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2 posts

Wannabe Geek


Topic # 153554 30-Sep-2014 18:36
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Hi,

I know that the topic of surge protection has been raised before, but I am interested in protection against "uneven" power that results from the use of a diesel generator. I am working on an aid project in one of the remote areas of the Pacific, and there is no electricity available at all, so we need to rely on portable, cheap generators. However I think the power fluctuations that I am told result from use of generators are damaging our electronic equipment - we seem to be having a fairly high attrition rate.

Can anybody suggest a surge protector that will help in this situation, where surges are probably not so much a problem as the uneven electrical generation. We normally run a couple of computers, and recharge some sensitive water monitoring equipment. We would love to run a small bar fridge too, but have been too afraid to try that.

Thank you for any advice received!!

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gzt

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  Reply # 1144468 30-Sep-2014 19:15
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What kind of equipment is getting damaged at the moment?

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  Reply # 1144469 30-Sep-2014 19:18
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Are you experiencing voltage spikes or prolonged voltage drop?




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  Reply # 1144471 30-Sep-2014 19:23
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Sounds like you need a line active ups. different ups types explained.
It's not going to be cheap, but this will provide the best protection. 

Worth doing some digging, but frankly a ups will provide better protection :-)


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  Reply # 1144475 30-Sep-2014 19:28
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If laptops are surviving ok that is good, to some extent the laptop battery provides a bit of protection.

I would guess a basic fridge is going to be ok as well.

UPS is good but extra weight may kill some of the portability. We need to understand what devices are being damaged so we can better understand the kind of and level of protection required.

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  Reply # 1144605 1-Oct-2014 05:22
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I am working on an aid project in one of the remote areas of the Pacific, and there is no electricity available at all, so we need to rely on portable, cheap generators. However I think the power fluctuations that I am told result from use of generators are damaging our electronic equipment - we seem to be having a fairly high attrition rate.

First assumed is an anomaly rather than first collecting facts that define an anomaly. Second is only an assumption that power is causing damage. Long before assuming a cause, first define what exactly is being damaged. What the anomaly is. Much is easy learned even by a layman. Assistance from the fewer who actually know how electricity works can then provide other curious and informative suggestions so that your next post can provide hard facts.

Let's move on to your electricity. Fluxuations as in what? Floating ground? Voltage variations? Frequency variations? Spikes? Again, first define the anomaly. For example, do incandescent bulbs vary in intensity? Dim or brighten? Does change coincide with other appliance power cycling? If yes, is it when another powers off or on? These are examples of facts necessary for anyone to provide an answer that is more than just wild speculation.

Also critically important is which appliances are damaged? Motorized? Electronics? Which ones are and are not damaged?

Moving on a UPS. Many UPS would immediately assume a power loss is impending and constantly operate from its battery. Causing frequent battery discharging and eventual battery failure. Which ones operate that way? Nobody can say since most UPS manufacturers will not even discuss this - since such knowledge would only harm sales. 

Many UPS output some of the 'dirtiest' power seen by electronics. For example, this 120 volt sine wave UPS outputs 200 volt square waves with spikes up to 270 volts in battery backup mode. Because electronics are so robust (and computers are required to be even more robust), then this and any other equivalent (120 volt and 230 volt) UPS can output quite 'dirty' power without harm to electronics. So, what numbers is your generator outputting? Is it outputting anywhere near power that 'dirty' (ie 230 volt generator outputting up to 500 volt spikes)?

Some will recommend surge protectors. Either a more robust power strip type or a near zero UPS type. View its numeric specs. If a protector or UPS claims to absorb hundreds or a few thousand joules, then it will completely degrade to ineffective in days or weeks. Those protector circuits are near zero - designed for but a few surges over many years. They are not designed for spikes that might occur 100 times every second from a generator.

Appreciate why this answer is so useful. It provides and asks for what is necessary long before any useful answer can occur: perspective (the numbers). Any recommendation based upon subjective reasoning is best considered bogus. To obtain a useful answer, you must first post hard facts (as demonstrated in the above first paragraphs). Your currently subjective speculations can only result in answers just as subjective and speculative.

Any finally, superior generators (ie Honda) cost a little more. These properly designed and tiny generators not only operate almost forever on little fuel. But also contain circuits in the only place that 'dirty' electricity must be solved. Spend a little more for generators designed by engineers for a massive increase in reliability. Your best solution to 'dirty' electricity is done inside a generator.  

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  Reply # 1144608 1-Oct-2014 06:54
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ONEAC is what we use to use for ATM machines and other sensitive equipment.




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  Reply # 1144622 1-Oct-2014 08:08
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Does seem on the face of it that a Power Conditioner may do the trick (perhaps a ONEAC unit as noted by coffeebaron), but as mentioned above, more details are required.




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Wannabe Geek


  Reply # 1144695 1-Oct-2014 10:09
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Thanks for the replies and sorry for the delay in responding but have had issues with internet connection - unrelated to surge issues!!

We are recharging the internal Ni-MH batteries on some of our water monitoring equipment, and the batteries seem to be becoming "unrechargeable" at an alarming rate. Also the internal batteries of laptops seem to have had life shortened. And we were trying to run a laser printer but it seems to refuse to work on that power - will still work on "normal" electricity though. 

Sorry I have no idea if I am getting voltage spikes or what is happening there - I am blaming the generators because "everyone" round here says, "the generators always damage equipment". I appreciate the comments that stress the need for more measurements. We don't actually normally run lights from the generator because we have little solar panels that we use for the lights, so have not observed the effect of the generators on lights .
 Anyway I will try and get more details



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  Reply # 1144889 1-Oct-2014 15:19
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  We are recharging the internal Ni-MH batteries on some of our water monitoring equipment, and the batteries seem to be becoming "unrechargeable" at an alarming rate. Also the internal batteries of laptops seem to have had life shortened. And we were trying to run a laser printer but it seems to refuse to work on that power - will still work on "normal" electricity though. 

That 'dirty' power from my UPS is good power for electronics; potentially harmful to motorized appliances. It also demonstrates why why a laser printer would have problems.  And why electronics would consider that same generator power perfectly fine. Sounds like your generator is outputting power also output by a typical consumer UPS - that should power electronics and not power motorized appliances.

A laptop may be confused; constantly shift to battery power when 'dirty' AC power causes it to think AC power has been lost.  Laptop batteries would have shortened life expectancy because a laptop is spending too much time powered from its batteries.  'Dirtiest' power cannot harm those batteries.  But too many discharges will.  Laptop users should constantly monitor their screens to know when power is from its battery (even when connected to generator power).  That would confirm why laptop batteries are failing.

NiMHd batteries fail due to excessive charging currents, overcharging voltages, and a few other anomalies.  Some chargers have better regulation meaning charging currents remain non-destructive.  Others require cleaner sine waves.  Better for these cheap chargers is to limit NiMHd to carefully limited recharge times; experimentally determined by measuring battery voltage with a simplistic tool - a digital voltmeter.  If a NiMHd battery off the charger measures more than 1.36 volts (and more than 1.24 volts long after recharging), then internal chemistry in that battery has been comrpomised.

Incandescent bulb can provide useful layman information if bulb is connected where computer, recharger, or laser printer is connected.

Again, best solution is a lightweight and engineer designed generator such as a Honda (or equivalent).  It weighs less, uses less fuel, does not create 'dirty' electricity, is lighter, and creates much less noise.  Demonstrated is why advanced technical analysis (and not price) creates lower monetary costs.  Provided are some temporary solutions to reduce those failure rates or learn why pre-mature failures have occurred.

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  Reply # 1144908 1-Oct-2014 15:41
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Try a good quality battery charger, like the Maha C801D or the Maha C9000.




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