Emergency generator question

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Now that the power cut season will soon be here again I've been thinking about getting one of those small petrol driven generators which could be put to good use as well as acting as an emergency electricity supply - basically running the central heating and some lighting.
In use, is it simply a matter of connecting an 'extension lead' with trailing bank of sockets to the generator and using this in the house to plug in your essentials? Or is there a way of putting some sort of permanent system in the house which can be connected to the generator?
Sorry if this sounds a bit vague.....
Thanks Tony
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Tony Hayes wrote:

house
of
generator?
For domestic use it is simpler to put in a flying lead to power up essentials. There are special changeover switches to swap to generator power and back.
My personal favorite though is to have one low draw ring main which is only used for central heating pump, gas boiler, tv / satellite/ video, and a couple of strategic lights, run this circuit off a ups and when the rest of the house goes into darkness you have a few minutes of light to fire up the generator to power the ups.
MrCheerful
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On Mon, 01 Sep 2003 18:24:53 GMT, "MrCheerful"

Sounds good. Perhaps I'm just being a bit thick here, but I have a question......
Are you saying that the UPS supported mains is permanently configured to run off the protected side of the UPS?
I can't see any other way of achieving what you suggest, and if that's the case surely the protected circuit has to be sent around the house, duplicating the regular (non-UPS) mains circuit?
PoP
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PoP wrote:

configured
that's
house,
Effectively I run the 'essential' ring off the ups and change the ups over to generator supply.
MrCheerful
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On Mon, 01 Sep 2003 20:39:27 +0100, PoP wrote:

That is correct and something I'm keeping in the back of my mind as a rewire the various parts of this building. Though the UPS wouldn't feed everything just those things that really don't like having power removed without warning, like PCs.
There would be a "maintained" supply that can easyly be fed from the incoming mains or changed over to a generator, this would power things like fridges, freezers, strategic lighting (kitchens, stairs, living rooms) and the input to the UPS. This maintained supply would have non-standard "13A" sockets so the 3kW kettle can't be plugged into a 2kW gene...
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On Mon, 01 Sep 2003 22:12:49 +0100 (BST), "Dave Liquorice"

This use of a UPS raises a query in my mind. Isn't there a set of regulations covering computer room supplies? Maybe that just applies to computers on the circuit though.
One thing to be very wary of in respect of cabling the suggested solution, someone might decide to do some wiring work and start by switching off at the consumer unit. By doing so they would assume that all sockets in the house were dead. Could be lethal if they start jabbing screwdrivers into one of these UPS circuits.
Andrew
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There are rules relating to UPS's and generator sets. Earthing them properly is a rather non-trivial task. You aren't allowed to assume an earth provided by your electricity supplier is still working when the supply fails.
--
Andrew Gabriel

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wrote:

When I rigged the auto-start genset (cow-methane powered !) we'd had to upgrade the earthing considerably. 'Leccy board wouldn't let us rely on a single rod, we had to bury a grid.
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Andy Dingley wrote:

I have this strange picture in my head now of Andy standing in a field cranking a cow's tail as someone nearby is holding a dimly glowing bulb shouting "we need more power".
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James...
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On Tue, 02 Sep 2003 06:41:48 +0100, PoP wrote:

Even if I pull out the main fuse and switch off the breaker I still assume that everything is live until tested with a volt stick and even then I check cautiously on first contact with tools/me.
If there are maintained circuits all the CU(s) should be labled with a warning and each maintained outlet/fitting as well.
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On Tue, 02 Sep 2003 10:43:59 +0100 (BST), "Dave Liquorice"

The issue might be that it isn't you doing the work. It is very dangerous constructing a potentially lethal installation which depends significantly on being used and maintained by only one person, that person having specialised knowledge.
What about if your house catches fire and the fire brigade have to break in to deal with the situation? They would presumably try to remove power from the building as part of their duty.
Also, as we've seen only too well in the recent past, you have a duty of care for your armed burglars and could get sent to prison if you dare put them in any danger ;)

Good plan. I was under the impression that UPS outlets were supposed to be labelled appropriately anyway?
PoP
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What is the power cut season?
Adam
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On Mon, 01 Sep 2003 18:44:18 GMT, "ARWadsworth"
The season when power cuts are dark and annoying, rather than merely annoying.
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This is a really good question. Other than getting a generator, what other ways are there that we can get organised now, rather than wait for it to happen. After last years fiasco I'd rather be really well prepared. In my case I was grateful for an open fire with back boiler. Although it only heats one radiator and hot water, I was very glad I had it. I could at least have a bath and go to work refreshed and clean! I've also acquired a toasting fork so can live off beans on toast for a few days. Lighting is the main difficulty without a generator.
Anyone got any ingenious ideas to prepare for power cut season? the more Heath Robinson the better!
Liz
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wrote:

other
my
at
a
We live in an isolated area and suffer power cuts several times a year. About 10 years ago I made a 500W 12V to 230V ac invertor and together with a large 130AH 12V battery which I keep fully charged normally keeps us out of trouble. Using a string of low energy bulbs (11W equiv 60W incandescent) I can illuminate the whole house and still have power left to run the central heating pump (solid fuel boiler) and a radio for over 3 hours which is normally sufficient. Last year was an exception and we were cut off for just over 2 days. Fortunately we always keep the two cars pretty full of petrol in case of emergencies and last year used them to charge up the spare battery and keep the backup system running for heating. Obviously we have the usual camping stoves etc available for cooking so managed to survive without too much inconvenience other than the loss of the freezer contents (which was insured anyway).
I believe that you can now buy 150W and 300W converters for under 50 now, ready made and ready to run. This works out much cheaper as a standby than buying a dedicated petrol generator which you may never need if you live in London or other big city.
Dave
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On Mon, 1 Sep 2003 20:29:34 +0100, Liz wrote:

Keep a working torch by your bed and possibly other locations around the house. Maybe install a non-maintained(*) emergency light in a key location, top of the stairs and hallway are good. Light can come in through open doors to enable careful movement in the rooms.
Have the faults phone number of your local power distribution company handy (may not be the same as the company you buy your power from).
Think of means to heat water without electricity, we have a two ring Camping Gaz hob and grill that runs from a large butane cylinder. Heats water fine for drinks/washing, good enough to cook up a reasonable meal on as well.
Think of foods that don't require you to open the freezer (opening the door of a freezer shortens it's defrost time considerably). So a stock of dried and/or tinned stuff. This reminds me I need to check that the week or so of winter stock I try to keep in is still useable and there. Neighbours keep 3 weeks food supplies in during the winter, they have experienced real winters up here, we haven't, yet.

This is very true. We have some "cyalume" lights sticks, good enough to move about and eat by (just) but not for cooking by. I've looked around for things with decent output and life. Battery powered stuff has a short life, just a few hours or less if you have reasonable light from it.
I think I'll be getting a couple of gas powered lanterns. These chuck out roughly the same as a 60W bulb or more and last a good time (12hrs+) on one easily stored, no shelf life, cannister. Don't forget spare mantels and gas...
(*) "Non-maintained" means that it is off until the power fails when it comes on. These normally run for about 3hrs. A "maintained" emergency light is one that is on all the time and will continue to run for about 3hrs after the power is lost.
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On Mon, 01 Sep 2003 22:33:36 +0100 (BST), "Dave Liquorice"

It depends on what you buy, Dave.
I have some maintained ones and they can be switched on and off as for a normal light, but will come on regardless on power failure. This obviously requires two live connections though.
You can also buy retrofit kits which will go into a standard fluorescent fitting, replacing the choke and provide HF lighting as well as the emergency functions.
.andy
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"Liz" wrote | Lighting is the main difficulty without a generator.
A couple of Emergency Lighting Units eg stairs and kitchen make life easier and safer and will last for several hours.
A *very small* microwave can be run off a car battery with an inverter unit, which will also do central heating pump, or run small fluoro lamps far more efficient than torches.
My main difficulty is the tv. I have a battery radio and tv (and a box of 20 D batteries I got cheap from government surplus) but tv reception is dependent on the communal aerial amplifier. I am also dependent on electric for cooking. (having neither a car nor a microwave, the inverter idea doesn't work for me) but hopefully the nearby chippies/chinese are gas fired. But power cuts here are rare and short-lived, usually related to aged underground cables and/or digger drivers.
Owain
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On Mon, 1 Sep 2003 22:34:04 +0100, Owain wrote:

3 normally, power cuts here are either measured in less than a minute or 6hrs+.

Who *needs* TV, there are such things as books, cards, board games etc.

And their "Use by:" date is?

Thats the one you really need to take care of. Get a small Camping Gaz stove. Think I've seen 2 packs, stove and lantern for about 20. Take care with these they do get hot(doh!), have naked flames and can present a fire hazard.

But will they be open if their till doesn't work or have poor lighting. Think of H&S and great vats of hot fat in poor lighting, if an employee had an accident or a customer come to that the chippie would be liable...
Things have changed since the dark days of the 4 day week. I can remember going shopping in places in virtual darkness then and of course cashiers could add up and work out chnage without the aid of a machine...
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I seem to recall that one question raised when I last lookled into this in 1999 was the quality of supply delivered by the generator.
One sort was fine for lighting and heating pumps etc. But a very much more expensive standard of generator was needed safely to power satellite receivers, computers, TVs and such like.
Anyone throw any light on this one?
As an aside, I am always surprised to see people in this newsgroup keen to disable their ability (blocking off, using the chimney for something else etc) to burn wood and coal in an open fire. That's always been our standby in case of power failure in January and I'd be reluctant to buy a house without a functional chimney.
[We also have an electrolux camping freezer that will run inter alia off bottled gas and a considerably older camping gaz stove bought during the 3-day week and still going strong.]
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