Generators for power

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by walknbluez, Jul 18, 2008.

  1. We were asked to do a gig for a club that is having an event on an airfield and there is no power where they are in the field. They have Honda generators (very quiet). I told them I would have to get back to them because I was concerned about running instruments on generators. Is this even possible? If anyone has done this, please tell me your experiences.
  2. toobalicious


    May 6, 2008
    triad, nc
    it is ok. just make sure the generators are grounded properly. as long as it is properly regulated, the power is really no different than that coming to your house from the power company. at least, IMHO. i must point out that i have no proof of that other than my experience using generators with no apparent problems. acoustics are awesome in a big open field, almost anechoic. make sure you have plenty of power, and that the generators can support it.
  3. Great thanks. How do I know if they are properly grounded and what would plenty of power be?
  4. toobalicious


    May 6, 2008
    triad, nc
    gee, sorry. hope your show wasnt tonight.

    to ground it, there will be an actual ground rod that will need to be driven into the ground. i think the recommendation is something like 6-8' (as in, feet deep), but that is kind of impractical, as you would need machinery to extract it. you wont be pulling it out by hand, and might need a sledgehammer to drive it. when i did utilities, we had a 10lb sledge head with a piece of 1 1/2" steel tubing welded as a handle. you could then use it almost like a slide-hammer until it got low enough to swing the hammer. sometimes the ground rods are kind of like a corkscrew, but that may or may not be helpful depending on the ground.
    as far as the power requirements, you will have to do some math. count all PA (including rack stuff and amps) and lights, too. you may have to guestimate on requirements, as they often arent listed. for example, the supply on my GK 700RB head is rated at 220 watts average and 615 peak. not speaker watts, mind you. dont be surprised if your power amps are rated @ 1500-2000 watts a piece. of course, this would be instantaneous draw, not continuous. OTOH, an average 100 watt tubed guitar head only draws 3-400 watts. the wattage of your lights, however, has to be figured as a constant draw (because they do). if you dont go conservative, you might simply work the $hit out of the generator(s), experience voltage drop (some digital gear has issues, and your hammond might go flat), or worse. or not. depends on how lucky you are, i suppose.
  5. Nope, the gig isn't until October. Thanks for the specifics, they are going to be very helpful.
  6. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    I've been involved in a bunch of generator gigs.

    I'd pass on the gig. Failing that, someone would be renting me backline.
  7. Can you elaborate? Why would you pass on the gig (as you said you've done a bunch of them so you didn't pass on them)? Thanks!
  8. Johnny Crab

    Johnny Crab HELIX user & BOSE Abuser

    Feb 11, 2004
    The stuff the power company sells you directly just comes from much bigger and much more expensive generators(usually gas turbines or steam turbines connected to the generator portion to turn it). We have some here.

    The main thing besides grounding and regulation is to SURE that the local "field" generator(s) can handle the surge current/max current of what's hooked to it. Should that not be the case..... you will hear the volume going up and down, distortion on peaks, and possibly have some gear shutdown. I've experienced the above at a poorly-powered(not enough current capacity) outdoor show before.
  9. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    What's the potential worst-case scenario - in terms of its impact upon your gear - for a generator gig that goes terribly awry? Anyone? :meh:

  10. toobalicious


    May 6, 2008
    triad, nc
    you get electrocuted.

    ok, so not impact on your gear, per say. i guess it would depend on what exactly went awry. i suppose with gear, the worst thing that could happen to *it* is it gets fried. and certainly that is a possibility, though hopefully a remote one.
  11. Howlin' Hanson

    Howlin' Hanson Lighter cabs, please.

    Sep 3, 2007
    Austin TX
    It's not very likely that the generators will fry your gear.

    As stated earlier, the most likely thing is that the combined gear (especially if there are lights) will need more combined power than the generators will produce. Sound levels will drop, motors (fans, Hammond organs) won't turn as fast or will vary in speed. Total loss of sound. Then the generator surges back up. Your gear won't like any of this, but it should survive, unless the generator is struck by lightning.

    At least, that's what I understand. Is anyone here an electrical engineer?

    It seems to me they would need at least three (four if lights) of those Honda generators to power a rock band. But I'm just guessing. Somebody REALLY needs to do the math to determine power consumption of the gear and compare it to the output of the generators.
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