Is power from generator OK for computer?

  Pineman100 12:23 14 Sep 2010

We live in a country area, and we get quite a few power cuts. So we're thinking of buying a small generator that would power just two or three lights, the computer and/or perhaps the TV. Maybe a 2-stroke 850W model - to have a look, click here

I've calculated the power requirements for what we would want to run at any one time, and that output would be ample. But I'm not sure whether the power generated would be "clean" enough to run a computer without risk of damage.

Does anyone have experience of doing this, or comments on the suitability of the generator, please?

  northumbria61 12:29 14 Sep 2010

Good Morning Pineman - I don't have any experience of this but I have found an article which should from someone who does just that which may help you - click here

  northumbria61 12:30 14 Sep 2010

Should read -

I don't have any experience of this but I have found an article from someone who does just that which may help you

  I am Spartacus 12:48 14 Sep 2010

Maybe use it with a UPS which if it's a good one should smooth out power spikes (if any).

I use the earlier version of the APC ES700 click here

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 12:55 14 Sep 2010

Voltage fluctuation is the main problem but as lon as you have a good surge protector between the laptop and the PC that will solve the problem

  Pineman100 13:06 14 Sep 2010

Hi both,

Thanks very much for your replies.

northumbria61 - that's a useful link, although it contains a considerable variety of opinions. In general, if I were to follow the main thrust of opinion, it sounds as though I'd be best to use the generator to charge a 12V battery and then run the battery's output through an inverter. I'll have to consider the cost implications of that.

IAS - a useful suggestion, which (although my eletrical knowledge is minimal) sounds as though it's essentially an alternative to the setup I've mentioned above. Again, the increased cost needs considering, bearing in mind that our cuts are a few times a year, for a few hours at a time. It's a cost/convenience equation, I suppose!

  Pineman100 13:07 14 Sep 2010

Fruit Bat /\0/\

Many thanks to you, too. Is a surge protector essentially the same idea as above?

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 13:30 14 Sep 2010

UPS is basically a small battery in a box on constant charge from mains. if power lost PC is still running from battery and allows you to shut down safely so you do not lose data. click here

Surge protector just stops voltage spikes, click here

I was thinking more about you setting up the generator to run the PC during a power cut.

I regularly work in the "middle of nowhere" (sometimes on the move) but my generator is a 3000+ HP diesel locomotive :0)
with a 12v socket fitted in the cabs (uk)(so driver can charge his mobile / mp3 / dvd etc. [not to be used while driving of course])
I use an inverter to run the laptop in the click here
Continental locos have a 230 v socket in the cab as the inverters are built into the locomotive (I only need an adaptor)

  I am Spartacus 13:31 14 Sep 2010

The UPS model I linked to will prevent power spikes from damaging your PC. Note that not all UPS will do this even though they claim too. It would be limited on battery backup and I doubt would power a TV for long, I'm not sure what wattage a TV draws. On my high end PC it gives less than 10 minutes of power rising to about 25 minutes on my low power PC.

  skeletal 14:32 14 Sep 2010

Although I live near Birmingham (hardly a small village in the middle of nowhere!) we went through a period of continual brown-outs and short time black-outs (a few minutes to hours).

Of course, this meant my computer shutting down and losing work.

I invested in a UPS and have never looked back.

It is very fast acting and although the mains is now much better, we still get occasional brown-outs. The house lights flash, I hear the click of the USP, and I carry on as normal. There is enough time to save and shut down if necessary.

The point here is that your standby generator could take a few seconds to kick in, during which time you will lose what you are doing.

If it were me, I would look at the generator idea AND use a USP.

As ever, the more you pay the more features you get/the longer the time the USP will supply power.

Surge/spike protectors will not protect you from brown-outs because they remove power (that appears in the form of a spike or increase in voltage) than rather add power (to the “hole” left by the supply voltage collapsing).


  Pineman100 14:44 14 Sep 2010

Well I've got a very useful cross-section of opinion from you all. Thank you very much for taking the trouble to explain it to an electronics ignoramus!

I'll look at all the options (with the possible exception of FB's 3000 hp diesel loco!) and discuss with my wife whether we're prepared to spend what it takes, in order to stay 'powered up' through the power cuts.

Thanks again.

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