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Thread: Shop power Question

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    GTA Ontario Canada
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    12,260

    Shop power Question

    I have been busy on and off for the past few weeks getting my new shop insulated and sorted especially dedicating time to it to get it ready for winter.

    Now the question has arisen as to what i do for power.

    Here is status quo and thoughts

    1) I am renting, dont expect to be here for more than i have to at present its a year but in all likelyhood probably gonna be 2 by the time we out given all that has to transpire for this to happen.

    2) Current shop power in fact house power is disgusting to say least. Current owners parent (deceased) was supposedly and electrician. Its an old house and panel is at the very end of the basement furtherest from the garage side of the house with basement ceiling all sealed up with a type of ceiling that makes access today not possible without destructive damage that is not repairable since system used is no longer on market.

    Current shop has one receptacle wired off the lights of which there are 4 light bulb receptacles attached. So i can run one machine barely and watch lights dim (meaning my power tools (even electric drill i was using) are not getting the right voltage for the current they using.

    Entire garage is detached from house by i am guessing 15 feet and then after full length garage the "new" shop is an extension out the back end of the garage. So you could not have a longer line from the panel all the way to the single receptacle and i cannot tell what guage the wire is its that old stuff thats coated with woven material.

    3) I have already sunk more than i would like into this property which i will not get back. Its my part of saying heck i need my shop fix and sanity so what. Owners will not entertain change generally. To give you an idea i had offered to have a contractor upgrade the bathroom at my expense but they would not go for it. (Bathroom and kitchen do not even have extractor fans....but i am dealing with that my McGyver way in such a manner that when i go they will be removed )

    So i am pretty constrained but that has never stopped me before and it aint gonna do so now. So....

    I been thinking......

    given the good neighbors i have and the distance that seperates us together with the fact that the house at the rear is vacant waiting for builder to demolish and rebuild (whole area is undergoing lots of this kind of upgrading....very good area just old)

    given i do not at the moment posses a generator of any kind and as a good boy scout i have always wanted to have one to be prepared for an emergency when power is out (only experienced once in 10 years)

    given i have plans to move to country land where i suspect power authorities will far sooner cut power to save their necks and infrastructure

    a generator may be a good plan to buy.

    I am not and never do think in terms of small generator. If i go this route my own electrical knowledge will have me getting one that is beefier than i need and will have a 220v output on it too.

    Thing is i aint a generator specialist but what i do know has me worrying about running our machines on it. Running lightbulbs off a generator no biggie. But plant and machinery well we get into the quality of the sine wave it generates and its no load to full load response and ability to hold the voltage pumping out amps.

    Its been more years than i care to think of since i had anything to do with this kind of kit and heck i dont want to spend all winter procrastinating and becoming a small generator expert in order to buy without having remorse after. Also dont want a thumping big unit that i cannot move on my own and need it to be relatively quiet when its running. My thoughts are running it in winter for the duration i am likely to do so will not be an issue with the neighbors as to noise given we all close up tight on double pain windows in winter.

    So my question to you all is what your thoughts are in this respect. Can any of you offer experiences you have had running our type of woodworking machinery on a generator like must happen in the case of jobsites where power has not been supplied and only ends up being supplied late in the day of the build.

    Things i am most concerned about are items such as say the variable speed controls on something like a router. Its not a simple pot anymore to do this variable speed and i have no idea what the power tool front end expects the quality of the ac input to look like.

    Also any recommendations on generator brands or preferably specifications in the generator output i should look for.

    Thanks for any and all suggestions.....

    A heavy duty and i mean using purchased cable extension has cross my mind except the means to gain access to both the house and panel just has it dead in the water.

    Yeah Bill i know hand tools dont need power. But i want to do some lathe work before Xmas and i am not going to be making a foot powered lathe
    cheers

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Escondido, CA
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    5,173
    I'm watching this one, too. The tool trailer build will need independent power for 220V, unless I can trade my table saw and lathe for 110V models.

    As for brands, I have heard only good things about Honda. Especially about their low noise factor.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
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    13,454
    My thought it that a plain old generator will work just fine (non-inverter type). It would be the closest thing to good old wall power that you can get, but I'd consider either one that has a surge protector built in or protect the machinery with a surge protector rated for the size of tool being used. You also could look at running through a good sized UPS or power conditioner. I've ran several things (tv, fridge, computers, etc) off the large one I have at the house when running my generator just as extra insurance.

    The honda's that I've heard have been the quietest, was standing next to one of those skil saw sized ones and didn't even realize it was running. I've got an older Coleman with the briggs and straton engine, a Caterpillar Diesel is quiet compared to it. Not to say that they haven't improved them since it was made.

    Last edited by Darren Wright; 11-29-2012 at 04:59 PM.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    GTA Ontario Canada
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    12,260
    Thanks Darren the idea of the UPS was just what I needed to shake up my brain. That would clean up the power for more sensitive items. I have and make use of a decent sized UPS for my office equipment (whole lot). They not that expensive today either.

    Carol my jointer is 220V so i gotta get a 220v if i want to be able to use it. Besides if one is thinking like i am i want to have 220v available to run other things like say a welder.

    Also just found out there are propane units out there that are supposed to be a little quiter. Personally this appeals to me especially after seeing the aftermath of rationing of gas on LI given gas stations require power to pump gas. Then there is the stale gas aspect to deal with too. And thinking Rv well we have two propane tanks already so if i was to need it when using the travel trailer then propane would be handy and no need to transport gas canisters which i never manage to do without having it on my hands somewhere also no filling like gas easier to just connect the bottle.
    They seem a little more expensive but marginal. Just never heard of it before so not sure if its long term reliable?

    Anyone had experience with a propane powered generator?
    cheers

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Bellingham
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    2,449
    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Keeble View Post
    Yeah Bill i know hand tools dont need power. But i want to do some lathe work before Xmas and i am not going to be making a foot powered lathe
    Well, now I have nothing to say, as you said it for me.
    “When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.” - John Ruskin
    “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” - Oscar Wilde

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Floydada, Tx
    Posts
    1,941
    Look for a used one from a motor home. They are real quite and can push alot of power.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Amherst, New Hampshire
    Posts
    10,604
    Propane is quieter, but are they going to let you install a propane tank? 20 gallon rv tanks are not going to last very long. Few hours each maybe.
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Dennison, MN
    Posts
    512
    Pull a new sub-panel?

    I spent over $4k wiring my new shop, (which is rented), when I moved in two years ago.
    "Do, or do not. There is no try."
    -Yoda



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
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    4,699
    Not an expert, but I've dealt with more junky power than I'd have liked.. Most shop tools aren't super sensitive to power quality unlike electronics but if you're buying for the long run some attention to that would be worth a little bit.

    Random google search result for scope pictures of poor power: http://www.jkovach.net/projects/powerquality/ Scroll to the bottom to see what cheap generators put out.

    Honda has a decent overview of the output quality various generator types http://powerequipment.honda.com/gene...enerator#Power

    Personally I'd recommend just buying a tractor and a PTO generator.. cause then you.. well have a tractor

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
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    13,454
    Dunno the layout of the grid around your house. Would it be cheaper to just have a panel and mast installed on the garage and have the power company make a new drop with a meter to it? There would be a monthly charge for the meter, but may be cheaper than trying to pull something from the house.
    Darren

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

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