Generators, Again?!

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In another thread some folks wondered about using their vehicle to supply power to their homes in times of disaster or power line repairs. I recalled seeing 5-8kw AC generators under the hoods of SUV's like those owned by many families. It was an article in one of the Popular Science or Mechanics magazines some years ago. It showed a large aluminum cased unit that fit under the hood of a pickup or SUV that had enough room in the engine compartment. The generator could be plugged into the home's electrical system to keep vital gear and appliances running in case of a loss of main power. I finally found the one I think was in the article and it is the Aura Systems, Inc. "AuraGen". I came across another one produced on the opposite side of the country from Raven Technology called "The Blackbird". These are proven systems in use all over the world. ^_^
http://www.aurasystems.com/pages/prod_exploded.html
http://www.aurasystems.com/pages/prod_marine.html
http://www.raventechpower.com/blackbird.htm
http://www.raventechpower.com/ravenchevy.htm
TDD
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I'm glad you started this thread, as I was thinking about this idea of outfitting the car as a backup home power generator. My first ancillary question is: Is it detrimental to a car engine to leave it idling for many hours or days? I'd also want to know how efficient that approach might be, in terms of kWh/gallon, before I started seriously looking into the details of implementation.
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First thing I'd ask is how the hell you get one of the generators shown into a car or SUV. Nothing in those links would indicate it's possible or that they are targeted at that application. There is very little room in today's vehicles for retrofitting, unless it's something like swapping out an alternator specifically made for that vehicle with another one specifically made for it with a somewhat higher output. Nothing there that I could see says it will fit any specific models of vehicles.
As for having the engine idle for long periods, I don't see any problem with that, except that it would probably burn a lot more fuel than a right sized gas powered generator.
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First thing I'd ask is how the hell you get one of the generators shown into a car or SUV. Nothing in those links would indicate it's possible or that they are targeted at that application. There is very little room in today's vehicles for retrofitting, unless it's something like swapping out an alternator specifically made for that vehicle with another one specifically made for it with a somewhat higher output. Nothing there that I could see says it will fit any specific models of vehicles.
As for having the engine idle for long periods, I don't see any problem with that, except that it would probably burn a lot more fuel than a right sized gas powered generator. ============================================= This is a minor consideration in the whole risk/reward/capital expense calculation, which you apparently still don't get. Sylvan Learning Centers: http://sylvan.learning-centers.com/slc/170/sylvans-proven-process.aspx
But it is inneresting nonetheless, and some sample data might shed some light -- not for the Blustering Duo here, but mebbe for others.
Scangauge (an aftermarket mpg meter) indicates my Nissan Frontier (with a paleolithic 3.3 L 180 hp engine) idles at about 0.3xx gal per hour. My purloined BlackMax ( 7 kW continuous) has these consumption rates, roughly 0.6, 0.7, 0.9 gal/hr at 25, 50, and 100% loads.
Intuitively, I'm guessing that at 25% load on a 1,000 W inverter load to the alternator, the Nissan would NOT draw sig'ly more than its idling .3xx gal/hr bec that idle speed is *aleady* high, and the electronics seem to adjust shit to keep it there. Or, the increase would be nominal.
For example, if you turn all the lights on, the idle does not change. And I seem to recall having tested this with the scangauge, with no discernible diff -- and headlights/lights are an appreciable load. I will, however, test this again and report back.
So altho this is not a definitive analysis, initial indications are that an automobile inverter hookup wouldn't be so bad in this regard. This is in part due to the fact that virtually ALL gensets under $5K operate at 3,600 rpm.... vs, what, 700-800 rpm idle for your car -- a *hyooge* difference. It's not until you get into the liquid cooled gensets, that you get 1,800 rpm idle speeds (still 2x+ your car idle!), or perhaps with these variable-idle units that slow down with no load.
But again, not that this really has any bearing on Han's issues, or even mine. Expensive true-standby units just don't make sense for shit that may or may not happen, and then for short periods -- Halloween admittedly being one of those exceptions -- esp. if you lived in CT.
So I don't know about TDD's "gnerators under a hood", but a good inverter with an existing alternator is a slam-dunk ito cost/convenience, and a bigger alternator might do a fair job all around.
--
EA








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What's a minor consideration? The fact that those generators shown in the link won't fit in a freaking car or SUV to begin with? Have you even looked under the hood of a car in the last 40 years? As for the risk/reward/CAPITAL expense calculation, I suggest you find out the price of one of those generators in the link and get back to us. As Pete C suggested, I'm betting they cost as much as or more than a portable generator. Oh, and then even if you could somehow modify your car at God only knows what expense, what happens 5 years later when you get a new car? Rip it all out and take it to the new car dealer? Excuse me Mr. Car dealer, mind if I wheel in this generator and try to figure out if I can somehow fit it in the engine compartment of that shiney new car on the floor?
Add up the cost of that special generator, the batteries, the inverters, etc and I say you're already way over the cost of buying a portable generator. And factor in that Han doesn't sound like the kind of guy that's going to modify his car to put the generator in, even if that was possible. What do you think having a mechanic figure out how to cram that thing into a typical SUV is gonna cost? No need to worry, they would just laugh you out of the garage. You're being laughed out of my garage right now....

Sounds like they failed you.


That would seem to be the essence of having a standby generator, ie for events that may or may not happen. As for an expensive, true standby unit, you must have me confused with someone else. I never advocated any such thing. Time to go back to Sylvan for a refresher?
-- Halloween admittedly being

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What's a minor consideration? The fact that those generators shown in the link won't fit in a freaking car or SUV to begin with? Have you even looked under the hood of a car in the last 40 years? As for the risk/reward/CAPITAL expense calculation, I suggest you find out the price of one of those generators in the link and get back to us. As Pete C suggested, I'm betting they cost as much as or more than a portable generator. Oh, and then even if you could somehow modify your car at God only knows what expense, what happens 5 years later when you get a new car? Rip it all out and take it to the new car dealer? Excuse me Mr. Car dealer, mind if I wheel in this generator and try to figure out if I can somehow fit it in the engine compartment of that shiney new car on the floor?
Add up the cost of that special generator, the batteries, the inverters, etc and I say you're already way over the cost of buying a portable generator. And factor in that Han doesn't sound like the kind of guy that's going to modify his car to put the generator in, even if that was possible. What do you think having a mechanic figure out how to cram that thing into a typical SUV is gonna cost? No need to worry, they would just laugh you out of the garage. You're being laughed out of my garage right now.... =============================================== You just LOVE to create straw men. I was not referring to the OP's suggestion, or Pete's comments. I was referring strictly to the notion YOU raised (and shitty2) of gas consumption of an auto with an inverter, which the rest of my post made perfectly clear.

Sounds like they failed you.

That would seem to be the essence of having a standby generator, ie for events that may or may not happen. ======================================================= You must have missed the "for short periods" part..... Mebbe this is an ocular problem you have? Mebbe you should see an optometrist on your way to Sylvan?
As for an expensive, true standby unit, you must have me confused with someone else. I never advocated any such thing. Time to go back to Sylvan for a refresher? ======================================================= Or facsimiles thereof. As I pointed out elsewhere, ANY gas generator system is a pita, unless you are using it strictly as a source for extensions cords, and then mebbe even then just less of a pita. Which is what makes the car/inverter system so neat, now that inverters can be had pretty cheap in larger wattages....
But YOU fuss about gas in a car..... I don't think even Sylvan could fix DAT comprehension problem.... mebbe yer mom should have breastfed you or sumpn....
Oh, and here's another MAJOR consideration: Reliability of these gensets is not the greatest, either, from a number of pov's. One is the motor in the generator itself. While many spoke favorably of the Generac's in the previous thread, I've read numerous reports of their unreliability AND the shit service Generac provides. I could be wrong, but that was the impression I got from various readings.
The next thing is the INHERENT problem with any rarely-used gas engine: getting it to start. True-standby's have weekly/monthly startups (the generac does this, proly greatly eats into the lifetime of the engine.... LOL), but for a run-of-the-mill portable that many will use, you really gotta PRAY that that thing starts up -- if nothing else, from the gumming up of the carb from standing gas.
So again, the car/inverter idear is not perfect, but it sure skirts a number of significant issues. Raising the cost of gas issue -- which my post suggests is not an issue at all -- is, well, so Trader4-ish....
--
EA







-- Halloween admittedly being
> one of those exceptions -- esp. if you lived in CT.
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In my post I provided a whole list of problems with your idea. You replied with:
"> > This is a minor consideration in the whole risk/reward/capitalexpense

So, sorry, but if you're not clear about what it is you're talking about, what do you expect?

It's a PITA UNLESS you're using it for extension cords? Having to run extension cords all over the house are precisely one of the problems that make any generator that is NOT tied into the panel a PITA. That is why I recommended a solution that includes tying it in to the main panel so that you can then power whatever you need to in the whole house WITHOUT extension cords. And in your world, how does one connect a furnace, a well pump, a range, to an extension cord without it being a PITA? What would you rather do, rewire all the above or just wire an inlet to the panel once and be done with it?
Talk about clueless....

It's a simple fact. If you rely on a car as your generator, then either you have to make sure that car always has adequate gas when it goes in the garage, or else you have to store gas. And in my world, storing gas is one of the drawbacks to a generator, which is why I would go with a nat gas generator.

That's why I recommended nat gas, for those that have it. And in my experience, if you properly treat a rarely used gas engine, it has a high probability of starting. If you leave it full of gas for two years, which is dumb, well maybe not.

Only if you're dumb enough to leave it full of gas.

Again, time for the Sylvan refresher. I never said the cost of gas was an issue.
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On 10/4/2012 7:26 AM, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Traitor, did you even bother to look at the last link that showed the generator installed under the hood of a full sized pickup truck? The link shows how the Blackbird generator fits quite nicely under the hood of a 2002 Chevrolet Silverado with a 5.3L Vortec V8. I imagine the engine compartment of the full sized Chevy SUV's are the same size. These generators are very efficient and have been in use for many years. A fellow with a service, repair or construction business could make good use of such a generator on the job especially if his truck is a diesel. When he gets home, and the power goes out, he can run a cable to the truck and use it to power the house. If you bothered to look at the specs and comprehend them for the AuraGen, you would grok that it is a bit over 12" in diameter which is something that will fit under the hood of most full sized pickup trucks and SUV's. The generators lend themselves admirably to PTO operation. There are farmers who use PTO powered generators all over the world. I can bet you'd find a PTO generator being sold by a tractor dealer. I'd suggest you read the information on the websites before criticizing something you have no knowledge of. You don't want people thinking you're Bobby Green do you? ^_^
TDD
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On Oct 4, 9:48am, The Daring Dufas <the-daring-du...@stinky- finger.net> wrote:

No, I must admit when I saw a few of the links, that was enough for me. Your claim was:
"I recalled seeing 5-8kw AC generators under the hoods of SUV's like those owned by many families." And the other thread you referred back to was mostly about Han finding a solution to power his house in case the power went out.
A Silverado sure doesn't fit that description. Does Han own such a vehicle? And you have to admit, it barely fits in there. Do a bit of googling for the actual products and all the hits come back like Pete C suggested, ie for emergency vehicles, military applications, etc. When you have a cost for the generator, I say that alone will be the end of it. IF that isn't enough, factor in the headache of installing it or paying someone to install it, what you do when you trade the vehicle in, etc and sorry, but it just doesn't fly.
The

But that sure isn't the typical homeowner, with the typical SUV is it? IF they are targeted and economically viable for such applications, I'd expect to see a list of compatible SUV vehicles, install kits, etc. You see that? Think there is a reason why?

Good luck with fitting something over 12" in diameter into the correct position so that it can be powered in any of today's SUV's. And then you have the issue of what else you have to do, what else is in the way that has to be moved to get a belt to it, etc. Sure, for a one of thing to take a pic of for Popular Science, it can be done. Is it practical? I say no way.
The generators lend

When you have a link with a price on one of the units, let us know. I'll bet it ends right there, because for what it costs, you could just go out and buy a portable generator.
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wrote:

My only car is a 2005 "Grand" Caravan, parked in the driveway. I am /NOT/ going to retrofit it with a generator/alternator to supply my home with electricity.
As mentioned, you guys have piqued my interest for a portable/mobile generator in the 5-8KW range and a transfer switch. Preferably running on propane.
Does anyone know whether propane filling stations run on electricity other than the cash registers?
--
Best regards
Han
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wrote:

Just note that this is NOT the same as clipping on an inverter to your car battery. Frankly, with the inverter option, I don't know why they would go through all that trouble.

Not saying don't do this, just be aware of a few things. Transfer switches can be expensive to install, unless you are a good diy-er. These units are NOISY..... I'm wondering if one of neighbors didn't steal my blackmax, out of fear that I would be using this thing on a regular basis. The cheapest way to go is car/inverter.... unless you anticipate DAYS of outtage.... and then you'll have to make sure you have enough propane, etc.
If you go the generator route, and have nat gas, and expect multi-day outtages, I'd go with nat gas. But now you will have a plumbing bill, as well.
--
EA


>
> Does anyone know whether propane filling stations run on electricity
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wrote:

Oh, there is one potential negative aspect to the ca/inverter strategy: Assuming that the inverter is big enough, the Q arises: Does one really want their car alterntor maxed out to its full amperage?? And for how long? That's cause for pause....
If you indeed experience multiple outtages of day or more in length, then a nat gas genset is proly the way to go, followed by propane.
My fridges/freezers are good for 24+ hr outtages, so I don't even have to count those loads. And if I just forego the idea of keeping the shop going, I'm definitely going to try the car/inverter thingy, at the 1,000 W level, just to see how it goes. I'd suggest this for Han as well, since it is such an easy, inexpensive experiment, and, if it dudn't work, hey, you've got a nice car inverter for camping, for $100.
The nice thing about a well set-up standby genset is that it is mostly seamless.... power goes out, boom, genset comes on. Power comes on, boom, genset goes off. BUT, there are two catches to that seamlessness: 1. Cost. 2. That assumes the genset won't malfunction. I've read *numerous* gripes about generac simply not coming on... and that was with *nat gas*!
So the whole business is a difficult-to-quantify issue. So I think I'll restart the issue with $100 instead of $1500 + a week of labor.
--
EA


> --
> EA
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Amen. It is really about my tolerance for the unforeseen.
--
Best regards
Han
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Existential Angst wrote:

But in addition to a tool kit, I keep a 1000/2000 watt inverter in my truck for such things as running an electric chain saw, personal vibrator, or daiquiri mixer while on the road.
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Just one?

If you don't experience outages of a day in length, you probably don't need a backup solution at all. Food in a fridge/freezer will keep for 24 hours plus just fine. And if you really can't put up with candles or need heat, then that car is probably better suited for a trip to the mall or a motel.

With all the kackling recommendations, I would have thought you actually did it. Nuff said.

And again, the choices are not limited to either the car/inverter solution or a full automatic standby generator, despite all your attempts to try to make it so.
BTW, why didn't you learn how to trim posts at Sylvan?
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By the time you get to the mall, the car is warmed up.
I've had a couple winter power cuts, things get cold, in a hurry. Generator wired to the furnace sure makes life more comfortable.
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .
If you don't experience outages of a day in length, you probably don't need a backup solution at all. Food in a fridge/freezer will keep for 24 hours plus just fine. And if you really can't put up with candles or need heat, then that car is probably better suited for a trip to the mall or a motel.
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It really is a gamble around here. Lived here almost 14 years and not that many power outages. I was out of the country for the big NE outage of 2003. Since then ther were something like 3 48hr outages in the last 2 years. Perhaps there won't be any again in another 5 or 10 years. Then it wouldn't be cost effective to get all the equipment and installation. Or perhaps there will be more such outages. PSE&G did farm out some tree maintenance last spring, but probably not enough, what with everyone complaining about the indiscriminate whacking.
But I'm still thinking ...
--
Best regards
Han
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Growing up in northern Wisconsin, the power went out rarely, and only when we had *severe* weather. And the lines were not underground, then. Now I live where the power will go out for 5-50 hours when it's 75 degrees, sunny, and the wind is blowing at 2 mph, gusting to 4. And the bastards at the power company cannot tell me what happened, or how long it will take to fix. All they can tell me is the exact number of customers affected.
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On Oct 4, 12:00

More FUD. You can get an Interlockit and inlet installed for under $500. The cost of the materials is about $250.


That may be true as long as you can live with the limited power from an inverter/car solution.


That plumbing cost could consist of just adding a quick disconnect fitting coming off the meter, similar to what many folks have for an outdoor grill. Not much cost to that. You then hook up your portable nat gas generator, when needed.
PS: I guess Sylvan doesn't teach how to trim posts?
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Most places today don't refill propane tanks, they just swap them. Whether those places will be open if the area is without power is questionable, probably not likely.
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