Use Your Vehicle To Provide Backup Power With CarGenerator

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Use Your Vehicle To Provide Backup Power With CarGenerator

Say goodbye to loud, smelly, heavy power generators when you need camping and emergency backup power. Instead, check out a modern, simplified version by CarGenerator.

Generators provide us with power for both emergency situations and convenience when we are off-the-grid. We all associate the ability to produce power in these situations with loud, fuel-consuming, and often problematic generators. We have come to accept that these are the realities of producing power when it’s needed.

What if I told you there is a way to produce that power without the noise, smell, and constant refueling? And better yet, you already have almost everything you need to do it!

What Is CarGenerator?

Designed by a former tech company owner, and more importantly, an avid RVer, CarGenerator is an innovative product born from necessity. After a successful career in the tech world, Jonathan Schloo and his wife bought their dream RV, an Airstream. Like many RVers, Jonathan experienced the same problems we all do: great campsite…no power.

It’s not uncommon when at an unserviced campsite to have to fire up your car and plug your phone in for a charge as an emergency source of backup power. Or, and I speak from personal experience, it’s so cold you end up sleeping in your running car with the heater on for the night.

Jonathan had a vision that most of us looked past, and that is, you already own the major components needed for a generator to create backup power. The engine, fuel tank, and alternator are all sitting right there on your campsite!

The RV backup power problem was solved, but it didn’t stop there. Why not power necessary items in your home like your furnace, fridge, and sump pump during power outages?

A home integration kit was developed. Now, CarGenerator becomes your answer for both occasional recreational power and as an emergency home backup power generator.

Even smart investors love this product. Jonathan landed a $100k deal on national TV with dual investors on Dragons’ Den. As with Shark Tank, Dragons’ Den investors are savvy business people who know a great product when they see it!

The CarGenerator team appeared on the Dragons’ Den TV Show

How does it create backup power?

CarGenerator is essentially a high-quality, patented pure sine wave inverter – the only inverter you can buy that’s safely enclosed in a weatherproof housing.

A pure sine wave inverter is important as your personal electronics like phones and laptops, along with sensitive electronics in your RV, all require this clean power for safe operation. This is why large construction-style generators are not recommended by RV manufacturers. They are designed to power tools, industrial pumps, and equipment – not sensitive RV and residential items.

The operation couldn’t be easier. CarGenerator simply hooks up directly to your vehicle alternator via the battery by a set of high heatproof battery cables (similar to your booster cables). The adjustable strap and soft surface cover make it easy to hang in place without damaging your vehicle.

Once hooked up, all you do is start your vehicle and plug in the necessary items to be powered. In the case of your home, the home integration kit makes switching from your house’s power source to CarGenerator as easy as flipping a couple of switches.

Your vehicle’s engine runs and spins the alternator as normal, but instead of powering things like your wipers and heater, the backup power is transferred through the inverter to your furnace, fridge, sump pump, and any other items that you require to function (hello, coffee maker). It all seems very simple, and that’s because it is!

So why not just buy a cheap inverter?

First and foremost, because power is most often needed during bad weather, so just an unprotected, cheap Harbor Freight inverter is useless. This is especially true on days and nights of rain while camping (no solar), or during a bad rainstorm, snow, or ice at home when the power goes out.

The magic of CarGenerator is the patented custom-engineered weatherproof housing, and a turn-key, ready-to-go solution you can pull out in any weather and attach in a minute, and have power for hours or days.

The cover is not only for protection, though. It also serves as a comfortable carrying handle, and when I say carrying, I’m talking one hand! With models ranging from 11 lbs to 17 lbs, you can carry your coffee in one hand and CarGenerator in your other. No more asking a neighbor for a lift with your generator and then getting gas stains on their pants.

Your RV or house electrical systems require clean stable power. For this reason, a cheap inverter may do the job, but do you really want to cheap out on your emergency power generator? It’s a high-stakes risk. You would have to buy a high-quality pure sine wave inverter. Then you’d have to construct a weatherproof container and have a safe way to connect it to your vehicle. While this could be done, CarGenerator has already spent the time and money to safely engineer a complete product that has proven itself over the last 6 years on the market with no reliability or safety issues!

No cheap booster cables rigged up to your “on-sale” inverter, either. The CarGenerator cables are custom made in the USA from oxygen-free, pure copper and high heat materials. Why does this matter? Well, the high heat from your engine combined with outdoor elements can be hard on cheaper materials. Oxygen-free copper is proven to stay cooler, have higher conductivity, and is less likely to corrode over time.

If your time is not valuable, and you won’t lie awake at night questioning your engineering skills, you could try and save a minimal amount putting something together… or you can get a proven, high-quality emergency power source with a warranty, made in North America!

Much like you wouldn’t build your own grill by simply hooking a burner up to a propane tank, building your own backup power system with a cheap inverter and a bunch of wires is both dangerous and impractical. You don’t want to put your expensive vehicle at risk by jury-rigging an ad-hoc solution you cobbled together to save a few dollars. CarGenerator is a beautifully designed and engineered, turn-key solution that solves the problem of providing safe, backup power.

How much backup power do you need?

Anyone who has purchased a generator has researched online and used calculations to figure out how much backup power they need. CarGenerator has multiple models ranging from a 1000-watt continuous/2000-watt surge to a 3000-watt continuous/6000-watt surge unit. The most popular and flagship model is the 1000-watt model. This may come as a surprise to many who think 1000-watts isn’t very much.

In reality, 1000-watts is about the amount of power most typical vehicles can produce, and is enough to power the important things in your home during a power outage. Buying a cheap 4000-watt inverter is a complete waste of money because you would need a 660-amp alternator, to provide half that at idle to power it. A typical vehicle alternator is in the range of 160-200 amps, which easily powers our flagship 1000-watt model.

The typical home furnace (gas or oil) requires approximately 300-watts. A fridge is approximately 200-watts. The purpose of CarGenerator is not to power your entire home all at the same time, but to have the ability to power necessities and easily switch between items. RVers looking to camp at unserviced sites can easily keep their RV batteries charged up, and when needed, run all those essential camp items like your coffee maker in the morning, blenders for drinks, and a pump for your air mattress.

Some people may require a large number of appliances or extra convenience items during power outages. If this is the case, a larger traditional generator is likely more suitable. Similarly, if you plan to camp unserviced all the time and will be in areas requiring air conditioning, especially for long periods, a larger gas generator will make more sense.

CarGenerator does provide more options with their larger units, and for those with dual or high output alternators, like some large trucks, you do have the ability to upgrade for more backup power. As with any generator purchase, look at what your needs are and be realistic about how much backup power you need and what you can do without. Your emergency backup power generator only needs to power the essentials.

What are the effects on your car?

The beauty of CarGenerator is that it utilizes the power your car is already engineered to produce, and does so without harm to your vehicle. Modern vehicles are designed to easily run for extended periods of time including idle time and millions do so every day. You would be surprised how many idle hours are accumulated on your car yearly just from being stopped in traffic.

CarGenerator has no extra effect on the operation of your vehicle. While in use, your vehicle runs as normal with the alternator charging continuously, but instead of the car accessories drawing power, you are powering your required needs. Oftentimes, it is actually drawing less than when driving with multiple car accessories on. The result is no harm or draining of your car battery, and regular operation of your vehicle’s alternator and charging system.

PRO TIP: Ask your vehicle dealer parts dept, what is your alternator amps rating. Half of that for idle speed, x 12 volts = the amount of watts you could have available.

Idling for extended periods was put to the test and proven recently by Ford Motor Company, the number one selling auto manufacturer in North America. Ford now offers a built-in generator to convert the truck’s DC current to AC. This is the same concept CarGenerator uses. Ford rates their non-hybrid PowerBoost generator for 85 hours of continuous engine idling without harm. For diesel vehicles with a DPF filter, it takes approximately 12 hours at idle to fill up the filter.

If you would like to purchase Ford’s version, it’s gonna cost you $1000 for the base model, and a $3000 upgrade to the EcoBoost engine to upgrade to higher wattage models. This, of course, is on top of the price of a brand new truck.

Is it environmentally friendly to run your car?

In the case of an emergency power outage or short period off-grid recreational power, there is only one way without solar, wind, or water to make backup power – and that’s with a combustible engine. The option of running a car engine with today’s technology and emissions controls, like catalytic converters, as opposed to an unregulated generator, in most cases, will be the more environmentally friendly option.

In many cases such as smaller vehicles, the fuel consumption will also be less than an inefficient generator. Prove it to yourself – use a simple OBD vehicle tester to see the fuel rate of your own vehicle, and you’ll be amazed at how minimal fuel is used at idle. Another amazing thing about CarGenerator is that it will operate with any vehicle including EVs! Imaging burning no fuel and having no exhaust while running a generator!

On top of the poor fuel efficiency, is the noise level of generators. RVers will appreciate that there is no noise besides your idling vehicle. Many campgrounds have scheduled run times, noise level restrictions, and for some, no generator policies. I think most campers would take an idling vehicle over a noisy generator any day.

What are the benefits over a traditional gas generator?

The things that make CarGenerator great are all the things we typically hate about regular generators.


Too often when you need them most, generators don’t start up because of old gas or no maintenance. Your car starts and runs every day and is maintained. With CarGenerator if your car starts, you have power!


Generators are cumbersome and heavy, often requiring the help of others to move around. CarGenerator is just 11 lbs, making it manageable for anyone.

Run time

CarGenerator has a run-time of 50-80+ hours, where typical generators need to be refilled every 4-5 hours. The Ford F150, with a 4-liter engine and a 36-gallon tank, can idle with no load for close to 92 hours!


With CarGenerator, there is no gas to store, replace, or pack along with you; no significant extra maintenance; no extra storage space. It can simply be kept in your trunk or behind your seat ready to go. Your vehicle is already maintained and filled with fuel, so why repeat the process and pay extra to do it to a generator?

Many RVers cart around a heavy gas generator and gas cans all season long, but rarely actually need to use it. CarGenerator frees up precious storage space.


CarGenerator prices range from $299 to $1699, which means you can often obtain the power you need for 1/2 the price of a comparable standalone gas generator.

Conclusion: Is CarGenerator for you?

If you are looking for a safe and affordable backup power generator for emergencies and occasional recreational use in your home and RV, then CarGenerator will reliably do both of these things for you.

Maybe you already have an emergency power source for your home and don’t even own an RV, CarGenerator is a versatile power source that comes with you. Take it tent camping, to the beach, your favorite festival, or anywhere else. Wherever your vehicle is, you will always have power! Check out CarGenerator at

One of the best parts about RVing is engaging with the community of traveling enthusiasts. iRV2 forums allow folks to chat with other RVers online, and get other perspectives on everything RVing, including products, destinations, RV mods, and much more.

Kendall Jennings
Kendall lives with his wife and their two cocker spaniels full-time in their RV currently in Mexico. He is one half of and the co-founder of RVSpotDrop, a web service for full-time RVers.