Emergency blog power

Here's something to do with an old lawnmower engine: turn it into a power generator. All you need is a car alternator, a couple of pulleys, a bracket and the time to put it together.

Brutally simple. The finished project looks like this:


Whether to add the power inverter depends on what you want to do:

"It isn't difficult to make this work. If you are after a system to charge a battery between rounds so you can run the race car without an alternator, it works great! As a standby power source, the most expensive thing is the inverter. It has the advantage that you can run it to charge batteries, and subsequently run the inverter off the batteries for some light and silence! In an emergency, there is a battery in your car, one in your spouse's car, one in your neighbors car, etc. so there is no shortage of ability to store some power. Deep cycle (marine/RV) type batteries are greatly to be preferred, but if you don't have a boat or RV already, you are not likely to have them around, and the object of this project is to keep costs down while still avoiding "being powerless". If you are only after some light, use 12 V light fittings and bulbs, and save the cost of the inverter. Or use an inverter to run the heat recovery fan in your furnace/fireplace, and cycle it with the refrigerator / freezer to minimize the size of the inverter required and still use the 12 V lights."
What I like about this is that the stuff is easily available if not lying around. It beats going out and buying an expensive generator. And it's something to do with that old lawnmower.

Now that I think about it, I have an alternator and an old lawnmower sitting in the garage. And a power inverter for my laptop.

The catch is that in general, small engines are only rated for 1000 hours before an overhaul is needed. But how long will a need for emergency power last? Even in the case of major emergencies like earthquakes or hurricanes, power outages usually don't last for more than a week (56 hours of engine life).

In terms of fuel cost, it beats running a laptop from a car engine by a long shot. In October, the power line on my street crashed and burned, and if I'd had a generator the hassle would have been avoidable.

Hate to think what would happen if the terrorists detonated a nuke. (It would be worse than an act of God, I'm afraid. And, because the human fallout might be worse than the nuclear kind, it's good to be prepared.)

posted by Eric on 03.23.06 at 07:38 AM


There's another power beyond maintenance life - duty cycle.

Lawnmower engins might go 1000 hours between teardowns, but they're not made to run for 8 or 12 hours at a time.

Sigivald   ·  March 23, 2006 4:30 PM

... and by "power" I meant "problem", too.

Sigivald   ·  March 24, 2006 3:26 PM

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