Using generator on location for monolights...

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Montana, Apr 6, 2010.

  1. Montana

    Montana TPF Noob!

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    Anyone here ever use a gas powered generator on location? There are a ton of really remote abandoned barns and houses that I have obtained permission to shoot in/around. They all have roads going right to them. I was thinking about running a generator in the back of my truck and a heavy 100ft cord to get me where I need to be. Lets keep the vagabond battery pack/all battery packs out of the discussion at the moment. Do all generators produce clean enough power?

    My generator produces 12,000 watts, so it has enough power to run a whole house. And I am sure its clean power, but what about lower end generators? Mine weighs 570 pounds, so its not exactly light. LOL

    Let me hear your experiences with on site generator shoots.

    For reference, my generator specs are here:
    Miller - Engine-Driven - Trailblazer 302
    (yes, its a welder also, so no need to read those parts of the application)
     
  2. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Sorry, never used one, nor will I use one. Power from a generator like you linked to is not that clean. Welders don't need clean power/mono lights do. I would not risk my lighting gear with a generator like you linked too. The cost savings over dedicated portable power packs would be a mute point if I fried my lights.
     
  3. den9

    den9 TPF Noob!

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    a small generator will do the job, not sure how many watts you need though. im not sure if its bad for your lights either.

    batteries seem easier, and quieter lol. not sure how much they cost or how long they last though.
     
  4. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Simple answer is NO. You need an inverter equipped generator or at least one with a pure sine-wave inverter to get clean power.

    Here is one with 6,000 watts. [ame="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000RULRJG/inetcert10-20/"]Amazon.com: Kipor IG6000 6000 Watt Inverter Generator: Patio, Lawn & Garden[/ame]
    For the price tag of $2,200.00 you could buy a lot of Vagabond II's.

    Inverter equipped generators are going to be more expensive than the average generator.
     
  5. Phranquey

    Phranquey TPF Noob!

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    For strobes, do NOT use a generator that does not state pure sine-wave.

    Yamaha® EF1000iS Portable Generator : Cabela's

    Even though this is a decent price for a portable pure sine-wave generator, you could still purchase two Vagabond II's... and not have to mess with gasoline.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2010
  6. benhasajeep

    benhasajeep TPF Noob!

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    I have some cheap ebay lights I run off a very quiet CHINA made generator. Similar to a honda but not the same. Not as quite but quiet. Have not had an issue. I do turn off the auto throttle though (always putting out full power).

    Wondering if you were afraid of using a generator due to power surges, if you could go through a UPS or if needed a sine-wave UPS??? Would they filter the power from a generator? Or would they cycle from battery back up to power from generator constantly??

    Even though my generators are cheap China ones (2,000, and 4,000) they run very smoothly. So, no signs of fluctuations in power output (with autothrottle off anyway).
     
  7. Montana

    Montana TPF Noob!

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    I see further research is required, thanks for the info.
     
  8. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    One thing I don't get is why all generators don't provide pure sine waves. I mean you are rotating a magnet in a coil, that produces an oscillation as it is. Why must people mess with the output. :banghead:
     
  9. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The reason to mess with the output is not due to the generator, rather with the power source. Any fluctuation in rpm in the gas engine results in changes in the power output. With an inverter installed in the system you no longer have to run a gas engine at full speed, The inverter will regulate the speed of the motor by the need for power. It also eliminates the slight spikes and brown outs caused by rpm changes in the gas motor.
     
  10. gardy90

    gardy90 TPF Noob!

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    not sure how much current you will be drawing but what about a DC to AC inverter from your trucks power
     
  11. Phranquey

    Phranquey TPF Noob!

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    You can do this, as long as you buy the correct output pure-sine wave inverter. Keep in mind, larger inverters require hard-wiring to the vehicle, as too much current will burn up cigarette plug units.

    Essentially, you are turning your vehicle into a giant Vagabond unit with it's own built-in generator.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2010
  12. benhasajeep

    benhasajeep TPF Noob!

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    So, going by the battery / inverter option. I wonder how long a deep cycle battery will last running lights. I have 2 gel cell deep cycle batteries that I keep for a portable welder. Normally they are tied in series to put out 24 volts.

    Obviously they are much much heavier than the Vagabonds and other types of portable power sources. But the power output / longevity would be much much longer. I believe mine are 1,100 AH batteries each. The Vagabond II are just 20AH. But they are about 70-80#'s each. I guess it would be an option for a shade tree approach. I would not recommend using a regular car battery (lead acid) as there is a spill hazzard. The Gel cells are sealed and unless the case is broken will not spill no matter the angle they are in.

    I believe I paid $125 each for the Gell Cell batteries. Add an inverter and for about the price of a Vagabond II. You have a system that should run all your lights all day if not more! Yes, its a shade tree idea, but when you need lots of power, its probably lighter and easier to use than a generator. Especially if your indoors and sound / exhaust might be an issue.
     

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