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alien bees with gas generator???
Old 03-06-2006, 10:37 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I have been searching the forums looking for the answer, the answer whether or not it is safe to use alien bees with a gas generator, Since being from hurricane alley I do have three generators in various power outputs, but the question remains, can I use the alien bees without blowing them up? Trying to quickly get the answer so I can set up my "industrial glamour" shoot with a gal on a fatboy with nothing but a pair of chaps, sorry my helpers are already lined up. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

Dusty

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Re: alien bees with gas generator???
Old 03-06-2006, 11:01 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I've also had this question myself. The only thing that their website mentions is that the voltage has to be of a pure sine wave. Alot of your low end inverters create a modified sine-wave AC voltage. The inverters that AB sells with their battery packs are supposedly of the pure sine wave type. To be honest, I don't know for sure if a portable generator creates this type of sine wave. If you do a search of the model or if you go through your tech data from your generator you should find this info.

I'd be glad to hear what you find out.

Good luck

Joe [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tongue.gif[/img]
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Re: alien bees with gas generator???
Old 03-06-2006, 11:28 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Just call 'em up. They are really nice to talk with and you can get one of the engineers on the phone very easily. Just ask for an Alien Bee specialist, then make sure to give them the specs on what you have. Heck they even gave me a Radio Shack part number for a sync cord for to my Pocket Wizards rather than try to sell me one. I think 'Joe' is the guy I usually talk tech with there.

http://www.alienbees.com

Or you can look towards the bottom of this page for the answer under the topic "Generators' [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/blush.gif[/img]

http://www.alienbees.com/questions.html
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Re: alien bees with gas generator???
Old 03-07-2006, 12:15 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Actually, you don't need to call the folks at Buff... you need to look in the manual that comes with your generator.

As has been said before, the Bees (and others that use similar power supplies) want a sine wave and not a square wave.

It's all in how the electricity is generated and regulated, so check in the manual where they're talking about regulation and if it doesn't say that it's a sine wave (I know that Honda produces consumer generators that are sine wave and I'm sure others do as well), I wouldn't plug 'em in there.

For example, from the Honda web site:

[ QUOTE ]
The Honda Inverter Technology makes this generator ideally suited for use with sensitive electronics (e.g., computer, printer, and other sensitive electronic equipment) because the generator produces a clean sine wave of energy that prevents surging.

[/ QUOTE ]

Your wall plug delivers sine waves at 60 cycles every second, so that's what you're looking for in a generator that'll be driving electronics (like my ham radios or your strobes).

G'luck!

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Re: alien bees with gas generator???
Old 03-07-2006, 01:35 AM   #5 (permalink)
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why would you not be able to..?

if you can run cd players and tv's and computers...

why not some lights...?

put a surge protect.. between them..?

i have run 500 w photo lights with no prob. (they were not bees tho.)

michael
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Not a problem.
Old 03-07-2006, 06:54 AM   #6 (permalink)
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You can safely power four of the B800 units (for example) with a 4.5 kW generator. I think you are going to have enough fault tolerance in a standard generator set to avoid any major problems.

Use a surge arrestor, if there isn't one already in the load center of the generator set.

Don't be overly concerned about waveform distortion. The bees are pretty tolerant of line distortion, as long as the generator isn't producing square waves and the crest factor is close to that of a sine wave (a true sine wave generator is of course perfect, but those are $pendy).

The generator should be at least voltage-limited so that it doesn't start producing an output of over 130 volts when momentarily overloaded; keep in mind that the lights will draw nearly 18 Amperes each for the first ten or fifteen ac cycles when the capacitors are being recharged. The current is the same, regardless of the power setting, and it just lasts for a shorter period of time when the power is reduced.

Ideally, one would use a constant current or current limiting regulated generator; the Bees don't mind voltage sags, and will just happily charge their capacitors at whatever current one wishes to provide, assuming the RMS voltage doesn't dip below about 85.

If push comes to shove, the whole swarm of bees can be sourced through an ac capacitor bank, sized for the maximum generator output: for 4.5 kW, that would be, what, about 800 uF sounds right, so make it 4X 200 uF motor-run 120 VAC caps in parallel. Shunt the capacitor bank with a 7-1/2 Watt light bulb to provide a resistive return for the control circuitry, and you're set to go. I really don't think you will need to resort to that, though.

- Micheal Morgan, PCB R&D supervisor
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Re: alien bees with gas generator???
Old 03-07-2006, 07:57 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks for the reply everyone who replied had some very good info
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Re: alien bees with gas generator???
Old 03-07-2006, 07:58 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks for the reply everyone who replied had some very good info, liked the link you sent from AB also
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Re: alien bees with gas generator???
Old 03-07-2006, 08:01 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Thanks for the reply, everyone who replied had some very good info, just talking about all the tech stuff can get confusing
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Re: alien bees with gas generator???
Old 03-07-2006, 08:03 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Thanks for the reply everyone who replied had some very good info, if I used plain hot lights, I don't think I would worry but...I don't want to blow up my strobes, got a box full of novatrons that don't work
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