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Aaron Power January 6th, 2007 09:19 AM

Question about Generators

I'm new to the concept of lighting in spaces without plugs. I'm looking for the cheapest solution to powering (yet to be purchased) two, ~200 watt lights for a few hours. Any suggestions?


Dan Keaton January 6th, 2007 10:06 AM

While certainly not the cheapest, the Honda Super Quiet series generators, such as the EU1000i, EU2000I, and EU3000is offer Honda reliability, quiet running and frequency stable output.

Please be aware that the model numbers usually reflect their peak output:

EU1000i 1000 watts max, 900 rated
EU2000i 2000 watts max, 1600 rated.
EU3000is 3000 wats max, 2800 rated.

If your needs grow, two identical units can be linked to provide double the wattage, but the paralleling option is expensive.

The prices from my local Honda dealer are: (your dealer's prices may vary)

EU1000i $699
EU2000i $899
EU3000is $1729

Please be aware that these generators are far superior to the normal put-put generator. They are quiet, fuel efficient, and provide stable power.

It is difficult to get a normal put-put generator far enough away to record sound properly. Also, they are not stable enough to power HMI lighting.

The EU2000i can power one 1.2k HMI, according to personal use reports on this site.

If your need is temporary, consider renting a generator. Or you could purchase a generator and then resell it.

Rob Wilson January 6th, 2007 10:14 AM

How about a couple of deep cycle 12 VDC Marine batteries and an inverter? Standanrd (non HMI) lights are pretty imune to noise and freq issues sometimes associated with inverters and you can pick up a 500 watt model for $50 at Sams Club.

Dan Brockett January 6th, 2007 10:27 AM

Hi Dan:

I own two EU 2000i. I built my own parallel box for less than $20.00, the Honda Parallel box is a supreme ripoff. Love these generators they are awesome.



Mark Sasahara January 7th, 2007 12:53 AM

The initial startup pull of a 1.2Kw HMI may be more than the 2000W genny can bear, you may be better off with the 3000W, but I'm not sure of the exact amount of the initial draw.

If you make your own parallel, be sure you know what you are doing. Gas fumes and electricity are very dangerous.

I've thought about building a wooden/foam/rubber type of enclosure, to isolate the genny from the set and keep the audio mixer happy. I'd have to baffle the enclosure to kill the noise and vibration, but still effectively port the exhaust fumes and heat and let fresh air in. The exhaust should face away from set. Still, the generator is gonna have to be a mile away. Bring a long stinger to get juice from the genny, to the set. Take into account voltage drop. You might have to bump up the genny voltage/revs to get proper voltage at the end of a 100' feeder.

Have a fire extinguisher near the genny, but far enough away, so that you can get it and use it, if the genny is ablaze. On one shoot, someone kept putting the fire extinguisher on top of the genny through the day. I finally caught our Producer putting it on top of the genny. I reminded him that if the fire extinguisher is on top of the flaming genny, it's usless and could possibly explode. He put the extinguisher back where I had put it, about 15, or 20 feet away from the generator.

Dan Keaton January 7th, 2007 08:35 AM

Dear Dan,

I would love to see your plans or circuit diagram for your parallel kit. We have not yet bought any of the Honda Super Quiet generators, but we are real close.

We are trying to decide on whether to get two EU2000i's or two EU3000is's. The portability of the EU2000s's is very attractive and the extra power of the EU3000is is very desirable.

Dear Mark,

We have had multiple posts from actual users, on this site and others, that have successfully used one EU2000i to power 1.2k HMI's. One user tested and used both a magnetic ballast, and an electronic ballast. Both worked well.

I also agree that the EU3000is has a better margin of power when powering the 1.2k HMI's. Generators over time will lose their tuneup/compression, etc. and put out less power, so having an extra margin of power is always a good thing. Having a 2000 watt max, 1600 watt continuous rating, as does the EU2000i, seems really close to me for the long run, for a 1.2k HMI.

I like the idea of building an extra sound enclosure.

Since these generators are of the inverter type, I do not think that one can bump up the speed of the generator to increase the voltage output.

I do know that one should have the EcoThrottle off before striking the HMI.

Dear Rob,

Yes, the inverter route may be very practical for Aaron's needs.

We have two extra heavy duty 6 volt Golf Cart batteries and a 500 watt inverter, which we purchased from Sam's. The batteries cost under $50 each. Remember you will also need a good charger.

While the inverter route may work well, using large Golf Cart batteries to achive a reasonable run time means that the whole rig gets very heavy.

We used this to power a 4 bulb, 4' KinoFlo for a few hours. It worked well. But be advised that inverters are not completely quiet as one would expect. They have a little fan noise and some emit a whine. We just place the rig away from the set and run a stinger (extension cord) to the light.

If one needs 400 watts or more, for more than 2 hours, then I would consider buying more batteries. Then you can keep two batteries ready for when the first set is exhausted. You can test the rig with your lights and then buy more batteries as appropriate.

Alternatively, you can put four batteries in series and then purchase an inverter designed for 24 volt DC input (much more expensive). But then you either need a 24 volt charger, or charge the batteries as 2 separate 12 volts batteries, using two 12 volt chargers.

Caution, the garden variety 500 watt inverter will fail if connected to 24 volts DC.

Going the inverter route, it is deirable to invest in good, modern battery chargers. Even so, it will take some time to full charge these large golf cart
batteries. Remember that you have to lug the batteries back to where you are going to recharge them.

Additional Information:

We are currently involved in a project to install our Golf Cart Batteries/Inverter in our grip truck. Our two large batteries will be connected in series making a 12 volt battery.

The negative will be grounded to the truck chassis.

The postive of the large battery setup (+12 volts) will be connected via a special continuous duty (21 ohm coil resistance) solenoid to the trucks 12 volt positive battery post.

One side of the solenoid coil will be grounded.

The other side will go to a single pole, double pole, center off switch. One leg will go to the large battery +12 volt post (the "Emergency Position"), and the other to a circuit in the truck that is on when the ignition switch is on (the "Normal" position").

With this setup:

With the switch in the "Normal" position, then both batteries will be used to start the truck, and both batteries will be charged from the trucks alternator.

If the truck's ignition switch if off, then the two battery sets will be isolated to prevent drain of the batteries as each battery set tries to charge the other.

The switch will normally be left in the "Normal" position. In this position the system is fully automatic. With the truck starting or running, both batteries are used and charged. With the truck off, the inverter is powered solely by the large Golf Cart batteries and the truck's battery will not be drained.

If the truck's battery ever fails, the the switch should be switched to the other ("Emergency") position and then the truck can be started from the Golf Cart batteries. After starting the truck, the switch should be restored to the normal position.

With the switch in the center off ("Isolated") position, the two battery sets are fully isolated from each other. This position is available in case the Golf Cart batteries die. (To prevent damage to the truck's alternator in attempting to charge a completely dead or defective battery.)

Please note that most inverters will shut off when the battery reaches around 10 to 10.5 volts. This is to prevent damage to the battery. So when the large batteries are exhausted, the battery will still be at 10 volts or above and the trucks alternator should be able to recharge the battery without problems.

Aaron Power January 7th, 2007 10:05 AM

Most of the language above is greek to me. The honda's are a bit too expensive for what I was thinking (I was looking around $300 if that's at all reasonable, which is why I'm asking) and it would be powering simple standing work lights (something like this >> http://www.cumminstools.com/browse.cfm/4,283.html)

Dan Keaton January 7th, 2007 10:20 AM

Dear Aaron,

I will be happy to assist.

I tried to send you an email, but your profile does not include your email address.

Just click on my name in the upper left, then click on "Email" then send me an email. Then I will send you my phone number.

The lights that you linked to are two 500 watt lights. these produce a very harsh light with a lot of contrast. You will need to difuse these lights.

But more importantly, this is too much power for an battery/inverter setup, except for a very short time.

I will be happy to assist you via the phone to discuss your exact situation.

Mark Sasahara January 7th, 2007 01:32 PM

Dan K, thanks!

I've also been thinking about the Honda 2Kw genny. It's pretty quiet and it's so small. Could be the ticket for shooting outside. I see a lot of TV vans with a cable coming out of the vehicle powering a couple of HMI's and they're pretty quiet. I'm assuming they're uisng a similar blimped genny. But on the streets of NYC, there's so much other noise, another little bit will hardly be noticable.

I like your golf cart battery power scheme for your truck.

Dan Keaton January 7th, 2007 03:35 PM

Dear Mark,

Thanks for the comments about the system for the grip truck. We are looking forward to installing it.

I believe most television trucks have a very substantial generator installed on the truck. They need a lot of power.

John Hartney January 7th, 2007 04:08 PM

We use two of the Yamaha yg2800 inverter generators:

From the Manufacturer
"Yamaha has created the quietest, smallest, and lightest generator of its kind. The YG2800IH is a 2800 watt generator which uses inverter technology with a sixteen-pole rotor with twenty-four coil stator and Pulse Width Modulation inverter. The YG2800IH is ideal for equipment that requires stable frequency and voltage. Voltage output stability is so "clean" that it can power microcomputers or sophisticated electronics, a feature that most generators cannot duplicate. "Economy Control" automatically adjusts engine speed to precisely match power demand. When the demand for power is low, the generator runs at a low engine speed, as power demand increases, the engine speed increases accordingly. The inverter system is the next generation of generator technology."

Ther're quiet, easy to start, maintain, light enough to move to locations easily, and small enough to baffle easily.

Here's a link to Amazon where we bought ours:


We bring these to location in the bed of an 93 toyota stick pickup that we are usually able to park close to the staging area. I ground them to the chassis and have a sound baffle that closes across the top of the bed to make it very quiet.
I also recommend to use 10 gauge stingers to cut line loss, and split to short 12 or 14 gauge when setting lights.

I like the Honda products, too.

Mark Sasahara January 7th, 2007 04:30 PM

Dan, I mean the regular panel vans, like the Ford F250/350, not a big sat truck. I was assuming these local news trucks had a 2Kw genny.

I know there's a ton of gear inside, is it a larger genny? I've never had the chance to ask, they're usually busy.

John Hartney January 7th, 2007 10:14 PM


I went back and read your post... I don't think you'll find a generator worth anything for $300... consider this:


Basically a 1500 watt battery with a built in inverter and comes in at only $139. Two of those may meet your needs, and they would be quiet!

Dan Keaton January 8th, 2007 08:13 AM

Dear Mark,

The Honda EU2000i is a 1600 watt rated generator. I would assume that with all of the electronics inside that they would have a larger generator.

I will check out our local stations' trucks.

Brian Drysdale January 8th, 2007 10:23 AM

Why don't you just hire the generator. It's crazy to buy kit for a few hours shooting - $300 would be more than enough to hire a gene and have money left over to hire extra lights.

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