[SATLUG] Generator powered laptops?

Don Crowder donguitar at gmail.com
Fri Sep 19 00:41:13 CDT 2008

FIRESTORM_v1 wrote:
> Well, as many of you know, Houston got it's posterior handed to it by
> Ike.  Unfortunately, I am (along with most of Houston and surrounding
> areas) without power.  We are fortunate to have running water and
> natural gas.  Recently we bought a generator and have been surviving
> quite well.
> The question I have for SATLUG and XCSSA is concerning the 110VAC
> output coming from the generator. I took a meter to the power output
> and found that the power fluctuates almost constantly between 116VAC
> and 118VAC after getting the engine calibrated correctly.  (Before it
> was surging wildly from 105VAC to 130VAC.  It's amazing what a quarter
> turn on the idler adjustment does. :P)
> The questions are:
> 1:  Would you consider this clean enough to run a laptop or other
> computer fed by the brick-style switching power supplies?
> 2: If it's not clean enough, would adding an UPS clean it up without
> resulting in a blown UPS?
> The idea behind this is that DSL and cable are both out in my
> neighborhood and there are a few people in my neighborhood that are
> needing to apply for FEMA assistance.  I am thinking of using my VIA
> Artigo with it's miniscule 12watt power supply to NAT the cellular
> modem connection I'm currently on (at the office) to retransmit via an
> accesspoint locally so that others nearby can contact FEMA, their work
> or loved ones and let everyone know they're OK.   It's nothing fancy
> like satellite uplinks or anything the Red Cross has, but it's way
> better than nothing at all.  On a side note, Sprint came up on Monday
> night, while AT&T and Tmobile are still down for the count in my
> subdivision.

A few decades ago, when parts of the US were experiencing serious brown 
outs, most manufacturers started designing power supplies that were 
relatively tolerant of fluctuations in line voltage.   Your laptop is 
unlikely to be damaged at any rate.  In a worst-case scenario you could 
possibly lose the power supply but I'd say the likelihood was very small.
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Don Crowder
A proud user of Debian Etch w/KDE.

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