Gas generator alternatives?

Posted by: Bingley

Gas generator alternatives? - 10/14/21 03:46 PM

California bans gas power generators.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/california-law-bans-small-off-174600432.html

This may become a trend. What will we do? Will solar power be enough of a replacement? Perhaps we can do nuclear fission in our kitchen a few years from now?
Posted by: Eugene

Re: Gas generator alternatives? - 10/14/21 05:05 PM

Originally Posted By: Bingley
California bans gas power generators.
Will solar power be enough of a replacement?


Depends on what/how much your trying to run
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Gas generator alternatives? - 10/14/21 07:50 PM

This bans the sale of such items, starting 2024-ish.

I predict a brisk business in gas generators up to that date.
Posted by: Burncycle

Re: Gas generator alternatives? - 10/14/21 08:02 PM

If it's just sale and jot possession and use then you could probably just bring units in from out of state. If it's use, then I wonder if you can get around this by using wood gasifiers, since firewood seems plentiful. Until then, I guess solar generators like the Jackery for those with $1,000 to drop, but in a puerto rico situation where you're looking at weeks or months without power you'd be SOL

And people voted for this...
Posted by: Famdoc

Re: Gas generator alternatives? - 10/15/21 01:38 AM

Invertors, connected on an as-needed basis to a vehicles wiring system, may meet the need for some.

Woot happens to have one such available today: a 3000 watt pure sine wave model that I am finding tempting: https://tools.woot.com/offers/gowise-3000w-sine-wave-power-inverter?ref=w_cnt_wp_2_2

It appears this model does not come with wiring cables: these would be a separate purchase.

Usually, models of this wattage are double the $180 price of this brand.

It's not enough juice to run a whole house AC or heat pump perhaps but probably enough to keep a fridge cold and keep the food from spoiling.

Even bigger invertors are available, up to 5000 watts.
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Gas generator alternatives? - 10/15/21 02:51 AM

Unless you have a hybrid vehicle, a vehicle plus inverter setup is massively inefficient. I have such a setup to run a furnace in a last-ditch emergency to prevent my pipes from freezing, but the energy losses are insane. Better to have a real generator.
Posted by: Famdoc

Re: Gas generator alternatives? - 10/15/21 01:20 PM

I'm cheerfully clueless as to the energy inefficiency of using a vehicle + invertor versus a dedicated generator. Would you have the time to share some hard data on the subject or a website one might be directed to?
For some /many folks the additional cost, storage and ongoing preventative maintenance needs and space needed for a separate generator are deal makers/breakers.
Posted by: Eugene

Re: Gas generator alternatives? - 10/15/21 01:32 PM

Its mostly due to inverter losses. converting from 12v to 120v power out = power in + loss. If you use 300W out your drawing like 400w in. Some of the higher cost less portable inverters used for permanent solar installations are getting a bit more efficient but cheap portable ones are not.
Posted by: jshannon

Re: Gas generator alternatives? - 10/15/21 03:48 PM

Inverter losses can be from 5%-30%? I am trying to remember what the RV folks said about that subject.
Posted by: Mark_R

Re: Gas generator alternatives? - 10/15/21 07:04 PM

te=Eugene]
Originally Posted By: Bingley
California bans gas power generators.
Will solar power be enough of a replacement?


Depends on what/how much your trying to run [/quote]

My boss has a solar plus Tesla power wall as emergency power in place of a whole house generator, and he seems pretty happy with it. The local utilities keep shutting off his electricity during wildfire season, so it gets lots of use.

If you're looking for something portable, there's the perviously mentioned Jackary power banks, as well as Whisperpower systems.

Caveat Emptor for any lithium battery based systems. The battery life (charge/discharge cycles) goes way up if you don't charge it past about 80%, and don't run it flat. It's not really an issue with emergency use only, but if you take it camping every other weekend...
Posted by: Eugene

Re: Gas generator alternatives? - 10/15/21 11:37 PM

Originally Posted By: jshannon
Inverter losses can be from 5%-30%? I am trying to remember what the RV folks said about that subject.


5% are the nice high end systems, 30% are the cheap built into the RV or portable ones.
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Gas generator alternatives? - 10/16/21 03:14 AM

Originally Posted By: Famdoc
I'm cheerfully clueless as to the energy inefficiency of using a vehicle + invertor versus a dedicated generator. Would you have the time to share some hard data on the subject or a website one might be directed to?
For some /many folks the additional cost, storage and ongoing preventative maintenance needs and space needed for a separate generator are deal makers/breakers.


I am respectful of the financial considerations. These are very real for many people.

What I was trying to say is that running a large engine to power a relatively tiny alternator and battery means that a lot of gas is burned for a relatively small amount of electricity. That's the inefficiency I was talking about. A generator is designed to be much more efficient.

In a pinch, that doesn't matter so much. As I said, I keep a pure sine inverter that can connect to my vehicles, so I can connect the dots if I have to, efficiency be damned.
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Gas generator alternatives? - 10/16/21 01:34 PM

For those who donít know, pure sine wave power is better for electronics, particularly things like TVs, microwave ovens, laser printers, battery chargers, CPAP machines and computers. Generators that output pure sine wave power are often the higher-end of the manufacturerís line, and frequently will run quieter, have an auto-throttle for load, and have other nice features.

When I bought my generator I couldnít afford pure sine wave for the output I needed, and my primary use case was the refrigerator, electric space heaters, and sump pumps. But I do have higher-end UPS systems protecting specific devices in my house. These devices both give me a battery backup for power outages and also output very clean power. Iím holding off upgrading my generator in part because I know I can power sensitive devices that way.
Posted by: dougwalkabout

Re: Gas generator alternatives? - 10/16/21 02:02 PM

Agreed, pure sine inverters are much better. Looking at Amazon, the price of portable pure sine wave inverters has gone way down. The efficiency of mid-priced ones seems to have gone up too, which is nice.
Posted by: Eugene

Re: Gas generator alternatives? - 10/17/21 12:51 AM

Originally Posted By: chaosmagnet

When I bought my generator I couldnít afford pure sine wave for the output I needed, and my primary use case was the refrigerator, electric space heaters, and sump pumps. But I do have higher-end UPS systems protecting specific devices in my house. These devices both give me a battery backup for power outages and also output very clean power. Iím holding off upgrading my generator in part because I know I can power sensitive devices that way.


Do you have a true online UPS?
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Gas generator alternatives? - 10/17/21 02:01 AM

Originally Posted By: Eugene
Do you have a true online UPS?


This is an excellent question.

No, Iím running Tripp-Lite SMART1500LCDTís, one covering our Internet router and primary WiFi access point, and one covering critical loads in my home lab. The TV is plugged into one of the surge protection (not battery backup) outlets on the first one.

The double conversion units cost 4x as much at the same capacity.

To get pure sine wave we would probably need to charge the UPSís and run equipment off of them after theyíve been disconnected from the generator. Iím thinking the TV and BluRay player. Lower quality (meaning almost all of them) power bricks would suffer significant loss of operational lifetime running on modified sine wave power. The printer would too, but anyone who runs a laser printer off of a small to medium UPS is fixing to fry said UPS.

On the positive side, most of the devices in our house are made by Apple. Appleís power bricks are some of the best made, with rectifiers that run great on modified sine wave power. My desktop PC power supply will likely suffer a minor loss of operational lifetime running on modified sine wave. I doubt Iíd notice unless I ran that machine on the generator for weeks. I donít plan to run any of my IT lab gear off the generator.
Posted by: Eugene

Re: Gas generator alternatives? - 10/17/21 04:07 AM

Reason I ask is most consumer UPS's don't give you that clean power unless the input voltage has gone low enough to cause it to switch to battery, under its normal operation the input power is fed straight though, noise, spikes small surges and all.
You may be aware but I find any are not. Basically the lower cost UPS's are the offline also called switching type. Some will incorporate a surge protector in as well, but sometimes, like yours they are separate outlets from the battery backup outlets. Most of these UPS's will switch to battery if the input voltage goes too high as well but spikes and noise are usually too quick to cause them to switch.
Posted by: chaosmagnet

Re: Gas generator alternatives? - 10/17/21 11:32 PM

I have significant professional experience with Tripp-Liite and think very highly of their products ó no affiliation now, but I worked for some of their resellers in the past. So while my electronics are well protected against surges, blackouts and brownouts, theyíre not well-protected against modified sine-wave power produced by my generator.

Only a dual-conversion AKA true online UPS will take modified sine-wave power and turn it into true sine-wave power.