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Generator for 400W HMI


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#1 Adam Levins

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 12:37 AM

I am looking for a small generator to power my Kobold DLF 400 SES HMI light and a 4 bank kino.

I have heard the honda eu1000i is great but it costs $799. This Honeywell HW1000i claims to have the same technology, being a inverter genorator that provides stable power for HMI's and I can get a new one for $280 http://www.honeywell...g.asp?item=1633

Any advice?
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#2 JD Hartman

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 09:36 AM

Some general comment. Are you ever going to need to power more than the HMI and a Kino at the same time? Don't buy a generator that has just enough capacity for you current needs. The Honda EU1000 doesn't provide 1000W continuous, select the generator by looking at its continuous output rating, not the surge output. HMI ballasts will dwaw more current during the lamp strike.
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#3 Adam Levins

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 01:03 PM

Some general comment. Are you ever going to need to power more than the HMI and a Kino at the same time? Don't buy a generator that has just enough capacity for you current needs. The Honda EU1000 doesn't provide 1000W continuous, select the generator by looking at its continuous output rating, not the surge output. HMI ballasts will dwaw more current during the lamp strike.


Thanks Hartman. That is all good advice, maybe I should look at the Honda EU2000i but it costs $1300+

Still at $280 that Honeywell HW1000i is a steal if it will even just power the HMI 400, but I doubt the power it provides is as stable at the Honda EU1000i

Maybe I should buy the honeywell and test. Is there any chance it will damage my HMI or Ballast?

Thanks, Adam
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#4 JD Hartman

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 02:42 PM

Maybe, you should look into renting a generator as you need it. The small hi-revving engines on the Honda's and similar units do require maintenance and don't last forever. Price difference may be reflected in: chinese engine; no parts available; little service support; lower quality components; poor performance. Usually you get exaactly what you pay for.

Edited by JD Hartman, 21 August 2010 - 02:43 PM.

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#5 Guy Holt

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Posted 22 August 2010 - 12:50 PM

Don't buy a generator that has just enough capacity for your current needs. The Honda EU1000 doesn't provide 1000W continuous, select the generator by looking at its continuous output rating, not the surge output. HMI ballasts will draw more current during the lamp strike.


Sizing a portable generator for a lighting load can be very complicated. When you use lights sources like HMIs, Kinos, CLF lamp banks, & even LEDs, on generators it matters not only what type of generator you use but also what type of ballasts the lights use. The poor Power Factor and Harmonic Noise that magnetic and non-Power Factor Corrected electronic ballasts (HMI, Kino, CFL, & LED incld.) kick back into the power stream can have a severe adverse effect on the power waveform of some generators, but not others. Since Power Factor is commonly overlooked in choosing generators, I would like to take this opportunity to explain it in detail and show how it effects Adam’s choices.

If we look at the technical specifications for the Kolbod 400SES, the electronic ballast that it uses (unit EWB 400) has a Power Factor of .54. What that means is that it draws 6.2 Amps rather than the 3.3 Amps you would think using Ohm’s Law (W=VA.) The difference between the actual current drawn by the bulb, 6.2 Amps, and the 3.3 Amps a 400W bulb should draw using Ohm’s Law (W=VxA), is the difference between what is called “Apparent Power” and “True Power.”

If, in this case, you were to measure the actual current (using a Amp Meter) and voltage (using a Volt Meter) traveling through the cable supplying the Kobold EWB 400 ballast and multiply them according to Ohm’s Law (VxA= W) you would get the “apparent power” of the bulb (120V x 6.2A = 744W). But, if you were to instead, use a wattmeter to measure the actual amount of energy being converted into real work (light) by the ballast of the Kolbod 400SES you would get the “true power” of the bulb which in this case is specified by the manufacturer as 400W. The ratio of “true power” to “apparent power” is called the “Power Factor” of the light.

A favorite analogy electricians like to use to explain power factor is that if apparent power is a glass of beer, power factor is the foam that prevents you from filling the glass all the way up with beer. When lights with a low power factor are used, a generator must be sized to supply the apparent power (beer plus foam), even though only the true power (beer) counts. With a Power Factor of .54, you must take into account that the Kobold EWB 400 ballast draws nearly twice the power (744W) for it’s true power output of 400W.

The same is true when it comes to Kino Flos. According to Kino Flo’s website a 4’ – 4 bank fixture has an apparent power of 552W, or again draws nearly twice the power (a PFC of .54) for it’s true power output of 300W (4x 75W bulbs.) If you were to use both these lights on a Honda EU1000i, the total load 1292W (740W + 552W), would overload the generator because the continuous load rating of the Honda EU1000i, according to their website, is 900W.

The greater Apparent Power of Lights with a poor Power Factor is not the only consideration when choosing a generator for motion picture lighting applications. When you use lights sources like HMIs, Kinos, CLF lamp banks, and even LEDs, on generators it matters not only what type of ballasts the light uses, but also what type of generator you use to power it. The Harmonic Noise that ballasts with poor Power Factor kick back into the power stream can have a severe adverse effect on the power waveform of some generators. It all depends on whether the light ballasts are Power Factor Corrected (PFC) and whether the generator is an inverter generator or a conventional AVR generator. Unless they are Power Factor Corrected, the Switch Mode Power Supplies that HMI, Kino, CFL, & LEDs use can cause them to use not only excessive amounts of power for the wattage of light they generate, but also to kick harmonics back into the power stream that can have a severe adverse effect on not only the generator, but also other electronic equipment operating on the same power. There is a video on You-Tube by a Lighting Designer by the name of Kevan Shaw that illustrates just this.

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In his You-Tube Video, “Compact Fluorescent verses the generator,” (available at ) Kevan Shaw compares the effect of equal wattages of CFLs and Incandescent lights on a small portable generator. In his test, he first operates a 575W ETC Source Four Leko with Quartz Halogen bulb on an 850W two stroke conventional gas generator without problem. However, when he tries to operate an equivalent wattage of CFLs (30-18W bulbs) the generator goes berserk. Only after turning off half the CFL Bulbs does the generator operate normally with a remaining load of 15 - 18W CFLs (270 W.) What accounts for the erratic behavior of the generator in this video under a smaller load of CFLs? It is a combination of the poor Power Factor of the CFL bulbs and the harmonic currents they generate.

Even though the 15 CFL bulbs have a True Power of 270W (15 x 18W = 270W ), the Watt indicator on Kevan's generator indicates that they draw twice that in Apparent Power (535W), or have a Power Factor of .5 (270W/535W =.504.) The fact that CFL bulbs consume double the energy (Apparent Power) for the 18 Watts of light (True Power) they generate, is only half the story here. Kevan Shaw’s video also clearly demonstrates the severe effect that loads - like CFLs, HMIs, Kinos, & LEDS - with leading power factor can have on the governing systems of conventional AVR generators.

When Kevan turns off the 18W CFL bulbs one at a time until the generator stabilizes, he is not only demonstrating that 15 – 18W CFL bulbs has roughly the same Apparent Power (535W), according to the generator’s Watt meter, as a 575W incandescent light; but, also that the maximum Leading Power Factor load a 850W conventional generator can operate satisfactorily is 270 Watts (15 – 18W CFL bulbs). Looked at from another angle, 576 Watts of Apparent Power with a Leading Power Factor (16 - 18W CFL bulbs) overloaded the generator, while 575 Watts of Apparent Power with a Unity Power Factor (the 575W Quartz Leko) did not. What accounts for this difference? Since the load is almost the same (576 & 575 Watts of Apparent Power respectively), the only factor that can account for the generator going berserk with the equivalent load of CFL lights is the harmonic currents that they generate, that the Quartz Leko does not. Without a doubt, Kevan Shaw’s video is a clear demonstration of the adverse effect that harmonic currents have on the governing systems of conventional AVR generators.

For the same reason that Kevan Shaw was not able to operate more than 270 Watts of CFL bulbs (15–18W bulbs) on his little 850W generator, Adam may not be able to operate his lights on a 2000W conventional AVR generator. The adverse effects of the harmonic currents that non-PFC ballasts generate, so graphically demonstrated in Kevan’s video, limits the total amount of Leading Power Factor loads, as compared to Unity Power Factor loads, that can be reliably operated on conventional AVR generators. These power generation issues have been vexing set electricians for years. Use this link for an informative newsletter article that explains the electrical engineering principles behind these issues and how to resolve them.

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This article is cited in the just released 4th Edition of Harry Box's "Set Lighting Technician's Handbook" and featured on the companion website
"Box Book Extras." Of the article Harry Box exclaims:

"Great work!... this is the kind of thing I think very few technician's ever get to see, and as a result many people have absolutely no idea why things stop working."


"Following the prescriptions contained in this article enables the operation of bigger lights, or more smaller lights, on portable generators than has ever been possible before."


The article is available online at http://www.screenlig...generators.html.

Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lightng & Grip Rental in Boston
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#6 Michael E Brown

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Posted 22 August 2010 - 09:50 PM

I have one of the Honeywell generators, the 2000w version. I picked it up on clearance at Home Depot for $299. I have several of the Honda generators, so I can tell you a bit about the differences. I can't speak about the smaller Honeywell, but I'd bet they are similar.

First, as Mr. Hartman noted - the Honda's are NOT rated for continuous power equal to their model number. The Honda model numbers correlate to the PEAK power (useless rating as far as we are concerned). The baby Honda is 900w continuous, the next model is only 1600w continuous. The Honeywells on the other hand are rated for continuous use at a power level equal to their model number. The significance of the power level comes in to play with the volume level. Most people complain the Honeywell is louder than the Honda. This is true, but you must take into account the Honeywells are larger in power. The Honeywells are also larger in size, quite a bit larger.

Both Hondas come in at 59db at full load. The Honeywells are around 70db at full load. This doesn't seem like much at first, but it's actually pretty significant. Add the fact that the cheapo engine in the Honeywell has a particularly annoying rattling sound and the case rattled like a b^tch when it was new (one of my guys took some rubber tape and outlined all the places where plastic panels met and fixed that). The Honeywell needs to be quite far away (100ft minimum) and masked (sound blanket suspended in front between it and mic and/or hidden behind a vehicle) to be useful. The Honeywell oil change tube stripped on the first try because the case prevents it from screwing in at the correct angle. Definitely not built to the standards of the Honda. Useful life will probably be much shorter and as mentioned before - forget about parts and support.

I paid for the Honeywell with the first rental, so I decided to keep it despite the cheapo construction. I like the fact that it has a higher output, but you've got to work a bit more to keep it quiet (We send it out with a 100' 10/3 stinger). Using the eco mode to idle the engine down results in the motor hunting under very small loads where the Honda is much smoother. The Honeywell works fine as far as power output goes. Voltage is good, as is performance under load. I have run both HMIs and Kinos off mine as well as some video gear.

Overall, I recommend a Honda. Change the oil on shorter intervals than recommended. You will more then likely never have an issue with it. As Mr. Holt pointed out, you need at least the Honda EU2000iA to power your HMI and a 4bank.

Edited by Michael E Brown, 22 August 2010 - 09:53 PM.

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#7 JD Hartman

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 08:38 AM

Interesting comments on the Honeywell. Does the manufacturer/seller make any claims regarding voltage and frequency regulation? At a rock bottom price, I wonder if would be worth the effort to install a better muffler and quieter air intake?
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#8 Michael E Brown

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 10:40 PM

Interesting comments on the Honeywell. Does the manufacturer/seller make any claims regarding voltage and frequency regulation? At a rock bottom price, I wonder if would be worth the effort to install a better muffler and quieter air intake?


I don't think they say much about it really. They are just trying to copy the Honda. It is a true inverter generator, so it keeps voltage and freq pretty well in my testing. I have not gone as far as putting an o-scope on it, most of my more demanding customers ask for the Honda's by name anyway and I don't worry about them. I wish Honda would make an EU12000 @60db, 500lbs, 4 wheels. I could use that thing all the time.

That rock bottom price was a clearance deal. Full price was $599, at which point I would consider something else personally. They can be had on eBay for cheap, but the origins are unknown. Even at $299, it's not worth it to me to mess with it really. I don't think the muffler is as much of a problem as general case sound proofing that the Honda has.
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#9 Guy Holt

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 12:03 PM

I wish Honda would make an EU12000 @60db, 500lbs, 4 wheels. I could use that thing all the time.


FYI, we modify the Honda EU6500is to provide 7500W of power in a Single 120V circuit capable of powering larger lights, or more smaller lights, than you could otherwise. The complete system consists of the modified Honda EU6500is generator and a film style 60A Full Power Transformer/Distro. Our 60A Transformer/Distro steps-down the enhanced 7500W/240V output of our modified Honda EU6500is to provide 7500W of power in a single 120V circuit.

By providing full access to the 7500W capacity of our enhanced Honda EU6500is inverter generator, our system is not only capable of powering larger lights but also more smaller lights, than was ever possible before. Enough lights in fact to comprise a complete HD lighting package for the Digital SLR Cameras like the Canon D7 that’s taking over the industry. When you have a camera system like the D7 that offers a 35mm image sensor, interchangeable lens capability, and is capable of an ASA of 1000 without noticeable noise, you don't need much more light than you can run off our generator system.

Taking advantage of recent advances in lighting technology we have also developed a special HD lighting package we call the HD Plug and Play Pkg. (HD P&P Pkg.) When combined with the production capabilities of our new Honda Gen-set System, our HD P&P Pkg. offers unprecedented production capability for HD Digital Cinema production. For example, our modified Honda EU6500is inverter generator with 60A Full Power Transformer/Distro is capable of simultaneously powering the 2.5kw, 1200, & 800 Watt Pars of our HD P&P Pkg., plus a couple of Kino Flo Parabeam 400s, Parabeam 200s, and a Flat Head 80. Given the light sensitivity of Digital SLR Cameras like the Canon D7, this constitutes a complete location lighting package for HD Digital Cinema productions.

Visit our website at www.screenlightandgrip.com/html/hd_plug-n-play_pkg.html for more details and sample productions. Call (781) 326-5088 or email us at rentals@screenlightangrip.com for more information. Harry Box, author of the authoritative trade handbook “The Set Lighting Technician’s Handbook” has endorsed our HD Plug & Play Gen-set in the just released Fourth Edition of the handbook (see link above.) In addition, he has established a link from the companion website for the Fourth Edition of the Handbook, called “Box Book Extras,” to our company news letter article on “Portable Generators in Motion Picture Production” mentioned previously. The article is available on-line at www.screenlightandgrip.com/html/emailnewsletter_generators.html.

- Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting & Grip rental in Boston MA
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#10 Michael E Brown

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 10:26 PM

FYI, we modify the Honda EU6500is to provide 7500W of power in a Single 120V circuit capable of powering larger lights, or more smaller lights, than you could otherwise. The complete system consists of the modified Honda EU6500is generator and a film style 60A Full Power Transformer/Distro. Our 60A Transformer/Distro steps-down the enhanced 7500W/240V output of our modified Honda EU6500is to provide 7500W of power in a single 120V circuit.

By providing full access to the 7500W capacity of our enhanced Honda EU6500is inverter generator, our system is not only capable of powering larger lights but also more smaller lights, than was ever possible before. Enough lights in fact to comprise a complete HD lighting package for the Digital SLR Cameras like the Canon D7 that’s taking over the industry. When you have a camera system like the D7 that offers a 35mm image sensor, interchangeable lens capability, and is capable of an ASA of 1000 without noticeable noise, you don't need much more light than you can run off our generator system.

Taking advantage of recent advances in lighting technology we have also developed a special HD lighting package we call the HD Plug and Play Pkg. (HD P&P Pkg.) When combined with the production capabilities of our new Honda Gen-set System, our HD P&P Pkg. offers unprecedented production capability for HD Digital Cinema production. For example, our modified Honda EU6500is inverter generator with 60A Full Power Transformer/Distro is capable of simultaneously powering the 2.5kw, 1200, & 800 Watt Pars of our HD P&P Pkg., plus a couple of Kino Flo Parabeam 400s, Parabeam 200s, and a Flat Head 80. Given the light sensitivity of Digital SLR Cameras like the Canon D7, this constitutes a complete location lighting package for HD Digital Cinema productions.

Visit our website at www.screenlightandgrip.com/html/hd_plug-n-play_pkg.html for more details and sample productions. Call (781) 326-5088 or email us at rentals@screenlightangrip.com for more information. Harry Box, author of the authoritative trade handbook “The Set Lighting Technician’s Handbook” has endorsed our HD Plug & Play Gen-set in the just released Fourth Edition of the handbook (see link above.) In addition, he has established a link from the companion website for the Fourth Edition of the Handbook, called “Box Book Extras,” to our company news letter article on “Portable Generators in Motion Picture Production” mentioned previously. The article is available on-line at www.screenlightandgrip.com/html/emailnewsletter_generators.html.

- Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting & Grip rental in Boston MA


Guy, we already use a 60a 240/120 transformer like you guys do. We didn't go for the modified windings like you did since we usually get around 124-125v/leg around here on house power so the extra boost would be a bit much with tungsten fixtures. Probably would be nice on the Hondas but they are so quiet we hardly ever need to put them too far away.

I spoke with a Honda engineer a while back when I first heard of 6500s being modified, and they had some pretty good reasons not to do so, so we left ours alone. To each his own.

I'm would be interested in something significantly larger than even 7500w in a "portable" size. Oh well, it's not too hard to tow the 25K around.
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#11 Guy Holt

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Posted 26 August 2010 - 10:07 AM

I spoke with a Honda engineer a while back when I first heard of 6500s being modified, and they had some pretty good reasons not to do so, so we left ours alone. To each his own.


I am afraid Michael is confusing our modification of the Honda EU6500is with the modifications done by other companies to 6500s. In the modification, to which Michael refers, the Stator of the generator’s alternator is re-tapped to provide a large 120V circuit to a Bates receptacle on the panel of the generator. In this modification, the Bates circuit is fused at 50 Amps so that you cannot draw more than 6000 Watts of peak load from it. And, it is not recommend that you draw more than the continuous rated load of the generator as it is configured for the US market which is 5500 Watts or 45.8 Amps.

We take a very different approach with our modified Honda EU6500is. What we are doing is accessing additional power that is built into the generator for the UK market (1500 Watts more) and then stepping it down to 120V with our Transformer/Distro to give you the full power capacity of the generator in a much larger 60A 120V circuit capable of powering larger lights or more smaller lights than the other modification permits.

How we modify the Honda EU6500is Generator is proprietary information. What I can say is that our Transformer/Distro is able to provide 7500 Watts in a single circuit because the capacity is already built into the machine by Honda. Because 120 Volts/20 Amps (2400 Watts) is the standard circuit for domestic power in North America, Honda outfits the generator for this market with a power output panel that is under-rated for the power generating capacity of the machine when you compare it to how Honda outfits the same generator for the European and UK markets where the standard circuit for domestic power is 230/240 Volts and 16 Amps (3680/3840 Watts). Where England and Ireland have not entirely conformed to the European Union Standard of 230 Volts, but still generate 240V power, Honda makes a version of this generator for the UK market (the EU65i) with two 240V/16A circuits (3840 Watts/circuit).

To support markets worldwide, including the UK market, Honda has designed the base model of this generator to generate 7680 Watts (2x3840W/circuit = 7680W). When Honda configures this same base model with a power output panel for 120 Volt circuits for the North American Market, it is not fully utilizing the power generating capacity they have built into the machine for the worldwide market. What we do is "tap" the generator at a point that gives us access to the 7680 Watt capacity built into the machine for the world wide market. Our 60A Full Power Transformer/Distro then steps that down to a single 60A 120V circuit that is capable of powering larger lights or more smaller lights than you could otherwise. Of course there is a lot more to it, but that is the basic premise. Besides being able to power larger lights, our system has a number of other benefits that other modifications do not offer. For a more detailed explanation of the electrical engineering principles behind our HD Plug & Play System you this link - "http://www.screenlig...enerators.html.

Where our system simply accesses 240V power designed into the EU6500is generator by Honda for the UK market, Honda has no objections to it. In fact, our modification does not void the Honda warranty. Because the machine is factory equipped for this application, we do not have to install additional components or alter the physical appearance of the machine. All we do is “tap” the circuit already designed into the machine to supply 240V power and access it through the 240V 4 pin Twist-lock Receptacle already on the US model. The power output panel on the generator remains the same. The U-Ground receptacles and 120V/30A Twistlock receptacle on the panel remain hot. The original Honda 36 Month warranty that comes with the machine remains in effect.

- Guy Holt, Gaffer, ScreenLight & Grip, Lighting and Grip Rental in Boston MA
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#12 Adam Levins

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Posted 26 August 2010 - 11:17 PM

Thanks Guys,

I love the instant feedback you get here. Might have to spring for a bigger genny. the Honda 2000w is looking like a good option.
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