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Using car as generator for house power

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Accessories and Modifications' started by ED9593, Oct 31, 2012.

  1. szgabor

    szgabor Active Member

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    Thanks ... but my point is that whatever is coming from the inverter even three prong is NOT grounded.
    Car has rubber booths ... etc. so the "third" prong is basically the body of the inverter which could be at any level(potential) so can the frame of your fridge at that point..... remember the little sparks touching the car ???

    I may misunderstand what you are saying, but this is still a potential hazard ... like in a kitchen or bathroom where the person may get in contact with 'REAL' ground ... while the "appliance" powered is not at all grounded.

    Of course this is not a permanent setup just want to understand the issue.
     
  2. El Dobro

    El Dobro A Member

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    Inverters usually have a ground terminal, so I would imagine you can run a wire off of it and run it to a steel rod pushed into the ground.
     
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  3. ftl

    ftl Explicator

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    El Dobro is correct; the only way to make sure the body of the inverter is grounded would be to run a separate wire from the inverter's ground terminal to an earth ground, such as a length of metal rod or pipe sunk into the ground or the ground connection at your electrical panel. Your extension cord would then have this as its ground connection.

    The sparks you sometimes get when touching the car in dry weather are static electricity, not at all related to what the inverter is producing.
     
  4. szgabor

    szgabor Active Member

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    I got that. My question was: is this necessary/desirable/useful/advisable... I am building this the first time ... so I would rather sitting in a dark cold room than expose anyone to hazardous condition.


    Exactly ... my point was that the car and anything inside (like the inverter) is isolated. Sure the inverter producing potential between the "two" prongs ... but even the negative could be anywhere relative to ground ..
     
  5. ftl

    ftl Explicator

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    My inverter manual has this: "Operating the inverter without correctly grounding the unit may result in electrical shock."

    And further down: "Connect a #8 gauge stranded insulated wire to the enclosure ground
    terminal and connect the free end of the wire to the vehicle’s chassis or any other ground point."

    There's lots of discussion found on a search for <inverter grounding>; here's a useful site with an extract from the National Electrical Code. This is in reference to generators, but the same should apply to an inverter, assuming the ground terminals of the outlets on the inverter are connected to the inverter case (I just verified with a meter that mine are), and the inverter ground terminal is connected to the vehicle frame:

    250.34 Generators – Portable and Vehicle-Mounted

    Revision clarifies when portable and vehicle-mounted generators are not required to be grounded to a grounding electrode.

    (B) Vehicle-Mounted Generators. The frame of a vehicle-mounted generator isn’t required to be grounded to a grounding electrode as defined in 250.52 if:
    (1) The generator frame is bonded to the vehicle frame,
    (2) The generator only supplies equipment or receptacles mounted on the vehicle or generator, and
    (3) The metal parts of the generator and the receptacle terminal for the connection of the equipment grounding (bonding) conductor are bonded to the generator frame.
     
  6. North Jersey

    North Jersey Junior Member

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    I've finally completed testing my inverter in the 2012 Prius II. Delayed by 1) Getting a 10mm wrench to open take off the battery clamp nuts (no, 3/8 inch does not work) and properly assembling Anderson connectors (check online - don't guess). Pictures are attached. I powered a 600 watt nominal heater (watt meter said 675) with no problem - engine cycled on an off several times. The connections did not even get warm. I am very happy with the work genuinedealz.com did to cut, crimp, and shrink wrap all the cables. I used AWG #4 cable as recommended by the 1000 watt (2000 peak) inverter. You can see in the picture how the cable I used is twice the diameter (presumably about 4 times the cross section) as the cable Toyota uses to ground the battery to the car body. Yes, it will carry more current at peak, as it will be drawing from the recharging electronics in the car, plus the battery, but not 4 times as much. The downside of the thick AWG cables is that it would be very hard (if even possible) to get the cables installed by attaching them to the bolt on the post clamp (as I did) and have the cables fit in the space allowed after I reinstall the cover. I did not try - it is less than 5 minutes to install. I loosened the ground (black) post clamp, removed it from the battery, put something over the battery post so nothing could accidentally complete the circuit. I then took off the nut, put the black terminal ring over the bolt, and loosely replaced the nut. After placing the loose clamp down over plastic so it could not connect with anything, I took off the nut on the the red (positive) post clamp. I attached the red cable to the bolt on the positive post clamp and reattached the nut and tightened it. Then I put the clamp on the other (ground) post and tightened the nut. I connected the terminal rings to the inverter (need to make sure to tighten them well). I then turned on the car and left it in ready, and as the last step connected the Anderson connectors and turned on the inverter switch.

    I'm ready to install the transfer switch to my main circuit breaker on the earlier of 1. Spring, so if I break something I am not left without heat in the winter, or 2. the next major power outage. We had a power outage Friday and I was getting my things together to do the install when the power came back on.
     

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  7. Judgeless

    Judgeless Senior Member

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    All this seems like a lot of work and money for 1000 watts. It is a lot cheaper to go out and buy a 1,000 watt gasoline generator. Here is one for $94 that will give the same results with the risk of hurting your Prius.

    APG3004 1000-Watt 2-Cycle Gas Powered Portable G by All Power America

    You can find many like that for really cheap. Harbor Freight has a lot of cheap ones.

    I would recommend grounding whatever you use. You can use a brass rod in the ground. You can also connect it to ground on your fuse box for the house. An easy way to do that is buy a 3 prong plug and only use the ground wire for your project.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. windstrings

    windstrings Certified Prius Breeder

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    Agreed, I see no more danger than what you have from an isolated gas generator.

    All the dangerous voltage "201.6v" is hidden and safe... This discussion is all about 12volt which is safe touching to skin.

    Just don't short metal to metal or the sparks will fly and you'll be popping fuses.
    Even in that scenario a flash burn is the only danger.

    Alan...
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  9. ftl

    ftl Explicator

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    Did you read the extract from the National Electrical Code in my post above? It's not required to use an earth ground if the inverter is feeding only devices plugged into its outlets, although it obviously wouldn't hurt.
     
  10. Judgeless

    Judgeless Senior Member

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    I just got done installing this last week.

    Powerland Tri-Fuel Gasoline Propane Natural Gas Generator 10000 Watt 16 HP- Ship in 3-4 wks

    [​IMG]

    I paid $1099 and got free shipping. They raised the price after ‘Sandy’ $100.

    I ran a natural gas line to the side of the house along with a 50A 240V outlet that goes to a 50A breaker on my panel. I flip the main off and flip the 50A breaker on and it powers my entire house including the 3.5 ton A/C compressor. My total cost is less then $1,400. I did all the labor.
     
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  11. windstrings

    windstrings Certified Prius Breeder

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    Very nice!
    And your car is not tied up!

    Alan...
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  12. ftl

    ftl Explicator

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    Yeah, that's the way to do it if you have natural gas in the house. Around here the building department is kind of fussy, so I'd need a plumber for the gas and a licensed electrician to rewire my electrical panel and install a transfer switch for the changeover. The work would probably be at least double the cost of the generator.
     
  13. Judgeless

    Judgeless Senior Member

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    The city building department does not know anything about what I did.

    There is no way connecting the generator directly to a breaker in the panel would meet code anywhere in the world. I took the cheap route. A transfer switch is the best way to do it. They are about $250 and it is hell to bend 00 gauge wire.
     
  14. ftl

    ftl Explicator

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    I may have one or two projects like that myself ;).

    But because of the location of my gas supply the generator would have to go on the side of the house, where it would be visible from the street. The building department's inspectors cruise the neighborhood periodically looking for code violations (mostly long grass, debris, unregistered cars, etc.), so it's best not to have anything in view.
     
  15. szgabor

    szgabor Active Member

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    Would you mind to post the size of the rings installed on both the inverter end and the battery ?? i am ready to order the cables but was not totally sure about those ...

    but having 675W tested is nice.

    Not sure why would you bother with the transfer switch ? Clearly not enough to power the whole house .. I am building this for emergency only ... not to power the house... for that I would go with the tri-fuel generator as mentioned above ...
     
  16. Judgeless

    Judgeless Senior Member

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    I still believe you would save a lot of money just buying a 1,000 watt generator. This one is $94. That is a lot cheaper than the inverter for a car.

    APG3004 1000-Watt 2-Cycle Gas Powered Portable G by All Power America
     
  17. windstrings

    windstrings Certified Prius Breeder

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    Lol! Me too! I built a whole hydroelectric system that way.. Took me 8 months.... When the inspectors finally found it, they commended me on a great job but politely said "next time" get a permit "before" I do it, not afterwards!

    Imo code is to make things dummy proof..... If your the only dummy operating it you should be good :D

    Alan...
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  18. szgabor

    szgabor Active Member

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    you need to maintain those things very noisy and it will use a LOT of gas !!! extremely inefficient !!! but that is what you pay for I guess.
     
  19. szgabor

    szgabor Active Member

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    the grass police !!!! we had them once .. .I was away 2 weeks in May and we got a notice (pretty strongly worded) that my grass is in violation !!! those dudes are very serious :)
     
  20. Jonny Zero

    Jonny Zero Giggidy

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    If a generator/inverter does not physically connect to earth ground, the ground pin is just another redundant line tied to neutral. Either hot or neutral would have a voltage against earth ground in this case, since it is a floating node.