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#277488 - 11/13/15 02:42 PM An electrifying topic
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 6362
Loc: southern Cal
There is mention that we are very quiet, so let me raise this issue for discussion and edification....

Being card carrying Californians, we drive a Prius (actually, my wife drives the vehicle. If I have been good, I get to ride along). The vehicle possesses a very large lithium battery which seems like a dandy source of emergency power. A brief google search finds sources which say this is so. Does anyone here have any practical experience using their vehicle for power during an outage. Probably the most practical application would be to keep the refrigerator running .....- it would just be ghastly to face an outage without properly chilled wine
Geezer in Chief

#277489 - 11/13/15 03:27 PM Re: An electrifying topic [Re: hikermor]
wileycoyote Offline

Registered: 03/01/11
Posts: 272
Loc: eastern oregon
while i've not used the vehicle battery during an outage, we did use a car battery to supply all our electric needs for ten years.

it recharged our radio and flashlight batteries, periodically ran the 12V mini-tv/video-tape-player, powered the laptop (today that would be a tablet and cell phone), and even supplied juice for a couple interior lights (made from car brake-light bulbs).

i have read of a few folks adding a second deep-cycle battery (and some basic isolation circuit) to their vehicle that allowed it to be charged when they drove yet didn't draw down their main battery when the other electric uses were required.

eventually i built a separate charger made from a car alternator and a 5hp lawnmower engine so that we weren't dependent on the vehicle battery, which required taking a trip to build up the charge again. (i remember always parking the truck pointing downhill so that if we got too low, we could roll-jump-start it)

you might wish to look into what's available in 12V from RV suppliers. and these days small 12VDC-to-120VAC inverters have become pretty efficient & inexpensive, but beware, its all about the amount of consumption a product needs (ie: things like those 12V mini electric coolers will suck a battery dry in no time!)

#277490 - 11/13/15 03:45 PM Re: An electrifying topic [Re: hikermor]
Russ Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4771
There was talk of Tesla marketing their battery for residential use, I suppose as an emergency back-up. I have no info other than "talk". That might be a nice home accessory though.

#277492 - 11/13/15 04:25 PM Re: An electrifying topic [Re: hikermor]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2667
Loc: Alberta, Canada
I recall a story from the New York blackout where a guy used his Prius as a power source: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/new-jersey-power-gas-prius-hybrid-car-paramus-177998891.html

There's a lot of juice in there, but getting to it is tricky. It's a high voltage, high current system. Firefighters need special training to deal with electric car collisions without being electrocuted. Not a place for amateurs poking around with booster cables.

In the story above, he plugged a 300 watt inverter into the cigarette lighter socket. I doubt you could push much more current through those small wires feeding the socket. I also wonder if the socket stays on when the vehicle is shut down -- not all do. If not, there's a security consideration -- what's to stop somebody from ripping off your "generator?"

Edit: If I owned a Prius, I'd be talking to the techs that maintain it to figure out what the options might be, including small upgrades or modifications with emergency use in mind.

Edited by dougwalkabout (11/13/15 04:33 PM)

#277503 - 11/14/15 12:48 AM Re: An electrifying topic [Re: dougwalkabout]
UTAlumnus Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/08/03
Posts: 988
Loc: East Tennessee near Bristol
I also wonder if the socket stays on when the vehicle is shut down -- not all do.

If it's set up like the hybrid Camry, they shut down with the vehicle.

#277505 - 11/14/15 03:14 AM Re: An electrifying topic [Re: hikermor]
LesSnyder Offline

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 1502
Loc: New Port Richey, Fla
I've changed my thinking on emergency electrical power.. I do have a 3500w alternator and transfer switch installed, I don't however, have anything that is valuable enough to use the fuel to run the alternator for... I am single, dine out, and have only a small amount of food in the refrigerator.. I do have about 90 days of canned foods during hurricane season... over the past 6 years since retiring, I've been converting my emergency lighting and electronics to AA Eneloop power...an old pic, but something the newer forum members may want to think about.. a 96Amp-hour deep discharge battery that is kept on a float charger, with permanent 12v female receptacle and fuse installed..it can charge the Eneloops,for my ceiling fan motor and other appliances, a Goal Zero 7w panel is now the back up...and directly power my 12v digital tv....a 12v female receptacle to battery clips is still held as backup...

Edited by LesSnyder (11/14/15 03:19 AM)

#277512 - 11/14/15 09:37 AM Re: An electrifying topic [Re: hikermor]
Ian Offline

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 176
Loc: Scotland
I have a Prius. It is a plug in with 4kW of power in the traction battery, much more than the standard Prius but the principal is the same for both.

The car is not shut down, it acts as a generator to charge the battery when the battery is run down, turning on and off as necessary.

There are two ways to access the power. Tap the 200V plus (different models use slightly different voltages) battery and use an inverter that takes in 200+V and supplies the AC of your choice, 230V in the UK. This is expensive and specialist but doable.

Or, better, put a high current socket across the 12V battery (I use Anderson Powerpoles) and plug in a 12Vdc to 230Vac inverter when needed. Cheap and simple.

The 200+Vdc traction battery charges the 12DC accessory battery via a DC/DC inverter whilst the car is turned on (in 'Ready') and, with the right cable and socket the 12Vdc battery may supply 100A but it is prudent to only take 50 or 60A, so approximately 750W is available continuously.

When the 200+V traction battery is low the engine starts automaticly and tops it back up then turns off again.

With the inverter plugged in, the car on and a mains cable running from the car to the house the car may be locked and left to its own devices, turning on and off as necessary. In my case on for 10-15 minutes every three to four hours (more often for a standard Prius because of the smaller traction battery) keeping my CH, refrigerator, freezer and a couple of lights running. It will run as long as there is fuel in the tank, probably for weeks in my case.

It is certainly not as economical or efficent as a generator, a Prius costs more, the energy goes from petrol, to 200+Vdc, down to 12Vdc, up to 230Vac, then to the house, with all the conversion losses, but it is there, constantly tested and instantly available and unlike a generator I can use it for other things daily.

Edited by Ian (11/14/15 09:47 AM)

#277519 - 11/14/15 05:53 PM Re: An electrifying topic [Re: Ian]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2667
Loc: Alberta, Canada
That's very interesting. Thanks!

Any chance you could post pics of the connection points?

#277534 - 11/15/15 07:53 AM Re: An electrifying topic [Re: hikermor]
Ian Offline

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 176
Loc: Scotland
The Anderson Powerpole socket is just connected directly to the 12V battery posts by two heavy cables, nothing fancy at all.

I use the socket for my Ham radio so I have also put inline fuses on both positive and ground cables (It is something that Hams do, normally only one on the positive side is sufficient)

#277539 - 11/15/15 02:49 PM Re: An electrifying topic [Re: hikermor]
Chisel Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 12/05/05
Posts: 1154
Not really the topic , but somewhat close

Last year we had a power outage during final exam period.
My son spent about two hours in his car, lights , AC and all
He studied in the car which served as his "backup room"

My 2

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