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Generators

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Diarmuid, Mar 23, 2009.

  1. Diarmuid

    Diarmuid Active Member

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    Location:
    Cornwall, UK
    Hiya all,
    I'm trying to find a bit of information about generators. Like I know the basics of how a generator works, how to take a 3 phase generator and get it hooked up to a distro, check everythings working ok and all that, however I'd quite like to know more about larger set-ups, with multiple generators, that type of thing. Obviously I'm only trying to learn about the theory behind all that type of stuff and I'm not about to go and start sticking my fingers inside 1000KVA generators to see what happens!

    If anyone could reccomend any books or websites with decent information about generators at any level, it'd be great:).

    Cheers
     
  2. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    I don't have any good resources handy but I have some pretty good experiance with generators being that I just got off the road today and we use up to three at a time.

    Multiple generators usually feed completely separate things, in fact one generator is pretty commonly used to power 2 or 3 power runs. The reality is that 4/0 cable and Camloc connectors (probably the most common way to power a show in North America) are only rated for 400 Amps. I'm going to try and use proper terms but forgive me in advance I just loaded out of a venue 1000 miles away last night.

    For my example take note that all power is 3 phase Y @ 120V per leg. Every Disney of Ice show built after 2006 or so has one 400 Amp run for lights, one 200 Amp run for sound, and one 400 Amp run that gets split up for motor and utility power. So one 1000 Amp generator is the most cost efficient way to power our show. When we have to make our own ice we get another 1200 Amp service generator for three 400 Amp runs. So even thought we have 2200 Amps of service available it still gets split into five 400 Amp services and one 200 Amp service which in theory could be individually powered by an appropriate generator. So more stuff and more power really boils down to more cable.

    This is nice though in that your power is separated. So if the lights on the grid throw the breaker on the power distribution unit the audio is still going and all you have to do is flip on the house lights and the show can go on while you fix the problem with the lights. Obviously this doesn't save you if the generator stops working but you can't save your self from everything I guess.
     
  3. iLightTheStage

    iLightTheStage Active Member

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    Location:
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    Disney on Ice doesn't run a backup Generator, or a Twinpack?? That seems like they are really hoping that one Genny never goes down.

    In about a week I'll be setting up the ACMAs, helping out with the generator company they bring in. These guys REALLY know their stuff, and, according to them, are the only company licensed to bridge in their Generators WITH utility power. So should Utility power cut out, there isn't even a momentary delay like with a transfer switch, and the generators are already running at speed. It is a pretty impressive setup!
     
  4. mrb

    mrb Active Member

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    Is it Showpower / GE? I think there are multiple companies that have the gear (and expertise) to parallel their generators with utility power. This is quite common with televised events such as political national conventions, academy awards, etc. They will sync the generators with utility power and operate with the generators providing primary power and if a gen goes down the utility power takes some (or all) of the load.

    As far as camlok, 400amps, etc. To supply larger loads (such as huge dimmer racks) multiple parallel runs of 4/0 are used.

    Sometimes if long runs between the generator and load are involved, the generator will be operated at 480v and a 480-208Y120 stepdown transformer will be located closer to the load. This reduces the amount of cable needed and gets rid of voltage drop problems.
     
  5. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

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    I good generator tech is a wonderful thing, when you get a good guy it's a god send. As far as redundant power for our shows, it's just not worth the expense. With our newest self powered sound system our battery backup can keep the show track playing (not at full volume but enough to give the idea) and house lights are an acceptable alternative to show lighting. Also the majority of our generator usage is over seas and let me tell you Guatemalan generators are scary enough, I wouldn't trust a parallel system.

    As far as what mrb said the multiple funs of 4/0 was basically what I was trying to get at, I forgot about the 480V power trick though cause we never use it.
     
  6. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Location:
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    I'm not aware of any specific books dealing with generator power for live entertainment (and only one, not yet released, dealing with electricity in general for entertainment).

    Typing Aggreko / GE Power Rentals / Showpower / CAT Power into Google should yield as much information as is available.

    Also, Saunders Electric - Synchronous Systems .;)
     
  7. iLightTheStage

    iLightTheStage Active Member

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    It is Saunders. I believe they said they were the only ones, but maybe on for the west coast?! I don't know, it was a year ago, and passing conversation. But it was the first time I worked with a system that combined utility and generators with something more advanced than a transfer switch.
     
  8. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

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    we have a few generators we use for shows. So not only am i the LD, or lighting tech, or sometimes the audio tech, i play generator tech also. On the shows that we do, if we cant tie into house power, then we bring in a generator. I have never been asked about paralleling, but i would probably just build my own transfer switch, due to a have lots of large contactors rated for 200-400amps. What i have though about building was a box that monitors the power comming off of the generator, with a PLC, and if the voltage goes out of tolerance, such as the generator browning out, it will shut off the power, rather than letting my power go through a total brown out. I have also though about providing a place to attach utility power, so if a gen brown outs it will automatically transfer the load.

    One big advantage that you can have working around generators, is the knowlege of diesel engines and fuel systems. You dont always have time to wait for the service tech to arrive, but most generator compainies do keep spare fuel filters with their generators. Being able to swap a filter, and know how to prime the fuel system and purge the air out is very valuable. I just got done going over one of our units tonight, replacing bad fuel lines, along with filters and an oil change.
     
  9. mrb

    mrb Active Member

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    Showpower was the big outfit on the west coast that did the utility paralleling, polticial conventions, oscars, etc. They were bought out by GE and became GE Energy Rentals, then GE sold out to Aggreko.
     

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