Phil has been working as a technical engineer since his graduation, and has never thought of changing his profession. Also, he’s an avid fisherman and camper, so it’s not only work which makes him deal with generators.
Last updated: June 20, 2021
Generator Pick is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
Electric cars are the vehicles of the future. They can prove to be invaluable in an environmentally-conscious world where everyone wants to do their part. But have you ever wondered how to charge such a car if you don’t have access to electricity and whether you could charge an electric car with a generator? If yes, this article will answer your query.
When electric cars were first conceptualized, they did not come across as either attractive or efficient. However, the arrival of Tesla has completely revolutionized the way people respond to the idea of electric cars. The Tesla models are technologically advanced works of art because they retain the power and functionality of a regular car in an electric car.
The only aspect of electric cars that deters people from switching to electric cars for their daily life is the process of charging and recharging the car over and over again. The power source of an electric car is not very flexible. You can use the charger that a manufacturer makes especially for your model, or you can recharge the car using the main power source at your house. However, a burning question is whether you can charge an electric car with a generator considering that you can use a generator to substitute the power at your house from time to time.
Can a portable generator charge an electric car?
Yes, you can charge your electric car with a generator. Even though it might sound too good to be true, you can actually use your generator to charge your vehicle in case you are in an emergency.
Since generators are designed to serve as backup power sources anyway, they are able to perform the same way as the main power source in your house.
However, the catch is that you have to be very careful when trying this out because the slightest mistake can render it ineffective. You must be cautious when you are using a portable generator for charging an electric vehicle because the machine is not designed to handle that load.
The principle is not universal, which means that you cannot use all kinds of generators for charging your electric car successfully. There are certain factors that make a generator suitable for EV charging.
It is crucial that the generator of your choosing should give a clean output of sine wave. Only inverter generators are capable of this, and you cannot make any compromise in this regard.
Advanced electric cars can understand when they are fed output that is not made of pure, clean sine waves. The car will refuse to charge because it comes with a safety mechanism against power surges. The worst-case scenario is that your car could suffer serious damage. Certain electric cars can only receive power when there is a stable output.
In theory, most inverter generators are expected to produce a pure sine wave. However, that does not always translate in reality because many inverters offer a modified sine wave, which is unsuitable for charging an electric car. For example, a Tesla car will consider a modified sine wave to be dirty energy and not charge itself. You must look for an inverter that offers only a pure sine wave effect.
Expensive generators have a better chance of providing you with pure sine wave and stable energy. You must also check the grounding and figure out whether it is working.
You should also know the exact process of how to charge an electric car with the help of a generator. Begin by finding out the amount of charge you will need. You should start with the lowest charge rate and then increase it gradually up to 28-30amps. This will eliminate any chances of overloading and keep the motor safe from damage. Remember that you cannot hurry this process and you will have to take your time. The generator you use should be able to provide a significant amount of wattage, at least 1,500W. If you use a small generator that does not offer a lot of power, you will not end up charging your car properly.
How long does it take?
The process of charging an electric vehicle with a portable generator tends to be on the slower side because of the sheer amount of power necessary to restore full charge to the car. If you have the money to invest, then you can purchase an advanced 4,000W generator for the best results. However, it might still take almost 24 hours for the car to get charged fully if it has no charge at all. You will have to use multiple tanks of gas. In case you are not planning to use your car a lot, you can just charge the car to a decent level and then head out.
You should remember that a portable generator can only be a temporary solution. It can serve as a reliable power supply when you are in an emergency, but it cannot be a daily choice.
Yes, you should be able to theoretically. However, you should be aware that using portable generators on the road to charge your electric car might not be a great idea. Firstly, many manufacturers warn users against the practice, and it could lead to a breach of warranty. Secondly, if you use the portable generator only for emergencies, it will suffer from issues when you restart it from time to time. The only time that you can safely use a generator with your electric car is when it is built into the system. There are electric cars on the market that come with integrated generators for your convenience. If you feel that you will run the risk of your car being out of charge often, then you can go for such a model.
An electric car can be charged with a generator that is powered by diesel, but you will need about 10 to 15 liters of diesel in order to charge an electric car fully. You must ensure that your generator has a high fuel capacity if you are planning to use it for charging an electric car.
It is not common for most people to have access to a 220-volt power source. If you have a 220V generator at your disposal, you can use it for more specialized and heavy-duty purposes. It will be able to provide enough power for you to charge your electric car easily. You have to wait at least 3.5 hours for the car to charge from zero to full. However, most users do not end up consuming the entire charge throughout the day so it might not even take that long.
We have answered your query regarding how to charge an electric car with a generator, but the real question is whether you should do so. While it is possible to charge an electric car with a portable generator, it is not a recommended process. It is also not very convenient because you will have to be very picky about which generator you are using. Unless you find a super powerful generator that can provide a continuous supply of clean power, the effort will be in vain.
If you want the option to charge an electric car with a generator, you have to go about it carefully and reserve it for emergencies. An inverter generator that can offer pure sine waves and is rated above 1,500W is your best bet.