Can Electric Cars Be Charged With A Generator? (Checked)

With electric cars becoming more popular, people who are interested in buying one are asking if they can be charged from a generator.

While this might not be the most efficient option, it is a possibility in the case of an emergency.

It is important, however, that electric car owners know how to charge their vehicle off a generator.

Can an electric vehicle be charged from a generator?

Electric vehicles can be charged off a generator, but the generator has to be set up correctly. Realize that this operation will require a fairly large generator, and the generator must have a plug that is the correct size for the car.

This is a good question, however, as electric cars cannot (yet) charge themselves while driving.

Can a petrol generator power an electric car?

The vast majority of electric cars can charge off any type of electric power, as long as that power is delivered in a manner that is compatible with the car.

That means that whatever generator the electric car is plugged into will need to have the proper type of plug.

Many electric vehicles require a 240 volt plug, commonly known as a dryer plug in the United States.

There are some models that have a uniquely-shaped plug that has to be specialty-installed into a house, and a few vehicles now coming onto the market that can use a “standard” 120 volt plug.

No matter what type of plug your electric vehicle uses, it will be necessary to ensure that the generator is compatible with that type of plug.

To determine this, it’s necessary to understand a little bit about generators.

  • The cheapest generators that are available are actually little more than large batteries.
  • These devices aren’t really capable of producing their own electricity and aren’t really generators, but they are marketed as “generator-replacement systems” or “rechargeable generators”.
  • These systems store electric charge, then connect to a few devices to distribute that power.
  • These devices might be able to supply a small amount of power to a vehicle, but they are rarely large enough to hold enough charge to fully charge an electric vehicle.

So-called household generators will be able to power an electric car, but there won’t be much power left over for anything else during an emergency.

If you plan to use these types of generators in this fashion, then you’ll need to make sure you have an ample supply of fuel, as a typical charge may take multiple gallons of fuel.

Ideally, try to charge the car from a large generator.

These generators are able to produce enough power to supply everything in an entire house, including the car charger. These are the most expensive option, however.

Can a generator potentially charge an electric car while driving?

Charging a car while it is driving is usually a bad idea. In fact, there are specific warnings against doing this by nearly every major car manufacturer.

In order to do this you will need to carry a generator (most likely one that runs on gasoline or propane) inside of the vehicle, then run the charging cord through an open window.

This creates several obvious safety issues.

Not only is this dangerous, but it probably won’t work.

The software on most electric vehicles prevents it from routing power to the battery while the car is in motion.

That means there isn’t an easy way to force this set up to work if you need to take the electric vehicle on an extended road trip.

How strong should a generator be to power an electric car?

The amount of power needed to charge an electric car will depend on a number of different factors including the level of charging desired, the size of the vehicle and its battery, and the total amps and wattage produced by the generator.

Because there are so many different factors, it’s difficult to state with certainty the minimum size that would be needed to charge an electric vehicle.

Generally speaking, however, only the very largest commercial models will be able to provide a full charge.

Be aware that all of the generators currently on the commercial market will only be able to provide Level 1 or Level 2 charging. In fact, very few generators have the ability to charge at Level 2.

Of course, any generator will need a lot of fuel to produce this much power.

That means keeping a large supply in case of an emergency.

Remember that generators are a fairly inefficient way to produce electricity. It’s been estimated that a single full charge will need to be fueled with between ten to twenty gallons of gas for a small electric vehicle.

How long would it take a generator to charge an electric car?

Because most generators will only be able to provide a Level 1 charge, it’s most likely that a full charge will take somewhere between ten and twenty hours.

Again, the exact time will depend on the type of vehicle and generator, as well as the total amount of power that can be produced.

Practically speaking, this means that the vehicle will most likely need to charge overnight.

A commercial generator will provide enough charge to allow you to use the car in the local area, but the odds of depending on it for a long road trip will be fairly low unless there are other charging stations (that are fully powered) available.

The long charging time means that this is not a particularly great option if you need to have the vehicle ready to evacuate from an area.

If you have some warning before an emergency, take steps to keep the vehicle fully charged until you lose power, and start charging the car immediately after you take it on any type of trip in order to keep its maximum range.

Does it make sense to bring a generator for backup power?

The type of generator you will need to quickly charge your vehicle will be impractical to take with you if you’re trying to evacuate a city.

These are large, heavy devices that will usually take at least two people to load and unload.

Transporting a generator with fuel in it is extremely dangerous, and is strongly discouraged. 

If you are worried about being unable to charge the vehicle, it makes more sense to safely park the car, then find an alternate means of transportation. Once the disaster is over and people start returning to an area, you can retrieve the vehicle.

Be aware that very few people find themselves in a situation in which they would need to evacuate farther than the maximum range on most electric vehicles.

Most natural disasters affect an area with a fifty mile radius at the most, and in most urban areas it will be easier to find powered charging stations than to wait on gasoline deliveries after a disaster.

Will alternative power generators work to charge an electric vehicle?

There are generators that have come onto the market in recent years that rely on solar or wind power to produce electricity.

Generally speaking, these generators will only produce a low level of power. While this power can be enough to run several small devices, it will take a very long time to charge a car off of this power.

The very large generators will probably be able to provide Level 1 charge, but the small amount of anecdotal data out there says that a complete charge takes longer than 18 hours.

If you plan on utilitizing a generator like this, do not rely on it for complete charging and do not make plans to use the car more than a few small trips.

These types of generators are really meant to power small buildings such as tiny houses and sheds or be used for a few days during a small emergency.

They can give you some charge, but not enough to flee or evacuate an area if you don’t have access to other charging stations.

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