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Thread: Oddball application: Ecotec as generator engine?

  1. #1
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    Oddball application: Ecotec as generator engine?

    I am looking into building a whole house generator and need an engine that can output 40-50 HP @ exactly 1800 RPM. As the electrical load increases (such as air conditioning), the load on the engine increases but the RPM must remain constant. I will direct drive the generator head using a manual transmission input shaft mated to the generator shaft. From what I've read, the manual to auto stuff (flywheel, clutch, pressure plate) will interchange from the Gen 2 2.4L to the Gen 3 2.5L engine OK.

    1L two cylinder generator engines are thousands of dollars, while 2.5~4.8 four~eight cylinder JY late model engies are hundreds, like < $500. Since I have HPT, I have narrowed my search to a few that are covered, and the leading one is a 2013 Malibu LCV 2.5L Gen 3 Ecotec or a similar 2.4L Gen 2 Ecotec. I want to use minimum displacement for maximum fuel economy. I'm not worried about the wiring, as I can make my own harness, and have downloaded relevant diagrams.

    I need to determine if HPT will allow me to maintain the desired 1800 RPM under all loads- to basically function as a governor. I have not used the program in years, but recall you can tweak the idle and set a redline, so it seems like I could have a desired idle of 1800 and a redline of 1850~1900? It seems like the electronic throttle body may be an asset here.

    Some considerations:
    1) Standalone setup
    2) No transmission will be attached
    3) Should be able to run all sensors except rear O2 (exhaust will be manifold to muffler, no cat)
    4) Will be using a generic ignition switch- not sure about what type if any security is used in these cars

    At this point, I'm looking for information as to if this would be practical or if I should go in another direction. Thanks for any advice.
    My prior projects include Chevy Gen 1 V8 into an FB RX-7, Gen 3 V8s into an FC RX-7, a MK3 Supra, a BMW E34, and an LT1 into a 280Z. Still have the Datsun, a 383 LT4 Trans Am, and some bikes.

  2. #2
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    How much variance can you have regarding the 1800rpms? My logs show engine RPM fluctuating ~20-40rpm at constant load/throttle, so as long as the generator can handle likely +/- 100rpm it should be ok.

    It should be just a matter of disabling VATS to run standalone, using a manual transmission OS (or disabling all auto trans stuff), remove any BCM-controlled ignition switch and set up in HPT, and setting redline at your desired rpm. This all depends on which ECM you use.
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  3. #3
    You need a cruise control to keep the speed/revs steady and have the throttle increase with more load...

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScarabEpic22 View Post
    How much variance can you have regarding the 1800rpms? My logs show engine RPM fluctuating ~20-40rpm at constant load/throttle, so as long as the generator can handle likely +/- 100rpm it should be ok.

    It should be just a matter of disabling VATS to run standalone, using a manual transmission OS (or disabling all auto trans stuff), remove any BCM-controlled ignition switch and set up in HPT, and setting redline at your desired rpm. This all depends on which ECM you use.
    Thanks for the info. I downloaded some Ecotec stock files and have been playing with them.

    The generator manual specs out a maximum RPM for the voltage regulator of 1950 and the rotor of 2100. The unloaded RPM setting is 1860 and fully loaded is 1740, so it is an operational spread of 120 RPM. The load will vary, although at 24KW I'm over-engineering this for my home, so it should not see huge fluctuations like my current 6KW unit sees when a heavy load like a well pump kicks in.
    My prior projects include Chevy Gen 1 V8 into an FB RX-7, Gen 3 V8s into an FC RX-7, a MK3 Supra, a BMW E34, and an LT1 into a 280Z. Still have the Datsun, a 383 LT4 Trans Am, and some bikes.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedytec View Post
    You need a cruise control to keep the speed/revs steady and have the throttle increase with more load...
    I looked into using one of those with an older carbed engine. I think the electronic throttle body can outperform either a vacuum or electrical servo (not sure if these could be used with an electronic TB), but all options are on the table for now.
    My prior projects include Chevy Gen 1 V8 into an FB RX-7, Gen 3 V8s into an FC RX-7, a MK3 Supra, a BMW E34, and an LT1 into a 280Z. Still have the Datsun, a 383 LT4 Trans Am, and some bikes.