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Old 12-25-2021, 10:10 AM   #1
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Using truck as generator while idling, is it possible?

Looks like this can not be done but I thought I'd ask before I abandon this idea and just stick with a portable generator.
Is it possible to add a second and totally separate 12v, 24v, 48v, 120VAC alternator (does such a thing even exist), generator head or something else I'm not even thinking of to my 2015 Silverado, 5.3 L engine and get out 2000 or even 3000 watts of power at idle, 800-900 RPM.
If it is possible what would be needed, everything I've looked at doesn't put out enough amps at the low of RPM.
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Old 12-25-2021, 10:30 AM   #2
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From what I'm reading, an alternator puts out 12 VAC that is converted to 12 VDC. Car generators were replaced with alternators because alternators can more efficiently produce electricity.

Idling a car engine for extended periods is detrimental to the engine. Burning gas or diesel will add more pollution to the environment. The most efficient way to do what you want to do is by using a machine that was designed to do it; a generator.

Here's an article that tells you how to use your car's alternator to generate 120 VAC from the alternator via a transformer. They do not say what the output amps are.

https://sciencing.com/convert-12-vol...t-6146164.html
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Old 12-25-2021, 10:34 AM   #3
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Another link from here in the forum.
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f38...ml#post2564429
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Old 12-25-2021, 11:21 AM   #4
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The new Ford F-150 trucks with a built-in generator work this way. The top model features a 7.2 kW unit, which is very nice if you donít mind running your truck engine to generate power. There are products available like CarGenerator that do the same thing. Personally, Iím fine with my Champion generator.
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Old 12-25-2021, 11:39 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by bmklawt View Post
Is it possible to add a second and totally separate 12v, 24v, 48v, 120VAC alternator (does such a thing even exist), generator head or something else I'm not even thinking of ...
Yes, but there's a cost. Let's assume some creative engineer has cut a bracket just for your needs. The alternator is spun by the belt. As power is consumed it gets harder and harder to turn the belt. So power is sacrificed from the engine unless you kick up the RPM. That takes more fuel.
Keep the generator.

YouTubers LoLoHo discovered when they switched from wet cells to lithium/solar, the standard alternator no longer charged the Lithiums while driving. So they upped their alternator. <stop>

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Old 12-25-2021, 11:43 AM   #6
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I have a 2021 F150 with 2k propower. I just installed a second 60amp converter up front that runs off the 15amp propower outlet to charge while boon docking on a cloudy day. I’m still going to keep my EU2200I for the random unknown’s or air conditioning.
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Old 12-26-2021, 12:00 PM   #7
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Hi

Yes you can do it. To get anywhere near rated current out of the system, your engine will need to be up in the 1500 to 2000 RPM range. Alternator output drops *fast* as RPM's go down. As mentioned above, any sort of extended idle is a bad thing. Just why is slightly different for a diesel vs gas, but neither one likes the idea.

Way cheaper (that engine rebuild isn't going to be covered under warranty ....) , more fuel efficient, and easier to manage with a stand alone generator.

Bob
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Old 12-26-2021, 12:31 PM   #8
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Hi

Yes you can do it. To get anywhere near rated current out of the system, your engine will need to be up in the 1500 to 2000 RPM range. Alternator output drops *fast* as RPM's go down. As mentioned above, any sort of extended idle is a bad thing. Just why is slightly different for a diesel vs gas, but neither one likes the idea.

Way cheaper (that engine rebuild isn't going to be covered under warranty ....) , more fuel efficient, and easier to manage with a stand alone generator.

Bob
Not to mention, your not idling your engine; noise and air pollution at a campsite... especially if it is an "older diesel"...
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Old 12-28-2021, 03:45 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s1000pre View Post
I have a 2021 F150 with 2k propower. I just installed a second 60amp converter up front that runs off the 15amp propower outlet to charge while boon docking on a cloudy day. Iím still going to keep my EU2200I for the random unknownís or air conditioning.


I am curious why you needed to add a second converter. Couldnít you just use the original converter in your Airstream?

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Old 01-02-2022, 10:08 AM   #10
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I have one

I have a 3000 w generator that hooks to my battery it works well. I wouldnít use it for hours on end but would for a few hours here and there. I keep it as a relatively lightweight backup.
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Old 01-02-2022, 10:28 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by bmklawt View Post
Looks like this can not be done but I thought I'd ask before I abandon this idea and just stick with a portable generator.
Is it possible to add a second and totally separate 12v, 24v, 48v, 120VAC alternator (does such a thing even exist), generator head or something else I'm not even thinking of to my 2015 Silverado, 5.3 L engine and get out 2000 or even 3000 watts of power at idle, 800-900 RPM.
If it is possible what would be needed, everything I've looked at doesn't put out enough amps at the low of RPM.
Why run a 15,000$ engine when a 2200 is 1200$Ö?
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Old 01-02-2022, 11:10 AM   #12
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I have a 2019 Ford F250 Super Duty with dual heavy duty alternators. I ran a 2/0 battery cable (wrapped in a heat shield loom) from the truck engine bay (via a fused and switchable relay) along the frame to an Anderson 350 connector attached permanently to the tow hitch frame under the rear bumper.

On the trailer side, I ran a similar 2/0 "umbilical" (also shielded with loomed and self-amalgamating tape) with a mating Anderson 350 connector to a Victron Cyrix Li-Ct battery combiner/isolator. I also have a momentary switch on the Cyrix that would allow me start the truck from the trailer batteries if for some reason the truck batteries were out of commission.

With that setup, I get 50-60A charge current from the truck to the trailer batteries (400AH LiFePo4).

I only use this while driving and I never use this when idling. I think this whole business of using an idling tow vehicle to charge trailer batteries (except for an urgent need) is the wrong way to go.
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Old 01-02-2022, 01:08 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by bmklawt View Post
Looks like this can not be done but I thought I'd ask before I abandon this idea and just stick with a portable generator.
Is it possible to add a second and totally separate 12v, 24v, 48v, 120VAC alternator (does such a thing even exist), generator head or something else I'm not even thinking of to my 2015 Silverado, 5.3 L engine and get out 2000 or even 3000 watts of power at idle, 800-900 RPM.
If it is possible what would be needed, everything I've looked at doesn't put out enough amps at the low of RPM.
Yes it is possible, ambulances have them, Roadtrek RV's have them. California has banned portable/separate generators, even in RV's. DC just banned leaf blowers. More places will be banning these things and more.
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Old 01-02-2022, 03:43 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmklawt View Post
Looks like this can not be done but I thought I'd ask before I abandon this idea and just stick with a portable generator.
Is it possible to add a second and totally separate 12v, 24v, 48v, 120VAC alternator (does such a thing even exist), generator head or something else I'm not even thinking of to my 2015 Silverado, 5.3 L engine and get out 2000 or even 3000 watts of power at idle, 800-900 RPM.
If it is possible what would be needed, everything I've looked at doesn't put out enough amps at the low of RPM.
I have the CarGenerator. And it fills the needs of a generator. I can run it for a few hours to run the things I need. Check out the website about them.
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Old 01-02-2022, 05:13 PM   #15
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No

Bad just plain bad. Just shrug this off a as well meaning but a very bad idea. Horrible to idle a gas or especially a diesel.
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Old 01-03-2022, 02:52 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by bmklawt View Post
...to my 2015 Silverado, 5.3 L engine and get out 2000 or even 3000 watts of power at idle, 800-900 RPM.
If it is possible what would be needed, everything I've looked at doesn't put out enough amps at the low of RPM.
Yes what you are wanting to do is very easily possible. Doing this is exactly my job over the last seven years now, so I am sharing direct experience of thousands of people similar to your request.

The Idle output Calculation:
Idle output is half of "rated output", so you can check what your existing alternator amp output is, then reduce by half, then multiply by 12v = watts available. The concept is simple, you shut off your vehicle accessories and instead pull that power out to do a different job. For the most part your engine and alternator doesn't know or care, it just simply produces power as needed.

Alternator upgrade:
Google for your vehicle year model etc and the words alternator upgrade or high output alternator, you will find numerous manufacturers to choose from. For example PowerBastards lists a direct bolt in replacement for your truck, listing a 160 amp at IDLE output. Multiply that by 12-13 volts equals 2000 watts. Make sure to order "the big three" wire harness to handle the upgraded power properly.

Is Idling bad?
Idling is a fact of life and everyone does it. Stuck in traffic, or waiting an hour to pickup the kids from soccer on a crazy hot day is simply a job our vehicles are already engineered to do. Use an OBD vehicle scanner and observe for yourself how many "idle hours" are already on your engine.
If you think about it - an engine doesnt really know of care if its standing stationary or going down the road at 60 miles an hour.
Ford's ProPower fully supports idling your gas engine for 85 HOURS on a tank, producing 2000 watts of power.
GM offers a truck bed 400 watt power outlet which the GM instructions state can "be used for things like a Slowcooker or Crockpot", as stated by the manufacturer! How many hours would you idle your engine to run your slow cooker or crock pot?
Honda Ridgeline has a 400 watt truck bed outlet "for tailgating and watching TV", which requires the engine idling. So how long would you idle watching TV?

WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS ANYWAY?
Using your vehicle as a generator is an INTENTIONAL choice for many people. They simply do not want to own, maintain, or wrangle a heavy gas generator. Many people drag around a big heavy gas generator for months and only end up using it a few hours, occasionally. So using your vehicle engine instead is far more convenient and less hassle. That said, if you camp off grid for days in blazing temperatures and need a generator 24/7 around the clock, then a traditional gas generator may be your only choice.

Feel free to ask any questions, happy to share knowledge on any of this. Thanks.
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Old 01-03-2022, 04:59 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by CarGenGuy View Post
Yes what you are wanting to do is very easily possible. Doing this is exactly my job over the last seven years now, so I am sharing direct experience of thousands of people similar to your request.

The Idle output Calculation:
Idle output is half of "rated output", so you can check what your existing alternator amp output is, then reduce by half, then multiply by 12v = watts available. The concept is simple, you shut off your vehicle accessories and instead pull that power out to do a different job. For the most part your engine and alternator doesn't know or care, it just simply produces power as needed.

Alternator upgrade:
Google for your vehicle year model etc and the words alternator upgrade or high output alternator, you will find numerous manufacturers to choose from. For example PowerBastards lists a direct bolt in replacement for your truck, listing a 160 amp at IDLE output. Multiply that by 12-13 volts equals 2000 watts. Make sure to order "the big three" wire harness to handle the upgraded power properly.

Is Idling bad?
Idling is a fact of life and everyone does it. Stuck in traffic, or waiting an hour to pickup the kids from soccer on a crazy hot day is simply a job our vehicles are already engineered to do. Use an OBD vehicle scanner and observe for yourself how many "idle hours" are already on your engine.
If you think about it - an engine doesnt really know of care if its standing stationary or going down the road at 60 miles an hour.
Ford's ProPower fully supports idling your gas engine for 85 HOURS on a tank, producing 2000 watts of power.
GM offers a truck bed 400 watt power outlet which the GM instructions state can "be used for things like a Slowcooker or Crockpot", as stated by the manufacturer! How many hours would you idle your engine to run your slow cooker or crock pot?
Honda Ridgeline has a 400 watt truck bed outlet "for tailgating and watching TV", which requires the engine idling. So how long would you idle watching TV?

WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS ANYWAY?
Using your vehicle as a generator is an INTENTIONAL choice for many people. They simply do not want to own, maintain, or wrangle a heavy gas generator. Many people drag around a big heavy gas generator for months and only end up using it a few hours, occasionally. So using your vehicle engine instead is far more convenient and less hassle. That said, if you camp off grid for days in blazing temperatures and need a generator 24/7 around the clock, then a traditional gas generator may be your only choice.

Feel free to ask any questions, happy to share knowledge on any of this. Thanks.
Well stated cargenguy. Idling wont harm an engine. Sure, its gonna last longer if you dont, but the small amount of time you are gonna do it will make little difference. I use my truck in my work and not just hauling a sack of dog food from walmart evry month and have to sit and idle my truck for hours on end as do all my fellow workers to run the ac in summer or heater in winter. Never noticed any bad affects.
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Old 01-03-2022, 06:31 AM   #18
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Interesting side note here about the idling thing...

In semi trucks drivers used to idle their engines all night to keep their sleepers warm or cooled (depending on weather). Then someone came up with something called an APU (auxiliary power unit) which was essentially a small diesel generator and an a/c compressor which would run all night and save the engine from having to idle. Helped save wear and tear on engines, as well as comply with clean idle laws in many states.

The latest trend is to use battery bank APUs instead of diesel. They stick a few deep cycle batteries between the frame rails to run the a/c or heater as well as the inverter for the microwave and fridge. When the batteries get depleted, the main truck engine automatically restarts and recharges them from the alternator. Shuts down again when they're topped off enough. My Freightliner was able to make it 3-4 hours before restarting in the heat of summer.

Some trucking companies have opted to stick with diesel APUs, and others have gone to the battery based units. All depends on which works best for them given the places they travel, the weather, economics, etc.

My point - there are many ways to meet the goals here and there's not just one right answer. Whether or not idling the engine is the best option depends on all the other factors in the equation.
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Old 01-03-2022, 08:03 AM   #19
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I am curious why you needed to add a second converter. Couldnít you just use the original converter in your Airstream?

Dan
I didnít want to run wires all the way back to my oem converter. I found it easier to install an additional converter.
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Old 01-03-2022, 10:12 AM   #20
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Bad idea!

Not sure where this is coming from? Campgrounds are already adapting rules in many locations prohibiting generator's typically due to noise. Some even have decibel limits, due to the industrial inexpensive models some folks bring along. So noise pollution is the biggest concern, and I get that. It's also why many of us have solar and carry our Honda/Yamaha/Champion, etc. generators for backup or to run AC when boondocking.

Now, your advocating idling your vehicle instead?? Come on folks! The pollution caused by idling is harmful to people and the environment.
In several states, there are laws on the books about idling unless emergency situation's.

Imagine a campground with your family and diesels and/or gas engines running for a half hour or more...does that sound healthy and inviting to you? Why; because a Honda or Yamaha generator is too heavy for you to lift?
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