Save Electricity With Your Gas-guzzler





Introduction: Save Electricity With Your Gas-guzzler

Ok, so we all know that you couldn't possibly be using all that power that your 5.4L Truck, or your 5.9L Van is making, but then where is it going? And how can we reclaim some of it? In this Instructable I will show you how to save electricity, and also be ready in case of an emergency.

Step 1: Supplies

Ok now we will need supplies

-Truck, car, van, riding lawnmower (no, I'm not kidding, some of them actually have 12v sockets!), etc.
-Battery jump starter/ battery booster pack/ rechargeable 12v battery thing (with cable to charge in car)
-12vdc to 120vac power inverter (mine is only 200watts)
-Lights, chargers, other things that use power (must total less that inverter's output, watts=volts x amps)

Total cost should be about $25,000, or only about $15-40 for inverter and jump starter.

Step 2: Charge It Up

Next time you go out in your car take the jump starter and plug it in to charge. This is only effective if your commute is over 10 minutes long. When you get somewhere or turn off the engine UNPLUG IT!!! Most cars don't turn off the 12v cigarette-lighter port until it is too late and your battery is dead. If it is, then use the jump starter to start your car, but if you do it will drain it, making all of your efforts wasted.

Step 3: Power It Up

Now that the jump starter is fully charged take your inverter and plug it in to the jump starter and turn it on. Plug in some 120vac equipment (less than the inverter's capacity, mind you) and tell the electric company to go ~~screw themselves~~ bill someone else. This method is great if you have a laptop (my MacBook's charges uses only 60 watts, versus my desktop computer that sucks over 500 watts), or other small things, like ccfls, or a small stereo (IDK if my technics will work, but my altec-lansing speakers are fine). If you happen to have the car chargers for your stuff, use those instead, because there will be less power wasted in the inverting process. If you live in a small apartment, you may even be able to power all of lighting off of this.

Another thing to remember is that you will still have power during outages, and also that this is pretty portable, meaning you can take it camping or on a picnic or barbecue.

Step 4: Thats All Folks!

That was pretty simple, huh!
Now you can use that wasted gasoline (or diesel) to do something good for you, instead of just polluting. I'm open to ideas about how to improve, so please post a comment.

If you have any questions feel free to ask. I'm usually on here a few hours a day, so I can get back to you pretty soon.

If you liked my instructable, please rate it. Thank you!



    • Oil Contest

      Oil Contest
    • Make it Move Contest

      Make it Move Contest
    • Casting Contest

      Casting Contest

    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.




    You could use a larger inverter to power just about anything you want. I have a 16000W peak 8000W continuous running inverter i use with my marine battery instead of a generator. I mostly use it to run my 7" angle grinder out in the woods when I'm runnin scrap metal. works pretty good. People need to be careful though because most inverters out there are modified sine wave and are a lot harder on electronics. Pure sine wave inverters (the really good ones) almost match the wave frequency of the power you get from the utility company, but they are normally much more expensive.

    A better tip:
    Buy a vehicle that is actually more efficient, rather than something with an engine greater than 2 Litres, that way you get more power to the wheels and less waste out the back end... :)

    It might work out better getting a second battery from a junk yard and charge that with a disconnect switch and a voltage monitor to see the charge and the capacity should be larger than the jumper pack. If the kill switch is ran in line with a relay that has the on field switch ran to the acc on it will prevent it from charging when the engine is off with the key out.

    For those of you who would do this in lew of buying a backup generator (for cost or whatever reason), you could do the same thing with a rebuilt automotive alternator (under $50.00 for my Ford) and a regulator.

    Just hook them up to your lawnmower.  If it's sitting on a smooth survace (not mowing grass) the 5 hp or greater gasoline motor will easily charge a car battery, and probably more efficently than the full size V8 in the truck.

    Of course if you don't have an appliance with a gasoline motor (mower, rototiller, powerwasher, etc.) then this tip isn't for you.

    Using a car engine to generate electricity with it's alternator to charge a jump starter will cost far most in gasoline that it would cost to pay the electric company for electricity to do the same job. At least 3 to 5 times as much.

    - I think this'll ever-so slightly reduce your gas mileage, so technically you're kinda paying Big Oil rather than the electric company. - The items you used in your demo aren't big energy suckers either. The real big ones are your washer and dryer, TV, oven, toaster, coffee maker, microwave... generally anything with a heating element or a fairly powerful motor... These all draw more than 100W (some of them much more) - Booster packs are meant for just that: boosting - a very short and heavy current draw. They shouldn't perform amazingly for this sort of long duty cycle, low-current use. - Still, looks like a good idea for emergencies.

    2 replies

    Good point. Living in the north, I've been planning something similar to this using my 1981 Chevy work van. If the power goes out in the winter, it sucks. Problem is, I need over 1500 watts; most heaters of any count being 1500 watts. My plans did not include the portability of a battery box, tho. I just wanted a makeshift mobile home to sleep and keep warm in.

    Some of them can be plugged directly into 12v power and still work.

    ahhhhh in the hardware store everything i want is miles off my cash range i have about $100 but all the good stuff is more than $150!D:

    2 replies

    Yeah... How much would a 1500w power inverter be?

    It's too bad the vehicle wastes like 80 percent of the fuel, too. (Well more like 82%) But a nice way to save a buck or two, as long as you don't kill the alternator.

    3 replies

    most alternators are rated for 100A,some truck ones may force 200A

    You can always get an overrated aletrnator as well, like what a car with a high watt stereo system would need.

    Yeah, it only gets around 18. I don't think it puts that much load on it to kill it, or even shorten it's life.

    I see here that jasonfehrs states you will use one hp per 25 amps. Can we take this one step further and calculate into amount of gas per amp? Not sure why this is so because the alternator is always turning. Where does the extra resistance come from when it is charging? I plan to setup a couple of marine batteries and charge them up on my 30 minute commute and then plug a cord and power strip from my house to the car at night and run a few small power items. Lights radio etc. This may sound like a pain for some people to do but we need to do something. (its a pain to dig into my pocket for money to pay for energy) I look at my vehicle in a new light, both for transportation and power generation.

    1 reply

    The alternator creates magnetic fields in both the field and stator coils, which tend to resist the movement of the stator. The harder the alternator works (ie, the more current it must produce), the stronger the fields and the greater the mechanical resistance. In the days of carbureted cars, you could actually hear the engine's idle speed drop when the alternator went under a heavy load - like when jump-starting a car with a dead battery, for instance. Modern engines with their electronic controls can adjust idle speed to compensate for various loads, so it isn't as noticeable any more.

    If you want to save energy you can use a drive-shaft mount alternator to charge as you coast or stop:

    Normally used on hot rods or racing vehicles, you can put a closed throttle switch on your vehicle that will turn the alternator on only when decelerating. This would use truly wasted energy that would otherwise be converted into heat by the brakes.

    1 reply

    Sounds like a good idea for the electric car I'm working on

    I knew a guy once in Arizona, never hooked up the utilities. He had a bunch of brake lights on a string that he hung around the living room like Christmas lights, and at night he would pull the battery out of his truck and hook them up. Lit the whole room. Once he'd done a little reading and his kids had played a little, they disconnected it and went to bed. He had a little generator that they ran once a day to chill their fridge, then kept it shut all day except for one flurry of motion when his wife would pull out all the fixin's for dinner, and then cook it on a camp stove. A little off the wall maybe, but they were nice people.