Using a vehicle as Back Up Generator

Discussion in 'Energy & Electricity' started by SurvivalNut, Mar 26, 2011.

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  1. SurvivalNut

    SurvivalNut Retired Army

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    There’s a lot of smart power guys here on the forum, so here’s a question for you.

    I like to keep my property clean and clear, so my son’s broke down 95 Ford Bronco is a pain in my side till he drives it over to the junkyard to donate it.
    What value is it for me to keep it and use it as a BF 12v mobile generator?

    I know the power output is small but it can putz around the property and power 12v water pumps, light hauling or charge the batteries for the 12v backup blower for my woodstove if the power goes out, easier than setting up a genny.

    So at a cost of free, would idling it to put out mobile 12v power and using it to store 20 gallons of fuel long-term (with pri-g) outweigh having it as a yard ornament in the back 5 acres?

    Next question, how long would a 20 gal gas tank last at an idle?

    Also, what size inverter can it adequately power (12v to 110v). Can the alternator be upgraded? My SHTF power needs are minimal, but I may as well max it out.

    Finally, call my wife and tell her it’s a good idea. I am losing the battle so far.

    I am not a power techie so forgive any perceived ignorance, I am ignorant. Be gentle.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2011
  2. Nadja

    Nadja Well-Known Member

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    OK, trying to be gentle, It would be for the most part of waste of gas on your part for almost nothing. You could buy a cheapo chinese generator (wally world) for $300.00 or so that would put out many more amps, plus already work 110 ac for your power tools nec when and where you want them. Also, most of the smaller gennies get at least an hour per quart of gas while your bronco, like my old one is about a gal an hour or more idleing.
     

  3. SurvivalNut

    SurvivalNut Retired Army

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    Yep, that's what I needed to hear. DW will be happy to move it out......
     
  4. nj_m715

    nj_m715 www.veggear.blogspot.com

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    I've done something like that. I have a small solar set up on my camper. It's only about 150w. It charges a couple batteries and I have a good size inverter hooked to the batteries. I also have it wired to my alternator in case it's cloudy for a few days. It's useful for camping and we use it in place of a genset during power failures. A stock alt. in most vehicles provide plenty of power. Heck, I can weld with my factory alternator.

    You don't need to keep a junk truck around. We all have vehicles already and they can all recharge a battery for your inverter. The nice thing about using batteries over a normal genset is the ability to have power when the genset is turned off.
     
  5. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

    8,000
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    An old trick for getting the most amount of power out of an idling motor is to change the pully on the alternator to a smaller one so that it spins faster at idle. Another thing that rolling stereo's would do is add in a second alternator to power the amplifiers / speakers / system. Finally, you can replace the stock alternator with one that puts out massive amounts of power - MeanGreen has some great products, but, those are costly.

    In the Jeep TJ world, a common alternator upgrade is to remove the stock 110amp alternator and replace it with one from a 4.7L Dodge Durango that puts out 160amps - direct swap. You can research into high-powered alternators for the Bronco, and, if you can do a little bit of electrical work, take apart a secondary alternator (primary alternator to charge the stock battery) and make it put out AC-power instead to run all kinds of power-tools.


    Good luck on your choices ...
     
  6. nj_m715

    nj_m715 www.veggear.blogspot.com

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    Many power tools can run on dc already. Any motor with brushes and any standard light bulb will be fine with 80-100 volts dc. Even most transformers ( wall warts ) work on dc. Induction motors will need ac. Check the specs on any high output alt. before you swap it. Many of them do great at high rpm's, but put out the same or less at low rpms. That's why I never put one in my jeeps. Most of my driving was slow speed. I just did the small pulley trick and added a high idle solenoid to bump up the rpms while winching. I've become a fan of the older big body ford alt. They run about 100 amps and are plentiful and cheap in local junkyards. I like cheap :)
     
  7. LincTex

    LincTex Jack of all trades?

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    If you want to use an old vehicle for portable power, try for something that gets incredible gas mileage, like a diesel Volkswagen Rabbit. My sister had a 1984 Chevette with a 1.8 liter Isuzu diesel that got over 50 mpg.

    Due to emissions reasons, a LOT of small Yanmar and Isuzu diesel engines from refrigerated semi-truck trailers are now on the market. These things are really miserly on fuel. You might consider making a back-up generator from one of those if you find a good deal on one.
     
  8. BasecampUSA

    BasecampUSA Sr. Homesteader

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    It's been about 35 years ago, but I built most of my house with a "black box" that I bought and wired up to my new bride's Plymouth Duster. We lived off grid for years then and we are getting ready to do it again...

    [​IMG]
    (I know, I know - but that was 35 years ago and it was Her's anyway) :D

    The "black box" was 6" x 9" x 3" and had 2 plug ins and a circuit breaker reset button. It could be mounted under the hood and wired up to any 12v car alternator to use for a skil saw or drill. It was NOT an inverter, and I can't remember who made it. I took it out when we sold the car 10 years later but I don't know where I put it, wish I had it now!

    [​IMG]
    (Our house)

    I cut all my lumber to size on site (set the idle a bit high) and drilled and drove screws with it. It worked great, every once in a while if the saw was dragging through a knot, the circuit breaker would trip but after about a minute and you could reset it.

    @ LincTex... I have 6 VW diesel rabbits (4 of them pickup trucks) here - driving one, -the rest in storage WTSHTF... - 50 mpg! McD's frenchfry grease powered too!
     
  9. nj_m715

    nj_m715 www.veggear.blogspot.com

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    My black box is in the top right of the pic. I think it's funny that it is that it IS a black box.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. nj_m715

    nj_m715 www.veggear.blogspot.com

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    No car? No problem.
    [​IMG]