Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

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vinuela vinny
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Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

Postby vinuela vinny » Fri May 26, 2017 5:57 pm

Wondered if any of you Gurus out there might be able to help......

We live in the campo, and suffer occasional cuts in our electricity supply, which are usually off-on within seconds, but on odd occasions, can last one or more hours before the Endesa guys put things right again....... They are more annoying than a problem for us, but others become quite exasperated. One of our upset neighbours was holding forth this lunchtime, that he intends to buy a 2.5kw generator - apparently €250 from Bricomart - and have it on standby to use in these (quite rare) power cuts, by plugging the generator into the house power system at one of the normal power sockets......

There was a heated discussion as to whether such a system would work or not, and probably more importantly, whether there might be some damage to what we used to call in the UK, the consumer unit (where all the fuses are - apologies for my lack of technical expertise), or to appliances such as broadband routers or televisions, etc, and particularly when the normal power supply came back on......

Any thoughts would be welcomed, hopefully before we cause too much damage to our installations or ourselves!

Thanks in advance


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Re: Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

Postby gerryh » Fri May 26, 2017 6:44 pm

vinuela vinny plugging the generator into the house power system at one of the normal power sockets....

NO NO NO :thumbdown: :thumbdown:
OK he might get away with it IF he first switches off the mains supply at the consumer unit otherwise there could be power from the generator and from the main supply when it comes back on.
A "2.5kw generator - apparently €250 from Bricomart" will not be a high quality item. Instead of producing a nice steady 230V with a perfect 50Hz sine wave it is likely to produce a very variable voltage with an very undefined and regulated wave, probably, at beast a square wave.
Sensitive electronic equipment like TVs, computers and anything controlled by a micro chip which, these days, includes microwave ovens, washing machines etc. might not react well to operating under these conditions.
However a standby system with a decent, very expensive generator and a proper switch over system will work.

This is my personal opinion. Others will probably disagree but I wouldn't risk doing it unless I had a proper, regulated system installed.

Gerry Harris

Tom W Amigo
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Re: Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

Postby Tom W » Fri May 26, 2017 7:52 pm

I'm certainly no expert on electrics but could it not also run back out to the grid and fry the poor chap fixing the fault?
I know that in UK you need a G59 box to prevent this from happening during a power cut.

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Re: Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

Postby Flexo » Fri May 26, 2017 8:47 pm

There are plenty of pitfalls involved with these sort of things, given the nature of your question you would have to ask a professional electrician to set up a system (the cheapest option is a true sine wave generator with a manual select switch (grid vs generator). An automated system cost way more. Feeding back to the grid here in Spain is a very controversial subject (and the real reason for the controversial solar tax) and is not something you can expect doing and get anything in return from.

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Re: Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

Postby olive » Fri May 26, 2017 9:42 pm

Ups back up might be the answer. Depends what exactly the problem is. E.g.losing tv signal while box reboots. Rechargeable torches.

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Re: Use of a Generator during Power Cuts

Postby TorreDelAguila » Sat May 27, 2017 7:36 am

All the cautions and Don'ts above are correct. Don't do it.

Properly switched (manual changeover switch, or automatic device) a home standby generator can be handy, but don't expect a 2500watt generator to do a lot more than light duty (lighting, fridge/freezer, radio, tv, water pump, etc.).

The dependable power these small generators provide is a bit more than half their advertised figure, particularly if motors or fluorescent lights are involved (ie inductive items). A 700W water pump will hit a 2500W generator quite hard, when it kicks in, possibly causing other devices to cut out. At 2500W, forget being able normally use normal kettles, water heaters, pool pumps, washing machines, dishwashers, even thirsty vacuum cleaners. You'll need to keep these switched off by-and-large.

We have a 2500W unit (Honda-Pramac), properly installed with a changeover switch, and have had it's been there for 10 years +. Has been a real boon on a number of occasions (like a 5-hour blackout on a Christmas Day, with a houseful of guests). It cost about €350 in Leroy's. If I were buying one again, it would be 5000W though.

Olive's remark about a UPS (SAI in Spain) is right. When the mains fails, by the time you go scrabbling about to get the generator running, the computer/box/whatever will have died, and data/settings lost. UPS is the answer here. APC Back-UPS 700 is a good unit, and available ( at a decent price. Others available, of course.

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