TheEC: Emergency Generator Power

Nov 20, 2012

Providence, RI – This week on the Engineer's Corner we talk about power. Not so much "fight the" as "emergency backup"! In fact, this week we're installing a new power generator for our 88.1FM (WELH) transmitter facility. You might've noticed we had issues with a lack of reliable power for almost three days during Hurricane Sandy; we had a generator but it just didn't have the features and capacity we needed.

So in advance of winter storms, falling trees, rime ice and downed power lines, we're putting in a Kohler RES14a propane generator with three 100lb tanks. Yes, the same company that makes excellent faucets for your kitchen, also makes excellent generators, believe it or not.

By our calculations, it could handle nearly twice as much equipment as we'll be running, so there's plenty of extra capacity. That also means we don't have to run the generator as hard, so it'll last for four or five days possibly more before needing a refill.

Best of all, it's all automatic. So whenever power is lost, the generator detects it, waits a few seconds to make sure it's not a "blip", then starts itself and switches over the power to itself. No need for a human to trudge out there, determine the problem, and manually start the generator. A less than pleasant experience at 6am in driving wind and rain, I can assure you!

The generator is slated to be installed on Tuesday November 20th. There'll be a brief period, perhaps an hour, while power is disconnected to the site so the electrician can safely wire in the new generator. During that time, 88.1 will be running on a separate, smaller generator that can power our backup transmitter. Watch our engineer's twitter feed for real-time updates on this!