Friday, June 14, 2013

How to Survive A Power Outage Blackout Using your Car

Now we're on to powering larger appliances like Big TV's, Coffee Makers, Microwaves, Space Heaters and Refrigerators from your car. In the field I work in, everyone always asks this question: "I want to run my whole house off of an inverter, what size inverter do I need?"

Let me stop you right there. Stop. Think about it. How much power does a whole house use? Better yet, how much power does my house use versus my neighbors house versus your house? Do our power bills match up exactly? Simple answer: No.

No house uses the same amount of power. Your 2500 Watt Industrial Microwave drinks power faster than my $100 Wal-Mart bought microwave. My 55 Inch LED LCD screen uses less power than your 40 Inch Plasma. Your neighbors house uses all standard incandescent bulbs while you have all CFL bulbs. You will consume less power than him with all of your lights on, than if he only turned on two or three of his lights. There's no definitive answer. It's all based on what you individually draw. On what your appliances use.

There's still hope! You could always buy one of these bad boys:


And about 20 AGM 12 Volt Sealed Lead Acid Batteries: 

And have yourself a fairly solid setup. But that's expensive. We're talking about running a few appliances from your car, since you don't have room to set up such a massive backup system.
So; we're on to the How To portion. Most appliances you can plug in to your wall outlets, will be limited to about 1500 watts. By law some appliances have to be limited like space heaters:
This means you can rest assured a 2000 Watt Inverter will most likely take care of that. The larger inverters (over 180 watts) will need to be connected DIRECTLY to your vehicles battery. Fortunately, there's no tooling involved. I'll get further into that in a bit.
Again, most appliances prefer to run off of a Pure Sine Wave inverter. Anything with a computer chip or electric motor almost always requires a pure sine wave. Things with touchscreens need the pure/true sine to function. I recommend for appliances like space heaters and coffee pots, you utilize the following power inverter:
It's the AIMS 2000 Watt Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter. It will be able to carry most of your smaller appliances as well as your larger appliances. Remember, you've only got 2000 watts of power here, so trying to run your 700 watt microwave and your 1200 watt coffee pot might be a little too much. You never want push an inverter that hard. Turn one off and run the other one.
Here are the steps involved in hooking this inverter up:
  1. Make sure your car is turned on and running. This is important as you don't want to drain your battery.
  2. Open your hood and locate your battery. Remove any coverings from your battery terminals.
  3. Attach the cables to the power inverter first. Make sure you attach Red (+, Positive) to the positive terminal on the inverter and Black (-, Negative) to the negative terminal. This is EXTREMELY important that you get this right or you risk blowing up your inverter and making a scare spark shower.
  4. Utilizing the cables you've purchased (the ones below are compatible) clamp the red cable on the Positive Post (+) of your battery.

  5. Now connect the black cable to the negative post of the battery or to a solid metal portion of your engine block. A small spark may occur. This is normal. Don't freak out.
  6. Put your inverter IN your car. Not under the hood. The 6 feet of cable should be plenty.
  7. Plug in an extension cable into one of the outlets and run it through the bottom corner of your car door.
  8. Shut your car door gently but firmly to make a seal, without cutting the lines. Trust me, I've done this hundreds of times.
  9. Turn on the Inverter and wait for it to start up. Should take a second to perform diagnostics.
  10. Close your hood gently. Don't push it down all the way, just enough for it to latch.
  11. Lock your door and roll up your windows. I'd hate for you to have your car go missing.
And congratulations, you've got power! You can use a multi-strip to plug in to the extension cord to run smaller appliances like cell phone chargers, TV's and laptops. This is great for running your refrigerator every couple hours or so. Only plug in your fridge after opening it. Let it run until it stops, then unplug it until you open it again. That way you don't have to keep it plugged in and you can use more power for other appliances.

Run another extension cord down to your sump pump in your basement. This inverter will run most 1/3rd and 1/2 horse power sump pumps no problem. This should keep your basement from flooding and save you the cost of that damaging event.

As a safety and security precaution, please do go check on your car every now and again. See if it's getting hot, check fuel levels and make sure it's ventilated. You don't want Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.

I know some of you living in major metropolitan areas and in apartment complexes might thing this is impossible and not valid for you. You're wrong. If you live in an apartment; this will work for you just as well, just a little differently. I will cover this in my next article. So stay tuned.


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