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CarGenerator: a weatherproof inverter for emergency power
Although we wrote about itautogeneratorIn the past, the recent heat wave and subsequent power outages here in Texas made me think again about backup power. While it's too early to care about othersSnow Magedon, the truth is that... you never know.
I reached out to CarGenerator owner, founder and CEO Jonathan Schloo to see what it would take to give his creation a real hands-on evaluation. Jonathan was generous with his time and budget, and I soon had one on my hands.
The concept of using your car as an emergency power source
I think for most people, the idea of running their car on emergency power is dismissed immediately and in a negative way. Most of us grew up in the era of saving fuel at any cost, no matter what the cost. We do this from both an economic and an ecological point of view. However, when you start to break it down, you realize that the alternative is to run a gasoline or diesel generator with virtually no emissions controls or devices regulating its exhaust, and it actually starts to make sense. What comes out of the exhaust of your modern car is much less harmful to the environment than what comes out of your portable generator.
Jonathan conceived and built his firstautogeneratorto provide power to yourair flowwhen camping off the grid. On a cold Canadian night with the possibility of power outage at home, the idea of using his new appliance to light his gas stove seemed like a great idea and Jonathan set out to test the theory on him and it actually worked well. With two solid use cases for his new device and more thoughts running through his head,CarGenerator was born.
Easy to transport emergency power supply
Whether at home, at work, traveling or camping, your emergency power supply is always with you in the form of your vehicle. All you need is an easy way to turn that achievement into something usable. Although inverters have been around for a long time, the idea of using one to harness the power of your vehicle and package it portable hadn't materialized.
No one had taken the time to figure out how to use it or how to safely hang it in their vehicle. How are the cables stored so they don't get tangled all over the place? Anyone who has had a set of jumper cables in their trunk can relate to this. How does it stay waterproof but easy to use?
Con CarGenerator, Jonathantatdiscover. In fact, one of the biggest challenges was keeping it waterproof and rainproof while staying cool and ventilated. CarGenerator is fully patented in both the US and Canada to solve exactly this problem.
Since stormy weather is often associated with the need for emergency power, the CarGenerator's waterproofing is even more important.
Our CarGenerator test
Most of what you see withautogeneratorcan be recognized from the pictures. However, I did get some additional insights when I got my hands on one.
First of all, it is lighter than I imagined. The 1000W CarGenerator (2000W surge) I was holding weighed only 13.3lbs. The durable plastic case seemed to fit very well, and the jumper clips seemed sturdy, with sizable copper teeth to hold any type of battery post. These strong clamps work with heavy yet flexible oxygen-free copper wires, permanently bonded at one end inside the weather-resistant housing.
This case is sealed against the elements, with the only opening at the bottom. The CarGenerator is designed to hang under the hood of your vehicle over the front or side of the vehicle.
The rubber coated hook together with the rubber mat that supports the CarGenerator ensures that your pride and joy does not get scratched. The inverter stores inside the case and the hook and all cables and straps are designed to come together in a simple, snag-free package.
An emergency power pack
Could you make such an emergency power pack yourself? Possibly. You'd have to sacrifice a high-end jumper cable first, then find an inverter that works well in an enclosed space, and efficiently combine the two. A good quality pure sine wave inverter typically costs around $300.
Next you would need to build some kind of case that is lightweight and waterproof. Then you need to somehow package it in a way that is compact and efficient without its parts snagging on anything you touch when you move it around. You'll also need to figure out how to put a nifty digital display on the case. Even the most handy man or woman would have a hard time coming up with an emergency power pack likeautogenerator.
Using the CarGenerator for emergency power
The aesthetics are all very well, but do they work? Of course. I popped the hood of my jeep, strapped it down, hooked it up and hung it upautogeneratorout of it and started. The digital display showed the correct 14.2 volts. This was also confirmed by reading the inverter.
Single or dual AC USB outlets offered options, and an extension cord plugged into one of those outlets allowed me to power up the first thing I could haul out of the garage: an old 800W corded drill, probably new to 1970.
In the event of a power outage, digging up Grandpa's old drill certainly wouldn't be my first action. However, it would be possible to run a heater, an air conditioner, a water pump, or just keep the internet and TV running.
How much power will I have?
A simple formula for how many watts can be generated for use with the CarGenerator is to take your vehicle's alternator rating in amps, halve it based on idle speed, and multiply by 12 (volts). . So the 160 amp alternator in my jeep is giving me around 960 watts (160 / 2 x 12 = 960).
Emergency power when camping
To be clear, the primary use case for this device is backup power. However, this may be a broad definition. If you are camping and need to charge a phone or run a CPAP machine that has run out of battery,autogeneratorit fits perfectly.
Boondockers might need a way to run a coffee pot for a few minutes.CaféIt certainly represents an emergency for me. Those same farm workers might want to recharge those RV batteries in a pinch, and again, CarGenerator has you covered. Simply connect your RV's shore power cord to the CarGenerator and all your trailer outlets are powered!
home emergency power
Perhaps your home has lost power and you need to turn on a heater, gas stove, or air conditioner. During the aforementioned Snow Mageon, I was able to get around in my jeep well enough, but it wouldn't magically power my home. It would mean, however, that you could fill up the tank with gas and have backup power for 50 to 70 hours if needed. We have a gas oven and an electric oven. So if things get bad enough, I could run my gas stove with CarGenerator to heat much of our house (although an electric stove won't do).
With your CarGenerator
Please note that CarGenerator should ideally be used with modern vehicles with current emissions controls. It works with almost any vehicle in a pinch. Here in the DFW area, I figured if I could get through the DFW metro area through rush hour traffic for an hour at near idle speed, I could safely run CarGenerator. They use the same amount of fuel as a small generator, but with a cleaner, more sophisticated engine.
When using the CarGenerator for emergencies, remember to follow a few common sense rules. Make sure there is enough fuel in the tank. Also find your extra set of keys so you can lock your doors while your car generates emergency power. Depending on your vehicle's grill/radiator configuration, make sure sufficient cooling air is getting to the radiator.
CarGenerator is a smart device perfectly suited for its main purpose: emergency power. It's also ideal for short-term, ad-hoc power needs when you're off-grid or across the border. Unlike a standard portable generator, the CarGenerator is maintenance free. CarGenerator is available in a variety of configurations from 1000W to 3000W. Check out CarGeneratorhttps://www.cargenerator.comfor the latest prices, specifications and options.