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How to Build a Generator from a Lawn Mower Engine

Updated on November 7, 2006

I Wouldn't Try This But it is Funny

If you find yourself laying awake nights worrying power failures then you should visit TheEpicenter.Com website.

The site itself is run by an outfit in Eugene, Oregon which offers disaster survival supplies. A quick look at the company's offerings revealed that they sell some pretty decent things that could come in handy if you live in a disaster prone area.

But if you want a good laugh, check out their Tip o'da Week section (see third link below) in which they currently have a series of odd ball ways to produce electricity in the event of a power outage. The one I was directed to by an acquaintance, who promised me a good laugh, was a detailed set of instructions for building an electric generator using a lawn mower engine (see second link below). The piece is illustrated with photos and diagrams and they even suggest a modification that will enable it to produce DC as well as AC current so that you can use it to charge spare car batteries during the day and use them for electricity for power outages at night rather than waking up the neighbors by running the lawn mower engine. The Tip o'da Week section contains more offbeat ideas for generating electric power.

The clever thing is, after reading trough the long set of instructions, complete with disclaimers as to whether or not the do it yourself generator will actually work and warnings of possible safety hazards, you come to an ad for a neat little compact generator that they sell $169. This generator is more compact, obviously safer, produces more power than the lawn mower generator and, rather than having to shut it off and re-fill it with gasoline every hour or so, the commercial generator will run for 8 hours on 1.2 gallons of gasoline.

You have to hand it to them for clever marketing.

Living in Arizona with desert landscaping in place of a lawn, I haven't owned a lawn mower of any type for years. So, I will continue to rely on a battery powered clock and my wife's candles for power outages.

My Emergency Power


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    • profile image

      Carl - Lawn Mower Guy 7 years ago

      Clever indeed! And very resourceful.

    • steve1717 profile image

      steve1717 8 years ago

      Ha ha i see what you mean, really made me smile too

    • Chuck profile image

      Chuck Nugent 8 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Wild Bill - thanks for sharing your experience and detailed information on this. I am sure that some readers will find this quite useful.

      Thanks again.


    • profile image

      Wild Bill 8 years ago

      I am a commercial driver and actually have a git-up similar to that. It works just fine. It's encased in an aluminum box and offers 5k of ac power and 94 wonder amps of dc for the inadvertent times I 4get to turn off my parking lights of what have you. I have the dc alternator charging a separate battery bank that provides power through a small inverter to run my refrigerator 24/7.

      I realize the ultimate question would be why run an inverter when you have the 5k of ac juice. The answer is because I don't want to run my apu engine 24/7 to spin the generator. I use that for running a portable heating/AC unit and my trucks engine block heater on the cold nights.

      I have 2 switches wired into the dash panel. One for firing up the diesel engine that runs from a pick-up tube out of my trucks main tanks and the other a toggle switch that opens and closes the continuous duty solenoid switch that connects the trucks main batteries in the event I need a jump.

      Just fire it it, fluip the switch and watch the voltage rise on the dash meter. After a few minutes, I can turn the switch back off then fire up the trucks main engine.

      works like a charm and didn't cost the 8 to 10k that a standard Mass produced APU runs on the market.

      Laugh as one may at the hair brained idea, even in Arizona an old ragged lawn mower engine can be used rather easily. If running out of gas is an issue, then I know you can run to walmart and grab a 6 gallon boat gas tank. lol. I know they got wal marts in the dessert. I drive the dessert quite a bit. You may have to drive a little bit but you have to go to town sometime or another.

      Either way. A 22HP air cooled engine, 5k generator head and 94 amp alternator along with a maze of wires makes this old boys life much easier to live out here on the concrete sea.

      Wild Bill

    • profile image

      Confidential Access 9 years ago

      great tips...

      can i have a backlink please..??