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CatCynic 11-05-2006 02:57 AM

generator to run studio lights on location?
I was looking at the horrible price of those "travel packs" - the huge battery sources for running studio lights on location (out of reach of a power socket). My brother suggested using a generator instead. He has, he says, used a generator successfully to power a set of Elinchrom studio strobes.

I must admit to being surprised - I thought the draw of studio strobes (plenty of amps, sporadically) would be exactly what a generator would hate :) and I wasn't sure that a generator power output (not "clean" power) would suit the strobes, either.

Has anyone (else!) used a generator with studio lights? Any information to share? Any suggestions as to the best type of generator to use? (I don't think I can afford one of those huge container ones that they use for location filming...)

Bevan 11-05-2006 03:28 AM

Re: generator to run studio lights on location?
Yes I use a generator wilh my white lightngs a lot a gen puts out a sine wave and is clean power un like the square wave inverters check the amp draw on the lighting set you wish to use "amps" I think you will find it is lower than you think. I use a little honda and have seen the new Honda 1000 work as well it Has the advantage of a cable to connect two together if you need more power for a big lighting set.and you can rent an extra one when you need it.

gaborm 11-05-2006 12:14 PM

Re: generator to run studio lights on location?
Forget the genarator, it's noisy, it stinks and you have to carry gasoline with you all the time.

I use the tronix explorer 1200 and it works like a charm. For what it costs, you can by a couple and go all day long without worries.

ChipBulgin 11-05-2006 10:44 PM

Re: generator to run studio lights on location?
I have used generators, Uninterruptable Power Supplies (UPSs), and other battery-powered solutions. None of them are particularly cheap, and depending on how much power you need, not all of them are suitable.

You need a pure sine wave output and your solution needs to deliver enough amperage to handle the current draw of your lights. Honda makes a series of generators (the EU series) that are clean, quiet, small, and perfectly suited to the task of powering strobes. They start around $700 for a unit, (EU1000i) that will supply 900W @ 7.5 Amps. That's enough for most lights up to 600 W/S. However, you're looking at about 30 lbs. and up.

You can also use an appropriately sized UPS. However, these end up costing just as much, if not more than, a photo-dedicated battery solution. In order to handle the current draw of two 300 W/S monolights, you need a 2000 VA UPS. Something in this range will run you over $1200 and weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 lbs.

A poster above mentioned the Tronix Explorer 1200. It's a reasonable choice as long as you don't intend to use it with lights that exceed 600 W/S. There's a brief article here that gives it a decent review:

Also note that according to the unit's compatibility chart:, the unit might not be compatible with some strobes that have digital output control and displays.

Among the photo-specific solutions, the AlienBees Vagabond 300 is reasonable, at ~$500, and performs very decently with 600 W/S worth of strobes. It's a little on the bulky side, though certainly easier to lug around than a generator or UPS. Other solutions, like the Dynalite XP1100 will handle power packs or monolights up to 1100 W/S, but start to get expensive.


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