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TOPIC: GENERATOR SET POWER RANGE FOR 4SCREEN CINEMA

GENERATOR SET POWER RANGE FOR 4SCREEN CINEMA 08 Apr 2012 17:55 #38240

  • justintega
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Please I need help on the power range I need for my 4screen theatre in relation to using a power generating set during power failure. I am thinking 500kva. Is that too much. Engineers in the house please help.
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Re: GENERATOR SET POWER RANGE FOR 4SCREEN CINEMA 17 Apr 2012 16:50 #38280

  • rodeojack
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Sounds high to me, but there's not enough information here to make a recommendation. You're asking about 500kva, with nothing to reference it to. It's like asking if a 5,000 watt heater is big enough to heat your house. Well... how big is your house?

Generators are rated in kiloWatts. I run a 3-screen drive-in on a 60kW 3-phase diesel. However, that doesn't necessarily mean anything for you.

First, you need to decide how much of your place you want to power. "Full-charge" is easiest to figure out, but requires a larger generator. You might be able to get peak usage figures from the power company, but a more accurate figure would come from turning everything on and having the current draw measured by an electrician. Do this at night, when all of your lights are going, too. Include high-draw equipment, like heat, air conditioning, hot water, popcorn machines and warmers. Remember that your generator needs extra capacity to start some of this stuff. Add it all up, then figure in an extra 30% to 50%, so you don't fry the generator when it's all on (there's a recommended multiplier for this). Alternately, you can take inventory of everything in the building, jot down all of the power requirements, then add it all up.

If you decide you don't need/want to run it all, then you'll need extra switching equipment to split that stuff off from the rest of the theatre. You can get by with a smaller generator, but you might wind up paying the same cost (or more) to get the equipment split away.

Decide on fuel type. Diesels are considered by many to be most rugged, though good propane / natural gas generators are available. If you're on a gas utility, you can tap into that and not worry about filling fuel tanks. In some areas, there might be noise and pollution ordinances to factor in.

After you get a generator, the tough part is remembering it. Most of them have a weekly test function, which encourages the problem. After the novelty wears off, it's easy to forget the thing's out there, until you need it and it fails. Set up some process where you're reminded to look at it at least quarterly. I'd check oil & water a couple of times a year... batteries maybe annually. Once a year, I do a full load test on mine. The day after I close for the season, I turn everything on, fire up the projectors and burn a tank of fuel through my generator at near-full power. Some time ago, I installed on at my parents' house. I change oil & filters every year, and if it hasn't been online much, spark plugs every other year. It monitors its own battery, but I expect at least 5 years out of it before I'll need to consider replacing it.

If you don't have any expertise in this area, the easiest way to do all this is coordinate with an electrician and your generator supplier. They may wind up being the same company, but not usually. Between them, they'll come up with a size you'll need. After the generator arrives, the electrician will install the transfer switch, probably coordinating with the power company to disconnect the juice while he's wiring it up. The generator company will handle commissioning the generator, and will manage all of the settings involved.

Now, all this assumes you'll just be starting the project and writing the checks. If you have qualifications you can bring to the table, you can probably get the price down. You could also, if you know what you're doing, find a used generator and coordinate the electrical work yourself.

I don't use my generator often... it's saved my shows maybe 3 times over the past 5 years or so. However, not having to worry about negative PR and lost income (your power will always go out with a full house!) has been well worth it for me. The first show my generator saved paid for the whole project, as far as I'm concerned.
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