Welcome to my J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session, a weekly column where I answer your basic electrical questions. If you’re a newbie who’s never plugged in a shore power cord (or ask – what’s a shore power cord?), or wonder why your daughter’s hair dryer keeps tripping the circuit breaker, this column is for you. Send your questions to Mike Sokol at mike (at) noshockzone.org with the subject line – JAM. Today I discuss recharging an EV from a portable generator.
OK. I’ve seen the joke. Is it possible? Recently I saw the picture of an electric car with a generator plugged into the car, supposedly getting a recharge on the side of the road. Can this be done? It must be a custom connection on the little generator. Will it work or can it work in a pinch?
I know it’s a silly question that defeats the zero emissions concept. But, let’s ask Mike… —Ken
I’ve already tested this possibility, run the calculations and find that it’s an impractical solution at best. A Level-1 EV charger pulling 16 amps at 120 volts from a 2,000-watt generator can recharge an electric vehicle (EV) at a rate of around 1.9 kWH per hour of running. If your EV gets 3.5 miles range per kWh of battery charge that means you’ll only add around 6 miles of range per hour of generator run time.
Recharging an EV from a generator is not practical
Want to completely charge an EV with a 75kWh battery from 0 to 100% range? That will take at least 40 hours of generator running time and refilling it with gasoline at least 6 or 8 times. It’s just not practical.
What’s really funny is that wth some of the portable lithium battery “solar generators,” manufacturers show that you can use them to recharge by day on the side of the road, like dumping in a can of gasoline.
For example, I have a Jackery 1500 which has 1,500 watt-hrs (or 1.5 kWh) of storage capacity. Even if it was 100% efficient in transferring all of its energy to an EV on the side of the road (yes, you can plug your EV into it), at best it might be able to give your EV 5 or 6 miles of range after an hour or two plugging in.
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Even with a Jackery it’s not practical
Note that I also have four 100-watt solar panels for the Jackery, which can completely recharge it in a full day of sunlight. So, in effect, you could recharge the Jackery every day while adding maybe 5 miles range. In 30 days, that would give your EV maybe 150 miles of range.
Now, if you were in a Zombie Apocalypse situation (and had a few months to wait), you could completely recharge your getaway RoadWarrior EV. But these would need to be really slow Zombies for this to work, since sitting in the same spot for 60 days is sure to attract some attention. Yes, that’s me taking a break from fighting Zombies.
OK, everyone. Remember that electricity is a useful and powerful force, so we all need to pay attention to safety precautions while using it.
Let’s play safe out there….
Send your questions to me at my new RVelectricity forum here.
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.
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