I’ve got my video series up and running on how to take a UPS and turn it into an emergency power supply. With a little creativity, you can convert one into a homemade inverter generator. Be sure to look at some of the points below the video to address any additional ideas or concerns.
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First, be sure to scrap the batteries you got from the UPS. You’ll get a couple of bucks to offset any costs incurred in turning it into an inverter. Also, see if you can find an old computer or computer power supply to get a small cooling fan instead of purchasing a new one. Scrap the computer parts to recover even more money.
Get a multimeter to monitor the charge of your battery. Harbor Freight has a really cheap model that is ideal for this use. They come in handy around the house and car anyway. At that price, you might as well get a couple. Also, you will want to have a gallon of distilled water to keep your electrolyte level good.
If you live in an area where there are few natural disasters and power outages are short, using the UPS to charge the battery is probably the best route to go. The marine battery I used costs only $75 or so and has many times the capacity of the stock battery. Smaller marine batteries can be had for even cheaper and all of them will outperform the stock battery for not much more money. Moral of the story – upgrade the battery and enjoy your power longer.
Remember, it is not necessary to purchase a battery to use with the UPS if you plan to use it with your car. The car battery is enough. In that case, I would connect a long set of jumper cables directly to the battery leads of the UPS. The car then should be parked close enough to a window so the UPS can be inside the house. Use a rolled up towel to prevent air leaking through the window.
It should go without saying don’t leave your car running in a closed garage. In the recent power outage in the northern U.S., a man actually died from carbon monoxide poisoning from his generator. Don’t let this happen to you. Please use common sense and a carbon monoxide detector.
Also, get a set of spare keys and lock the vehicle while it is running to prevent theft.
Be sure to turn off your car’s lights, radio, blower, and any other accessory that uses power. This will ensure maximum power is available for your power needs.
A riding lawnmower can also be used to provide charging power during a prolonged outage. This will use less gas than an idling car and will work fine if you keep your power requirements light. Adjust the throttle until the battery slightly charges or stays level under load. This will further conserve fuel.
I personally use a deep cycle battery in conjunction with the UPS so I can use my solar panels instead of the car. The car is my backup for less than favorable solar conditions. You can build a 100 watt panel for as little as $45 if you are handy with a soldering iron and ordering from ebay.
I’ve got many more ideas along these lines. Stay tuned for more posts and videos.
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