Use the car as a temporary generator during black out ?

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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?
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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.]
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It's not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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snipped-for-privacy@att.net says...

That would probably work. But here is the secret - in any generator the driving engine is rarely the most expensive part.
I'll bet you could find a power plant/generator pair where the power plant is shot for cheap.
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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.
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On 18 Feb 2004 13:53:31 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (JW) wrote:

Inverter. Available through many mail-oder sites and most RV or four wheeling dealers.

Unlikely. A space heater maybe.

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
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (JW) wrote in message

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 :-)
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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
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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.
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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
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more than likely stormin your blower takes more than 700 surge on startup, 60 hzs wasnt supplied or it didnt output 700
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On 18 Feb 2004 13:53:31 -0800, someone wrote:

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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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (JW) wrote:

Getting the generator is the easy part. Getting it connected to your house in a safe manner can be much harder and potentially more expensive.
Most furnaces are hard-wired to the breaker/fuse panel - there is no cord you can unplug and plug into the generator. Making a "suicide" adapter with a plug on each end is not a good way ;-)
======================== There are also non-electric ways to heat, light and cook.
A 22,000 BTU kerosene heater can heat 800 to 1000 sq ft on 3 to 4 of gallons of kerosene per day.
The heater is about $120, kerosene is about $1.75/gallon.
A windup/solar am/fm radio (FreePlay) is about $70.
Camp stoves (Coleman) are under $100 and propane cylinders for a week's cooking might be $10.
=============== I'm not an off-grid person, I just happen to be prepared for the most likely local problems.
I bought a kerosene heater in 1999 used it for the first time in January 2000 (during an ice storm - 36 hours without power is the longest so far).
I also have a older Coleman stove and lantern (left over from camping with the kids) that use liquid "stove fuel" (basically low octane unleaded gasoline) and my wife has several (mostly decorative) oil lamps - but they always have a little fuel in them. Cooking on a liquid fuel stove is something of an art, but I make great omelets ;-)
Oh yes, the home network and DSL have over an hour of backup from a small UPS. There's also a car charger for the laptop. I have been known to use the laptop by the light of an oil lamp ;-)
More about me: http://www.jecarter.com / VB3/VB6/C/PowerBasic source code: http://www.jecarter.com/programs.html Freeware for the Palm with NS Basic source code: http://nsb.jecarter.com Drivers for Pablo graphics tablet and JamCam cameras: http://home.earthlink.net/~mwbt / johnecarter at@at mindspring dot.dot com. Fix the obvious to reply by email.
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It's not a completely silly question but you may conclude that this isn't the best approach either.
The gadget that converts 12-ish V d.c. into 120V a.c. is called a "power inverter." Punching that term into your favorite search engine should yield plenty of websites about them. People use 'em to run *small* 120V appliances in their car or sailboat or wherever. Doing this is pretty inefficient, so the inverter sucks a lot of input current and gets nice and hot.
Small ones (few hundred watts steady-state, a bit more than that peak) are ubiquitously available for as little as $30, but those are best thought of as a way to let the kids play video games in the back seat, or perhaps for you to run handheld power tools at a jobsite.
Bigger ones can provide as much as a few kW steady state, but we're now talking about prices that start well into three figures and run into the four-digit range, especially if you want gourmet 120V comparable to what the power company delivers, rather than "close enough for government work" stuff.
The big ones also drain a battery in a big hurry, and are really happier with a jumper-cable-style or (robustly) hardwired connection than with the cigarette lighter outlet. The usual recommendation is that you keep your car running while using them and/or employ a separate, deep-cycle (marine-type) battery.
Your proposed application would need one of the huskier ones -- a residential furnace often has a surprisingly substantial motor, 3/4 or even 1 hp; and motors usually aren't too happy with either undervoltage or trashy waveforms. Some advise allowing as much as 3x the steady-state current draw at startup, so check the peak as well as the steady-state specs of the inverter.
You might well decide that either there's a cheaper way to get AC in a power outage or there's a better emergency way to keep the place warm...
Cheers, --Joe
PS. Also, educate yourself on how to properly hook up and use a generator or other alternative AC source so you don't throw it into the teeth of an overload... or (eeek!) energize a line that somebody assumed to be dead. (Yeah, we all know what they say about "assume," but accidents happen somehow...)
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And somewhere around the time of 02/18/2004 13:53, the world stopped and listened as JW contributed the following to humanity:

What you have asked is not a stupid question, but alot of people have thought along the same lines that you have. Yes, and no. It depends on how much electrical power the furnace needs in order to start and run the blower. If your alternator/battery can supply the power, then great. Otherwise, you may want to invest in a real generator.
--
Daniel Rudy

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On Wed, 18 Feb 2004 13:53:31 -0800, JW wrote:

yes... I've done it here with a 24000 watt power invertor, but it was connected to the battery pack from my Peterbilt (4 batteries, and a BIG alternator) I don't know if a regular car alternator would be able to sustain it for very long.
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On 18 Feb 2004 13:53:31 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (JW) wrote:

When there was a huge ice storm that knocked out the grid in Quebec and Ontario a few years back I mused about the same problem, how to get the furnace running without power and avoid the freeze damage to my home, any home.
This is a thought experiment. I have a natural gas central heating system. The thermostat and gas valve system works off a small 24Vac transformer. The fan motor is 1/2hp 115Vac. Its not too hard to jury rig a stationary exercise bicycle to turn the furnace blower fan and get the air circulation going. If I hook up a 12 Vdc car battery to a small 115Vac inverter thence to the 24V transformer can I get the furnace going and the house heated in an emergency? Can the furnace valve system work off 24Vdc (two car batteries)? The power draw on the battery to run the 24Vac parts is minimal so it shouldn't be necessary to use the car to recharge the battery often.
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KLM wrote:

Consider permanently replacing the blower motor with a 24Vdc unit and a transformer/rectifier for ordinary use. A sturdy bank of car batteries can power your heating plant often enough to keep a house from freezing for several days. A small inverter (400 watts is less than $40 at Sams Club) can power the control system.
OTOH it doesn't take a very large generator to run a furnace. Natural_gas/propane fired is advised.
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Hmmm. That's an interesting idea. Who are the quality names in NG and/or propane-fired gensets?
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(JW) wrote:

And who is going to stay up all night to ride the bicycle periodically to keep the furnace working?
I suggest a more practical thought experiment would be to power the furnace blower from the same 115vac inverter that runs the thermostat and gas valve, keeping the 12vdc battery charged running the car engine.
Oh, and if you're enchanted with pedalling a bicycle to save energy, hook an alternator to it and charge the battery. And don't forget the body heat you'll generate pedalling... that'll warm the house too. Or at least it'll warm you....
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