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Total Harmonic Distortion of Portable Generators


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  #61  
Old 02-12-2018, 10:04:50 AM
armandh armandh is offline
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Default Re: Total Harmonic Distortion of Portable Generators

Quote:
Originally Posted by Graycenphil View Post

I’m sure you’re right, but really, couldn’t somone figure out this might be an issue. I’m not an electrical engineer, but I do know about boilers and furnaces, and it seems to me it shouldn’t be too hard to design hadier controls.
NO
some one cannot figure it out, too many variables
only if someone has failure experience with a specific combination of parts
can they say it will not work unless the manufacture give minimum specs.

YES
they can be designed better or more competitive, but usually not both.
I have some computer controlled Liebert units that have been running since the 1980s
the computer area drives triacs that run the relays [single and 3 phase contactors]

I had a 90% Carrier with an expensive board [circa mid 1990s]
brush-less DC draft and room air fan motors, ignition control etc
all on one board any part went bad the whole thing got replaced!
expensive electronic control boards are on my list of HVAC things to avoid!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Graycenphil View Post
The more I think about this, the more I find it annoying. Why would you make a product like these high tech furnaces that won’t run on a generator??!! Is this as cynical as them trying to make money on repairs, or is there some technical reason why it has to be this way? I kind of doubt the latter - if my computer, and all the other high tech stuff around the house works on dirty power, why can’t the furnace?

Especially because heat is one of the things everybody buying a generator is going to want to be able to run. many folks buy a generator just for that reason - so the house won’t freeze when the power goes out in the winter.
YES
so lets start a list of problem furnaces
we already know the problem generators.

as to why
computers and other electronic appliances get plugged in most every where
furnaces hard wired on a dedicated circuit. they were not thinking outside the box.

my K-12 child hood friend's home [long gone replaced by a McMansion] had
[converted from coal] gas fired gravity steam with a pilot generator for the stat.
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Last edited by armandh; 02-12-2018 at 10:27:57 AM.
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  #62  
Old 02-12-2018, 10:51:25 AM
Graycenphil Graycenphil is offline
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Default Re: Total Harmonic Distortion of Portable Generators

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Originally Posted by armandh View Post

YES
they can be designed better or more competitive, but usually not both.
Funny thing is, it seems to be the most expensive, “high end” ones that have the problems. You’re already paying so much more for it, they don’t have to compete on price. Give me a reliable product. Please.

And it applies to all expensvie appliances - fridges, ranges, washing machines, dishwashers, etc. Apparently the more you pay, the less reliable it’s going to be. The reapir, and they often need them, frequently costs more than a whole brand new conventional appliance.
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  #63  
Old 02-12-2018, 06:45:06 PM
GeneratorNewb GeneratorNewb is offline
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Default Re: Total Harmonic Distortion of Portable Generators

Does and 80% 2 stage furnace with a variable speed blower have any more complicated electronics than say a 96% 2 stage with variable speed blower? I've ways been under the assumption that the main difference was the secondary heat exchanger and not nece any more electronics except maybe a sensor or 2.
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  #64  
Old 02-12-2018, 07:34:51 PM
Graycenphil Graycenphil is offline
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Default Re: Total Harmonic Distortion of Portable Generators

Thatís kind of what Iím thinking. How sophisticated does this thing have to be, really? Can it be more complex than a desktop computer or an iPhone, which works fine on any elecricity? Are they making it complex just because they can, or is there something more nefarious goig on?

I really think that an important part of any appliance or equipment should be durablity, especially under less than ideal conditions. This should apply even more to something fairly critical like a furnace.
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  #65  
Old 02-12-2018, 08:09:47 PM
armandh armandh is offline
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Default Re: Total Harmonic Distortion of Portable Generators

if you are willing to give up a few points [%] in efficiency,
they can be simple, milking the last BTU from the fuel
and keeping it inside is where things get complicated/unreliable

OTOH

simple relay logic,
separate small easily fixed electronic time delay boards,
easily replaced generic ignition controls,
the most common parts/motors/igniter that any service truck is likely to carry,
instructions and diagrams most any one could follow / trouble shoot

sign me up

Oh Yea durability, with generators we know the problem$ I doubt HVAC is much different
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  #66  
Old 02-12-2018, 08:45:54 PM
GeneratorNewb GeneratorNewb is offline
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Default Re: Total Harmonic Distortion of Portable Generators

FYI, here is an interesting quote from a guy named Whizkid3 on the dslreports forum (http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r271...-Power-Cleanup). I'm wondering, is he saying that motors such as well pumps, refrigerators, freezers, etc are at most risk or just the generator itself? Have a look and let me know what you guys think:

"To begin with, most people, including many equipment manufacturer's, many electricians, and just about all the average Joe's in the world, haven't got a damn clue about power quality. And many who do, have no idea what the effects on power systems, equipment like generators, UPS, 'sensitive electronics equipment', etc., cause. In fact, if the average person were to take an oscilloscope and look at what they think is a 'pure sine wave' coming from their source, they would be absolutely horrified; and probably wouldn't be sure if they've made a mistake in hooking it up. The terms 'dirty power' and 'clean power', generally mean absolutely nothing in the power industry, and are used mainly by people who don't know anything about power quality issues; and snake oil salesmen trying to sell their overpriced products to these very people. So, let's get some fact's straight.

First, most electronics equipment that people think of with bogus terms like 'sensitive electronics equipment' aren't sensitive at all. In fact, for the most part; this equipment cares the least about the quality of its power input. Bear in mind, that most of this equipment first converts its power source to DC, before using any of it. It will be the equipment itself, including its filters and voltage regulators that determines the quality of its DC power - not the source. Yes, there could be some ripple transmitted to the DC power; but that is primarily a function of how crappy its power supply is. Most of the buzz about the need to 'clean up your power' actually comes from manufacturer's selling equipment that supposedly does just that. And more often than not, it's pure BS.

Computers, PCs, and anything with a switch mode power supply (SMPS), draws its power in two large bursts of current during each cycle of a sine wave. It basically doesn't give a crap what the source looks like as long as there is power to draw. And oppositely, SMPSs do more to damage the quality of the input power from their source, than anything else. If you want clean power, don't put SMPSs on circuits with other equipment. This equipment is designed to function as long as its input source is within the CBEMA (ITIC) curve. Basically, its designed to function without rebooting with a very crappy source. This means that some 90% of equipment people think are 'sensitive electronics', in fact are not; and also damage the quality of the source horrendously by loading it up with harmonics.

Now, lets talk about UPS. The majority of UPS - especially ones that cost under $20,000 - simply present a large non-linear power supply to their source. Just like the SMPSs, they wreak havoc on the power quality of their source. Someone mentioned 'double-conversion' UPS. Nice; but clueless. (Sorry.) The output of a double-conversion UPS is almost always much, much poorer than the source sine wave entering. They use PWM or some other method to convert the DC back into AC, resulting in one of the most choppy 'sine waves' one could ever see. Yeah - they ensure the voltage doesn't drop when their input does; and they filter transients. However, that's about all they do. Aside from that, the power quality of their output is horrible. Again, anything under $20,000 and the output is going to look more like a square wave than anything. (Add capacitance of the circuit, and its much poorer than that.) The majority of low cost (under $20k) UPS, chop their output into three squarish looking chunks each half cycle. You have to pay big bucks to get a 12 or 18 pulse UPS, with adequate input and output filtering. But its not a problem, because the SMPS equipment that is connected to UPS systems 99% of the time, doesn't care one bit.

Now lets talk generators. Even cheap, low quality ones. Mostly the power quality problems from cheap generators fall into two issues - varying input voltage and frequency; and harmonics. Not big deal, because most of the equipment you load onto a generator, doesn't care about any of this. Certainly, none of the equipment with SMPSs cares at all. Take a look at their nameplate. Typically 90 to 240V, 50 or 60 Hz. They will work at a frequency of probably 30 to 100. As long as your generator doesn't drop below 90V for more than a second, they will operate just fine as well. SMPS's generating harmonics into the source may actually cause more issues for your generator (overheating), than the other way around.

Now for the big surprise. What types of loads have the most concern from harmonics, voltage and frequency? Motor loads. Harmonics causes the windings of cheap motors (and generator windings) to overheat. Motors that deal well with harmonics are made to be run on variable frequency drives. They cost more money, because they have larger windings, and often special treatment to their bearings. Obviously, dropping voltages can cause motors not to start. Minor frequency issues won't upset them; but should the frequency of your source drift severely, your motors will have problems. Trying to use a UPS to help this, will only make it worse - mega harmonics.

The generator itself may actually be the most concerned about issues being generated by its loads. Loads with leading power factor (such as can happen with loads with high capacitance, large filters or high harmonics) can wreak havoc on the generator, cause it not to run, and actually physically damage it. Harmonics being generated by the loads can add to the harmonics being produced by the generator and cause over-heating. The only solution for this is to over-size the generator (or de-rate the one you have). Leading power factor problems are generally solved by introducing isolation transformers between the generator and its loads. Isolation transformers go a long way towards cleaning up the power that a generator or motor is seeing; but to really work wonders, it needs to be a three-phase system. (3-phase delta-wye transformers filter out triplen harmonics.) Electrostatic shields between the windings will improve the transformer's filtering of transients.

In addition to motors, there certainly are some other loads that don't like AC sources with rich harmonics. Could be televisions; not really sure. Probably, after the issues I've discussed; the most concerning issue to loads, especially electronics, is transients. These are much more prevalent from your utility source, than your generator. Switching transients from the utility opening and closing circuits; as well as large industrial loads being switched in and out, are the primary culprits. Nearby lighting strikes are also to blame. The best way to protect your equipment from these utility power quality problems, is via high quality surge suppression. So, if you want to waste money in an attempt to 'clean up your power'; go ahead - plunk down as much as you can afford and buy an expensive UPS. Chances are probably 95% or better, you've just made your power quality worse. (FYI - UPS are for having 'uninterrupted' power - not quality power.) If you are concerned about power quality, the first thing to spend your money on is high-quality surge suppression. That is likely all you need. The only thing more, in addition to cleaning up transients (an uninterrupted power) that an expensive double-conversion UPS will give you is a steady output voltage - at the cost of high harmonic content. Most of your equipment doesn't care.

Seriously, what you are trying to do is akin to replacing the carburetor on a car that is running fine; because you think it may not be running fine. Don't waste your money trying to fix something that has no symptoms and is not broken. First, you'll probably make it worse. Second, you'll be out of a lot of money, that you could have used usefully for something else. If you really have money burning a hole in your pocket; hire someone with the equipment and know-how to perform a power quality study, and provide a proper interpretation. Then spend money fixing anything that is truly a problem."
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  #67  
Old 02-12-2018, 09:38:32 PM
Graycenphil Graycenphil is offline
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Default Re: Total Harmonic Distortion of Portable Generators

He seems to know a lot more than I do about this, thatís for sure. Sounds like he doesnít think there is much to worry about, and as you say the problems are more likely to affect the generator than anything else.

And that has been my somewhat limited experience. Most people, myself included, run everything on generators that are not producing particularly clean power, and donít seem to have any problems. By far, most of the problems Iíve seen are the generators themselves failing after running for a few days. Or, and this is fairly common too, the generator not even starting when you need it.

All that said, the one thing I have heard more than once is that high tech heating equipment does not like, or will not run, on a conventional generator.
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  #68  
Old 02-13-2018, 03:20:50 AM
Steve Dawkins Steve Dawkins is offline
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Default Re: Total Harmonic Distortion of Portable Generators

Electronics with SMPS seem to tolerate "dirty" generator power very well. Some electronics is voltage and/or frequency sensitive, and doesn't do well with deviations from utility-grade power. We installed a 100 kW diesel generator at a residence. Within a couple of months, the customer had a power failure. He called me late at night because the lights in the master bathroom were flashing, and they was concerned about a fire. I immediately visited the house and witnessed the problem. A dimmer switch controlled the lights for the vanity. The lights would not come on when the dimmer was turned on, but would flash occasionally like a stobe light and go off again. I checked the generator, and found the frequency was around 58.5 Hz. The unit was under warranty, so I had Cummins come out and adjust it up to 60 Hz. The customer never had any more problems. The dimmer was "tuned" to operate at 60 Hz.

As for the circuit board on the proposed new heater, I would recommend purchasing a spare board. The question won't be "if", but rather "when" it will fail regardless of whether it is on utility power or generator power. The triple aquastat controller on my 7 year old boiler is mostly an electro-mechanical device. That style has been around for several decades, so it is time proven. Three years ago, I decided to buy a spare controller to have on hand. (Let's face it, these things never fail when you DON'T need them.) The replacement is a 100% electronic control. At that time, the electro-mechanical aquastat was only available as a "rebuilt" unit. It may not even be available now. IIRC, the new electronic control was less expensive than a rebuilt electo-mechanical one.

Electronic controls for HVAC equipment are now cheaper to build than electro-mechancal controls. They have a lot of features that the old style controls didn't have, but aren't as durable or as forgiving. I doubt that the HVAC manufacturers will alter their equpment design to be more compatible with home grown generator power. That would increase the cost a few dollars, which might make them less competitive than other manufacturers.
It's more likely they will add a label to their equipment that states something similar to "The warranty on ths equipment is void if it is operated by any electrical source other than utility power."
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  #69  
Old 02-13-2018, 07:34:41 AM
GeneratorNewb GeneratorNewb is offline
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Default Re: Total Harmonic Distortion of Portable Generators

So in theory, if I wanted to keep my Westinghouse wh7500e generator (7500 running, 9k peak) , I should be fine running 1 refrigerator/freezer, 1 deep freezer, window ac/space heater, 7.2A well pump, gas hot water heater, garage door openers, some led lights, router, modem, and maybe 1 TV.

Although it really sucks not being able to use the furnace (I don't even want to risk it), I can live with using a space heater in 1 room for temporary heat.

I just want to make sure there's no real risk of damaging the compressors in my refrigerator/freezers and/or well pump.
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Old 02-14-2018, 12:41:31 AM
K-Tron K-Tron is offline
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Default Re: Total Harmonic Distortion of Portable Generators

Have you actually tried loading all of those devices on your WH7500E generator without your fancy new furnace? If you have not, I would conduct a true full blown power outage simulation; with a space heater, maybe a microwave going, your tv, lights, well pump, computer etc. Record the load in watts, the voltage output, and frequency output of your generator as the load increases. A simple hand held meter or a killawatt meter and an infrared thermal gun will tell you a lot about your generator. In my opinion, those generators are pure junk. It looks absolutely no different than the 7500watt Generac GP7500 my neighbor had which failed with 0.2hours of run time on it. After rebuilding the carburetor and flushing the fuel tank, the generator failed to produce more than 5200watts of power. Voltage dropped way down, frequency dropped to 52hz and it automatically tripped its own breakers. Lets be honest here, that generator is not built by Westinghouse. The generator itself has a tiny frame size, the case is thin, the bearings are Chinese, the engine is a Chinese Honda clone, the gauge of all of the wiring are not up to snuff, and there is simply not enough copper or mass to be considered a good generator. In my honest opinion there is no such thing as a good 3600rpm generator, inverter or not. Buy a generator that can actually produce its ratings, not one that pretends to. Lots of folks on here recommend and swear by their 1800rpm generators, Onan or not, and they have good reason. I guarantee that generator will not run a 9000watt load. The breakers would trip, or the engine will stumble and run out of power long before it generates its 7500watt rated capacity. If your generator runs all of your devices and still maintains voltage and frequency in the nominal range then all is good. I simply think you are chasing your tail comparing all of these low quality single cylinder 3600rpm generators. If you put half that effort into finding out what exactly fails in this new furnace you would be much better off. If the HVAC contractor you are dealing with will not tell you what exactly fails then he is not being honest with you and is not worth your business. I cannot tell you how many modern electronics are pushed through with the cheapest components. That $2000 control board may be deemed a total failure just because a $0.20 capacitor failed. Some more research on the failure points of your proposed new furnace should be top priority.

Chris

Last edited by K-Tron; 02-14-2018 at 12:57:49 AM.
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  #71  
Old 02-14-2018, 10:03:42 AM
GeneratorNewb GeneratorNewb is offline
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Default Re: Total Harmonic Distortion of Portable Generators

Thanks a lot for your input. I have to agree with your take on the situation. Do you have a portable 1,800 watt unit you recommend? I need to be a leader to wheel it in and out of my garage. Are these units mostly diesel generators?

I guess at this point I'm between a Honda Eu7000is for $4k or a 12kw Kohler (11kw on NG) standby for $7k.

---------- Post added at 09:03:42 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:55:43 AM ----------

I apologize, 1800rpm,not 1800 watt.
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Old 02-14-2018, 10:55:24 AM
armandh armandh is offline
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Default Re: Total Harmonic Distortion of Portable Generators

NEW or USED ???

finding a good 1800 RPM generator new at a reasonable cost,
can easily be bested by a well rebuilt/reconditioned ONAN.
it is what I did for my daughter, 6.5 NH under $1k.

my trailer mounted spare is a
Kohler K-582 powered 7.2 KW Homelite [Textron]
A similar air cooled 1800 RPM opposed twin.

but +1 on there are no "good" 3600 rpm generators
because they can be made with less material and cost
it is a competitive race to min cost/max profit price point.
I doubt delivering a quality product gets even a second thought.
serviceability is a joke, along with any kind of VALUE
and yes I have one, but I only load it to 2/3 of its alleged continuous capacity

try to coax the full "rated" output for a week and most pacific rim junkerators will fail
advertising is atrocious. a local grand opening sale had a [g-word] 8000 watt
but a look at the fuzzy photo showed 6500 on the side. google the model and it is 8000 peak

I think most of today's generator sales experience started in a non dealer used car lot. [AKA sled-shop]
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Last edited by armandh; 02-14-2018 at 11:09:29 AM.
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Old 02-14-2018, 11:02:28 AM
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Default Re: Total Harmonic Distortion of Portable Generators

Do you guys feel the same way about the 3600rpm natural gas Kohler standby units as well (air cooled).

Would you guys go with the Eu7000is or the Kohler 12kw unit assuming price was the same?
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Old 02-14-2018, 11:16:39 AM
Graycenphil Graycenphil is offline
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Default Re: Total Harmonic Distortion of Portable Generators

I mostly agree about the 3600 rpm units; they are generally an attempt to make a less epensive generator, and thatís what you get. An exception might be the portable Yanmar diesels. They seem to be very good, but they are not cheap (or quiet).

The Honda EUs are really in a class by themselves (maybe with similar Yamaha units too). They are not 1800 or 3600 rpm, but variable rpm depending on electrical load. They are reliable, long lived, quiet and make very clean electricity. As you know, they arenít cheap either.

The older Onan 1800 rpm generators are great, there are plenty of them around, and they are relatively inexpensive for what you are getting. But not as simple as walking into a dealer and bringing one home. Still, I think they are a great choice, certainly a better choice than any big box store type unit. Bettter price, more reliable and longer lasting.

But I donít think any of the 1800 rpm units, or the Kohler, will solve your issue with the furnace. None of these generators will give you the utility quality power you seem to need.
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Old 02-14-2018, 12:05:35 PM
GeneratorNewb GeneratorNewb is offline
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Default Re: Total Harmonic Distortion of Portable Generators

Thanks for your input. You seem to be a fan of the Honda over the Kohler. Anyone else have an opinion on these 2 units and which they woyld pick?

I went around the house and got sine wattage figures

Well - 1728
Freezer - 600
Refrigerator /Freezer - 852
Furnace - approx 2k

That brings the total to 5,180 before gas hot water heater, led lights, TV, router, or modem.

I realize that everything won't be running at the same time. Would I be pushing the eu7000is too hard and would I even be able to utilize the eco throttle feature with high power drawing appliances like the well? Thanks.
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Old 02-14-2018, 01:17:26 PM
Vanman Vanman is online now
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Default Re: Total Harmonic Distortion of Portable Generators

I would get a wattmeter, such as a Kill-A-Watt, and actually measure those things. You'll find that those high ratings for the fridge and freezer are only during the brief period that they are in defrost mode and with lights on (door open). In other words maximum possible draw. Running is more like 100 watts. A furnace is probably more like ~500 watts. I can't speak for the well pump, but it certainly could be taking close to nameplate current.

I powered my whole house was a 1951, 350 watt Kohler, just for fun. Ran lighting, computer, router modem etc, etc. Even ran the defrost cycle on the fridge, albeit at somewhat reduced voltage. Would not start the compressor though.

The 1943, 800 watt Kohler ran the fridge effortlessly, along with lighting (I only use incandescent lamps). It even could start and run my 8 kbtu/hr window A/C!

This to help give an idea of the true typical power requirement for a home.

The other nice thing about older machines, besides vastly superior build quality, is the lack of yet and still more electronics- like those in your furnace- just itching to leave you in the dark.

I like the idea of at least two sets. A smaller one for the majority of the time, to meet basic needs, and a larger one that will allow for the use of large loads like central A/C. This not only saves a tremendous amount of fuel, but also provides redundancy.
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Old 02-14-2018, 01:38:21 PM
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Default Re: Total Harmonic Distortion of Portable Generators

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeneratorNewb View Post
FYI, here is an interesting quote from a guy named Whizkid3 on the dslreports forum (http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r271...-Power-Cleanup).

Wow long winded version of what I told you in posts 48 and 50
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Old 02-14-2018, 02:28:02 PM
Graycenphil Graycenphil is offline
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Default Re: Total Harmonic Distortion of Portable Generators

Quote:
Originally Posted by GeneratorNewb View Post

I went around the house and got sine wattage figures

Well - 1728
Freezer - 600
Refrigerator /Freezer - 852
Furnace - approx 2k

That brings the total to 5,180 before gas hot water heater, led lights, TV, router, or modem.

I realize that everything won't be running at the same time. Would I be pushing the eu7000is too hard and would I even be able to utilize the eco throttle feature with high power drawing appliances like the well? Thanks.
I agree with Vanman that those numbers are kind of high. Still, it would probably be wise to shut off things like the freezer during an outage. You can turn it back on late at night, when most other appliances wonít be running, to keep the food nice and cold. You could even do the same with the fridge, if people arenít opening it too much. Water heater, router and modem will draw very little. TV and lights could be a bit more, but I think you should be fine.


The eco throttle will work fine. Most of those big draws will not be on most of the time, so the engine will throttle down, using less gas and making less noise. As soon as the furnace, fridge or well pump kicks on, the throttle will pick up to cover it. Thatís exactly what itís supposed to do.
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Old 02-14-2018, 03:51:12 PM
GeneratorNewb GeneratorNewb is offline
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Default Re: Total Harmonic Distortion of Portable Generators

That looks like 2 votes for the Honda. Your opinions are much appreciated!
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Old 02-14-2018, 06:44:36 PM
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Default Re: Total Harmonic Distortion of Portable Generators

Anyone else have an opinion on these 2 units and which one they'd go with?
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