Generator Care

Can You Charge an Electric Car with a Generator While Driving?

A generator can do many things; power your home, run your RV camper, or even charge your devices while you enjoy some free time off-grid. It can also charge your electric car, but you have to have a high level of patience as it requires time. You might even be tempted to try charging the vehicle with a generator while driving. But is it possible?

The simple answer is NO! You need a special EV charger or electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) to charge an electric vehicle. The charger comes with a high-tech system designed to prevent you from disengaging the parking brake while charging. That means you cannot drive while the charger is hooked up.

That’s only one part of the puzzle; there’re other factors that will prevent you from attempting to drive your electric car while charging it with a generator. I will go through them in this post to give you a rough idea. Continue reading.

Why You Can’t Charge an Electric Car with a Generator While Driving

You might sometimes find yourself off-grid with your electric car and your camper trailer that has a portable generator in it. And since you can charge an electric vehicle with a generator, you take out the portable generator and hook up your ride home.

The dashboard monitor shows you got to wait for at least ten plus hours for the car to charge enough miles. But the weather is getting worse, and you’re in a hurry. And a thought comes to your mind – can you charge your electric car with a generator while driving?

Well! As I mentioned above, it’s not possible. Why? Here are the reasons why you cannot charge your electric vehicle with a generator while you drive it:

EVSE Charging Cable Won’t Allow You

If you have used an electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) charger, you have seen the complex charging connector you use to hook up the car to power. It has multiple plugs, one of which has a proximity resistor.

The resistor has a unique role – to ensure you don’t drive while the charger is connected. You don’t necessarily have to be connected to power. When you hook up the connector to the car charging port even without power, the resistor signals to the system that you’ve connected the charger, and it locks all the drive controls from you.

That means if you connect your generator and try to disengage the packing brakes while it’s charging, the system won’t allow you until you disconnect the charger connector.

It’s a mechanism designed to prevent you from potentially breaking the electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) and causing damage to the charging stations. It does also help save you the cost of repairing your car charging port, which can cost you a lot.

The technology is available at most electric cars, including all Tesla, KIA, BMW, and other major brands’ models. However, I cannot rule out the possibility of coming across a model that doesn’t use this system.

If your electric car doesn’t allow you to drive while charging, this is the end for you. However, if you’re using an EV that enables you to charge and drive, continue reading as there more challenges that will prevent you from charging with a generator and still drive.

The danger of Exposure to Killer CO Fumes

One rule for running a fuel generator is that you MUST run it outdoors and away from any doors, windows, and air vents. Why?

Fuel generators produce carbon monoxide as the byproduct when the fuel-air mixture is burned in the engine. These exhaust fumes can be pretty dangerous, with the potential of killing a person.

According to reports, many people die from Carbon Monoxide fumes from an emergency generator during a hurricane and other disasters.

If your car EV charger allows you to drive while charging, something completely unusual, you have another problem to deal with.

With the car boot being a convenient place to place a generator, you must avoid it at all costs. The fumes can accumulate inside the vehicle, and before you know it, you’re dead or unconscious.

Proper Grounding Required

Another thing, if your EV model allows you to drive while you charge, using a generator will require you to ground it properly. That’s the number one rule of charging an electric car.

The power source must be correctly ground for the electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) to allow the charge to pass through.

So, how will you ensure you properly ground your generator while you drive? Isn’t that impossible?

Requires a Huge Generator

Charging any Tesla electric car or any major brand would require you to use a generator capable of delivering enough amps and voltage. A small portable generator can start to charge, but it wouldn’t hold up. With time, it will begin to surge, spatter and die.

A generator capable of delivering reliable level 1 charging has to deliver at least 120 volts and 10 amps of power consistently to increase the battery charge of an electric car. However, the rate of level one is too low and can take forever to charge with a generator.

You will need a more significant generator that can deliver 240 volts and at least 20 amps even to attempt to drive the car while it’s charging. That means the generator has to provide at least 4800 running watts. That’s a huge generator to be moving with around with even in your trailer.

It’s NOT Practical

Assuming you have found a way to run the generator outside your car and the EV charger allows you to drive the vehicle while charging it, how would you hook it up without risking damaging the cable or the car charging port? Where would you place the generator that it stays level and unshaken?

A generator requires a level spot with minor shaking. That would mean wherever you decide to place your generator, of course outside your car or trailer, must be super stable, something impossible when driving.

The practicality of this idea is out of proportion. There is no way you can charge an electric car with a generator while driving. If you only have the option of using the generator to charge the EV, consider waiting for it to raise the charge to a point where you gain enough miles to reach the nearest charging station.

Related Questions

Can you charge an electric car with a portable generator?

Yes. But the generator has to be big enough to handle the power draw of an electric car. Also, you want to go with level 2 charging as it’s faster than using 120-volt level 1 charging. That means your portable generator has to deliver at least 30 amp at 240 volts of power.

About the author

Sharif Gen

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