallons of gasoline before I'm running up against, shall we say volumetric problems to say nothing of rotating stock before it goes bad.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  13. #703
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    I keep 25 gallons on-hand and transfer it from the cans to my vehicles every 6 or 7 months and refill the cans. I use Stabil per the label directions.
    WWII 60" Carbon Arc (Sold), 1.6KW NightSun, 1KW VSS-3A, .8KW TrakkaBeam, 600W M-134 Light, 500W X-500-14s, 500W Starburst, 500W A120b, 450 Watt AEG German Leopard 1 Tank Light, 300W Locators, Megaray, 150W Communicator, Maxabeam Gen3, Syniosbeam by Enderman

  14. #704
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    Quote Originally Posted by BVH View Post
    I keep 25 gallons on-hand and transfer it from the cans to my vehicles every 6 or 7 months and refill the cans. I use Stabil per the label directions.
    Did a little research on the local(ish) station that sells ethanol-free gasoline and it's 92 octane - better shelf life and both my vehicles will happily burn it if the generators don't. Allegedly +$1.50 gallon vs E10 but that's not really a show-stopper for a semi-annual purchase ~20 miles out of the way.

    Now to engineer some secure-ish storage.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  15. #705
    *Flashaholic* Lynx_Arc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    Quote Originally Posted by idleprocess View Post
    Did a little research on the local(ish) station that sells ethanol-free gasoline and it's 92 octane - better shelf life and both my vehicles will happily burn it if the generators don't. Allegedly +$1.50 gallon vs E10 but that's not really a show-stopper for a semi-annual purchase ~20 miles out of the way.

    Now to engineer some secure-ish storage.
    I have 2 gas stations near me less than a 1/4 mile away that have ethanol free gas.
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  16. #706
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    Quote Originally Posted by idleprocess View Post
    My thinking is that if I end up treating generators like I do UPSs I'll end up with a fleet of small units and fuel will become the rather pronounced bottleneck. I can envision reasonable storage for 20 - 40 at the most - gallons of gasoline before I'm running up against, shall we say volumetric problems to say nothing of rotating stock before it goes bad.
    LOL... me too!

    A couple of days ago I offered to buy this little baby on Craigslist.



    It doesn't have spark, and he accepted my low-ball offer. My friend was going to pick it up, but the guy doesn't answer his calls or texts, so I guess he sold it to someone else.

    If I got it, I'd have three inverter generators
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  17. #707
    *Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    Quote Originally Posted by Poppy View Post
    LOL... me too!

    A couple of days ago I offered to buy this little baby on Craigslist.
    ... guy doesn't answer his calls or texts...
    Maybe it's just around here, but a LOT of CL ads are simply trying to scam people. Be careful. I always communicate via CL fake email addresses until I'm satisfied someone is legit and serious.

    Not to venture too far of topic, but certain categories of items are 90% scam items (enclosed cargo trailers are particularly bad). Super low prices. Scammers would then try the 'send me the money' scam or similar.
    Last edited by turbodog; 04-03-2021 at 09:22 AM.
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  18. #708
    *Flashaholic* Poppy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    I haven't bought too much off of Craigslist. There are warnings on their site, not to wire money etc. Apparently scamming is a thing.

    When I buy something used, depending upon what it is, I expect it to be about 50% of the cost of new, give or take... Around here, it seems that many people ask 80% - 90% of new price, regardless of its age, and some scammers ask 120% or more, with no warranty. Or some will ask full list price when the item can often be found on sale.

    Buyer... beware!

    Thanks for the tip
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  19. #709
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    Contrary to what I would have said before I used Craigslist, I have accomplished about 3 dozen transactions over an 8 year period and every single transaction has been first rate. No problems, no scams and every one of the persons involved have been very nice and courteous people. A little hard to believe but pleasantly surprising.
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  20. #710
    *Flashaholic* Poppy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    I've also had some positive transactions with craigslist.

    Recently I bought a Harbor freight 2000 watt inverter generator for about 1/2 price, and a year or two ago a kayak, where the owner told me where it was, and to leave the cash under a rock. We never met, come to think of it we may never even have spoken, just emailed.

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  21. #711
    *Flashaholic* Poppy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    Yesterday, we rented a Honda power washer from the Home depot. I noted that a lot of their gas powered rentals were Hondas. I commented to the sales clerk, that they must be reliable. He said... yeah, they are quiet.

    They run at the same 3600 RPM as an open frame genset. Honda engines might be a little less loud than a Briggs and Stratton, but compared to either of my inverter generators, they are loud! I'd forgotten how loud, and what the constant drone of an open frame genset sounds like. I've been considering getting a 5K 240v unit so I can run the central AC if needed. For now, I'll close off a room and run a window AC unit if needed.

    Hopefully 240V inverter generators will come down in price in the next couple of years.
    Last edited by Poppy; 04-04-2021 at 07:19 AM.
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  22. #712
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    Quote Originally Posted by Poppy View Post
    Hopefully 240V inverter generators will come down in price in the next couple of years.
    If you're willing to live the more exciting life that is the lower end of the generator market, inverter generators are available that can approach lower-end central AC wattages (probably want a soft starter however). A-iPower and DuroMax badge-engineer their own variants of the Senci SC-8000i with both versions generally selling for less than $3000.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  23. #713
    *Flashaholic* Poppy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    idelprocess, $3000 is a little rich for my blood.

    It would be a different story if I was in a outage prone area, but, I'm not.

    A small 240V open frame generator can be had for about $450 new and half that used. I imagine that they will continue to drop in price when more 240V inverter gensets become available both new and used. Eventually the inverters will drop in price too.

    For example, the $1200 2000i Honda now has $400 competitors, and the Hondas can be had used for $800 or less.
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  24. #714
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    Quote Originally Posted by Poppy View Post
    idelprocess, $3000 is a little rich for my blood.

    It would be a different story if I was in a outage prone area, but, I'm not.
    Same here in both cases; I suspect that I'll use my setup >90% of the time for rehearsal / anti-atrophy purposes.

    I point out the Sensci SC-8000i because it's markedly than cheaper the Honda EU7000iS.

    Quote Originally Posted by Poppy View Post
    A small 240V open frame generator can be had for about $450 new and half that used. I imagine that they will continue to drop in price when more 240V inverter gensets become available both new and used. Eventually the inverters will drop in price too.
    My concern about 'jobsite' generators would be noise and the relative safety of the waveform. I can cut down on the noise to a degree with a doghouse, but with most makes not even publishing THD specs I'm not optimistic that the waveform will even be a UPS's "modified square wave" good.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  25. #715
    *Flashaholic* Poppy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    LOL... I guess ignorance is bliss. I don't know enough about the sensitivity of electronics regarding pure wave form, vs not, to be too concerned about it.

    The noise can be significantly diminished with a dog house, to the extent that it will not be uncomfortable for you or your neighbors, but it would be challenged to reduce the sound enough to be invisible to someone looking to steal the gennie.

    Fuel consumption is one of my concerns. IIRC my 10 HP briggs powered generator would run 8 hours on 5 gallons of gas. So if I was conservative with it and ran it one hour on, and two hours off, that would be 5 gallons a day. For a day or two, that would not be a problem, but if the outage was more than that, and fuel was hard to come by, that could be a problem. I don't want to store too much gasoline on my property.

    I think/hope, that for ten months out of the year, I'll be comfortable running the house on a single 2000/1600 watt inverter generator. That'll be refrigerator and freezer, TV modem etc (entertainment), and a few lights. During the winter months, it should power the hot water heat circulation pump. I may have to step up to the 3500/3000 watt unit I have. Time will tell. At least, running those fuel sipping units, I may have entertainment all day, and not have to be as concerned about conserving fuel.
    My Grand Kids call me Poppy

  26. #716
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    Quote Originally Posted by idleprocess View Post
    <SNIP>


    My concern about 'jobsite' generators would be noise and the relative safety of the waveform. I can cut down on the noise to a degree with a doghouse, but with most makes not even publishing THD specs I'm not optimistic that the waveform will even be a UPS's "modified square wave" good.
    Taken from: https://blog.tripplite.com/pure-sine...wave-explained
    When a UPS system receives power and frequency from the AC line that is within an acceptable range, it will not do anything to correct it. The incoming utility power is typically a pure sine wave and this is what connected equipment expect. However, if the UPS system detects a power disturbance such as a blackout, over- or under-voltage condition, or frequency change, it will use it's battery to correct the condition and restore clean power.

    If a UPS detects a frequency change, and switches to battery power, will the battery continue to take a charge from a generator, even if it isn't quite clean?
    My Grand Kids call me Poppy

  27. #717
    *Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    Quote Originally Posted by Poppy View Post
    ...
    If a UPS detects a frequency change, and switches to battery power, will the battery continue to take a charge from a generator, even if it isn't quite clean?
    Not normally. Some of the higher units have something called trim/boost, where they trim down or boost up VOLTAGE levels without going on battery.
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  28. #718
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    Quote Originally Posted by Poppy View Post
    If a UPS detects a frequency change, and switches to battery power, will the battery continue to take a charge from a generator, even if it isn't quite clean?
    That's going to depend on the UPS. I'm lousy with low-end secondhand UPSs so I tried to double the runtime of the fiber terminal by plugging one UPS into another. As soon as the power went out both units triggered; the 'downstream' UPS saw the modified sine wave output from the upstream UPS and treated it like a power outage. If I used a sine wave UPS upstream I might have realized my goal, but those are indeed far more expensive.
    Last edited by idleprocess; 04-16-2021 at 08:58 AM.
    I apologize that this letter is so long; I did not have time to write a short letter

  29. #719
    *Flashaholic* turbodog's Avatar
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    If you have room, you can run the batteries in parallel. Make a parallel wire for the battery packs.
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  30. #720
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    Default Re: Master thread for disasters and generators.

    My problem with UPSes is replacing the batteries cost almost as much (or more) than just buying a new one. Lead acid battery prices are nuts these days I used to be able to buy UPS batteries for $10 each now it is hard to find them much under $25. We really need a cheaper better battery alternative for UPSes, something that lasts 10 years or is less than half the price per watt hour than SLAs.
    Fenix Split rings 1400+ sent, SWIVELS now available also!
    Psalm 112:4 Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.

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