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Thread: Using generators to power grow lights

  1. #1
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    Using generators to power grow lights

    I've thought about what it might be like to have a big grow operation. But there seems to be one insurmountable obstacle: electricity. Even if you are paying for all the power you use, the power company will have a record of your house using 10X the power of every other house in the neighborhood.

    One solution - using a generator, powered by gasoline, propane, or natural gas. Costs may be similar to or even higher than using the power company, but there would be no record of the power usage!

    But, a while back I thought I read something somewhere that said not all generators put out a clean, smooth type of power needed for HID lights and ballasts. Something to the effect that waves or surges in the power produced by the generator could damage ballasts, at least the newer electronic ballasts.

    Does anyone know anything about this?

    This would have saved the Tennessee Pot Cave from getting busted, if they had spent a little more cash and brought in some big diesel generators, they would have not had the problems with the power company.

  2. #2
    420 Member of the Month (Oct 10') TorturedSoul's Avatar
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    Re: Using generators to power grow lights.

    If you're going to run a generator, look for one that is listed as being safe for computers.

    But I'd think that a generator could bring with it even more "telltales" to be concerned about. They generally make a fair amount of noise, need air to run and an exhaust system, and if someone notices that you're running one for at least 12 hours a day, every day, they're going to start wondering WtF the reason is. Not to mention that the ones that run on gasoline or diesel are going to require you to regularly bring that fuel on-site, ones that run on natural gas or propane are going to spike THAT bill - to say nothing of the fact that most people do not consume much of either during the warmer months (and if you're running propane, the person that delivers it might comment that you're the only customer that he delivers to more than once during that time).

    In a residential area these things would look a lot stranger than a high electric bill - and be harder to explain because you cannot use the excuse that you just purchased one or more computers, plasma televisions, time machines (lol), Jacuzzis, tanning beds, et cetera.

    And in a commercial area - which you'd most likely be dealing with if you were setting up a grow the size of the one that you mentioned - you could reasonably be expected to consume a large amount of electricity (depending on your cover).

    I'm not a big fan of wasting things, but were I planning on a large grow, I'd probably start ramping up the usage by leaving everything electrical that I owned running as much as possible, then think up something (or a couple somethings) that use a lot of electricity and call them up and tell them that you just purchased it (them) and would like to know if it's going to cause your bill to go up since you're probably going to be using/running it a LOT. And at the same time, switch all of your regular lighting to CFL - or LED - stop running the electric dryer in favor of the clothesline, train yourself to stop leaving things turned on when not using, cut back on the a/c in areas other than the grow rooms, etc.

    But it'd take a lot of juice to throw up a flag. A regular spike would be more of a giveaway (and even that's not real likely until you get into high-usage) and that's easy to fix by running the appliances that you do need to run when the lights are off, and not being consistent with your usage.

    Oh, and I don't think that the people that were involved in that grow operation that you mentioned were what you'd call geniuses. They didn't exercise the best use of their space and I don't think the actual amount of electricity they were using is what got them.

    Even if one's level of electric usage is noticed, that by itself is not grounds for a warrant. It's circumstantial as it does not point to any particular cause by itself. A person would have to be noticed in other ways as well.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Using generators to power grow lights.

    I've been to my local Pep Boys auto parts store, and when I walk in to get oil and an oil filter for an oil change in the car, I have to walk past a display of small generators up to 5500 watts, and all I can think of is how many grow lights they could power! I've spent 15 minutes standing there closely examining the different size units and thinking out the power amounts for 1 KW HPS bulbs, plus power loss in the ballast, length of the wiring needed, how to remove the stock fuel tank and hook up a big gas tank like from a pickup truck or something, etc.

    What about a power conditioner? I think they smooth out power spikes quite well.

    Where I used to live in Pennsylvania, it's fairly common for the natural gas companies to drill gas wells on private property, and the property owner gets a monthly check plus all the free gas they can use. That would be a good starting point, but then you have the small detail of marijuana not being legal yet in Pennsylvania!

    With a nice sized car muffler added onto the exhaust after the stock muffler, generators can indeed be quite quiet.

    I don't think I'll be in any position to actually do any of this anytime soon, but it's nice to fantasize about.

  4. #4
    420 Member of the Month (Oct 10') TorturedSoul's Avatar
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    Re: Using generators to power grow lights.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandyL View Post
    I've been to my local Pep Boys auto parts store, and when I walk in to get oil and an oil filter for an oil change in the car, I have to walk past a display of small generators up to 5500 watts
    You'd want a generator rated for constant-duty use.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandyL View Post
    What about a power conditioner? I think they smooth out power spikes quite well.
    You'd also be concerned with getting a clean sine-wave and low THD in addition to actual voltage surges. But yeah, they make line-conditioners for such.

    Quote Originally Posted by RandyL View Post
    Where I used to live in Pennsylvania, it's fairly common for the natural gas companies to drill gas wells on private property, and the property owner gets a monthly check plus all the free gas they can use.
    Yeah, if there is gas there. And IF the property-owner also owns the gas rights to their property.

    If you're serious, you might look into a Lister-CS (CS for "cold start," meaning you wouldn't have to pre-heat the combustion chambers with a torch before starting it, lol, as you had to do with earlier models) diesel engine from the 30s-40s turning 600RPM or one made during the 50s or later (ran at 650RPM and made slightly more power). These were fairly efficient, simple in operation with no electrical system or glow plugs (just a compression-engine), and solidly built (a twin-cylinder (12/2) 650RPM 12-horsepower model might weigh as much as 1100-1500 pounds) and if you can find one in decent shape or find/make the parts that you would need to rebuild it, the engine would easily outlive you. Powering an 8kW generator head at half-load, such an engine might go four hours on a gallon of fuel. And if you could find a free regular source of used vegetable oil (such as from restaurants) and filtered/de-watered it or have an acre or three to grow a biodiesel product then you'd be set for fuel.

    Of course, since many people run 4kW or more of lights without worry about their electric bills, you might end up wanting more than one engine if you're planning on a setup which would set off the paranoia-bells (say, 10-20 kW?).

    Running vegetable oil, you'd want a fuel pre-heater setup to make the engine live as long as it would on diesel and might want to start it on diesel.

    I think Lister engines were actually manufactured until 1987 and clones ("Listeroids") are still being made in India.
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  5. #5
    Plant and Nug of the Month Winner (July 10') Hogdady's Avatar
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    Re: Using generators to power grow lights.

    One word...SOLAR

    (from a 35 year experienced generator technician)



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    Re: Using generators to power grow lights.

    or you can just steal the electricity ... lol
    I do not buy, sell, cultivate, manufacture, or use any illegal substance. Any postings I make on this forum are purely for entertainment purposes. Any pictures that I may post have been created by artificial means from images gathered from the internet and other sources. Any statements made, other than this paragraph, should not be considered as truthful.

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    Re: Using generators to power grow lights.

    Hey try2learn. That's a crime man.. LOL

  8. #8
    Plant and Nug of the Month Winner (July 10') Hogdady's Avatar
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    Re: Using generators to power grow lights.

    Quote Originally Posted by try2learn View Post
    or you can just steal the electricity ... lol
    Quote Originally Posted by knickick View Post
    Hey try2learn. That's a crime man.. LOL
    and stupid....



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  9. #9
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    Re: Using generators to power grow lights

    LOL that is how the boys in the pot cave got caught.

  10. #10
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    Re: Using generators to power grow lights.

    Quote Originally Posted by knickick View Post
    That's a crime man.. LOL
    But links to commercial sites in siglines, for webcrawlers to see so web-rankings increase, are cool, right?
    Pot really does lead to harder stuff...
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  11. #11
    420 Member Wingman420's Avatar
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    Re: Using generators to power grow lights

    Quote Originally Posted by RandyL View Post
    I've thought about what it might be like to have a big grow operation. But there seems to be one insurmountable obstacle: electricity. Even if you are paying for all the power you use, the power company will have a record of your house using 10X the power of every other house in the neighborhood.

    One solution - using a generator, powered by gasoline, propane, or natural gas. Costs may be similar to or even higher than using the power company, but there would be no record of the power usage!

    But, a while back I thought I read something somewhere that said not all generators put out a clean, smooth type of power needed for HID lights and ballasts. Something to the effect that waves or surges in the power produced by the generator could damage ballasts, at least the newer electronic ballasts.

    Does anyone know anything about this?

    This would have saved the Tennessee Pot Cave from getting busted, if they had spent a little more cash and brought in some big diesel generators, they would have not had the problems with the power company.

    The Tenesse Pot Cave was raided because they were stealing Electricity. I am quite sure if you pay the bill the utilities are happy to sell it. While huge spikes will alert someone if you have legitimate use of electric and pay the bill on time who are they to question.

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    Re: Using generators to power grow lights

    or u could just buy a 5000squr-ft mansion and pull all the electric you want and never worry about getting caught but it would probably cost you $65,000 a year to afford a house like that w/a morgage plus $1200.00 a month in electric usage..right but that would be a dream right..? and put $80,000 in solar panels or just use ourtageously priced led pannels for grow lights..but idk, yeah that would be a massively huge grow operation!

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    Re: Using generators to power grow lights.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hogdady View Post
    One word...SOLAR

    (from a 35 year experienced generator technician)
    I am interested in more info about using solar if anyone has any insights.

  14. #14
    Plant and Nug of the Month Winner (July 10') Hogdady's Avatar
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    Re: Using generators to power grow lights.

    Quote Originally Posted by cmantis View Post
    I am interested in more info about using solar if anyone has any insights.
    Pricey!



    “Who are you to judge the life i live
    i know i'm not perfect and i don't live to be.
    but before you start pointing fingers
    make sure your hands are clean.”
    ― Jimi Hendrix





    June'10 Plant of the Month


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