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  • Using a car to generate emergency electricity

    Today's news is showing the terrible plight on the snowed in Isle of Arran, Scotland, with electricity failures which makes everything so much worse.
    Arran residents reveal their struggle against snow and gales - Daily Record

    Until we can provide a turn-key new energy solution, maybe by this time next year, we note that small petrol engined gensets exist but provide only 1kw or so. But near most marooned houses are one or more cars.

    a. Any car is half of a generator system
    b. the other half is a suitable generator head, made by Baldor and many others.
    c. each home will need a 2P2T changeover switch.
    d. the car's fuel system will need a governor to provide a constant speed as the load varies.

    Suggested procedure:

    1. Jack up and remove a driven wheel.
    2. Block up and secure the other three wheels - special attention to the other driven wheel.
    3. Using a custom adapter plate, bolt the generator head on to the wheel studs.
    4. Secure gen head casing to ground (to stop it rotating).
    5. Run cables from the generator head to consumer houses' changeover switches.

    What specific advice can we provide to these embattled Scotsfolk?
    Last edited by wrtner; 03-26-2013, 04:39 PM.

  • #2
    Interesting project, wrtner.

    hardest bit - the governor - to provide constant rpm and voltage with
    varying load.

    easiest bit - two pole two throw switch.

    being a newb, you will let me take the latter and come back with ideas.
    will deliver tomorrow. E-Mick

    Comment


    • #3
      Not as easy as i thought. the name of what is needed is a changeover switch. not incuded in the catalogs of normal building electrcians. i am advised to check out these manufacturers:
      Merlin Gerin,
      Moeller,
      IMO precision controls. - EM

      Comment


      • #4
        Nice work, EM.

        It would be nice to attach a Bedini type energiser instead
        of a regular generator head, but if the ultimate output is to be 50hz
        (or 60hz) at 250 volt, then the complications will be great.

        We should be looking at 50kw or so.

        Comment


        • #5
          Down and dirty, quick and easy

          Read about a guy, during an Ice storm, in the U.S., a couple of years ago. Mostof his neighbors went to stay at motels, etc. becuse the power was going to be out, for a week or more, and it was feezing cold. He had an 'extra' car, and pulled it up next to the house. Tapped into the heater hose, and plumbed it up to the 'radiator' heating system for the house, and 'insulated' the hoses. Then, wiredup an inverter to the car battery, for 'emergency' power. Didn't try to completely power his house, just enough heat nad power to 'get by', during the 'crisies'. Shut off several rooms of the house, i.e. didn't use them at all, closed not only connecting doors, but duct registers as well.
          1 0r 2 'extra' batteries, (perhaps taken from other vehicles, since if 'snowed in, aren't going to be driving anywhere anyway) might help to 'expand' the system slightly, but such a system is easier, quicker and cheaper than what your suggesting, and could give you enough heat and light to stay in your home, rather than 'bugging out', or freezing to death.Jim

          Comment


          • #6
            Using a car to run an emergency generator is doable, but the thought of a car “jacked up” in some manner to allow a tire to run the generator is something I would find a bit scary.

            So if you are going to buy a generator head to do this why not go one step further and buy a small engine to run it? That is what I have done. I bought a new 10KW generator head; it is able to run everything in the house and even the machines in my shop. Now to run 10KW generator you need around a 20 HP engine. I could have bought a lawnmower type engine but they can become quite expensive. However a friend of mine knew a guy who knew someone else that knew this guy who wanted to sell his 87 Honda CRX, apparently it had a bad wheel bearing and he didn’t want to fix.

            So one overcast morning we went out to look at it. It was sitting in his parking lot in all its entire splendor. One flat tire, plastic fenders & front bumper cracked, rear bumper held on with a couple small “L” brackets, hood sort of closed, passenger door won’t open, sunroof won’t close, broken hinge on the hatchback but it could be held open with a pipe, interior what was left of it was ripped and torn, however as promised the engine started right up and ran well. It was a thing of beauty; it was just what I was looking for. So I paid the gentleman what he was asking, surprisingly he did not seem the least bit distressed about giving up this gem.

            On the way home, with the rear axle bearing screaming like a banshee, I took it kind of easy as the steering had sort of a lose vague feeling to it but that was OK because the brakes really didn’t feel that they were up to high speed driving. Then when the overcast sky turned to rain the arm for the windshield wipers fell off the motor. Stopped for lunch and waited for the rain to let up tied the arm back in place with some ty-wraps and drove the rest of the way home without incident.

            I then proceeded to remove the body from around the engine, saving only those wires that were needed to run the engine. Engine turned out to be in surprisingly good condition, inside of engine was quite clean, compression was down in one cylinder but not enough to worry about, a new oil pan gasket & alternator belt and that was it.

            Welded up a simple frame, nothing fancy here, all parts mounted in basically the same position as they were in the car. The engine runs at a nice quiet 2200 rpm while tuning the generator at 3600rpm. Total cost right around $500.



            Have use electric heaters plus the heat from the engine to heat garage, exhaust is run outside.

            Comment


            • #7
              Very Nice!

              Hi Mad Scientist,

              That is a very nice build. Do you have an estimate for how much fuel it uses in one hour of powering your house and shop? Also do you have some kind of governor on the engine or do you just set the throttle and let the constant voltage transformer I see control the control the voltage for changing loads. I have to say again that is a very impressive build! Thanks for sharing it with us.

              Respectfully,
              Carroll
              Just because someone disagrees with you does NOT make them your enemy. We can disagree without attacking someone. This means YOU especially BroMikey.

              Comment


              • #8
                It uses approximately a gallon an hour, in the original car that would equate to around 40 mpg.

                For the governor I built a circuit to measure to generators output voltage. If the voltage drops too low it starts a motor that turns a crank which it turn pulls on the throttle. If the voltage exceeds a high set point then the motor runs in the opposite direction and closes the throttle a bit.

                The constant voltage transformer was just something I had my junk box of miscellaneous parts and it this seemed like a good place to use it, just in case I needed to run something that was voltage sensitive.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks

                  Thanks for the reply. That is a great idea to use a comparator circuit to control a motor to control the throttle. Once again congratulations on a great build. The fuel economy sounds pretty impressive too.

                  Respectfully,
                  Carroll
                  Just because someone disagrees with you does NOT make them your enemy. We can disagree without attacking someone. This means YOU especially BroMikey.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Mad Scientist View Post
                    Using a car to run an emergency generator is doable, but the thought of a car “jacked up” in some manner to allow a tire to run the generator is something I would find a bit scary.

                    So if you are going to buy a generator head to do this why not go one step further and buy a small engine to run it?
                    Because many a small car can generate 100kw. This is enough
                    for a whole street of houses.

                    Also, I would not suggest running the generator head from a tyre
                    and pulley. This would provide potentially useful gearing but the
                    generator head would need to be separately grounded. Also, it would
                    wear the tyre.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The title

                      of this thread said 'emergency'. Course, an emergency is in the eye of the beholder. If you KNOW you live in an area which is regularly subject to ice storms, power outages, whatever, its PRUDENT to make some plans for 'what if'? The build IS a great idea, and i like the idea of buying a car with low 'market' value, but decent engine, etc.

                      For those who have less $, time, effort, etc.an option would be to 'stock up' on an inverter, and a roll of heater hose and some fittings, so they can do as i posted earlier. I too, am not in favor of the idea of running a genset off the back wheel, too many problems with that, in my mind, and simply not necesary. But, to each his own, based on situation, resources, etc.Jim

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by dutchdivco View Post
                        If you KNOW you live in an area which is regularly subject to ice storms, power outages, whatever, its PRUDENT to make some plans for 'what if'?
                        My area frequently loses power during a rain storm. Without power my sump pumps don’t work, without them my basement/workshop will flood. This obviously is unacceptable. If it has been raining hard for awhile and the ground is saturated and with the contour of the land that flooding can began within ˝ an hour. Going through some elaborate setup and running extension cords is not an option. So when needed I can be up and running within minutes by simply opening a couple circuit breakers so I can back feed their lines, start generator, and plug it into those circuits.

                        I like the idea of using the engine coolant for heating. So what other ways can we come with to use this “wasted” heat?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by dutchdivco View Post
                          of this thread said 'emergency'. Course, an emergency is in the eye of the beholder. If you KNOW you live in an area which is regularly subject to ice storms, power outages, whatever, its PRUDENT to make some plans for 'what if'? The build IS a great idea, and i like the idea of buying a car with low 'market' value, but decent engine, etc.

                          For those who have less $, time, effort, etc.an option would be to 'stock up' on an inverter, and a roll of heater hose and some fittings, so they can do as i posted earlier. I too, am not in favor of the idea of running a genset off the back wheel, too many problems with that, in my mind, and simply not necesary. But, to each his own, based on situation, resources, etc.Jim
                          I can't see anyone buying a cheap car "just in case". Where would it
                          be stored? Your idea is fine, Jim, but lacks scale.

                          My proposal was to use an existing small car with a power rating of, say, 65HP, (i.e. 45 KW), and provide
                          electricity to a sizeable number of homes from a central position.

                          There are issue with running a gen head off a driven wheel but they can
                          be addressed.
                          Last edited by wrtner; 04-03-2013, 04:01 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ElectricMick View Post
                            Not as easy as i thought. the name of what is needed is a changeover switch. not incuded in the catalogs of normal building electrcians. i am advised to check out these manufacturers:
                            Merlin Gerin,
                            Moeller,
                            IMO precision controls. - EM
                            Also called Power Transfer Switches.

                            For our American friends, this should do if the amps are OK:
                            EZ Generator Switch | Manual Transfer Switch
                            .
                            .

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ElectricMick View Post
                              OK that’s a cute little generator transfer switch. But you don’t need to get that fancy or have to buy a special switch. Using their furnace example; a typical furnace will have an electrical box mounted to it with a switch to turn the furnace on and off. Remove the switch and disconnect the wires. Punch out an unused hole in the box and run about a foot long cord with a plug on one end through the hole and connect it to the wires going to the furnace. Buy a new cover plate, one that accepts a standard outlet and connect it to main lines coming in and mount on box.

                              Your furnace is now powered up by simply plugging it into the outlet. Just as if it were like it any other electrical device.

                              If you need to run it with a generator unplug it from the outlet and plug it into an extension cord and run that cord out to your generator.

                              This is a nice simple, cheep method that even your aunt Hilda could safely understand and use. Getting her to be able to start the generator might still be a problem.

                              Comment

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