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Old 01-22-2008, 03:32 AM
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Default Powering block heater with small generator...

Hey,

My wife is up in Watertown, NY finishing her degree, but my company would not hire me from that area, so I had to move down to Columbus, OH when I got out of the army.

I am trying to find a way to take my time off up there, but it seems that the closest Roehl can get me to watertown is Syracuse. Syracuse works fine, there's a pilot that lets me park my truck there during my time off, but there is no place to plug the thing in.

I have been toying with the idea of buying a small 1500 watt generator and powering the block heater off of that for 6-8 hours before I go back on the road, but I'm not sure if that will power the block heater or not. My truck is a 2006 Freightliner Columbia with the Detroit series 60 engine.

I dont' want to have to fork out twice the amount for a slightly larger generator if the little 1500 watt won't power it, so if it won't, does anyone have any other suggestions?

Thanks!
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Old 01-22-2008, 10:16 PM
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You might find a tag on the block heater that states how much power it takes or look in the manual. You could also call Freightliner and ask them. Have the VIN number handy before you call.

I was in a shop today talking to 2 old timers and they were amazed at all the things my APU did including the block heater.

They told me that in their day, they would fill a Maxwell House coffee can half full of diesel fuel, light it and put it under the oil pan. Then, if the truck started they would have to drive at least 20 minutes in 1st gear before the transmission was warm enough to shift from 1st to 2nd.

I asked them if they were waiting for their trucks to get fixed. They laughed and said no, they were just sitting there hanging out.
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  #3  
Old 01-22-2008, 10:27 PM
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Working with very simple electrical formulas, a 1500 watt generator should be capable of providing 10 amps continuously. Knowing the physical size of the block heater in my truck, I can not (in my wildest dreams) envision that small an element drawing 10 amps. 1 amp, perhaps, but not 10. I would expect that it would not only power the block heater, but also a small battery charger to maintain your batteries at their max. The only real problems I see are when you run out of gas for it.

You're having dinner with your wife, the generator runs out of gas, and when you get to your truck, it's cold and won't fire.

It's not mounted to the truck, so when you get to your truck, you find that the generator is AWOL. Someone else is enjoying your generator.

It is mounted to your truck, but not shielded from the elements. Winter driving and salty roads will take their toll on it. When it's least convenient for you, you realize that corrosion has taken a toll on it, and you'll have to replace it.

Other than that, I'd say GO FOR IT.
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Old 01-23-2008, 12:03 AM
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1500 might be pushing it, I was told a block heater takes 1800 watts and I know my 2600 watt generator wouldn't run the block heater and a 1000 space heater at the same time. BTW the truck only needs to be plugged in for 3-4 hours to start good. If you're married to the same trailer you could think about putting it on the tlr. A friend of mine did that and loves it that way.
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Old 01-23-2008, 12:57 AM
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Ok first of all bear with me.Watts =voltsxamps 1500 would be 13.6 amps if i figured it right didnt seem correct so i called a friend at the local ready mix plant that pluggs their trucks in at night and asked him what size breakers they had he said they had to change their breakers to 20amp per truck because the 15 would ocasionaly blow so I said can you plug 2 trucks in 1- 20amp breaker he said no it blows right away so i dont no if this helps at all but I'm a seing is beleiving kind of guy their trucks are newer kenworths i dont now if that matters much or not.good luck i hope i didnt open a can of worms.
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Old 01-23-2008, 03:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rangerroy
Ok first of all bear with me.Watts =voltsxamps 1500 would be 13.6 amps if i figured it right didnt seem correct so i called a friend at the local ready mix plant that pluggs their trucks in at night and asked him what size breakers they had he said they had to change their breakers to 20amp per truck because the 15 would ocasionaly blow so I said can you plug 2 trucks in 1- 20amp breaker he said no it blows right away so i dont no if this helps at all but I'm a seing is beleiving kind of guy their trucks are newer kenworths i dont now if that matters much or not.good luck i hope i didnt open a can of worms.
Okay. It seems I stand corrected. Your formula for amps, volts, and watts is correct. But, you'll find that most of the time, line current from the power companies is a bit higher than 110 volts. Most often, it varies between 115 and 120 volts. When I was living in WI, I would always plug my truck into an outlet with a 15 amp fuse, and that's what ALL the outlets were fused at. There were ocassions when I would also plug a drill or something else into the other half of the same outlet without any problem. It is possible that my block heater was a different amperage than what you are talking about.

With a generator, and in the cold weather, it would also be possible to run the draw higher than during the summer months do to more effecient cooling of the windings in freezing temps. Not that I would trust that very far above any of the ratings.
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Destroy the cities...
and they will rebuild them.
Destroy the farms...
and grass will grow in the streets of the cities.

Destroy the economy of the blue-collar worker...
and grass will grow in the executive offices.

The bill has come due.
( R E T I R E D , and glad of it)

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  #7  
Old 01-23-2008, 10:58 PM
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Very interesting points, and I appreciate the input...

My plan is to drive down to Syracuse with the generator the night before I go out and set the thing on the catwalk. I would then chain and lock the generator to the frame and let it run all night, so I should have a nice, warm engine that would run for me the next morning. Then, before I leave, I load the generator in the back of my wife's car and she'd take it home with her.

The generator I'm looking at is advertised as a 2000 watt generator, and in the fine print they say it's "1500" continuous. This means that it's really a 1500 watt generator that's rated at 2000 surge watts, but it would NOT run 2000 watts continuously.

If I had unlimited means, i would simply buy the larger, 3,000 watt generator so I KNOW it would power the thing. The problem here is that not only is it twice as expensive, it is almost twice as heavy. I have a bad back, and if I could get away with it, I'd really really like the smaller one.

Of course, there's always this option:http://www.hondapowerequipment.com/M...elName=eu2000i

But, at $1,000, it's a bit spendy just to spend a few weekends in NY.....
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  #8  
Old 01-24-2008, 12:16 AM
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Generators are great they come in handy for alot of things.The only thing i have found with mine is it starts hard when its real cold out the ripp cord hardly pulls it over, it would be nice if you could go to a rental out fit first and see just how big of one you need i'm sure they will let you keep trying maybe you wont even need one that big it does seem like price wise you get to a certain point or size then the price realy jumps up.the only thing is the gas consumption about 4 hours i think the honda said more i think if its not working hard.I have herd that rental shops sell their older models fairly cheap also maybe something to check into and as far as someone stealing it lets see you have electricity a just had a flash back to my dads bird feeders no one could figure out why they had a electrical cord that ran and plugged into the house until a squirel crawled up their and touched the perch with his front legs and you would see the squirrel fly across the yard and never come back ya maybe a chain would work better.good luck
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  #9  
Old 01-24-2008, 03:07 AM
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My Freightliner comes with a 1000 watt or a 1500 watt block heater. I just ordered a new one from Freightliner. $46 bucks. I have the 1500 watt. Call any dealer and they will give you wattage on your application.
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Old 01-24-2008, 06:08 AM
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My guess is that someone would cut the chain in 2 seconds with a bolt cutter. 15 seconds with a hacksaw, or 5 seconds through the generator frame if you used a hardened chain. That would be one nice prize to walk away with.
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