November 2, 2012

Standalone gasoline generator? How to just say no (for Prius owners)

Filed under: Uncategorized — michael @ 11:37 pm

So as of yesterday, the combination of our Prius and a Pep Boys purchased power inverter had successfully run our furnace, but not our refrigerator, which forced us to resort to using the loud standalone gas-powered generator that friends had kindly loaned us before.

I had actually purchased a different power inverter from Amazon, which claimed to be pure sine and thus clean power, and also had a slow start capacity built in… but had a slightly lower power rating. Got it and unpacked it today, and hooked it up to the fridge… success! And it could run the UPS without it freaking out. Great, so no need for the gas generator to run the fridge.

Now one last sanity check, make sure it can run the furnace blower and we’re all set.
Distant squeal (the inverter’s overload alarm from inside the Prius).

NOOOOOOOO!!! Don’t tell me I have to switch between inverters to make this work!?
Despair. Then some more thought.
The UPS couldn’t handle the surge to run the furnace by itself. But armed with the pure sine inverter, I can actually power the UPS in a way it likes. So why not use that combination? Let the inverter help handle the surge, and if it flips off, the UPS should be able to carry it the rest of the way.

OK… so let’s try that on the refrigerator first.
Great, that worked of course. Now let’s unplug the UPS from the inverter…
Brilliant, the fridge is still running! Wonder how long that could go for, but no time or patience to try right now.

So final challenge, let’s try that on the furnace.

Wow, it’s pulling 2/3 of a kilowatt.
OK, time to turn off the Prius now.

When I came back in, however, the furnace was no longer running. What had happened?

As it turns out, we have another little pump in there to get rid of excess humidity…
I bet that kicked in and knocked over the UPS – they don’t put much surge capacity into them.

Lovely! No need to buy a standalone generator then.
Good thing, because we did already buy the Prius…

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