Backup generator for a theater

Jay Ashworth

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Feb 7, 2014
Location
St Pete FL USA
Thanks much to everyone for your replies. This is exactly the kind of "you get what you pay for" kind of advice I was hoping for! I shall present my boss with some options and see what direction I'm supposed to go.

I'm not so concerned about uninterrupted service. My main task was to come up with an alternative power source when we have a 24-hour blackout on the morning of a major show. I don't know what's up with power in this town, but there's another major outage this morning, and it's not even snowing. 2,000 customers in the dark, and the only place still running is the hospital which has.... a generator.
Ok, then you're looking at a larger problem, generally termed co-generation; that keyword will take you down a half-million dollar plus rabbit hole... :cool:
 

FMEng

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Ok, then you're looking at a larger problem, generally termed co-generation; that keyword will take you down a half-million dollar plus rabbit hole... :cool:
Please explain. Doesn't it all depend on what the building uses for a heat source? If it's natural gas or heat pump, then the power requirements are much less.
 

Ancient Engineer

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Sep 21, 2017
Location
Sandusky, Ohio
Jay, I wish it was true, but no they were all "free". We were operational testing late one August and I was looking at the fuel racks on the diesel when the HVAC hit and the govenor rolled out to about 95% (from ~20%) and that old FM Diesel barked once and rolled a tower of black smoke a mile high. But, between the STACOs sounding like oven timers and the quick ramp up. nothing was electrically grumpy.

I suspect that by now staging is in place, but back in 1989, not so much.
 
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macsound

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Jun 15, 2018
Location
San Francisco, CA
Something I recall in a local hospital are the color of the wall plugs.
If my memory serves me there are 3 colors
1. White (regular power)
2. Blue (fails over to generator power with delay)
3. Red (always powered through UPS then generator without delay)

It was explained to me when there's a patient who's on some equipment that can't be interrupted for any reason, it goes in the red plug, but almost everything else goes in the white plug because many of the standard issue hospital thingies (heart rate, blood oxygen, IV pump) have a battery in them anyway because they need to work in ambulances and while walking down hallways and the side effect is a power outage isn't a big deal.

Could an intermediary idea for your backup system have these types of plugs added and you could determine the dozen or two or three LED theatrical fixtures that would be included in the failover to generator system which would all be fresh wire pulls and leave the existing infrastructure the same?
 
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Jay Ashworth

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Joined
Feb 7, 2014
Location
St Pete FL USA
Something I recall in a local hospital are the color of the wall plugs.
If my memory serves me there are 3 colors
1. White (regular power)
2. Blue (fails over to generator power with delay)
3. Red (always powered through UPS then generator without delay)

It was explained to me when there's a patient who's on some equipment that can't be interrupted for any reason, it goes in the red plug, but almost everything else goes in the white plug because many of the standard issue hospital thingies (heart rate, blood oxygen, IV pump) have a battery in them anyway because they need to work in ambulances and while walking down hallways and the side effect is a power outage isn't a big deal.

Could an intermediary idea for your backup system have these types of plugs added and you could determine the dozen or two or three LED theatrical fixtures that would be included in the failover to generator system which would all be fresh wire pulls and leave the existing infrastructure the same?
Those might have been plate colors; most *receptacle* colors I've seen are white or orange (for isolated ground).

You don't really want receptacles molded in dark colors; too little contrast between the body and the holes makes it hard to aim the plug.
 

RonHebbard

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Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Those might have been plate colors; most *receptacle* colors I've seen are white or orange (for isolated ground).

You don't really want receptacles molded in dark colors; too little contrast between the body and the holes makes it hard to aim the plug.
@Jay Ashworth I believe I've seen duplex's colored as described and had little to no trouble discerning orientation:
- It's rarely THAT dark in a hospital.
- Good 'Hospital Grade' contractors (The contractors / installers NOT to be confused with Hospital Grade receptacles) normally orient ALL duplex receptacles in the building (or a floor or wing) to contractor / site LX foreman decrees, for example:
- All vertical receptacles (Duplexes or singles) are to be installed 'Ground up' OR 'Ground down' per the specific contract / Electrical PENG / Company Super intendent / Existing standards all ready installed in older portions of the project.

- All horizontal receptacles (Duplexes or singles) are to be installed 'Ground left' / 'Ground right' / 'Ground towards the door' / 'Ground towards the windows' / Yada, yada, you've caught the concept.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

RonHebbard

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Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Using Orange for non-IG receptacles doesn't violate NEC? I thought that was a dedicated color
I've also seen Brown (and possibly Black) isolated ground receptacles with a tiny Green dot near the ground to indicate they were iso grounds. The installation was Madam Tussauds in the top 2 floors of a 3 story building in the heart of the Vegas strip. The receptacles were specified for installation in two specific locations in a wall scheduled to be sprayed flat / matte BLACK in a room where the ceiling / walls / everything except the displays were to be matte black / capable of COMPLETE black outs for a few seconds per automated performance.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbardd
 
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Jay Ashworth

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Feb 7, 2014
Location
St Pete FL USA
I've also seen Brown (and possibly Black) isolated ground receptacles with a tiny Green dot near the ground to indicate they were iso grounds. The installation was Madam Tussauds in the top 2 floors of a 3 story building in the heart of the Vegas strip. The receptacles were specified for installation in two specific locations in a wall scheduled to be sprayed flat / matte BLACK in a room where the ceiling / walls / everything except the displays were to be matte black / capable of COMPLETE black outs for a few seconds per automated performance.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbardd
I thought that the green dot meant hospital-grade, not isolated ground. Am I wrong?

Fair Point, though, on the illumination levels .
 

RonHebbard

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Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
I thought that the green dot meant hospital-grade, not isolated ground. Am I wrong?

Fair Point, though, on the illumination levels .
In my IBEW days / years, I believe I installed "Hospital Grade" receptacles in at least 7 colors:
- Black
- Brown
- Red
- Blue
- Grey
- Ivory
- Orange
- There may have been Yellow as well.

At Jay; I MAY be wrong but I believe many / most of the colors were available iso or non, duplexes or singles.
Hubbell also used to market a brown duplex with one half 15 amp parallel blade, the other half 15 amp twist; it may have been rated at 20 amps on your side of Donnie's walls or it may not have been approved on your side: Up here north of the walls, our standard utility circuits are breakered / wired / rated for 15 amps .

I don't recall if the parallel / twist duplex was available in an iso ground version.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

tjrobb

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May 14, 2009
Location
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
The required marking for isolated ground receptacles is apparently an orange triangle. The rest of the installation presumably can be any color that suits one's fancy, one's needs, one's décor, etc.
Correct. Green dot for Hospital Grade. Yellow often indicates corrosion-resistant (usually higher current gear) and orange is often IG. Blue is common for integral surge suppression, red for emergency (or the cover plate for a shutdown switch). While colors are not required, those marks are.
 

David Ashton

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Sep 8, 2007
Location
perth W Australia
If you are running mainly dimmers and switch-mode power supplied gear you will need to increase the rating of your generator by 25% to allow for the awful power factor which a mains supply can cope with but a generator will really struggle with, the more balanced load gear you load it with the better.
 

Ben Stiegler

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Aug 3, 2017
Location
Sf Bay Area
Thanks much to everyone for your replies. This is exactly the kind of "you get what you pay for" kind of advice I was hoping for! I shall present my boss with some options and see what direction I'm supposed to go.

I'm not so concerned about uninterrupted service. My main task was to come up with an alternative power source when we have a 24-hour blackout on the morning of a major show. I don't know what's up with power in this town, but there's another major outage this morning, and it's not even snowing. 2,000 customers in the dark, and the only place still running is the hospital which has.... a generator.
Where are you (more specifically than "usa")?
 

themuzicman

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Apr 27, 2007
Location
On Tour
My main task was to come up with an alternative power source when we have a 24-hour blackout on the morning of a major show. I don't know what's up with power in this town, but there's another major outage this morning, and it's not even snowing. 2,000 customers in the dark, and the only place still running is the hospital which has.... a generator.
A little late to the party on this one, but if it's just a 24 hour blackout and not some instantaneous mid-show event here's an idea from some international venues I've played that ensure compatability with American tours on 120V power - if it's major show you don't need to own the generators, install pass-thru camlock service between the parking lot and the back wall of the venue. Power goes out, call up the local entertainment generator service or have then on retainer during gigs, get them to plug in and re-route the shows feeder. Then you're only worrying about finding backup solutions for the facility proper.
 

RonHebbard

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Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
A little late to the party on this one, but if it's just a 24 hour blackout and not some instantaneous mid-show event here's an idea from some international venues I've played that ensure compatability with American tours on 120V power - if it's major show you don't need to own the generators, install pass-thru camlock service between the parking lot and the back wall of the venue. Power goes out, call up the local entertainment generator service or have then on retainer during gigs, get them to plug in and re-route the shows feeder. Then you're only worrying about finding backup solutions for the facility proper.
Facetiously: Up here north of the walls we're CONSTANTLY being bombarded by advertisements for Generac. Maybe they've got something petite, pretty, and propane powered to tuck away quietly out of sight.
I did warn you I was being facetious.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 
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TimMc

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FMEng

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Tacoma, WA
We have a saying in the broadcast world, "Friends don't let friends buy Generac." I prefer Kohler, Caterpillar, or Cummins, and have had positive experiences with all three. Propane is fine for small sizes, but large engines have trouble with a tank vaporizing fuel fast enough without heating apparatus. Natural gas is an alternative to diesel, especially where post earthquake operation isn't a concern. The nice thing about NG is no storage needed.
 

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