Top Navigation  
U.S. Flag waving
Office Hours Momday - Friday  8 am - 5 pm Pacific 1-800-835-2418
Facebook   YouTube   Twitter
 Home Page
 Current Issue
 Article Index
 Author Index
 Previous Issues

 Kindle Subscriptions
 Kindle Publications
 Back Issues
 Discount Books
 All Specials
 Classified Ad

 Web Site Ads
 Magazine Ads

 BHM Forum
 Contact Us/
 Change of Address

Forum / Chat
 Forum/Chat Info
 Lost Password
 Write For BHM

Link to BHM

Get Powered Up! Certified Energy Manager Jeff Yago answers your alternative energy questions

Wondering about a great new energy-saving device
you found on the Internet? Then CLICK HERE!

Sorry. Jeff no longer answers questions online.
This will remain as a searchable
resource for all BHM website visitors.

Archive for the ‘Truck’ Category


Camper shell A/C

Sunday, June 21st, 2009


I saw a question about air conditioning a camper shell for dogs. The answer was to let the dogs ride in the front.

I am looking for a way to A/C my camper shell as well. I have a heavy duty alternator in my pick up.



Several companies make a 12 Volt DC powered air conditioning unit for truck cabs that can be powered from an alternator charged battery. They are not cheap and they usually require adding a heaver dual battery power system, but you can buy these.

I think you will find the cost will be so high that its not worth the trouble, but give it a try.

Good Luck,

Jeff Yago


Insulated with packing peanuts and getting 220VAC from a truck

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

Hi Jeff:

Have been reading your articles for years. Especially liked the one about reducing loads that just eat you to death.

I have been pointing out to people for years that their phone chargers use electricity whether the phone is connected or not. They are incredulous. So for years I have been shopping for a power bar, (multiple outlets), that has a separate switch for each outlet. Seems to me like the perfect set up for families with multiple phones, tooth brushes, etc that all need charging. It doesn’t exist, so I intend to make one, one of these days.

At any rate, I have a couple questions to ask.

1) Could styrofoam packing peanuts be scattered in an attic to make insulation? I hate working with fibreglass.  Seems like we get them all the time, and out they go in the trash. And what about the wheat paste version?

2) Awhile back, a fellow came to our house to steam clean a couple carpets. His cleaner machine was 240 VAC powered. Instead of waiting for me to open the garage to plug into the Arc welder outlet, he had a simple solution.  He had twin extension cords to plug in around the house until he found two that were on the separate sides of the sine wave, and went to work.

So I was wondering, if I took a couple automobile-type inverters and hooked them up to my truck, could I get 220/240 by hooking  both neutrals together in an adaptor? Or do the waves have to be coordinated? I was just hoping I could use my arc welder anywhere I could drive.


Glenn Willis


Good questions!

1.  You are not the first who wanted to insulate with these “peanuts”. The problem is these are not all the same materials and many are polystyrene, which is extremely flammable and will give off very toxic gasses when it burns.  Others are made from bio-degradable materials which can break down when damp or with time.  Since you are planning to do this over time, this means you will be collecting many different packing materials even if they are all peanuts.  Due to the danger of getting the highly flammable materials, I would not recommend this.  If you want to check this out, take a few samples outside and light with a match and you will see, but do not breathe the gasses given off so stay upwind!

2.  The power from the grid into your house has each “phase” of the 240 VAC power in phase, regardless of which outlets you use, as long as one is wired to each phase.  However, when you have 2 different inverters, there is no way for one to know what the other is doing, so taking the output from each separately will have the differences between the phases changing all over the place. Not only will you not hold 240 VAC, but you could actually damage your connected load because the resulting voltage will be changing over 60 times per second.  However, many high end inverters now include a communications cable that allows each inverter to time its output with the correct timing and phasing in reference to the other inverter so you can get a true 240 VAC output.

I doubt if your lower cost automobile inverters will have this timing capability.

Good luck!

Jeff Yago


Air conditioning for a pickup camper

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Hi Jeff.

I would like to put Air conditioning in my pickup truck camper shell to keep my dogs cool in the summer. It would only be in use when I was traveling down the road, not while the truck was turned off. Here was what I was thinking – could you offer an opinion on whether it would work or how to to do it, if it is even possible.

[I want to] put an RV air conditioning unit on the top of my camper shell and run that off an inverter connected to my pickups battery.

I do have a 2500/5000 watt inverter but I wonder if the air conditioning unit would suck so much energy that the alternator could not keep the truck battery charged up going down the road.. My truck has two batteries up front


Hello, MIke.

The problem is not battery size, it’s your alternator capacity. There is no way an RV air conditioner can run off one or two truck batteries for more than a few minutes without draining them. For example, the smallest, newest, and most efficient truck camper AC unit draws 8 amps at 120 VAC. Assuming a 90% system efficiency, this would be a 1,100 watt “run” load on your inverter, and require an inverter that can handle at least 2 kW “start” load since any compressor load is a dead short on the power source for the first few seconds it is trying to rotate.

You said you had a 2,500 watt inverter which should be able to handle a small RV air conditioner, but that is not your main problem. Your inverter will have a constant draw of 88 amps at 12 volts DC while an 8 amp load air conditioner is running, and could draw up to 150 amps for a few seconds every time the compressor kicks in. This means your truck alternator and all related cables need to be large enough to handle these larger current flows and still have enough excess power to operate your lights and other electrical loads in the truck. Each time you stop at a light, there will not be enough amps coming from your alternator even if it is a larger 150 to 170 amp heavy duty model.

This is why the air conditioning unit in an RV is always wired into the exterior shore power or generator panel, and not powered from the batteries. Any 120 VAC electrical load on an inverter will draw 11 times the AC amps from a 12 volt DC battery.

I suggest letting the dogs ride in the back seat!

Jeff Yago


How can I convert my truck to solar power?

Friday, November 7th, 2008


I have a 1997 Nissan 4-cylinder truck and want to convert it to a solar power truck.

How do I do it?

Ha Adolfo


This is a good truck to convert as it is small, light weight, but sturdy and has room for batteries. There are several firms making conversion kits. You will need a battery bank which will be located in the truck bed, an electric traction motor and adapter plate that matches your transmission, and a battery motor controller which will regulate the motor RPM based on a signal from a foot pedal. These new systems do not use resistors to control motor speed as this wastes battery energy, but they are expensive. You can buy a conversion kit for your specific truck, check out these web sites:

Good Luck,

Jeff Yago



Copyright © 1998 - Present by Backwoods Home Magazine. All Rights Reserved.