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  • Big Problems, Small Space

    Ahead of time, thank you for taking this time to try to understand my problem, it's really nice of you all to take the time to help others.

    Our family runs a mobile Espresso/Smoothie/Hot Dog trailer where we travel around to local events and sell food and coffee. We have a 30amp cord coming out of the back of the trailer w/ 2 circuits and 8 110V plugs in the trailer. We converted the 30amp cord down to a 110V plug by using a RV adapter. Our Espresso Machine runs on 220V which is separately corded and ran to the generator or power source generally around 50' away using 220V extension cords.

    We are constantly experiencing varied electrical issues resulting in mayhem in the middle of an event w/ 20 people standing in line.

    Some of our issues are the following:
    - Our slushie machine will not freeze in the trailer, it uses 9.2amps on a household circuit and will freeze just fine if used in the house.
    - Our commercial hot dog cooker is just 800 watts but it seems to draw a lot of power, we can turn it up and down and make the lights dim or become brighter - etc.
    - Our circuit box consists of 2 circuits w/ 4 plugs each and a hard wired florescent light and hot water heater on one of the circuits. No matter what we do, those circuits NEVER flip - it is always the main power source which seems odd to us.
    - Our total number of 110V appliances including lights and pumps = 14 w/ 5 of the appliances being "commercial units" requiring more watts (as we understand... we may be wrong.)
    They are: 1 commercial fridge, 1 dorm fridge, 1 commercial hot dog cooker, 1 commercial coffee blender, 1 commercial slushie machine, 1 florscent overhead light w/ 2 bulbs, 2 hoods w/ standard light bulbs, cash register, drip coffee maker, espresso machine pump commercial, hot water heater 7 gallon, 1 water pump for sinks and one strobe light that is really small.

    This last saturday our generator regulator fried, we are using a 7500W troy built briggs & stratton 13500W Peak generator w/ one 220V plug and 4 110V plugs. Our espresso machine requires just 2600W which is much less than other commercial espresso machines but we are still experiencing so many problems.

    If anyone can help, I could type more but I'll restrain myself.

    Thank you soooo much.
    Last edited by CC_Coffee; 07-15-2009, 12:35 AM. Reason: forgot

  • #2
    Re: Big Problems, Small Space

    Originally posted by CC_Coffee View Post
    Ahead of time, thank you for taking this time to try to understand my problem, it's really nice of you all to take the time to help others.

    Our family runs a mobile Espresso/Smoothie/Hot Dog trailer where we travel around to local events and sell food and coffee. We have a 30amp cord coming out of the back of the trailer w/ 2 circuits and 8 110V plugs in the trailer. We converted the 30amp cord down to a 110V plug by using a RV adapter. Our Espresso Machine runs on 220V which is separately corded and ran to the generator or power source generally around 50' away using 220V extension cords.

    We are constantly experiencing varied electrical issues resulting in mayhem in the middle of an event w/ 20 people standing in line.

    Some of our issues are the following:
    - Our slushie machine will not freeze in the trailer, it uses 9.2amps on a household circuit and will freeze just fine if used in the house.
    - Our commercial hot dog cooker is just 800 watts but it seems to draw a lot of power, we can turn it up and down and make the lights dim or become brighter - etc.
    - Our circuit box consists of 2 circuits w/ 4 plugs each and a hard wired florescent light and hot water heater on one of the circuits. No matter what we do, those circuits NEVER flip - it is always the main power source which seems odd to us.
    - Our total number of 110V appliances including lights and pumps = 14 w/ 5 of the appliances being "commercial units" requiring more watts (as we understand... we may be wrong.)
    They are: 1 commercial fridge, 1 dorm fridge, 1 commercial hot dog cooker, 1 commercial coffee blender, 1 commercial slushie machine, 1 florscent overhead light w/ 2 bulbs, 2 hoods w/ standard light bulbs, cash register, drip coffee maker, espresso machine pump commercial, hot water heater 7 gallon, 1 water pump for sinks and one strobe light that is really small.

    This last saturday our generator regulator fried, we are using a 7500W troy built briggs & stratton 13500W Peak generator w/ one 220V plug and 4 110V plugs. Our espresso machine requires just 2600W which is much less than other commercial espresso machines but we are still experiencing so many problems.

    If anyone can help, I could type more but I'll restrain myself.

    Thank you soooo much.
    It sounds like you are overwhelming your generator. You need to add all of the watts for everything using electricity and make sure you are okay. Don't forget to use starting amps on the bigger stuff. You may also be losing watts to your cords.

    Mark
    "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

    I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Big Problems, Small Space

      So you don't think that taking the 30amp cord that comes "stock" on the trailer and converting it down to a 110V plug could be part of our problem? I just thought of this tonight and since we've had that adapter for so long, i think we forgot about it. Thank you so much for any help you can give me.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Big Problems, Small Space

        Yes converting your 30 amp cord into a 15 amp cord could be contributing to your problems but I don't believe that is your only issue.

        Mark
        "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

        I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Big Problems, Small Space

          If I'm reading your post right, except for the espresso machine, you are running everything else off of one 115v plug to your RV adapter. That is way too much power from one outlet. You really need to find a way to eliminate the RV adapter and plug the trailer into a receptacle designed for 30A (or 50A, whichever your trailer electrical system was designed for).
          When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

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          • #6
            Re: Big Problems, Small Space

            I know but finding one 220V for our espresso machine and then finding another one for our trailer is next to impossible - our generator only has one 220V plug also.... Could we install a 220 plug into our trailer and have it ALL run from ONE 220V plug/wire? That is quite a lot eh?

            Thank you so much!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Big Problems, Small Space

              it sounds to me like your having voltage drop problems, either do to the gage of extension cord or distance,

              on 220 there are two 110 lines there is a hot and a neutral/earth connection, (where the two sides of the 110 meet and are common and some where in the line connected to earth ground,, and then another hot wire doing the same when one connects to the two hot wires you get 220 when one connects to the common and one hot you get 110 or its equivalent, (110/120)

              if you get the two 110 lines on opposite sides you will have 220

              yes if you would set up for a 220 line and go in to a breaker box, you would have your 220 for the one machine and then be able to split up the 110 on two different lines, thus distributing the load out over more wire carrying capacity,

              your generator is nearly maxed out, the peak rating is more sales pitch than actual capacity, so I would suggest to never base the buying of a generator on "peak" capacity,
              (yes it can produce it but it will more than likely kill the engine in the process, or drop the RPM (frequency) to way below acceptable limits,

              I would not suggest loading a portable generator to more than 60% of its max. load capacity for normal running ,
              Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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              attributed to Samuel Johnson
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              PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

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              • #8
                Re: Big Problems, Small Space

                Wow, just 60%??

                You guys have really helped me out to understand that our length of cord and gauge could be part of the problem.....

                As the months/years go by - we keep adding new appliances or fridges and that can totally change our electric problem even if it is just a small light or a dorm fridge.

                If our espresso machine runs 20 amps and our trailer circuits and wire run 30 amp - does that leave just 10 amps to distribute between the rest of our appliances? That is why we have always ran 2 cords, with the 220V espresso machine running on a different solo cord to the generator.

                Thank you so much! How hard would it be to rewire for a 50amp circuit?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Big Problems, Small Space

                  Can you post a good picture of the receptacles on your generator? You may have a twist-lock receptacle for full power 120/240 Volts output. Please remember that any appliance with a motor such as a freezer or refrigerator takes far more current-power to start it than when running. What would really help you get an idea is if you can connect 2 Volt meters up where each is a 0-150 Volts AC meter and you connect meter A from L1 to neutral and meter B from L2 to neutral. This way you can see what's going on. Ammeters would be great too, but here comes some good $$$ for them.

                  I think the bottom line is that you would be wise to have a good electrician run some tests on your generator regarding Voltage under no load, 1/2 of rated continuous load and at full rated output. Let's be sure the generator is good for now. I think you said the regulator went out in which case you need to get it fixed before using it again.

                  Once the generator is good, then you need to balance loads on both sides. If you can, think of two windings connected in series. Your 240 Volt loads make use of both windings but your 120 Volt loads only use 1/2 and thus you only have 1/2 as much power. By splitting the loads you can put some on each winding. My bet is the bottom line is that you need more generator than you have. Food vendors find the need for 20,000 Watt 1800 RPM small Diesel engine driven trailer mounted generators real quick. I've seen this many times. If you could switch over so all your heating devices ran on propane that would help big time.

                  As for getting full power into your truck, a good electrician can make up a heavy 4 conductor cord, install (on generator) the needed receptacle if it doesn't have one now and also rig up a small breaker panel in your truck. He/she can also install a power inlet on your truck. You can then connect it to either a generator or to a special installed receptacle at home.

                  The bad part is this all costs some good money and it really isn't a DIY type of job. It requires someone that really knows what to do and how to do it. Good luck with this.

                  By the way a 7500 120/240 Volt generator running maxed out is only going to put out 31 Amps of power and that's with it really grunting hard. I have my doubts if it was load tested that it would be able to put that out for more than a few seconds if at all. Sorry, but consumer generators are over-rated big time. I have seen Honda and Yamaha generators load bank tested and it's pretty sad. They are nice machines but the numbers in the literature are not truthful. Even large stationary generators have different power ratings based on given conditions and the first set is mostly hyped up.
                  Last edited by Woussko; 07-15-2009, 01:54 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Big Problems, Small Space

                    Something you may need to do for now is called Power Management. Basically you start and run one or two devices, then cut power to them and run other devices. You would set up a panel with many switches each controlling a receptacle. Each would we labeled and you would have instructions as to what is OK to have on provided other devices are off.

                    Example: 1 then 2 then 3 can be on with a few seconds allowed for startup. Then if you want to power up 4, you turn off 2 or 3 but leave 1 on as it's something you don't want to power down normally. Then if you want to use device 5 you power off 2, 3 or 4 first.

                    Can you list the items you need to run and give some info about each one? Are there some that can be run part time and then be switched off to allow powering up others?

                    I don't really want to assume anything at this point, but my gut is telling me you need more generator and for a good electrician to go over the whole electrical system. SAFETY must come first and good grounding is an absolute must.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Big Problems, Small Space

                      I'm waiting for my sister who is the much better with electricity stuff than I am.... Thank you for the info - it's definitely sparked some ideas as to what is going on with our electricity. We are having a licensed electrician come out sometime next week but we have an event to do on Sat & Sun and it will sit as it is until next week which means we have NO idea what may happen. Lol

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Big Problems, Small Space

                        For now here is a quick test you can try with your generator. Take a table or work light and put a regular 60 Watt light bulb in it. Then with the generator running try it in each 120 Volt receptacle. Does it light up to reasonable brightness or did it go POOF or just glow dim? To compare things plug an extension cord into one of your house or garage receptacles so you can power the lamp from there. Now you can do some quick switching and get some idea if the generator is OK or if the regulator is gone. In addition if you have a portable heater plug it and the lamp into the same receptacle. Did the lamp dim much?

                        You really can't run things off a generator with a bad Voltage regulator. You'll end up with a mess and equipment damages.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Big Problems, Small Space

                          This has been touched on in a couple of posts, but may deserve some emphasis. Since there is a 220V receptacle on the generator, the 110V receptacles are probably distributed between the two "legs". By plugging all the loads into one of the 110V receptacles, that one leg is almost certainly overloaded. This means the other leg is underloaded.

                          I looked for a manual for this generator, but could only find smaller ones online. In the 5500 watt generator, the regulator is connected to only one leg. If you happen to plug your loads into the other leg, the regulation will not work correctly -- it will regulate the unloaded side while the loaded side can drift all over the place. If you have the generator manual, you should see what it says about this.

                          Even if the total load does not exceed the capacity of the generator, the capacity of each leg is only half the full capacity (in watts), so it is much easier to overload this way.

                          The solution, assuming the generator is big enough, is to run two extension cords, ensuring that each is plugged into a different leg to balance the load. In the diagram I saw, there are two duplex receptacles with one leg on the "top" and the other leg on the "bottom" of each duplex.

                          An easier way to do this is to use a proper 220V extension, which I believe is the way it was originally wired. Just be sure the loads on the two legs are balanced in the trailer.

                          As Woussko mentioned, this generator will only put out a little over 30 amps anyway, so the 30-amp cord is probably good enough unless you need a bigger generator.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Big Problems, Small Space

                            I wonder if the generator in question (I can't find much on it) has a parallel / series switch which would be marked 120 only and 120/240. If put in the 120 only position the two windings are parallel connected and work together. While running 240 Volt loads can't be done, it would sure help with all the 120 Volt loads.

                            By the way 110/220 and 120/240 are the same thing. In olden days the nominal Voltage was a little lower than today. In a well engineered device 105 - 130 actual Volts is OK but you want to try to be closer to 115-125 if you can hold it there.

                            I wish distance wasn't an issue. I would like to run some tests on the generator and also find out more info about the loads that need to be powered. The stinker is that when running on generator power unless you have a huge generator, you need to make use of Load Management so as not to overload it.


                            CC_Coffee, Is there any way you can take and post a good picture of the panel with outlets and any controls on it?

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