Can I use my car as a generator? | interrupt hacks (2023)

When hurricanes, snowstorms or thunderstorms hit the power and go out, it's good to be prepared with alternative energy sources to meet daily needs, e.g. B. for heating or operating the refrigerator. Buying a generator can be difficult because there are so many choices. Depending on the type of generator, you may lose the convenience of portability depending on the size and weight of the generator. Therefore, if you have been forced to leave your home, the generator may not make the journey. What if you could use your car? Would it be powerful enough to power anything other than a phone charger?

Can I use my car as a generator?Yes, you can use your car as a generator. With a few quick and easy connections, a car can become an emergency generator or an alternative power source for camping, hiking, or other activities.

Using a car as a generator takes a few simple steps, and we'll explain what you need to get started, as well as the pros and cons of using a car to generate electricity.

When should you use a car as a generator?

Whether you need backup power during major storms or power outages, or just want to run some electronics, setting up your car to run as a generator is very easy and inexpensive.

Some common ways to use your car as a generator:

  • Fail safe for sump pumps, lights and refrigerators
  • Camping equipment such as fans, mixers, radios and more
  • Operate medical devices that rely on electricity and batteries, such as B. CPAP, power wheelchairs, oxygen equipment and more
  • Run portable TVs and streaming devices while being closely watched

USE:It is important to mention that using your car as a generator requires action on your part. If you want to use it in emergency situations, especially for medical devices, please note that there is no automatic failover and you need to manually connect the inverters to your car.


An inverter is an electrical device that converts direct current (DC), like the electricity in a car, to alternating current (AC), which is the type of electricity used by most of the appliances in your home.

With an inverter connected to your car battery or a 12V outlet, your car quickly turns into a generator.

Types of Inverters

Inverters come in many different sizes. Some inverters are designed to be very portable and easy to use for short term power connections, e.g. B. to provide a traditional connection option for laptops, stereos, medical equipment and even some specialty small appliances.

When purchasing inverters, consider the power rating of the devices you intend to use. If you're buying a 100W inverter, don't connect anything rated for more than 100W. For example, if you have two devices that draw 90W each, even though they're both less than 100W, that's 180W when used together. So you have to unplug one while using the other. Or get an inverter with more watts.

small invertersIt can be directly connected to your car's 12V power source. These small inverters usually come with one or two ports and even USB ports to charge devices quickly and easily. These simple inverters are perfect for those who need to power smaller devices.

Can I use my car as a generator? | interrupt hacks (1)

In the photo above is theAmpeak 100W car inverterIt is a 12V (DC) to 110V (AC) inverter with USB plugs of 2.1A. It has a nominal power of 100W with a peak power of 300W. An excellent inverter for everyday use.

Larger invertersThey are connected to the car engine. They can be connected using conventional battery cables or plugged directly into the vehicle's power system. These larger inverters can generate a lot more power and therefore rely on heavy gauge cables connecting the inverter to your car's battery.

These devices have a 12V cigarette lighter socket for smaller devices, but you cannot rely on the 12V socket to power larger devices. The inverter must therefore be connected directly to the car battery using the thick-walled cables supplied.

Can I use my car as a generator? | interrupt hacks (2)

For a little more power is theAmpeak 2000W inverter(in the photo above) is a 12V (DC) to 110V (AC) inverter with 3 AC outputs with USB plugs of 2.1A. A popular choice as the LCD screen informs you of the input/output of the inverter. It has a rated power of 2000W with a maximum power of 4000W.

Can I use my car as a generator? | interrupt hacks (3)

Again, the type/size of inverter you need depends on your intended use. To power larger equipment (like a refrigerator) during storms or power outages, a larger inverter like the is requiredPOTEK 3000W inverter(above), which is a 12 V (DC) to 110 V (AC) inverter with 4 AC outputs and 2 USB ports. It has a rated power of 3000W with a maximum power of 6000W.

How to use an inverter safely

Carbon monoxide is a dangerous, odorless, colorless gas that can be fatal.If you use your car as a generator, you should not use your car near places where gas can collect, such as B. Homes, garages, tents, RVs, RVs and more. Use long extension cords to get far away from the vehicle.

  • Make sure the car is parked 15 feet or more away and the exhaust is away from people or spaces where gasoline can accumulate
  • Leave the inverter off, connect your items, and then turn on the inverter
  • Keep flammable gases and liquids away from the inverter.
  • Never use the 12V power source (cigarette lighter) for larger items
  • Keep the inverter in a cool and dry place during use to avoid overheating.
  • Store the inverter in a location that promotes good ventilation.
  • Use with safety extension cords rated at 15 amps minimum
  • Please check before connecting battery-powered devices that are to be charged by the inverter, as they can be damaged by increased power.
  • Watch out for overheating. If the unit shuts down due to overheating, unplug the power cord and allow the inverter to cool completely before plugging it back in and restarting.
  • Store inverters, cables, and related equipment in cool, dry places when not in use.

Benefits of using your car as a generator

Using a car as a generator has some advantages over traditional generators. These benefits can affect the type of power converter you want to buy, including size and output potential. Benefits include:

  1. Easy to use– No mechanical knowledge is required to use an inverter, so anyone can easily connect and operate an inverter
  2. portability– an inverter has a small profile, which makes it very easy to travel with you. During power outages, you may need to leave your home and your power generation can now travel with you
  3. reliability– Since you use your car every day, it will probably start when you need it
  4. execution time– Your car has a much larger fuel tank and runs much longer than a portable generator
  5. Fuel does not need to be stored– Generators require petrol or diesel to operate. To have power when you need it, you need to have extra fuel on hand, which can go bad if not used. The gas in your car runs out and is regularly topped up, which keeps it from going bad.
  6. Without maintenance– Inverters require no more maintenance than proper storage
  7. Noise– An inverter makes small noises with the cooling fan. Combined with the sound of your car idling, it is much quieter than a generator
  8. adaptability– this device is ideal for emergency situations; However, it is also ideal for camping, tailgating or family gatherings. You're more likely to use this setup regularly than to transport a generator

Disadvantages of using your car as a generator

Not everyone will find that using their car as a generator is suitable for their backup power needs. Some of the disadvantages associated with using a car to generate electricity are:

  1. limited performance– Inverters cannot generate enough electricity to connect and run an entire house. Whole-home backup generators can provide backup power that kicks in automatically if the power goes out to your home. These generators can easily run most household appliances and electrical appliances. When using an inverter, only the most important requirements need to be prioritized.
  2. connectivity- Inverters have 110V plugs, which is ideal for devices that rely on 110V plugs. They don't have 220V plugs, which are common on generators that use your home's wiring. These types of connections are possible, but not without additional equipment and the help of a licensed electrician.


When looking for alternative energy sources, it can be tempting to turn to conventional solutions. To be clear, we're not suggesting that generators aren't a good solution. We are only proposing an alternative for the sake of simplicity, portability and affordability. By purchasing a small device like an inverter, you can easily turn your car into a generator that produces enough electricity to get you through an emergency. It could be a nice alternative to have in your arsenal for the next hurricane, blizzard, thunderstorm or camping trip. It can even be a nice plugin for a generator if you just want a redundant solution.

Either way, it's a good idea to have a power generation plan in case of power outages, and I hope we've opened your eyes to a new option of using your car as a generator.

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