I need power (outside of driving) DC-AC adapter?

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Technical Discussion' started by MikeSF, Jul 22, 2006.

  1. MikeSF

    MikeSF Member

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    I got a notice from the power company telling me of a service interruption to change a transformer near me, and as such I'll lose power. Problem is I have quite a few things in my saltwater fishtanks that are a little sensitive (corals and the like). Now I can run a minimal setup of just some water circulation, but I need to be prepared for quite a few hours without power. I've seen laptop adapters for a car that have 120V output, but I'm curious how those would work with my car? Do electrical devices plugged in take from the storage batteries in back? Or the smaller battery in the front? Is this an ideal solution for my goal? I'm probably looking at a minimum (super bare bones) of 25 watts or so, with a comfortable level of about 100 watts.
     
  2. Bill Merchant

    Bill Merchant absit invidia

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    The 12V outlets in the dash and center console turn off when the Prius turns off. If they didn't you could drain your little 12V battery (also in the back, no batteries under the hood) quickly. You don't need a lot of power for your fish tank, just constant.

    I'd buy a 12V DC -> 110V AC converter (lots of sources, Radio Shack, Best Buy, Fry's, etc.) with the wattage you need plus 10%, plug it's 12V plug into your Prius, make sure the car is outside or the garage door stays open to the outside so fumes don't build up, plug in a heavy duty extension cord into the converter and run it into your house near your fish tank. When you lose power, start your Prius, turn of all the lights, radio, and MFD (so the car is using as little energy as possible), then plug in your tank filter, heater, etc., into the extension cord. Your aquarium should be fine. The Prius ICE may start every now and then to charge the HV battery which charges the 12V battery.

    Get ice and an ice chest and put your food in it, don't try to run your refrigerator off the same power from your Prius. The energy required to start the refrigerator's compressor might burn out the little DC/AC converter and all would be lost.

    If the aquarium is so delicate, you might look at the largest UPS (Un-interruptable Power Supply) you can afford while you're looking for the DC/AC converter. Plug it in to the wall and plug your aquarium into it, so any temporary line power loss won't affect your fish.
     
  3. tumbleweed

    tumbleweed Senior Member

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    An inverter that would supply 100 Watts is, I think, going to be to big to run from the 12V outlet in your Prius. Could you perhaps rent a small generator, one like people use for camping and stuff, and just plug your fish into that? At work we had a little Honda that would power electronic test equipment (400 Watts I think) it was so light you could lift it with a couple of fingers.

    EDIT: I just checked my owners manual and it looks like the power outlets are fused at 15 Amps each. So if you do as Bill suggests stay below that plus a safety margin. You could use both outlets though and split your stuff up to draw about the same from each one.
     
  4. MikeSF

    MikeSF Member

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    Something like this would be perfect!

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000227PO...t=true&n=172282

    I was planning on having an old metal storm gutter drain hooked to my exhaust and out under the garage door, since I'd rather not have my car running where someone can just hop in and drive it away :)

    Don't need heaters/filters etc, just a few pumps to keep the water moving. I don't plan on running any other things in my house off it so it hopefully shouldn't drain THAT much.

    BTW when I plug that in does the power come from the HV batteries? Or the starter battery?
     
  5. Bill Merchant

    Bill Merchant absit invidia

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    All 12V power comes from that little 12V battery in the back, which is why you need to have the car on. When the car is on, it automatically will charge the 12V battery from the HV battery. The only thing the HV battery powers directly is the propulsion system, with a little bleed off to keep the 12V battery charged. If you use enough power from the 12V battery to really drain the HV battery, the ICE will start to charge the HV battery, so it can keep charging the 12V battery. The 12V battery is the starter battery in that the computers which run the car use the 12V system for power. All propulsion comes from the HV battery, under the direction of the computers.

    That inverter looks fine if your pumps don't draw more than about 90 watts. Look on them to see how much power they draw. If they don't list watts, but list amps of current, W=VxA. Just do the math using 110 as nominal V in the US. You need a cushion (not using all 120W the converter puts out) since most motors use more power to start than to run.
     
  6. faith2walk

    faith2walk Upgraded again

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    I currently run a Laptop and docking station, small auto refrigerator, and 2 rechargers (phone, bluetooth headset) from my 12v cigarette lighters. I installed the CoastalTech work around for the front power supply so that it will work after I shut off the car, but you have to be careful. The car only has a motorcyle battery or smaller so it took 3 hours and I drained it...had to get someone to help me jump it. <_<

    I now make sure that if I am going to sit for a couple hours that I leave the car "on" so the the HV battery can share the load and recharge that dinky bat in the back.

    I have all these running out of a standard power strip.

    Walmart sells converters in the 300-750 watt range for less than $100.
     
  7. miwaku

    miwaku New Member

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    Try this solution. One of the guys on GreenHybrid uses his Prius as a UPS. Here's his website: http://www.priups.com/
     
  8. Betelgeuse

    Betelgeuse Active Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(MikeSF @ Jul 22 2006, 06:27 PM) [snapback]290646[/snapback]</div>
    Be careful with this. You want to make sure you really are venting well out of the garage. I'd be worried that the seal around the storm drain might not be good enough and a lot of CO might be trapped in the garage. You *can* lock the car with it running (although, I think you'll have to do it with the metal key or with reaching through the open window). If it were me, I'd put the car outside or, at least, leave the garage door open.
     
  9. tacomel

    tacomel New Member

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    Depending on how long you are going to be without power, and your power requirements, you might find a UPS to be a worthwhile investment. Sized appropriately, you could ensure several hours of run time, for both this and any future unexpected outages.
     
  10. MikeSF

    MikeSF Member

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    Well I found a 200 watt inverter at Targer for $30, could have gotten 400watt capacity for $50 but I figure 200 is more than sufficient. Also got a long extension cord so I'll be ready :)

    Now just one question, how the hell do I lock the doors when it's powered on? Do I have to use the key to manually lock things? I don't mind leaving my car going but I'd rather not have someone able to hop in and drive away!
     
  11. eagle33199

    eagle33199 Platinum Member

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    I believe the general consensus is that you have to use the little key to lock the doors... a bit of a pain, but it ensures you don't accidentally lock the car while it's running.
     
  12. MikeSF

    MikeSF Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(eagle33199 @ Jul 24 2006, 01:44 PM) [snapback]291582[/snapback]</div>
    Yeah but if you "accidently" lock the car while it's running shouldn't you be able to open it since I thought the key dohicky would unlock doors if within 3 feet of the car (which it should be if it's in the car)
     
  13. DaveG

    DaveG Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(MikeSF @ Jul 24 2006, 03:24 PM) [snapback]291645[/snapback]</div>
    When the car is in ready-on mode, the SE/SS system is disabled (if you lock the doors from inside the car, they stay locked and pulling on the door handle from the outside won't do anything). It's a security precaution, otherwise if you're driving in a rough area (with doors locked), someone could just come alongside and open your door.

    I've never tried the second FOB though to see if the wireless "unlock" button will still work from the outside if the car is in ready-on. I suspect it won't, but I'm not sure.

    Dave
     
  14. engelpm

    engelpm New Member

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    Hey Guys,
    I wonder if I can chime in with a similar question. I'll be going to BurningMan this year which means for a week my sole power source will be my 2005 Prius. I just need to recharge my DSLR camera battery, perhaps my notebook (to download pictures), maybe my mp3 player for the drive home. That product from Amazon looks like the unit I should get, is that right? Do you forsee any problem with me using it to charge these electronics?

    BurningMan is held in the middle of a desert and if this heatwave continues for a month, it's going to get really hot. I mean REALLY HOT. Any danger of using the 12V during the peak of the day? Do you suggest I do any recharging at night when it's cooler?

    Thanks in advance,
    Paul
     
  15. eagle33199

    eagle33199 Platinum Member

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    That unit would most likely work for you. you might want to check the power requirements of the notebook (usually on a sticker on the inverter box on the plug) to make sure that 120W is enough for it, although most laptops would be fine. As for day versus night charging, i figure it couldn't hurt to charge it in the evening or early morning when it's cooler. We do know taht the hybrid batteries can be sensitive to high temperatures, so waiting for it to be cooler could help prevvent any potential problems.
     
  16. tumbleweed

    tumbleweed Senior Member

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    Just make sure you try everything out before you go. If your inverter is to big or if you put to much load on it you may blow a convenience outlet fuse. You could check to see where they are and have a spare with you. I doubt you would be able to buy one in the Black Rock Desert. I agree with eagle, I think I would do it at night or in the cool of the morning although I really think you could get away with it in the day time but it's better to play it safe. Let us know how it works out please.
     
  17. eagle33199

    eagle33199 Platinum Member

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    he shouldn't need to worry about blowing a fuse - assuming nothing else is plugged in to the outher outlet. doing some background product research shows that it has a max current draw of 12A, which is a safe margin below the 15A fuse that controls both outlets in the prius.
     
  18. engelpm

    engelpm New Member

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    Thanks guys for the quick replies. Whew! I feel better now. And just for the record, it will be impossible to order squat out in the desert let alone get it delivered to me. Not unless somebody wants to skydive down in a flaming Elvis costume.
     
  19. Bill Merchant

    Bill Merchant absit invidia

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Paul Engel @ Aug 2 2006, 12:34 PM) [snapback]296485[/snapback]</div>
    You may want to take a look at the thread on Dramatic Loss of Power and remember that the HV battery wants to be comfortable too. Since the 12V battery is charged from the HV battery, you don't want to strain either. Draining the HV battery in the middle of a desert would be a bad thing.
     
  20. priusenvy

    priusenvy Senior Member

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Bill Merchant @ Jul 22 2006, 02:44 PM) [snapback]290631[/snapback]</div>
    Bad advice. Most consumer UPSes either won't run an aquarium filter or will actually damage it due to their square-wave output. Even those with a simulated sine wave output might still damage your aquarium equipment.

    I'd contact the manufacturer and ask what they recommend before you take Bill's advice and possibly end up with a lot of damaged equipment.

    The power supply in your PC doesn't mind that your UPS puts out a square wave. AC motors and other inductive loads do care.
     
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