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
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
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.
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.
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.
On 18 Feb 2004 13:53:31 -0800, firstname.lastname@example.org (JW) wrote:
Inverter. Available through many mail-oder sites and most RV or four
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.
email@example.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
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 :-)
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
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
'96 Lexus LX450
'00 Audi A4 1.8T quattro
Spokane WA USA
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
johnecarter at@at mindspring dot.dot com. Fix the obvious to reply by email.
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
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...)
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.
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.
On 18 Feb 2004 13:53:31 -0800, firstname.lastname@example.org (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.
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.
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
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