PDA

View Full Version : OT- But sort of an emergency



Bill736
10-27-2012, 09:03 PM
I'm in the path of Hurricane Sandy, and likely to be without electric power for three or more days, depending on how many of my trees fall across my power wires. I do have a gasoline powered generator, but I'm not sure whether I can recharge my cell phone batteries using that power source. If not directly, perhaps I could recharge the phone once or twice from the uninterruptable backup power supply for my computer. My theory there is that the waveform from the computer power supply would be more compatible with the cell phone charger. ( Oh yes, and my lady friend is worried about recharging her iPad too. ) I found surprisingly little information on this subject on Google, other than a blog site in Nigeria. Any comments or ideas ? Thanks !

oldtiffie
10-27-2012, 09:09 PM
Your UPS has a satisfactory wave form for all your purposes. It should also filter out most "spikes" in your power supply.

Generators are another matter as unless its output is suitable for computers etc. I'd give it a miss. Many generators are suitable for most tools though.

jcon
10-27-2012, 09:14 PM
Bill736

Why can't you rechatge your cellphone from your car?

jim

jdunmyer
10-27-2012, 09:17 PM
Actually, I think most computer power supplies are pretty tolerant of generator waveforms. The first thing that happens in them is rectification of the incoming power to DC. I've run computers on generator power for many hours w/o trouble.

alanganes
10-27-2012, 09:18 PM
I see no real reason you cannot charge a cell phone or ipad from you generator. The generator is after all an alternator, just like the power company. They generally make cleaner power than a UPS. The switching supplies in phone and Ipad chargers rectify the AC and are usually not too picky about the incoming power. The last multi-day outage we had here I was charging cellphones, ipods, ipads and such stuff for most of a week on my generator.

Bill736
10-27-2012, 09:56 PM
Thanks for your suggestions . The " car charger" option would have been fine, but I find that the only such charger we ever purchased was for an older cell phone with a different input jack. I'll probably recharge the cell phones from my computer unterruptable power supply, and recharge that UPS from my generator if necessary.

oldtiffie
10-27-2012, 10:08 PM
You can run a few house lights as well as your refrigerator/s off the generator.

KiddZimaHater
10-27-2012, 10:23 PM
If I were you, I'd take the wife to Vegas for 3 days and avoid the whole mess.

cuemaker
10-27-2012, 11:51 PM
If I were you, I'd take the wife to Vegas for 3 days and avoid the whole mess.


I wonder if his lady friend knows about the "wife" or vice versa...

camdigger
10-28-2012, 12:02 AM
Your UPS is the answer. Plug all your electronics into it and run the whole works off your gen set.

Personally. I have used computers off generators for 25 years. Only toasted one power supply.

When we wer ehooked up to dirty gen power we could run all electronics off an over sized UPS without issues.

macona
10-28-2012, 12:41 AM
Generators are usually pretty clean, at least the ones I have worked on. The new ones that are inverter based are even better.

I would not worry. Most recent powersupplies like cell and ipad chargers will tolerate anything from 100-240v 50 to 60hz and more.

dp
10-28-2012, 01:14 AM
You can run a few house lights as well as your refrigerator/s off the generator.

Long strings of LED Xmas tree lights works a treat in low energy situations, and you can light the length of a hall and a bathroom with one low-power string. Beats candles.

914Wilhelm
10-28-2012, 01:50 AM
You can get a USB car charger from Harbor Freight that will charge your iPad just fine.

http://www.harborfreight.com/universal-usb-12-volt-adapter-96515.html

darryl
10-28-2012, 02:18 AM
A UPS uses a 12v battery for power, in every case I've known of. You could add a 12v deep cycle battery to your 'system', and that will give you even more options. If you can add the power from this extra battery to the UPS, you can extend it's working time on battery power alone, plus you can charge the UPS from the generator 12v output, or the ac output. You can also charge the extra battery from your vehicle, or keep your vehicle alive if its own battery goes out. Needles to say, you can also charge your vehicle battery from the generator.

If you need to charge the toys, you can do so from the deep cycle battery without needing to run either the UPS or the generator, which will save on fuel. If the deep cycle battery is used for starting the generator, and you happen to run it down, you can use the UPS battery to bring it back up enough to start the generator. This would work in the same way that those 'booster' packages do. And of course, as others have said, you can rig up a string of leds to light your way around a dark house, and it won't drain the battery nearly as quickly as incandescents.

I'm a big fan of using depletable power sources in a direct way, in other words not running an inverter to run some other power supply that drops voltage down again to charge a phone, etc. If you don't have an adapter to charge those things from a vehicle, then maybe you should get one. Even running that charger from the UPS battery will be less power hungry than using the UPS circuitry to boost the voltage, only to drop it again through the ac charger unit.

One of my big concerns with an extended power outage is that my furnace won't run if the ac is out. Sure, I can rig it up to run from a generator, but it would also be good if it could run from a deep cycle battery. The 'brain' needs to know that the ignition module is working and that the exhaust fan and the blower are both running. The gas doesn't stop flowing when the power goes out, so there's no reason why I couldn't still have heat. It does get cold here at times. This is a more involved modification to the domestic situation though, so I don't think it would be something you or I would NEED to do.

I think that adding the deep cycle battery to your system would be a prudent thing to do.

oldtiffie
10-28-2012, 03:03 AM
If you have a land-line (phone) it is quite likely tha tit will be operational on the batteries in the telephone exchange. If you re-connect the low-powered phone to your wall socket for it you will have power when mains power is "off" unless or until the line is broken in the storm or until the 'exhange batteries run down but they have a back-up automatic back-up generator anyway. If you don't have a low-power phone - just a normal answering/remote mains-powered phone - you can plug it into the UPS or the generator for "main power - and away you go.

I have quite a few UPS's - most in quite good condition - but they are of limited power and duration - so I use the generator mostly.

Abner
10-28-2012, 07:11 AM
Take pictures and let us know what happens.

Dan Dubeau
10-28-2012, 07:30 AM
When we're at the racetrack I've charged my blackberry, and the wife's iphone directly off a generator with no ill effects for the past 4 years.

jdunmyer
10-28-2012, 09:14 AM
When I was an ISP, I had several large UPS's, all of which had 2, 12-volt internal batteries that were bad. I'd install binding posts on the rear and attach 2 large deep-cycle batteries via welding cables. This worked well, but:

Several of the UPS's were fussy about incoming power. The generator I had at the time had plenty of power, but it was just dirty enough that the UPS's would reject it and they'd stay "on battery", or keep switching back and forth. Huge PITA, and something to be aware of.

Darryl has good advice about using the battery power directly if possible. As far as running the furnace, many people simply cut the incoming power connection at the furnace and install a short pigtail cord and a receptacle. This makes it easy to plug the furnace into an extension cord and generator, in a safe manner and w/o fancy transfer switches. Of course, unless it's very cold, it's probably unnecessary to run the genset all night long.

Do take the advice regarding carbon monoxide safety. Don't run the genset in a garage, even with the overhead door wide-open. It's very risky, and you often won't know it until it's too late. Same with setting the thing too close to a window of your house. Please be careful!

Also, remember that your generator puts out 120 VAC, and will kill you just as quickly as the power company's electricity, so don't be careless about it.

bborr01
10-28-2012, 09:51 AM
I have used several generators to charge phones and run laptops including a 25 year old coleman powermate 5,000 watt generator, a 4k watt generac, a 2k watt honda inverter and a couple of others and have never had a problem with any of them.

I did also check the voltage on them before I used them and they were all very close to 120 volt.

Brian

gvasale
10-28-2012, 09:58 AM
I believe there are AA battery units to suppliment and charge a variety of cell phones. Walmart, Walgreens & maybe even Radio Shack come to mind.

A.K. Boomer
10-28-2012, 11:46 AM
If you have a land-line (phone) it is quite likely tha tit will be operational on the batteries in the telephone exchange. If you re-connect the low-powered phone to your wall socket for it you will have power when mains power is "off" unless or until the line is broken in the storm or until the 'exhange batteries run down but they have a back-up automatic back-up generator anyway. If you don't have a low-power phone - just a normal answering/remote mains-powered phone - you can plug it into the UPS or the generator for "main power - and away you go.



I have quite a few UPS's - most in quite good condition - but they are of limited power and duration - so I use the generator mostly.


I think the cordless land lines are inoperable with a power outage - at least mine are - it takes the base to be activated and that takes AC,
crazy we take a dependable system like that that's immune to a power outage and make it useless,

good to have a backup good old fashioned corded phone for back-up that just uses the phone line itself for power...

Abner
10-28-2012, 12:35 PM
Reports are 7-10 days without power. We get power outages like that every so many years, worrying about a cell phone or computer is kind of ridiculous imho.

What you should worry about keeping is; keeping frozen food frozen, cold food cold, flushing toilets if you are on a well, keeping your house warm and don't forget how bad you are going to smell in a couple of days without a shower. Extra deodorant will work for a few days and after that its just gets worse. Having some sort of light when it gets dark is good. You should buy rechargeable flashlights if you have a generator, or lots of batteries. Kerosene lamps are OK but they make your eyes burn after a while, same with heavy scented candles. Extra stuff to help an ill prepared neighbor is up to you.

Oh and get all your laundry done before it hits, same with dishes, and take a shower. Get all prescriptions filled to last you a couple of weeks. Check you first aid supplies, and toilet paper. Use paper plates if you don't want to hand wash. If you have a generator get your fuel too. Get a good book or two, deck of cards or a broom and dust pan to keep busy. Resist the urge to drive around and look, if you can't make yourself useful, like you own a chainsaw, stay home and get out of the way for those that do. Never touch power lines, someone could have their generator back-feeding the system and that will kill you just as easy as regular power.

It "is not" the end of the world if you can't send e-mail. Get a grip.

lakeside53
10-28-2012, 01:34 PM
+100...

We lose power several times a year and sometimes for 7-10 days. Long outages are usually in freezing conditions also. It's "minor" inconvenience if you are prepared. Heck, in most outages DSL gives me internet access!

Cell phones? Most of our cell towers are dead in 48 hours. Some of them get refueled, but service sucks as everyone tries to get onthe few that are up.


The only problem I have is being overwhelmed helping the unprepared neighbors...

michigan doug
10-28-2012, 03:11 PM
You can make a big homebrew version of your ups. 2-8 golf cart or other deep cycle batteries and a cheap 800-1200 watt inverter gives you a lot of redundancy. You can charge the batteries when the generator is running so it is properly loaded, and you can run the generator less since you can run most of what you need from the inverter.

In a pinch, you can also run the inverter off your car.

Good luck!

doug