Design & DIY

Is your car the solution during the next power outage?

cargenerator hooked up to suv with its hood open Photo by Liam Mogan

I was intrigued by a new Canadian-made product called CarGenerator, which uses your car as the power source as an alternative to a backup generator. You hook up this 11 lb device to your (idling) car’s battery (careful: red to +) and then run an extension cord (I recommend a 12/3 cord) to your home/cottage/camper to power essential operations. For the average three-season cottager, that would likely mean enough time to top up the fridge and freezer before moving on to power other devices.

The manufacturer claims it consumes less fuel per hour of operation, makes less noise, and has greater dependability than traditional generators. There’s no question it’s quieter, and your car is usually better serviced, so you can count on it running when you need it (not always the case with a generator). Given equal run times, a car’s emissions are a lot less than a traditional generator’s. The device also won’t interfere with your vehicle’s warranty.

inside look at the cargenerator on orange background
Photo by Liam Mogan

At 1,000 watts max, this gadget is somewhat limited, but it can power more than one device at a time. A quick review of wattage requirements indicates that it does have the juice to prevent disaster; most fridges, chest freezers, furnaces, and sump pumps use less power than the unit’s max output. (For furnaces, some wiring modification may be required.) The unit comes with a plug-in meter so you can assess demand per source.

I tried it out, and I was suitably satisfied with its performance (some hesitation when starting my tools can be attributed to “ramping up” the unit to full power). I suggest that you familiarize yourself with the manual before you need the generator; it’s a fair bit of reading, but having the CarGenerator and knowing how to use it is definitely worth considering for emergency power both at the cottage and at home. $695,

Pro tip
It’s compatible with gas, diesel, hybrid, and electric vehicles.

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