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# Use the car as a temporary generator during black out ?

J

#### JW

Jan 1, 1970
0
Is there such a device that you can plug into your car and is capable
of turning the car's DC 12V power into household 110V AC ? Please
don't laugh if this is a stupid idea, I am just wondering if the power
generated by the
small alternator on a running car would be enough to drive a force air
furnance during black out ?

My neighbour is buying an expensive Honda generator as a backup power
supply.
Since I can't afford to do the same and black out is not uncommon in
my area,
I am thinking if the alternator on my three cars can do the same trick
and
power at least the furnance during a winter black out ?

Appreciate if you can share your knowledge / experience.

A

#### Andy Hill

Jan 1, 1970
0
Is there such a device that you can plug into your car and is capable
of turning the car's DC 12V power into household 110V AC ? Please
don't laugh if this is a stupid idea, I am just wondering if the power
generated by the
small alternator on a running car would be enough to drive a force air
furnance during black out ?

My neighbour is buying an expensive Honda generator as a backup power
supply.
Since I can't afford to do the same and black out is not uncommon in
my area,
I am thinking if the alternator on my three cars can do the same trick
and
power at least the furnance during a winter black out ?

Appreciate if you can share your knowledge / experience.
Lessee...a blower motor on a furnace typically runs about 10A @ 120V...that's
1200W continuous. I'll ignore the startup current, but it's probably pretty
gnarly. 1200W inverters are out there (primarily for the RV crowd), but they
ain't cheap. We're talking 100A+ out of the battery, which is quite a draw --
you're not going to get that out of the alternator -- basically you're going to
suck the life out the (non deep cycle) battery in short order. Now, RVers
address this with a bank of deep cycle batteries, but you're getting into the
range of a genset by the time you've bought the batteries and the inverter (it's
quieter, 'tho).

Z

#### zxcvbob

Jan 1, 1970
0
JW said:
Is there such a device that you can plug into your car and is capable
of turning the car's DC 12V power into household 110V AC ? Please
don't laugh if this is a stupid idea, I am just wondering if the
power generated by the small alternator on a running car would be
enough to drive a force air furnance during black out ?

My neighbour is buying an expensive Honda generator as a backup power
supply. Since I can't afford to do the same and black out is not
uncommon in my area, I am thinking if the alternator on my three cars
can do the same trick and power at least the furnance during a winter
black out ?

Appreciate if you can share your knowledge / experience.

You can buy little inverters that run off your car battery and generate
110V AC. I bought a 400W inverter for about $50 (then found the same one at Sam's Club a few months later for$25. D'oh!) The size you need
depends on the power requirement of your furnace blower. The inverter
does not need the car to be running; just the battery charged. You'll
have to run the engine every once in a while to top off the battery.
You might want to buy a deep-cycle battery just for this use.

How are you planning to wire it up?

Bob

Z

#### zxcvbob

Jan 1, 1970
0
Andy said:
Lessee...a blower motor on a furnace typically runs about 10A @ 120V...that's
1200W continuous. I'll ignore the startup current, but it's probably pretty
gnarly. 1200W inverters are out there (primarily for the RV crowd), but they
ain't cheap. We're talking 100A+ out of the battery, which is quite a draw --
you're not going to get that out of the alternator -- basically you're going to
suck the life out the (non deep cycle) battery in short order. Now, RVers
address this with a bank of deep cycle batteries, but you're getting into the
range of a genset by the time you've bought the batteries and the inverter (it's
quieter, 'tho).

My furnace has a 8.5A fuse in a fusable disconnect (I don't know why, I
didn't wire it like that) and it doesn't blow during startup...

Bob

C

#### Chris Lewis

Jan 1, 1970
0
According to JW said:
Is there such a device that you can plug into your car and is capable
of turning the car's DC 12V power into household 110V AC ? Please
don't laugh if this is a stupid idea, I am just wondering if the power
generated by the
small alternator on a running car would be enough to drive a force air
furnance during black out ?

There are 12V inverters that you can buy quite cheaply to get 120V AC
power[+]. However, above about 400W the price starts to jump _very_ steeply.
Given startup surge and wave conditioning requirements for AC induction
motors, an inverter for your furnace blower will have to be in the 2000W+
range. Those things cost more than a consumer grade (ie: Coleman) 3500W
gasoline generator (but not as much as a good Honda).

Furthermore, at that power level, the vehicle's alternator may not be able
to keep up. 60A is about the limit for ordinary cars, 75A is the usual
"top end". Which is only about 720W. The furnace blower steady-state
is going to use up just about all of it.

There are "special" alternators you can install on your car that
produce 120V AC - making your whole car a gas generator. They're
actually quite inexpensive (years back Northern Hydraulics had them for
around $60), _except_ that mounting them is often going to be a b**ch. These are able to deliver several thousand watts, _however_, they're not frequency regulated, and thus would not work for furnace blowers which need a reasonably well controlled 60Hz AC. They're more intended for things like electric drills and saws that don't care what frequency the 120V is at. Sorry, your cheapest option is a gas generator. [+] I have a couple smallish inverters, and will be building a 12V emergency lighting/power system in the house. But I won't be able to run motors like that, it is not intended to be as "capable" as a gas generator. Just simple, cheap, keeps the lights burning, we can watch emergency broadcasts on TV, and recharge the cell phone ;-) W #### Woody Jan 1, 1970 0 Backtrack and think about what you are trying to do. First the Honda generator costs about four times any others. If you need a generator for high usage all the time the Honda is the way to go. You can buy a 5-6 kw generator for around$500. It will do everything you need and probably last
you a lifetime at the small usage you need. I bought a 6kw generator about 8
years ago for about $400 and have used it about a dozen times. I have it set up so it feeds the whole house during power failures. I had lights, TV, and hot food during the blackout. It won't run the air conditioner but it did run several fans. Check the prices at the big box stores and warehouse stores. You don't need state of the art for the small usage it will receive.... H #### HLS Jan 1, 1970 0 My father-in-law used to buy these devices for his employees fleet cars. They worked in the oil patch, and needed to use drills, etc. He and I opened one of them one day to see what he was getting for him money. It was essentially a switch and a 110 receptacle. The switch cut the voltage regulator out of the circuit and ran the alternator on full output. The frequency was whatever you get out of a three phase circuit running at frequency x. Sure they worked. I don't recall him ever having burned out alternators because of it either. But it darn sure wasnt rocket science. And you are still limited to the wattage that the alternator can put out. Last point, if one thinks an alternator doesn't put out much at low RPM, he should remember the days of the generator. These things were borderline at best, always seemed to have voltage regulator problems. A #### Art Todesco Jan 1, 1970 0 There is a company called Auragen that makes this type of thing. They are at http://www.thepcshopper.com/aurasystems/. While the units are really nice, they are pretty pricey. I am currently looking a putting one in a mobile TV truck, about$3K.
As others have said, a cheap gas generator goes a long way in
an emergency.

T

#### Tony P.

Jan 1, 1970
0
Is there such a device that you can plug into your car and is capable
of turning the car's DC 12V power into household 110V AC ? Please
don't laugh if this is a stupid idea, I am just wondering if the power
generated by the
small alternator on a running car would be enough to drive a force air
furnance during black out ?

As it is now alternators on cars are becoming more and more taxed at
providing enough power for all the widgets and things on a car.

This is part of the move to the 42V electrical systems in cars. I can
understand that - takes 48V to run your phone why not something like a
car.
My neighbour is buying an expensive Honda generator as a backup power
supply.
Since I can't afford to do the same and black out is not uncommon in
my area,
I am thinking if the alternator on my three cars can do the same trick
and
power at least the furnance during a winter black out ?

Appreciate if you can share your knowledge / experience.

Best way to use your car as a generator is not to. You could buy a basic
generator and then wire up your house to accept it as an input. You'd
probably be looking at about $3000 or so. Other option is a truck with a PTO hooked to a generator. But even that isn't cost efficient. C #### calhoun Jan 1, 1970 0 JW said: Is there such a device that you can plug into your car and is capable of turning the car's DC 12V power into household 110V AC ? Please don't laugh if this is a stupid idea, I am just wondering if the power generated by the small alternator on a running car would be enough to drive a force air furnance during black out ? My neighbour is buying an expensive Honda generator as a backup power supply. Since I can't afford to do the same and black out is not uncommon in my area, I am thinking if the alternator on my three cars can do the same trick and power at least the furnance during a winter black out ? Appreciate if you can share your knowledge / experience. I have a 2200watt continuous/4000 peak inverter wired (not a plug in) to a 2nd, isolated, battery in my truck. It cost$310.00. I use it for running
a skill saw, miter box etc. It is much easier than starting /stopping a
generator much quieter, and doesn't take up any cargo space.

I don't think it would take the place of a generator for continuous use. My
alternator is a 135 amp upgrade but the inverter can draw over 200amps so it
would never keep up with continuous use. Its output is small compared to
even a cheap genset.

It will be cheaper and better to just use a generator.

J

#### Jeff Cochran

Jan 1, 1970
0
Is there such a device that you can plug into your car and is capable
of turning the car's DC 12V power into household 110V AC ?

Inverter. Available through many mail-oder sites and most RV or four
wheeling dealers.
don't laugh if this is a stupid idea, I am just wondering if the power
generated by the
small alternator on a running car would be enough to drive a force air
furnance during black out ?

Unlikely. A space heater maybe.
My neighbour is buying an expensive Honda generator as a backup power
supply.
Since I can't afford to do the same and black out is not uncommon in
my area,
I am thinking if the alternator on my three cars can do the same trick
and
power at least the furnance during a winter black out ?

A generator is under $500, an inverter of any capacity would be close to as much. Blankets, firewood and candles, along with a propane heater, stove and lantern are much cheaper, more versatile and more practical. Jeff T #### Tony Kimmell Jan 1, 1970 0 Is there such a device that you can plug into your car and is capable of turning the car's DC 12V power into household 110V AC ? Please don't laugh if this is a stupid idea, I am just wondering if the power generated by the small alternator on a running car would be enough to drive a force air furnance during black out ? My neighbour is buying an expensive Honda generator as a backup power supply. Since I can't afford to do the same and black out is not uncommon in my area, I am thinking if the alternator on my three cars can do the same trick and power at least the furnance during a winter black out ? Appreciate if you can share your knowledge / experience. I used to have an '85 Chevy diesel 4x4 that I setup to run a generator off the driveshaft. There was a flatbed on it and I mounted the generator to it. I left the front drivetrain hooked up so it was still driveable (front wheel drive). The rear driveshaft ran the generator with a small gearbox between the rear driveshaft and the chain that drove the generator to disengage it so the generator wouldn't turn when the truck was being driven. I don't remember the size of the genereator exactly, it's been a while since I sold it. It was enough to run the whole house with room to spare (it was big... weighed probably 800-900 lbs). It was originally a tractor PTO generator. You just drive it up to the power service panel, set the emergency brake, pop the transfer case into 2WD, put the rear gearbox into gear,plug the generator in, and crank up the rpms. There were a couple times I had to use it for 2-3 days straight... that 6.2L diesel never missed a beat. This obviously isn't what you're trying to do, but I thought it was an interesting semi-related story J #### John Davies Jan 1, 1970 0 I use a 1000 watt generator to run my central furnace - it works fine,. I was unsure if it would handle the start-up current, but I have never experienced a problem. You do NOT need a 4 or 5 kW generator if all you want is to run the furnace. Don' try to jury-rig something to your car - just buy a cheap end-of-season generator in the 1500 to 2000 watt range and you will be fine. John Davies http://home.comcast.net/~johnedavies/ '96 Lexus LX450 '00 Audi A4 1.8T quattro Spokane WA USA C #### *CBHVAC* Jan 1, 1970 0 JW said: Is there such a device that you can plug into your car and is capable of turning the car's DC 12V power into household 110V AC ? Please don't laugh if this is a stupid idea, I am just wondering if the power generated by the small alternator on a running car would be enough to drive a force air furnance during black out ? My neighbour is buying an expensive Honda generator as a backup power supply. Since I can't afford to do the same and black out is not uncommon in my area, I am thinking if the alternator on my three cars can do the same trick and power at least the furnance during a winter black out ? Appreciate if you can share your knowledge / experience. What kind of furnace do you have? Electric? Gas? Oil? I can tell you now, that if you have a heat pump, or straight electric resistance heat, you cant. Personally, I have a 25KW Coleman, with a Ford engine that runs on NG, and my heat pump hasnt even had to be shut down in the last two outages we had... If you are in an area that is prone to blackouts, or simply outages due to ice, or weather related, then you cant afford to be without one. E #### Ed Stasiak Jan 1, 1970 0 Tony P. said: Other option is a truck with a PTO hooked to a generator. But even that isn't cost efficient. How difficult/expensive would it be convert an old yard tractor (10hp) into a mobile generator for use in case of blackouts and where would one find the necessary components? C #### Chris Lewis Jan 1, 1970 0 According to HLS said: Sure they worked. I don't recall him ever having burned out alternators because of it either. But it darn sure wasnt rocket science. And you are still limited to the wattage that the alternator can put out. As a FYI, some years ago there was a discussion (on this group I think), where I had suggested that an "alternator configured as 120V source" unit was limited to about the same wattage as when configured for 12V (ie: somewhere in the 500-800W range typically). An automotive engineer familiar with alternator design chimed in and said that, on the contrary, these things can put out vastly more power. As in, a 60A alternator reconfigured to drive 120V could actually deliver 60A at 120V (7200W at 120V instead of 720W at 12V) under the "right conditions". That would presuppose you're running it at high RPMs [+], and secondly that current draw and voltage were exactly in sync (ie: pure resistive loading). If there was significant out-of-phase current/voltage at those power levels, the thing would self-destruct in very short order because the thing isn't big enough to dissipate the inductive heating. It also supposes that the drive belt can stand up to 10 times as much loading... [+] the amount of power that a given size of transformer or generator can generate is highly dependent on AC frequency. Ie: a PC switching power supply can supply 500W out of a transformer 1.5" in diameter, (because the transformer is being driven at anywhere from 20Khz to 50Khz), whereas an ordinary 60Hz transformer for that wattage often weighs 5 pounds or more and is bigger than an entire PC supply. C #### Chris Lewis Jan 1, 1970 0 How difficult/expensive would it be convert an old yard tractor (10hp) into a mobile generator for use in case of blackouts and where would one find the necessary components? You'd need a speed governor and a generator. I was researching this some years ago because I thought of doing exactly that. I found that Northern Hydraulics (now just "Northern") and Princess Auto (more or less the Canadian equivalent of Northern) were selling brand new "bare" (motorless) 3500 and 5000W generator units for somewhere in the neighborhood of$200-$400. [I've seen Princess selling "surplus" 20Kw motor-less generators for ~$800CDN. Drool drool ;-)]

The problem is finding a speed governor that detects the output
frequency of the generator and can adjust the tractor's throttle to
keep the frequency reasonably and consistently close to 60Hz under
wildly varying load. These are usually custom units built into
motor-generator units ("gensets").

Even Northern, who also sold gensets they assembled themselves (from
the generators and motors they also sold) didn't sell the governors
separately.

While yard tractors usually do have a governor already (my 12HP Cub Cadet
certainly does), I don't think they're anywhere near fast or accurate
enough to reliably use in a generator/tractor combo. The one on my
tractor certainly doesn't seem "quick" enough. This presupposes as well
that you get the speed set right in the first place for the governor to
govern.

If you _did_ manage to find the generator/governor units, then the problem
becomes mounting it on the tractor. I had that all figured out for mine -
it would have involved producing a customized version of the snowblower
mount and adding belt drive to link the generator to the accessory clutch
pulley (3/16" or 1/4" steel and some welding). The generator would have
stuck out in front of the tractor almost between the front wheels. But
very easy to mount/dismount.

[The manual for the tractor did say a rear PTO was available for it just
like the big ones on full size tractors, but the local Case-IH dealership
just laughed at the notion that something like that had ever existed.]

I

#### Ignoramus7266

Jan 1, 1970
0
Is there such a device that you can plug into your car and is
capable of turning the car's DC 12V power into household 110V AC ?

yes, it is called an inverter.
Please don't laugh if this is a stupid idea,

it is not.
I am just wondering if
the power generated by the small alternator on a running car would
be enough to drive a force air furnance during black out ?

It depends on your alternator.

I have just such a setup.

I own a Ferrups 1100KVA UPS.

I connected its battery inputs to my truck's battery. (obviously, the
connection is removable as I need the truck for other purposes).

During blackout, I connect my truck's battery to the UPS, start the
engine, and turn the UPS on. The inverter in the UPS produces enough
power to power a small motor, and my truck's alternator has enough
power to replenish the battery.

i

S

#### Stormin Mormon

Jan 1, 1970
0
Not a stupid question. I've tried it myself, using a 700 watt inverter, and
a marine battery. Figure if I can get two hours or so of furnace time, it
would surely be a lot more comfortable than not.

What I found was that the lead in wires they gave me didn't supply enough
amperage to start the fan motor on the furnace. Reaching in to spin the fan
by hand didn't help.

I keep thinking that someday I've got to wire a second battery onto the 12
volt leads of the inverter, but I havn't done it yet.

Keep the inverter as close to the battery as you can -- make the long
distance run with 110 VAC extension cords.

--

Christopher A. Young
Join Alt-Hvac Moderated
A free, easy to use Yahoo! group
[email protected]

V

#### v

Jan 1, 1970
0
Is there such a device that you can plug into your car and is capable
of turning the car's DC 12V power into household 110V AC ?

Yes there is such a thing. My buddy used to use one to run his
circular saw on a job site (intermittant use). I don't think your car
would keep up for long with any continuous draw. You gonna leave the
car running all night long?

You could probably run your refrigerator off it, cool it down and then
shut off the car. But not your heating system all the time.

-v.

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