Using Your Vehicle For Emergency Power by Lamar Alexander
By LaMar Alexander
Power blackouts are common and can sometimes result in loss of property, loss of money and even loss of life. So having a secure off-grid emergency power system is a smart idea.
You can get generators or solar panels for that purpose but if you have a vehicle you already have a very efficient power generator that can be used for emergencies, camping, or off-grid living.
My story: when I started my homestead many years ago I couldn't afford solar panels right off so I installed a second battery in my old truck and used a small 400 watt inverter that ran my gadgets and lights in the camper. I would recharge the batteries when I went to town for supplies or I just started the truck occasionally for a few minutes.
That system worked very well and I still keep a small 175 watt inverter in my cars that will run my laptop, ARB fridge, small tools, lights and gadgets at all times.
I run the inverter for a couple of hours and then restart the vehicle for about 10-15 minutes to recharge the battery. If you have a fuel efficient car it doesn't use much gas just idling to recharge the battery.
You do not have to have the vehicle started to use these small inverters and a 100 watt inverter without a fan can run for 1.5-2 hours without depleting the battery and the vehicle will still start but all vehicle batteries are not the same so you will need to test it to see how long you can safely run the inverter. Most inverters do have a low battery shut off built in.
I recommend a fan-less small inverter of 100-200 watts as the fan will discharge the battery faster and I use a Go Power brand 175 watt which will run my laptop, ARB fridge and recharges my gadgets.
You can get larger inverters and more expensive pure sine wave inverters if you have more appliances to run and you can add more batteries to a vehicle to increase power storage. AGM sealed deep cycle batteries can be stored on the floor board or in the back of a truck. Or as in this version - some cars have stereos that could double as a whole battery bank!
This vehicle inverter system is inexpensive and you can get these smaller inverters for under $30. It will provide enough power in an emergency for communication equipment like a laptop or recharge your cell phones and even run LED lights or a small fridge to keep food from spoiling or medicines cold.
I use my inverter all the time when I am camping but it has also saved my butt in winter when 5 days of cloudy weather had drained my solar power batteries.
Keep an inverter in your vehicles and you will have an emergency power generator wherever you are!