If you use a Prius as a Generator= will the charge/discharge cycles RUIN the Hybrid battery?

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by ski.dive, Jul 12, 2018.

  1. ski.dive

    ski.dive Active Member

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    If you use a Prius WITH AN INVERTER as a Generator during 'POWER OUTAGES'

    Will the charge/discharge cycles RUIN the Hybrid battery?.
     
    #1 ski.dive, Jul 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
  2. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    I don't see how... even the biggest one I've heard of (converdant 5kva) puts a smaller load on the battery than parallel-parking-grade driving.

    I'd be comfortable with a system twice that size on the dinky HV battery in our c.

    I am actively searching for an 240VAC split-phase inverter that I can use in our c since it looks like converdant is no longer actively selling anything.
     
    #2 Leadfoot J. McCoalroller, Jul 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
  3. Starship16

    Starship16 Senior Member

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    Dumb question, but how exactly can we use our Prius as a generator? Where does it plug in? The cigarette lighter plug?

    My hybrid battery runs down fairly quickly when I'm just parked and using the AC. But I'm told I can do that forever, and it wont hurt anything. As long as I got GAS for the ICE....
     
  4. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    I've been researching this- it would require modification. Converdant used to make a kit for the prius to give you a connector somewhere in the back near the HV battery. You would temporarily place a box containing their inverter in the rear cargo area, connect it to the HV battery, and then run a household AC line out the back hatch to your home/rv/campsite etc.

    The car would never know that it was some other inverter drawing electricity- indistinguishable from the inverter in the HSD electrically speaking. You put the car in ready mode and it supplies power from the HV battery, and runs the engine as needed to replenish the battery. Not unlike sitting there with the air con cranked up, but the engine would run even more frequently.

    From what I can tell, the kit is no longer sold or supported, and they are the only ones I've found to have ever offered such a thing.

    You can still get a 12vdc inverter and hook that up to the 12v system and tap a little bit of power there, but you are severely limited in terms of how much power you'll be able to get out of it. You can do this with any car, but you're never going to be able to do more than maybe 100A on the DC side if you're lucky, meaning you'll never be able to get more than ~1000w out of the AC inverter and even that is pushing a few pieces to their technical limits.

    Tapping the HV system would comfortably allow for 10x the throughput and strain the Prius a lot less.
     
    #4 Leadfoot J. McCoalroller, Jul 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
  5. Starship16

    Starship16 Senior Member

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    Thanks. Thats a little too complicated for me. I better keep things simple... just sit in the dark with a brown bag lunch and a battery operated radio. :)
     
  6. ski.dive

    ski.dive Active Member

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    Using a 1000w inverter, properly hooked up to your 12v battery,
     
  7. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    I spent a year straight living in an off-grid house, and a couple weeks per year since then. I learned a lot about power generation, storage and management from this experience. Real eye-opener.
     
  8. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    Looking into this further, it's not particularly cost effective to use the prius as a generator. There are plenty of good, reasonably efficient portable generators on the market for the same or lower cost as whatever parts you'd use to adapt your Prius, unless you're okay with an absolutely tiny system.

    In my case, it's only worth doing if I can use it to keep my fridge cold, house warm & take a hot shower- that's sort of the gold standard. At my house, this means running a well pump, fridge and oil burner... around 2200W total. That can be thousands of dollars worth of parts added to the Prius, or $500 worth of backup generator.

    Plus the generator is still right there ready to go if an outage strikes while one of us is working out of town with the Prius...
     
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  9. 2k1Toaster

    2k1Toaster Brand New Prius Batteries

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    Short answer: No.

    When you say "charge/discharge cycles" I imagine you are thinking the battery fully charges and drains just like the pretty screen in the car shows. Well, Toyota engineers lie to you. When the screen says 100% full, it is around 80%. When the screen says 0% and the engine kicks on to recharge, the battery is at about 40%. It is true that a battery has a finite number of charge and discharge cycles. However these are usually measured between actual full and empty. In a NiMH chemistry like the OP's 2008, you can basically do 40% to 80% indefinitely forever and cause no harm. Toyota knew what they were doing.

    Really no more modification than a 12v inverter install just different components. For example my 12v inverter hookup is some Anderson connectors permanently connected to the jump point under the hood with a weather cap on it unless it is needed. For the HV battery same, thing. Connect to the HV terminals and go to a connector you can get to. Anderson makes good high voltage DC connectors too. But obviously hot plugging would be stupid and if there is a chance people that don't know what it is would be around it while live and not connected, the hard part is really just protecting it from people.

    Then you have a couple options. Most things (except appliances) have "universal" power adapters that will happily take 85VAC to 240VAC and make whatever they need to power their stuff. The first stage is usually a rectifier. So you can feed it 240VDC and it will work just fine. Just heat up 2 of the diodes. Again this requires special knowledge of what you're doing and again hot-plugging is a bad idea too.

    If you want to do it more correctly, I'd attach an inverter, but just buy a high voltage inverter. They make them that run off of high voltage DC and make high voltage AC out. For example this one is 5KW and can be directly hooked up to the Prius battery: 5000VA/5KW 240VDC To 110V/220VAC Industrial Frequency Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter/DC AC Converter for Home economic type-in Inverters & Converters from Home Improvement on Aliexpress.com | Alibaba Group

    The problem with the above is the UV cutoff is too high. You want one that is below about 180VDC. I've seen them before that are usually 150VDC to 300VDC input and 120VAC or 240VAC output at 60Hz or 50Hz and they come in many KW's.

    There is minimal strain anywhere on the vehicle even when being used as a generator like that. The 100A fusible link under the hood is your limit. And that 100A has to power your stuff AND the car itself. Remember the Prius just sitting there uses about 200W to 300W. So really your limit is closer to 80A. Which is why a 1000W inverter is recommended, basically the limit.
     
  10. grr

    grr Junior Member

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    Due to PGE shutoffs now anytime the wind blows, I purchased a 2200 pure sine wave inverter. I hooked it up directly to the 12v battery. Ran extension cord to the refrigerator. Powered up the Prius, then the inverter, then the fridge. Works perfectly. The Prius didn't even sweat it! Turned on and off as normal. Quieter thaand cheaper than a generator.

    Sometimes you just have to go do it.

    SM-G955U ?
     
  11. George W

    George W Active Member

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    It's not that the Prius won't try to supply the draw, but it's the size of the wire that Is carrying the current. 100A x 13.8V is 1380W. 2000W probably works as long as you're not drawing that load continuously. How long can you be lucky? And what happens when the Prius fuse finally opens, you don't have a working car.
     
  12. Randy B

    Randy B Junior Member

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    ConVerdant Vehicles back in business as PlugOut Power [plugoutpower.com]. Now has an inverter for any Toyota or Lexus hybrid/plugin, 3kw and 5kw models, split phase output. Not cheap, but it works, safe and is supported. The hybrid [and inverter] make an awsome power pair; quiet, clean, reliable, cleaner power, and it makes almost twice the electricity per gallon vs a generator. A whole different class of product. Not for everyone, but worth checking out.
     
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  13. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    For anybody who hasn't seen Randy around already, he was ConVerdant Vehicles back in the day, and he is PlugOut Power now. Welcome back, Randy!

    There's more discussion of these gizmos over on this other thread.
     
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  14. ski.dive

    ski.dive Active Member

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    #14 ski.dive, Feb 4, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2021
  15. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    I see that one also 'inverts' the usual convention of listing by the continuous power rating; it is a 1500 W continuous, 3000 W surge unit. That does make it a better fit for the 12 V system of the Prius, where it wouldn't make sense to count on much more than about a kilowatt actual sustained draw.

    Also, beware of those oddly-shaped 'universal' receptacles that will fit all manner of different international plug shapes. It happens that when you plug in US standard plugs, they will end up with line and neutral 'inverted'. The old LFI30 and LFI50 inverters ConVerdant used to sell came with those things too ... good candidates for some wire cutters and a proper US receptacle to replace them.

    [​IMG]
     
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  16. Randy B

    Randy B Junior Member

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  17. Travis Sanders

    Travis Sanders Junior Member

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    No it will not ruin the high voltage battery in the prius. I did it for 6 months continuously. I pulled the high voltage straight off the battery through a midnite classic and into my off-grid house battery. The classic only works about half power and you have to use a custom wind curve mode. I've got a whole thread about it. https://www.solarpaneltalk.com/forum/off-grid-solar/off-grid-solar-panel-systems/409217-prius-as-backup-generator-with-midnight-classic-as-voltage-converter-possible
     
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  18. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    Very cool stuff Travis.
     
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