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Old 09-18-2008, 05:20 PM
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Using car stuff to power your house?

A lot of us in Ohio lost electrical power to our houses last Sunday. How Ike could cause so much havoc so far away from the gulf was incredible, but someone said Ike combined with a big storm coming in from the north to double team us and toppled a lot of old trees.

Many of us lost power for days, and some are still without electrical power. Some are on wells, so no power, no water!

A friend used a power inverter to plug into his car, and that helped, but that's not really enough to do much. We have an all electric house and would need 220 for the water heater.

Generators to get 3 110 outlets and one 220v outlet costs a minimum of $800 plus shipping if not local.

I'm wondering if I can build something with a couple of alternators powered by a propane or diesel motor? Maybe a wrecked VW diesel engine?

With having an all electric house, in a place that gets VERY cold in winter, having power go out in winter would be bad to very bad in a hurry! I have a wood burning insert in my fireplace and does well for heat but without it's electric fans working you'd have to stay close to survive.

So thoughts on electric generators using alternators? Options?

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Old 09-18-2008, 05:42 PM
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A`car engine would be a good idea, but you would need a lot more than a couple of alternators......and a bank of batteries......

Around where I live now, wind generators are a big thing........
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Old 09-18-2008, 05:47 PM
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why not use a car engine to power a large generator head.. I don't think alternators would be up to snuff.. they can produce 110V A/C but they arn't good enough for 220.. and no inverter is going to do 220V
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Old 09-18-2008, 06:09 PM
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Car Engine?

Ok, but for fuel efficiency, low rpm needs high torque and that spells diesel to me.

Sounds like RV generator heads won't be enough power to do 220? Do RV's do 220v?
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Old 09-18-2008, 07:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 58Apache
A lot of us in Ohio lost electrical power to our houses last Sunday. How Ike could cause so much havoc so far away from the gulf was incredible, but someone said Ike combined with a big storm coming in from the north to double team us and toppled a lot of old trees.

Many of us lost power for days, and some are still without electrical power. Some are on wells, so no power, no water!

A friend used a power inverter to plug into his car, and that helped, but that's not really enough to do much. We have an all electric house and would need 220 for the water heater.

Generators to get 3 110 outlets and one 220v outlet costs a minimum of $800 plus shipping if not local.

I'm wondering if I can build something with a couple of alternators powered by a propane or diesel motor? Maybe a wrecked VW diesel engine?

With having an all electric house, in a place that gets VERY cold in winter, having power go out in winter would be bad to very bad in a hurry! I have a wood burning insert in my fireplace and does well for heat but without it's electric fans working you'd have to stay close to survive.

So thoughts on electric generators using alternators? Options?
Man that was a crazy storm. Felt it here in Nashport as well. No electric since 5PM Sunday- back online earlier today. It was eerie how warm is was, and only a sprinkle of rain. I'm still cleaning up. We had 65MPH gusts here.

Generator are predominately the rule around here. Since you are all electric, I'd say at least a 6000 watt generator. A typical water heater pulls 5000 watts thereabouts, but only random intervals. The extra 1000 can go towards a firdge and a fan to circulate the heat from that wood burner. That's what I'd do. They sell diesel generators at Lowes. I was looking at one today.

I have a deep well for water, but JUST LAST WEEK made the switch to public water. My well eats pumps every 4 years... I got lucky at least for water.

I used an inverter to shave and watch TV off an antenna. Other than that, candles, flashlights, grilling out, coolers and luke warm showers. YA baby.

I was just starting to get used to it, then the damn electric came back on.
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Old 09-18-2008, 10:27 PM
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Stand-by electric

Ok- I used to do Emergency Response planning training - and here is the BIGGIE - How much fuel do you have in storage?

What you want is the absolute MINIMUM-sized generator you can get away with. (My house is also electric heat, so I am with you on this) I also have a fireplace insert and it needs fans to keep it going.

What I developed and and posted on the net many years ago is a plan to use an old lawnmower engine (or similar, horizontal shaft) engine to power an alternator, to keep a battery or two charged so you can use the inverter to circulate the heat from the fireplace so you don't freeze up the house. (frozen pipes cause the secondary disaster when they burst!)

A bit more power to keep the fridge running so your food does not spoil. After that everything else is "want to have", not "have to have". You can cook on the outdoor BBQ, and use candles or "coleman" lights to see in the house.

The reason I ask "how much fuel do you have in storage" is simple: the bigger the generator, the more it drinks. A 5,000 watt generator will need approx a gallon an hour - some are more efficient, some less, but average a gallon per hour. So how long are you gonna run it? (how much fuel do you have in storage?) A tiny generator - say 1,000 watts or less, might need less than a quart per hour - some use as little as a pint per hour. Based on the same amount of fuel in storage, you can go up to 16 times as long for keeping your fireplace fans running and your food from spoiling.

You choose.

How big a genset do you WANT? How big do you actually NEED?
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Old 09-18-2008, 11:06 PM
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my girlfriend has family down in Dayton, and they too reported it was pretty crazy. Is it true an automotive alternator really can put out 110V? What rpms does the alternator have to spin at? I'm interested in this homemade generator idea. It won't run a lot, but hey, something is better than nothing.
-Matt

p.s. on topic- I'd go with a 5000-7500 watt generator. Make sure you get a quality generator. Some (menards sells 'wen') are chinese and I've never seen parts available for 'wen' equipment. Some have Honda engines and goshknowswhat generator. Of course Honda uses Honda engine and generator unit, or at least one from their supplier, and parts are available. An old RV genset wouldn't be bad- if it can run a RV, then it should be able to run a few things in your house. I'd take showers at a friend's/family's house that has warm water for a couple days rather than getting a generator that will support 220v water heater plus 110v fridge and a few lights. You might have to switch it on and off between appliances, but I think this would be a pain in the butt.

edit: run it once a month for an hour or so to keep everything in shape, and put some load on the generator as well!
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Old 09-18-2008, 11:24 PM
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110V Alternator?

I have heard that an alt CAN put out a whole range of voltage - but I just use a stock 1 wire GM alt, driven off a belt powered by any old horizontal-shaft engine (3.5 hp seems to work) to charge a battery or two, and then use a $40.00 inverter to power the 100 V stuff like fireplace fans and the fridge etc.

My well pump is 220 V, so I can't power that, but I have a swimming pool full of water for domestic use while the power is out, and my kitchen stove is Nat gas powered.

Worst case scenario - we move into the RV for the duration!
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Old 09-19-2008, 10:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChevelleSS_LS6
my girlfriend has family down in Dayton, and they too reported it was pretty crazy. Is it true an automotive alternator really can put out 110V? What rpms does the alternator have to spin at? I'm interested in this homemade generator idea. It won't run a lot, but hey, something is better than nothing.
!
yes, alternators can produce 110v A/C but the cycle is high and will ruin many motors/ trnasformers.. great for welding tho, specially being a 30 amp alt can put out 3,600 watts at 120 volt.

but you could convert a 60 cycle alternator, out of a induction motor that runs on 60 cycles ( washing machine ect... ). that will generate 120v at 60 cycles..
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Old 09-19-2008, 11:13 AM
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maybe you guys should look into tankless hot water heater. they can be run off propane as can a generator. bury a tank fill with propane and no more headaches. when we went thru wilma electric was out for 3 weeks a generator and natural gas water heater kept it livable for the time neccessary
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Old 09-20-2008, 11:22 PM
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We had an ice storm a few years ago that KO'd the electricity for 9 days. Luckily I had a gas water heater & a big old gas space heater left over from the old days. I ran a generator for as long as it would run on a tank of gas every day, powering the refrigerator and water bed heater enough to keep the frozen stuff frozen and the bed warm most of the night. I ran the TV, VCR, CO detector, and alarm clock off a trolling motor battery with an inverter, and ran jumper cables from the battery out the front window to the T-bird, which was left idling outside for an hour or so every day to keep the battery charged.

Other than tripping over all the stinkin wires, it wasn't half bad, although I did have some fleeting thoughts of making a framework with a couple of Harbor Freight generator heads hooked to rollers and parking the T-bird on it with the cruise control set to an appropriate speed.

I figure on converting a new generator to multi-fuel (some SOB stole the old one), and running it on natural gas, which has never gone out around here for as long as I can remember, and hooking it up to run the whole house through a transfer switch (don't want any sudden shocks for the power company guys).
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Old 09-21-2008, 08:22 PM
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40 Chevy

I was out at my buddy's place today helping him on his 40 Chevy. I passed on to him a link on here to a propane conversion company to convert gasoline. generators.

He has a well with a 220V pump, and has to have sump pumps operating if it rains or his basement will flood.

The good thing is he has a large propane tank that powers his stove and water heater. But without the well working, the water heater doesn't do any good, and you can't even flush toilets.

So he knows he NEEDS a generator, but by the time you add all the peripherals to distribute the power, without it trying to power the neighbors and entire power grid, it jacks the cost up big time.

When the electricity went out you couldn't get gasoline. But he had plenty of propane in his big tank. Obviously a propane or multi-fuel is the way to go for him.

Steve
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Old 09-21-2008, 10:45 PM
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Off the Grid

We live Off the Grid.
Only way I know if the power is out in town is to look down the hill to see if any lights on.

Its really not that hard to prepare for loss of power.
Inverters work great but more batteries for storing the power is a must.
We use a bank of golf cart batteries and one Big inverter to convert it back to AC. We also have solar panels to keep them charged up.

I had one friend that found a place that cycled out wheel chair batteries after a year. He used them in a wagon with two inverters to power his ham radio room when the power was out.

One easy way to generate power to charge several Big car batteries is an old lawn mower. Use the engine and a car alt to charger them up when needed.

There are tons of places in the Internet that talks about doing all kinds of stuff like this.
You can find companies that have propane conversions for pretty much any small engine for around a hundred bucks. Propane will not go sour like gas does.

If anyone is interested, just email me.
HJ
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