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camry engine for generator?

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Posted by Bill on July 7, 2006, 1:13 pm

My old '89 Camry lost it's transmission ... the motor is still very
clean ... is it feasible to save the motor for turning a generator?
I'm unclear on what gears are in there.  LOL  It runs fine so I'd
guess I could plug up the gear area and install a bigger (truck?)
generator.  Then I could use the engine and exhaust heat in winter.

It seems like a better use than just turning it into scrap for $0.
Since I'm in the country in Illinois, back up power might come in
handy if there is a winter storm, though that doesn't happen often.  I
could tow it to the house with the tractor when needed.  Also there
may be uses around the farm for areas without electricity.

I'm just looking for some off the cuff responses.  It might just be an
introductory learning tool for me in the homepower arena. :)

Posted by tinedo@gmail.com on July 7, 2006, 2:57 pm

If you are serious about that, why not get a really big generator and
run it from the crankshaft ? You could use the passenger compartment as
a place to mount the generator.
You would probably have to devise some sort of governor for the engine
to make it pull under load. That's more power than most whole house
backup generators have, but for the cost of fuel, you could go off grid

Bill wrote:

Posted by Ecnerwal on July 7, 2006, 3:02 pm

Other than being very overpowered for the task (unless you have _large_
generating needs), and thus running in the inefficient low end of the
motor's range (carbureted engines are most efficient more-or-less near
full throttle, considerably less efficient at partial load) it would
work. The (usually) more expensive yet simpler approach is to make DC
with it, and invert to AC (no critical speed control needed), the more
complicated approach is to drive an AC generator head (which needs to
turn fairly precisely 3600 or 1800 or 1200 rpm to make 60 hz power).
Generator heads which are not 3600 RPM are serious money, 3600 rpm heads
are comparatively cheap.

So, it could be a testbed. If you were then heading off into something
like woodgas where you might not care as much about it being
fuel-efficient, it might be fine. If you give a darn about fuel
efficiency and are not looking to make a large generator, swapping it
for a 12-20 horsepower motor might make more sense.

The other thing about modern car engines is that you may find you need
to come to terms with its computer (usually somewhere under the dash) to
make it run.

Cats, coffee, chocolate...vices to live by

Posted by wmbjk on July 7, 2006, 3:03 pm

On Fri, 07 Jul 2006 08:13:10 -0500, Bill wrote:

That engine is too large for most generator needs. For backup, 10 hp
is usually plenty, and 4 hp with inverter/batteries is even better.

Is the car worth fixing? I replaced the automatic transmission in my
'90 Camry a while back. A clean used replacement was under $00
delivered from these guys http://tinyurl.com/qo46t . Here's another
http://tinyurl.com/m4a7e  for even less.


Posted by lesauvage on July 7, 2006, 3:05 pm

Hi Bill,

You're suggesting a CHP project. (Combined Heat and Power).  Commercial
units are becoming available in the UK  - don't know about the states.
Usually they run on natural gas I believe.  There's a Canadian company
working on a CHP unit that if I'm remembering correctly, uses an
internal combusion engine burning hydrogen or natural gas to produce
electricity and heat - don't remember their name. Toyota showed a
concept car that you could plug your house into for electric power, but
as far as I know it was just a demonstration. I saw it on the
Treehugger website:

My limited knowledge would suggest several issues using your Camry
engine.  The bottom line being that you could only run very lower power
appliances unless you want to add expensive components. The size (power
output) of the generator (alternator) is a big issue as you pointed
out. But I think you'd need a much much bigger capacity generator
(alternator) to efficiently use the power of the car engine and a high
wattage DC to AC inverter if your generator/alternator produces DC
assuming you want to power household appliances.    The car's
alternator generates AC but it's not the type of AC we use in our
homes.  You're looking at expensive components, i.e. big generator and
big inverter if you want normal household power levels.   I think it
would be more expensive than to just buy a honda stand-alone generator
unless you're ok getting very low power output from expensive gasoline.

If you were thinking about very low power output, you could just attach
a very low power inexpensive inverter  to the cigarette lighter to run
small items like low wattage household lamps or radios but then you
could also just use 12 volt lower power DC appliances like a portable
radio, laptop computer etc. with a cigarette lighter adapter (costing
only a few bucks).  The wattage output of either adapter must be higher
than the wattage output of the appliance.  Both the low power inverter
to run AC appliances from the cigarette lighter and the socket adapters
for DC appliances are available at auto accessory stores.

The idea of getting heat as well is interesting, but how would you get
the heat where you want it.  I suppose you could build a closed circuit
loop from the radiator of the car to a heat exchanger in your house
like a water heater or old fashioned household radiator.  A car's
cooling system (your heat grabber) is a high pressure system though so
your new closed loop would need to be high pressure rated. Your idea of
using exhaust heat is also interesting.  Not sure how I would go about
capturing that.

Toyota engines are long-running reliable units. Maybe some individual
out there would buy it for more than 50 bucks the wrecker would give

Good luck.

Bill wrote:

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