Car is a generator


#1

I am thinking of using my car as a source of power duting an electrical outage to plug in a 12V camper cooler, charge a cell phone, etc. How long can I safely run the engine on idle? Assuming there is adequate ventilation and gas supply.


#2

Ask the police dept K9 units how often they need alternators when idling their patrol cars for festival duty, but need to keep the K9’s cool. These cars tend to be in the shop a lot. An alternator running at minimum speed is not capable of generating full amperage it was designed for, and will overheat quickly when the demand load is high.

Get a small generator (3500W) for less than $500. This is what they were designed for.


#3

I second that, B-K.

I keep 3 boat batteries in my garage on a small charger with a car radio, 2 tractor lights and a dry well sump-pump wired up to the system. If power goes out I have lights, weather reports and working pump until power is restored or I fire up the generator if the complaining gets too loud.


#4

I would just buy a small generator if it’s a problem. Personally, i just light a candle and wait for the power to come back.


#5

I think your idea has merit provided you operate your system for limited periods, perhaps an hour at a time. None of the applications you suggested have a great current draw. Nor do you have to maintain your charging for very long to achieve your purposes. The plug-in method (as opposed to battery clamps) assures low current draw and ought not to strain your 12v charging systems. Go for it!


#6

a 1200 watt generator will give you lights and refrigeration. A MUCH better solution…


#7

any time i have jumped a car, they always charge at half throttle or better. at idle they don’t really charge much at all.

i don’t know about your cell phone, but mine charges to full in about a half hour on the car charger. i would assume as long as you kept the door of an RV fridge closed is would maintain cold for hours or so.

so, your question is really about your expectations. i would not think you would actually ‘have’ to run the car for long periods, since these items don’t normally require constant power.

it may take some trial and error to figure out how long is optimum to run the car, to chill the fridge down, but i would think a half hour every two hours would suffice.

you mention ETC. in your list of powering up. that may be the decision breaker. what ETC are you thinking of?

if you are thinking TV, then buy a TV with Battery.

unless you go the generator route, keep it simple, and just a few things to charge. too many will increase the chance of killing the battery between charging, then where would you be?


#8

None of the applications you suggested have a great current draw.

I am not sure an electric cooler should be considered a low current draw.


#9

These 12v coolers can be run in either AC or DC mode. They are most efficient when AC is used, and the draw can be high. They are less efficient using 12v DC, when they might draw 60w or 5a. This is not very much. In general, any device (below those 300w inverters) that can be plugged into a lighter, with its 20-30a fuse, is not considered a high-current device.


#10

works GREAT,just keep the car outside,I do it myself.

for up to 5hrs,after that I fire up the generator,.

I left vehicles idle overnight,no issues,(same as being stuck on an interstate in winter(no damage done).

open the hood when possible(summer)or not at all does not matter.

good luck. computer pwr backups will run 2 lights for 8 hrs.(I also use those.


#11

Thanks to all. The first reply had the kind of technical info I was looking for. The last had the answer I like, citing personal experience. I might ask Coleman, refg maker, to weigh in on the subject.
How about the auto manufacturers producing a car that can produce 110V power as an optional accessory.


#12

they do have that on alot of cars nowadays,Toyota,Honda,for example.just not alot of wattage.

good for small items.