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Author Topic: Help With Lithium Power Generator Decision  (Read 1008 times)

Louis Miller

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Help With Lithium Power Generator Decision
« on: May 03, 2021, 03:48:34 pm »

Hello!

I'm putting on a live outdoor event later this month and I'm trying to decide what lithium generator (or combination of generatiors) will be sufficient.  I'm choosing between buying:

Goal Zero Yeti 3000
https://www.goalzero.com/shop/archive-power/goal-zero-yeti-3000-lithium-portable-power-station-app/

or

A pair of Bluetti EB2400s
https://www.bluetti.com/products/blutti-1500wh-portable-power-station

I have a coupon for the Yeti and can get it for about $2400, so if it is sufficient I'd sooner buy the Yeti than the pair of Bluettis for $3000.

 The concert will run about 6-7 hours, and I'll be powering

- 2x Fender Expo Line-Array PA Columns
POWER REQUIREMENT 100-240V ~ 50/60Hz, 600W (doesn't specify continuous vs. max)

- 1 Yamaha MGP16x Mixing Board
55 W Max

- 1 Fender Champ 25 SE
25 W speaker, 100 W max

- 1 PolyTone MiniBrute III Guitar/Bass Amp


As far as I can tell, the decision hinges primarily on total watt-hours.  I know that it can be tough to tell the actual power draw/hour when the volume is variable, so my instinct was to get the full 5000 wH in the two Bluettis, but then I read this post on gearspace:

"Buy a Yeti 1000 at Costco, for purposes of audio it's practically the equivalent of a standard 20 amp wall outlet. Not exaggerating, I have used one Yeti 1000 to power a pair of Bose F1 tops, a very loud and inefficient Orange guitar head, a tube amp bass guitar head, and a myriad of small electronics, all at the same time.

I have used the Yeti 1000 [1000 wH]  multiple dozens of times at outdoor events and can vouch for it. I have a pair of Alto TS208's, so the TS210's smaller sibling but same amplifier, and one Yeti 1000 will power a pair of TS210's for at least eight hours, easily, and that's if you're really pushing them hard."


So if the Yeti 1000 can power two large powered PA speakers for 8+ hours, am I wrong in assuming that the 3000 could run my show for 7 hours with plenty left to spare?  Thanks for any input here,  it's a big investment and I need all the help I can get!

-Lou
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MattLeonard

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Re: Help With Lithium Power Generator Decision
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2021, 05:20:21 pm »

This is my niche - doing smaller systems, almost always off-grid (protests, rallies, press conferences, parades/floats etc), and I don't own a single gas generator. You can absolutely DIY a battery/inverter setup for cheaper than any of the brand name so-called "solar generators" - but, the form factor and simplicity of those units is a nice perk. I have several 1500 watt Inergy units, and various lithium batteries and inverters up to 6,000 watts/50 amps.

First - anything with Class D amplifiers will sip power. The 1/8th RMS rating (that any amp/powered speaker should spec) is pretty realistic for most musical program material - more if really bass-heavy, and less if it's a lot of speech.

Get yourself a kill-a-watt meter - plug everything in, and you'll get a good estimate of your power usage . Rrom there, you can figure out an appropriately-sized inverter and battery. I'm guessing your whole setup will only draw 300-500 watts at most. Multiply that by the number of hours you want to operate - give a margin of safety - and that's the battery you need.

In terms of Goal Zero - fine units, but geared towards more of a tailgating/car camping/prepper market - and very overpriced for what they are. But they are well-designed. The Bluetti stuff tends to be more affordable, but similarly well designed.

The challenge with most of these units is they have a fixed  battery capacity - I often don't have huge loads (I can easily run 4x powered speakers and peripherals on a 1500w inverter) - but how long I need to run them is key. So, having the ability to expand your battery bank is important - and few of the common solar generator systems allow this. Inergy does (their new Flex system is shipping this month), as does Titan (but they are quite big and heavy), and there are new units popping up constantly from new/no-name companies that do too - take your chances.

But if you up for modest DIY'ing it - you could spend ~$1,500-2,000 on an inverter, charger, cables/breakers/fuses, and LiFeP04 batteries  - and have more flexibility and more power for less cost. Follow Will Prowse on YouTube if you want to explore this route.

Hello!

I'm putting on a live outdoor event later this month and I'm trying to decide what lithium generator (or combination of generatiors) will be sufficient.  I'm choosing between buying:

Goal Zero Yeti 3000
https://www.goalzero.com/shop/archive-power/goal-zero-yeti-3000-lithium-portable-power-station-app/

or

A pair of Bluetti EB2400s
https://www.bluetti.com/products/blutti-1500wh-portable-power-station

I have a coupon for the Yeti and can get it for about $2400, so if it is sufficient I'd sooner buy the Yeti than the pair of Bluettis for $3000.

 The concert will run about 6-7 hours, and I'll be powering

- 2x Fender Expo Line-Array PA Columns
POWER REQUIREMENT 100-240V ~ 50/60Hz, 600W (doesn't specify continuous vs. max)

- 1 Yamaha MGP16x Mixing Board
55 W Max

- 1 Fender Champ 25 SE
25 W speaker, 100 W max

- 1 PolyTone MiniBrute III Guitar/Bass Amp


As far as I can tell, the decision hinges primarily on total watt-hours.  I know that it can be tough to tell the actual power draw/hour when the volume is variable, so my instinct was to get the full 5000 wH in the two Bluettis, but then I read this post on gearspace:

"Buy a Yeti 1000 at Costco, for purposes of audio it's practically the equivalent of a standard 20 amp wall outlet. Not exaggerating, I have used one Yeti 1000 to power a pair of Bose F1 tops, a very loud and inefficient Orange guitar head, a tube amp bass guitar head, and a myriad of small electronics, all at the same time.

I have used the Yeti 1000 [1000 wH]  multiple dozens of times at outdoor events and can vouch for it. I have a pair of Alto TS208's, so the TS210's smaller sibling but same amplifier, and one Yeti 1000 will power a pair of TS210's for at least eight hours, easily, and that's if you're really pushing them hard."


So if the Yeti 1000 can power two large powered PA speakers for 8+ hours, am I wrong in assuming that the 3000 could run my show for 7 hours with plenty left to spare?  Thanks for any input here,  it's a big investment and I need all the help I can get!

-Lou
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Steve-White

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Re: Help With Lithium Power Generator Decision
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2021, 08:40:30 pm »

For an outdoor event keep it simple - rent a quiet inverter generator - done.  Save your money.

If its something you are going to do doing repeatedly, a Honda EB2800i is $1000, needs less maintenance and will outlast rechargeable batteries significantly.
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Louis Miller

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Re: Help With Lithium Power Generator Decision
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2021, 11:33:46 pm »

This is my niche - doing smaller systems, almost always off-grid (protests, rallies, press conferences, parades/floats etc), and I don't own a single gas generator. You can absolutely DIY a battery/inverter setup for cheaper than any of the brand name so-called "solar generators" - but, the form factor and simplicity of those units is a nice perk. I have several 1500 watt Inergy units, and various lithium batteries and inverters up to 6,000 watts/50 amps.

First - anything with Class D amplifiers will sip power. The 1/8th RMS rating (that any amp/powered speaker should spec) is pretty realistic for most musical program material - more if really bass-heavy, and less if it's a lot of speech.

Get yourself a kill-a-watt meter - plug everything in, and you'll get a good estimate of your power usage . Rrom there, you can figure out an appropriately-sized inverter and battery. I'm guessing your whole setup will only draw 300-500 watts at most. Multiply that by the number of hours you want to operate - give a margin of safety - and that's the battery you need.

In terms of Goal Zero - fine units, but geared towards more of a tailgating/car camping/prepper market - and very overpriced for what they are. But they are well-designed. The Bluetti stuff tends to be more affordable, but similarly well designed.

The challenge with most of these units is they have a fixed  battery capacity - I often don't have huge loads (I can easily run 4x powered speakers and peripherals on a 1500w inverter) - but how long I need to run them is key. So, having the ability to expand your battery bank is important - and few of the common solar generator systems allow this. Inergy does (their new Flex system is shipping this month), as does Titan (but they are quite big and heavy), and there are new units popping up constantly from new/no-name companies that do too - take your chances.

But if you up for modest DIY'ing it - you could spend ~$1,500-2,000 on an inverter, charger, cables/breakers/fuses, and LiFeP04 batteries  - and have more flexibility and more power for less cost. Follow Will Prowse on YouTube if you want to explore this route.

Thanks, this is super-helpful!  One last question:  when I measure the power demand with the kill-a-watt meter, I'll turn the speakers and amps up to the right volume level, but is it important that the speakers actually be producing sound when I measure the power?  Can they be turned up but silent?  Thanks, very much, again.  -Louis
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Craig Leerman

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Re: Help With Lithium Power Generator Decision
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2021, 11:49:35 pm »

I regularly use some small inverter generators for gigs. I bought A-Ipower units from Costco when they were on sale years ago. I have blue ones that use a Yamaha engine. The newer design has wheels and a handle.

I also have some red ones I got from Home Depot that were cheaper but dont use a Yamaha engine. They seem to be just as good. My inventory also includes a few Sportsman mini inverter generators. They were cheap at an auction so I bought them.

I like using gas generators because I always bring a spare in case a unit dies. Many small inverter generators are under $500 each and you can get them at Home Depot, Lowes, Costco, etc. or online.

Also, on longer gigs I can refill a generator, unlike a battery
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David Morison

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Re: Help With Lithium Power Generator Decision
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2021, 08:15:39 am »

Thanks, this is super-helpful!  One last question:  when I measure the power demand with the kill-a-watt meter, I'll turn the speakers and amps up to the right volume level, but is it important that the speakers actually be producing sound when I measure the power?  Can they be turned up but silent?  Thanks, very much, again.  -Louis

The only way that the power demand measurement will be realistic is if the speakers are up at gig/event volume.
If you found a way of decoupling the speakers from their amps and still turned up the amps, the power draw would be lower as the amps would not be delivering current into a real load.

IOW, "turned up but silent" won't work, and is likely not even be possible for a self powered system anyway.

Cheers,
David.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2021, 08:19:11 am by David Morison »
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MattLeonard

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Re: Help With Lithium Power Generator Decision
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2021, 11:43:16 am »

For an outdoor event keep it simple - rent a quiet inverter generator - done.  Save your money.

If its something you are going to do doing repeatedly, a Honda EB2800i is $1000, needs less maintenance and will outlast rechargeable batteries significantly.

I would counter this - with modern lithium (LI, or LiFeP04) batteries - there is basically zero maintenance. Maybe tossing them on a charger every ~6 months if you haven't used them in a while. But no fuel to buy, transport, store, or spill. No filters to change, no parts to grease, no moving parts to wear out. Modern batteries will last 2,000-5,000 cycles easily - 10+ years with more-than-weekly use.

And depending on the frequency of use - the fuel/maintenance costs of a gennie add up over time - whereas my solar-powered rigs don't cost me a dime past the initial purchase.
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Frank Koenig

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Re: Help With Lithium Power Generator Decision
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2021, 01:02:27 pm »

Matt is giving some good guidance here. More generally, while there are folks who'll insist on an IC engine until they pry it out of their stinky, diesel-soaked hands, I believe batteries are the future in these applications. Electric road vehicles, aircraft, and stationery power storage are driving battery development. As I've said before in these pages, MQ power and their ilk would do well to be developing trailer-mounted 50 - 200 kWh battery-inverter units that could power good-sized outdoor events.  Imagine being able to park the thing right next to the stage with no noise, no stink, no huge power cable, no wet-stacking, and "hi-fi" 60.0000 Hz sine-wave power. Given what a new Whisper Watt costs and where battery prices are going these are going to reach parity before too long, especially when maintenance is taken into account. My 2 Wh.

--Frank
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lindsay Dean

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Re: Help With Lithium Power Generator Decision
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2021, 01:25:00 pm »

Slight swerve here
  The battery powered alternative for gas generators and vehicles
  Electric cars rear its ugly head again,  where do you charge ?
 almost no infrastructure to support electric vehicles not to mention their laughable driving range and the power stations to do it on an already aging electrical grid system.
 Science supported articles out there that talk about batteries that can hardly be recycled and the chemicals can last over a hundred years.
  Where are we supposed to dump all these gigantic quantities of batteries that cannot be recycled.
 It's very similar to the plastic bottle recycling hoax . If you have a minute look up the gigantic islands of plastic floating in the ocean pictures, it's unbelievable.
       We can get gas engines emissions under control .
 The earth cannot clean up a nasty rechargeable lithium, Etc batteries


Does anybody else need to use this soapbox now that I'm done with it ?
« Last Edit: May 04, 2021, 01:32:11 pm by lindsay Dean »
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Art Welter

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Re: Help With Lithium Power Generator Decision
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2021, 04:28:52 pm »

Thanks, this is super-helpful!  One last question:  when I measure the power demand with the kill-a-watt meter, I'll turn the speakers and amps up to the right volume level, but is it important that the speakers actually be producing sound when I measure the power?  Can they be turned up but silent?  Thanks, very much, again.  -Louis
Louis,

The quiescent load "turned up (and on) but silent" is useful to know, the power needed will never drop below that load. Some devices, like a mixer or a tube amplifier may draw almost the same power at idle as "full tilt boogie", but the stuff doing work converting power into sound (and mostly heat..) peak draw may be as much as 100 times the quiescent power use.

You can lay the speakers down on pillows or carpet to reduce noise when testing, but the speaker load must remain connected, and be playing similar program material at the same level as will be used during the show for the "Kill-a-watt" meter test to be valid.

Art
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Frank Koenig

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Re: Help With Lithium Power Generator Decision
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2021, 05:01:43 pm »

What Art says, and a note on the Kill-A-Watt meter, which I highly recommend. The Kill-a-Watt has a kWh mode where it will integrate power over as long as you want to get energy. If you run audio program through the system as Art describes and measure the total energy over, say, 30 minutes and divide that by the time you'll get a very good estimate of the average power, which you can use to size the battery. Assume an inverter efficiency of 80% and 80% depth-of-discharge (DOD) for Li batteries and you'll be pretty close. For Pb-acids use 50% DOD.

While you're there, use the Kill-a-Watt to measure the power factor. Divide the average power from above by the power factor to get the average apparent power (in Volt Amperes). This is the number you need to size an inverter or generator. Modern inverters can sustain short-duration peak loads greater than their continuous rating (much like modern power amplifiers) but, even so, I'd use an inverter with a continuous rating at least double the average apparent power. Others with more experience running audio off of inverters near the limits might have some better guidance on this factor.

--Frank
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Russell Ault

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Re: Help With Lithium Power Generator Decision
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2021, 05:10:07 pm »

{...} MQ power and their ilk would do well to be developing trailer-mounted 50 - 200 kWh battery-inverter units that could power good-sized outdoor events. {...}

That makes sense to me, especially since the weight-and-size concerns of designing in significant excess capacity (thus allowing access to the longevity benefits of under-charging) start to become a lot less relevant (although of course capital cost will still be an issue).

A large, portable battery-inverter would also open some interesting avenues for shows in places where peak power demand is greater than the available supply, but average power demand isn't. This is especially true in audio, where a lot of our power needs tend to be dictated by the peak demand of highly-peaky loads. Imagine: load-in is at 08:00, and the first thing you do is plug your battery bank into a normal 15 amp circuit. For every hour it's plugged in with no load, an extra ~1.5kW will be available to the system on-demand. Scale that up and perhaps the "stove plug" rig can now be run off a single 20-amp, or maybe even a "three-phase" rig that can be accommodated on a just stove plug. It won't help the sparkies quite as much (and the videots will still need all the power they can get), but for audio-related loads I feel like there might be real potential to significantly reduce venue power requirements by evening out the peaks. Plus, now your whole system is on a UPS! :)

-Russ
« Last Edit: May 04, 2021, 07:56:49 pm by Russell Ault »
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Help With Lithium Power Generator Decision
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2021, 05:11:20 pm »

Part of the challenge in determining the current draw needs and how long the battery will actually last is that speakers will draw power dynamically based on how loud it is, as well as how dynamic the material is you are reproducing.  While you may be able to get a rough idea, you definitely want to make sure you don't cut things too close or you'll be in for a surprise mid show.

If you want to measure the actual max draw to expect, send pink noise to the speaker and measure it with your killawatt.  Using pink noise will give you an accurate reading that simulates typical music, but is consistent instead of varying depending on the song.  Set the speakers to just where the clip lights are starting to flicker and that should give you a good measurement that you can take in just a few seconds.  Typically, you can expect this to be about 1/8 power.  Eg, if you have an 800 watt amp, this should be about 100 watts or so. (not factoring in amp efficiency or any of that stuff) 

Next would be to see what heavy clipping looks like.  Turn it so that the clip lights are on solid.  Typically this represents 1/3 power.  Unless you're a DJ that likes stuff sounding like crap, you'll probably never drive things this hard, but it gives you a likely worst case scenario power draw.  That same 800 watt source now should show around 266 watts of draw.

If you want to get really crazy, you can send a 1khz sinewave to the speaker and turn it up until you see the clip light.  This should get you close to actual full current draw.  The speaker will probably shut down after a bit because they aren't designed to do that, but you can see what absolute worst case scenario might be.

Whatever you come up with, it's a good idea to calculate that you need the system to run for at least twice your expected actual runtime. That gives you plenty of buffer for things like delays in the show, battery wear, random toasters plugged into your system, etc.
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Re: Help With Lithium Power Generator Decision
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2021, 04:29:12 pm »

There are a lot of these lithium battery/inverter/charge controller boxes popping up on places like Ebay. Some of them allow you to plug in solar panels (12 volt)  to extend the range. Two speakers on sticks, a small mixer ,and a laptop should last a long time. Get one with the biggest battery you can afford.  If you start working with a full band with Marshall stacks and SVT bass amps, multiple monitor mixes, things could get problematic.
I have a battery/solar power system with two deep cycle batteries, Morningstar charge controller, and a 24 volt 1100 watt Exceltech inverter, and four 165 watt solar panels. I can run a PA with four powered speakers (class D) all day, even when it's cloudy. But these new lithium power boxes can do the same thing at a fraction of the size and weight.
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MattLeonard

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Re: Help With Lithium Power Generator Decision
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2021, 02:27:57 am »


A large, portable battery-inverter would also open some interesting avenues for shows in places where peak power demand is greater than the available supply, but average power demand isn't. This is especially true in audio, where a lot of our power needs tend to be dictated by the peak demand of highly-peaky loads....

-Russ

This is basically a feature in some higher-end DC->AC inverters. Victron has a "power assist" feature - which basically lets you configure their inverter as a pass-through for shore/gennie power -  but if demand is higher than supply - the battery/inverter steps in to supplement. They also act as a super-fast (~20ms) transfer switch - so if shore power goes down, the battery acts as an automatic backup. This is fast enough that even computers notice a disruption.

A few years back I PM'd an outdoor political rally where we really wanted to run on solar. I had a vendor who could supply 240v/50a with a solar trailer - with something like 12kwh of batteries and 4kw of incoming solar potential. But the sound company (bringing 8 tops/4 subs of powered line-array boxes VRX if I recall) was adamant they needed 3ph/100a service. Not due to their wiring/distros - but because of peak power calculations. We convinced them to work with the solar rig -  but they had me sign on the contract that I wouldn't hold them liable for shortcomings or if they had to keep volume down, kill boxes etc.

Measuring 100dbSPL at FOH (with a DJ), we were averaging something like 3,500 watts off the solar rig across both legs -  with occasional peaks of 5kw. Most sound companies greatly, greatly over-estimate/spec what their power needs actually are.

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Steve-White

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Re: Help With Lithium Power Generator Decision
« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2021, 11:29:35 am »

..............Measuring 100dbSPL at FOH (with a DJ), we were averaging something like 3,500 watts off the solar rig across both legs -  with occasional peaks of 5kw. Most sound companies greatly, greatly over-estimate/spec what their power needs actually are.
That's a fact Jack.  Always overstate power demand requirements.  Too many variables to list can go wrong and margin is a good mitigation factor.  Turning down the sound and pulling 1/2 the lighting out isn't particularly well received by client, their customers/guests or the entertainers.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2021, 02:32:49 pm by Steve-White »
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Chris Hindle

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Re: Help With Lithium Power Generator Decision
« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2021, 12:35:28 pm »

Measuring 100dbSPL at FOH (with a DJ), we were averaging something like 3,500 watts off the solar rig across both legs -  with occasional peaks of 5kw. Most sound companies greatly, greatly over-estimate/spec what their power needs actually are.
Never spec'd 45Kw and had 25kw delivered because "It was all they had" or "It was the biggest we could afford" or "It's what the last show used" ?
Always order twice what you need, and even if they skimp, you should make out OK.
Not my first Rodeo....
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Tim McCulloch

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Re: Help With Lithium Power Generator Decision
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2021, 12:38:36 pm »

This is basically a feature in some higher-end DC->AC inverters. Victron has a "power assist" feature - which basically lets you configure their inverter as a pass-through for shore/gennie power -  but if demand is higher than supply - the battery/inverter steps in to supplement. They also act as a super-fast (~20ms) transfer switch - so if shore power goes down, the battery acts as an automatic backup. This is fast enough that even computers notice a disruption.

A few years back I PM'd an outdoor political rally where we really wanted to run on solar. I had a vendor who could supply 240v/50a with a solar trailer - with something like 12kwh of batteries and 4kw of incoming solar potential. But the sound company (bringing 8 tops/4 subs of powered line-array boxes VRX if I recall) was adamant they needed 3ph/100a service. Not due to their wiring/distros - but because of peak power calculations. We convinced them to work with the solar rig -  but they had me sign on the contract that I wouldn't hold them liable for shortcomings or if they had to keep volume down, kill boxes etc.

Measuring 100dbSPL at FOH (with a DJ), we were averaging something like 3,500 watts off the solar rig across both legs -  with occasional peaks of 5kw. Most sound companies greatly, greatly over-estimate/spec what their power needs actually are.

As one of the sound companies that routinely over-spec generators, I can say we never have electricity problems because of not enough genny.  Running close to the edge may be acceptable for some, but my clients will not tolerate or pay for a failed gig.  YMMV.
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Re: Help With Lithium Power Generator Decision
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2021, 12:38:36 pm »


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