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New application for an electric car


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This is the second story I've read where an electric car, in this case a Prius, was used to partially power a house during Toronto's recent massive power outage.

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Ahh, this concept is old. Years ago, one of the originators - here - approached my company, as we make DC-AC inverters. Ultimately a new inverter to run off of the Prius' traction battery (years ago) would have been cost and space prohibitive, so he wound up using the inverter from an old UPS he procured instead.


A plane jane Prius has enough capacity to run a small appliance for about an hour. It's not going to power your whole house or come anywhere close to it. But it's better than nothing.


When you start going up into plug ins, yes, you can start running some real juice. A Volt like mine has about 10.5KW of usable capacity, or roughly enough to power an entire house for about half a day, or a whole day if you're frugal with juice. In fact, GM is making whole-house portable gens using stacked Volt style batteries, which can power a small neighborhood in case of power outage.


Pretty neat stuff. All you really need is a DC-AC inverter and some basic wiring and you're good to go.


That said, a true dedicated whole house gen (I have a 14KW Generac at home) costs about $3500-5000 installed, and you don't have to mess around with your car's wiring then. And since it runs on natural gas, it's good indefinitely. So I went that way. When Sandy hit NJ, the lines for gas were about 4-6 hours long. I bypassed them entirely using the Volt, and my house was up for over a week straight on the Generac. No problems!



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I've experienced whole house standby power since the 50's when my father had a military surplus generator unit as back up to his business and an Onan unit for the residence. Both systems had the advantage of the pony generator panels so switching over was pretty straight forward. I currently have a 6.5kw portable generator that I use on worksites and backup at home where I again have the advantage of a pony panel. I have an outside plug where we simply plug in the portable generator to feed the pony panel. Had they been available when we went the pony panel route I may have opted for the electric service meter base with the emergency plug access as an alternative. That option with the inverter for an electric car would be pretty slick.


Thanks for the link to the reading material. While a lay person when it comes to electric circuitry it was still fascinating reading and encouraging about what lies ahead in technology in temporary electric backup alternatives.

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What's coming is, in a way, pretty sad.


Since even before Sandy, manufacturers like Generac have been absolutely swamped. 3 shifts per day, 24/7, and it's not enough to keep up. They just beat expectations again here


Every house around here now has its own standby gen. Which is, as you know, probably the LEAST efficient use of energy on the whole. The grid continues to deteriorate in many areas, and though improvements have been made in the past couple of years, there is still a long way to go. So those who can afford it are buying standby gens like crazy, and those who can't are going without power for longer periods, more often.



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Guest Kakugo

I am still stuck in the days when you put an old car on cinder blocks and run a generator through a belt on the drive wheels... ;)


Truth to be told I remember when my father had a backup generator installed by a, shall we say, less than honest electrician.

First time electricity went out and the generator kicked in, it blew almost every fuse in the house that could be blown.

Helping in the cleanup taught me the importance of surge control...

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