Living In My Prius And 12 Volt Woes

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Audio and Electronics' started by GreenPriusGuy, Dec 3, 2019.

  1. GreenPriusGuy

    GreenPriusGuy Junior Member

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    Hello again Prius people!

    I've come to a situation where I need to live in my car. That's not great if my car breaks down, which it sort of did a few days ago. I awoke to a police officer banging on my window as if he were trying to break it and yanking on my door handle. I moved myself to the driver's seat (I sleep in the back) and turned the car to "on" or whatever two presses of the power button is exactly called. The car powered on completely normally, the window rolled down normally, and then I got arrested after I'd shut the car off. The cops tried to close my window but the car was completely dead with no signs of life!

    The previous night I had sat in a parking lot downloading and installing software over public Wi-Fi on my laptop powered by a 120 Watt inverter. I couldn't imagine it to draw more than 15 amps, and I had the car fully turned on and in park with the lights off and the heater on. After that I drove a few miles to the place I would sleep. As far as I knew, everything in the car was completely off and no doors ajar.

    We (me + bro) assumed the battery was bad at first and yanked it out of my dead car, then we were off to the auto parts store. I asked how old the battery was because I didn't know how to tell and it was 3 years old. I didn't think that was all that old, particularly since it's an 84 month battery! The guy, Nate, that worked there measured the voltage of the battery and it was only 5 Volts!!! HOW??

    He charged it up and tested it. It tested perfectly fine and has worked fine since. I think the battery is OK, and I doubt I would have been able to drive as far as I have since then (1000+ miles) without the car dying if the charging system had failed.

    My questions are basically this:
    * Is the 12V system in the Prius just not suitable for providing auxiliary power to even a 15 amp load for fairly short periods of time ranging in just a single digit number of hours?

    * Should I rig up some super mad solar charged add-on battery bank to the car if I want to use any amount of power while the car is off or even apparently while it is on? (this would be super difficult at the moment)

    * Is there any way to monitor battery voltage/level from inside the car with no multimeter or OBD2 scanner?

    * Have I been bamboozled by the cops with some sort of future-tech battery draining technology to covertly gain access to my vehicle? (not exactly serious with this one)

    Also, I should note that the inverter is hard wired to the battery. I swear, though, it was off all night and there's no way it was bleeding power.

    Thanks for any of your input!
     
  2. douglasjre

    douglasjre Active Member

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    Yup bro u def gotta rig up sum super mad $heite to power ur pad or else u gotta cruise all night man so u don't blow ur cells out
     
  3. GreenPriusGuy

    GreenPriusGuy Junior Member

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    ay bruh bruh i hear u yano ill get those extra $hezits so my cells dont splodinate whiles i be $$$mokin it up hotboxin the crack rocks

    \mad love for the advices, bruh bruh bruh
     
  4. valde3

    valde3 Senior Member

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    Prius 12v battery has a capacity of about 45Amp hours. So if you drain 15Amps out of it it's theoretically empty in 3 hours. In practice it can be empty a lot faster than that. Many other cars have bigger 12v batteries but even they would drain in less than 4...8 hours with 15amp load. Benefit of a Prius is that you can just power it on and charge the 12v battery back up and engine won't run all the time.

    Solar panels would need to be big. Are there any places to get electricity to use battery charger? Like store parking lots or or free camping sites?

    You could get a small jump starter to start the car if you have drained the 12v battery. But draining the 12v battery multiple times will ruin it.

    You could also install a second 12v battery to make it posible to drain batteries longer. But then you also need to change them longer by driving (or just leaving the Prius in ready) or using external charger.

    Yes you can use the MFD to check the voltage of 12v battery: Toyota Prius: How to Check the 12v Auxiliary Battery Health - PriusDIY.com

    Sorry about this question but why did they arrest you? And did they just leave the car with the window open?
     
  5. dubit

    dubit Active Member

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    That 12v isn't particularly large and can be drained quickly. Just have your Prius running. It'll shut on and off as needed, and at the same time provide power to that 12v in order to keep it charged.
     
  6. GreenPriusGuy

    GreenPriusGuy Junior Member

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    Thanks for the info! I guess I didn't realize the battery was so weak. Also, the night before it died I had the car running the whole time I was using the laptop, and it did power on perfectly fine and roll down my window just fine before it decided it was dead the next day.

    I don't have any money at the moment for anything extra special like solar panels or extra batteries. I am thinking I will try to get myself a jumper soon, though.

    I got arrested for disorderly conduct. I was of the notion that disorderly conduct was for things like screaming one's head off while running down the street naked while on PCP and meth or punching someone or breaking a bunch of someone's things or something like that. Right? Isn't that what one would imagine? Nope. I didn't do any of that. I got goaded into returning back to my parents' house after leaving for a couple days and they immediately started belittling me, insulting my intelligence, and calling my ability to accurately perceive the reality around me into question (AKA gas lighting). That's a big reason why I left in the first place and it made me mad so I told them off and left. I was only home for about 15 minutes and I didn't attack anyone or break anything, just got mad at their crap and left.

    A big reason why I'm half way across the country is because the police in that area target and harass me. I've been stopped 9 times this year for things that are unjustifiable like aftermarket exhaust that wasn't even loud and other people get away with louder. I got stopped for an inop license plate light as well one time and I noted a certain local car that was missing an entire headlight/blinker assembly in the same week. I saw that car driving around for 3+ months with no head light still. I got stopped 4 or 5 times while trying to leave the bar area of my home town. Every time I was doing nothing wrong, under the legal limit by more than half, and just recently one of the cops that did this to me got arrested for DUI driving the wrong way down the highway. That was kinda funny, you know? I got stopped twice while WALKING too. Now I've been arrested and charged with a misdemeanor because my toxic parents decided to call the same cops I've told them and they acknowledge target me. I've left out a lot of the times I've been stopped. It's about 10 times this year alone including the arrest and it's too many to even keep track of. It's taken a real toll on my mental health.

    So, yeah. I live in my Prius.
     
  7. George W

    George W Active Member

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    As dubit said, you could leave you car on (Ready mode). Many members here have stated their Gen 2 will use about 1 gallon of gas overnight. If you do the math, your 12V can support:

    13.8 volts (Ready mode charging) multiplied by the 100 Amp fuse that protects it, or 1380 Watts.

    Your 12V battery should never be drained past 50%, or 22.5 Amp hours. A 15 A draw would do it in less that an hour-an-a-half.

    If you can leave your car on all night, try to acquire a carbon monoxide detector. Lastly, please inspect the plastic tubes from both batteries. Your 12 volt battery has a port for a rubber hose that should go to the vent next to it.
     
    #7 George W, Dec 3, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
  8. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    In ready mode, you could operate as long as you still have gas. Once the car is off? That's a very small battery. Double digit number of minutes is possible but beyond that is iffy as you have learned.

    It's been done. It's not cheap. Something big enough to do real stuff is usually too large to fit on the car.

    Not really, but you might be surprised by how small and convenient some meters are. Some are designed to plug into the lighter socket. You can get simple stick-on voltmeters smaller than a candybar and attach them to the dash somewhere- only 2 wires to splice. Some versions of the Prius have their own meter available on the MFD screen.

    Put a switch on that line so you can cut it off when you go to sleep. Having this car start and run properly is more important to you than it is to most people. A cutoff switch is cheap insurance.
     
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  9. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    as long as you live in your car, why dont you uber or something? amazon deliveries? ups holiday temp?
     
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  10. dubit

    dubit Active Member

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    He could move to my hometown. A large percentage of the Hispanic population skipped town, which has created the vacuum. Only "good" thing to come of this is the wages are going up quick. Bad thing - most places are 7 day workweeks now. We do offer a Sat/Sun shift for 12hrs and get paid for 40hrs. No benefits though as your considered part time for only working 2 days.
     
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  11. George W

    George W Active Member

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    When I looked into Uber the limit was, a car no older than 10 years, but I was enquiring in 2018.
     
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  12. davecook89t

    davecook89t Active Member

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    Something about OP's story and the advice he is being given does not add up.

    He has stated the car was fully turned on while he was powering his laptop from the inverter hooked up to his 12V battery, yet everyone is assuring him his 12V battery will not be depleted if he leaves the car in Ready mode. 15 Amps seems like a pretty heavy load to me given that most of the car's accessories are wired with 5 Amp fuses or less, aren't they? Isn't it possible that the DC to DC converter simply can't keep up with that kind of current draw even with the ICE running continuously? A question for the OP - was the engine running all the time you were doing your computer stuff? I would think that should be the case.

    I have to say this. As the father of a child with whom I have not always been on the best of terms, I find the OP's description of the situation in which he finds himself to be quite heart-rending. We are not hearing his parents' side of the story, but I can't help but think that perhaps their expectations are unrealistic and perhaps they should all go together as a family for counselling. I think it is fair to say that many of the regular members of this forum would be concerned about hearing of a fellow member in a situation such as this, but I'm afraid there is not much we can really do to help you. At least, I hope you do have people around you that you can lean on for support at a time like this.
     
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  13. douglasjre

    douglasjre Active Member

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    I'm with Bosco bro. Let's just Uber and save the carbon footprint man. I mean like we could just like blow this thing out and the battery will be grooving for a long time man. No need to toss it or nothin yo
     
  14. GreenPriusGuy

    GreenPriusGuy Junior Member

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    I'm kind of thinking the cops did some weird thing to my car to make the battery die but that's illogical and I don't see any way that could be possible. It just really is messing with me. The car was not running the entire time I was using my laptop, but it was in Ready Mode and the engine was cycling on and off periodically, then I drove a few miles across town and shut the car off for the night. I had the headlights off the entire time and the heater on pretty low... stereo either off or low volume. I've driven this car plenty with the lights on, stereo blaring, and the heater blasting without ever having to worry about the battery. I even did all of those things with an additional 400 Watt amplifier bumping at full volume for a long time. Never had a dead battery no-start up until my window was conveniently open as well as my doors unlocked. I don't think they searched my car, though, as everything seemed to be in place and nothing taken. They were really aggressive. I thought the dude whacking my window was going to break it. I also never saw a warrant or anything and the charge doesn't show up on the circuit court public access. The whole thing is super confusing and irritating.

    As far as using my laptop in my car for extended periods of time, that's what I did when I posted this thread and the car started just fine the next day. I had used the computer for a much longer time, too. I'm doing the same thing right now and not really feeling worried about it. It doesn't really make sense to me how the battery could be good enough to power the car on to accessory mode perfectly, roll the window down at a totally normal rate, and then suddenly be so dead? Is that normal for an AGM battery?

    I checked the battery voltage from the media display today. Super cool feature of the car, BTW. It was reading 12.0V in accessory mode. I think I was using the inverter and had the heater blower motor going slowly as well. I don't think that's so bad?

    I would check while the car is off with a multi-meter from the wiring for my inverter but I don't have the spare cash for literally anything right now. It is hard wired to a switch, so no bleed over night is possible for whoever asked.

    I have no support structure out here. I'm 700+ miles from home now. It's nice, though, in some respects. I'm the same weirdo I was back at home but the cops here never give me a second look. Everyone I've run into and talked to has been kind to me. When I go into WalMart, nobody acts like I'm stealing and I haven't had asset protection eyeing me the whole time, ever. I don't know why they do back at home, I never stole. Something happened to get me so hated back there, but I don't know what. I've got some ideas on what could be going on, but I'm not sure and I don't want to discuss it here.

    Y'all saying to Uber are nuts. I have Uber'd in the past and the pay was not good and I need my car to continue working so I can live in it and not be, like, extra homeless with no car. I can't afford maintenance here. If I have to replace an integral part to the car like the wheel bearings or the struts or anything that requires jack stands and many tools then I'm boned. The roads here are also mega rough. Driving for cash is just a super bad option right now. Also, ALL MY STUFF IS IN THE CAR! I can only really carry one passenger at the moment.

    Thanks for all of your input so far.
     
    #14 GreenPriusGuy, Dec 4, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 5, 2019
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  15. George W

    George W Active Member

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    Have you looked into food delivery? Services such as doordash, favor, GrubHub, or others, may allow you to "cash-out' out on a daily basis for a small percentage of your pay. Its not ideal, but if you meet their employment qualifications it would be cash everyday. All you are doing is delivering food or grocery orders, but you get to decide. My wife that has delivered for GrubHub, favor, instacart, and doordash. They all have their pluses and minuses, but in general she tends to stay with doordash because they don't penalize her based on customer rating. Also, she can turn down orders that seem to be money-losers. Doordash also allows you to cash out on a daily basis for a small percentage.

    The big problem with all of these Services, is that you have no employment protections since you are working for yourself.
     
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  16. davecook89t

    davecook89t Active Member

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    I guess if the car was unlocked, there is no way to know what really killed your battery. It has been said many times before on this forum that the best way to ensure your battery doesn't get discharged overnight is to be sure to lock the car when leaving it, since the most common cause of a dead battery seems to be not completely closing a door or the hatch. Unfortunately, in your situation you were not able to follow that recommendation because of circumstances beyond your control. If you really do run your laptop off the inverter hooked up to your 12V regularly, it seems the Prius charging system can handle the load. (I was really just speculating, I have an inverter that plugs into the cigarette lighter outlet on my truck and I'm always wary of using it for long periods, even with the truck idling, just because I've had so many experiences with dead batteries on cars I've owned in the past). It seems like you are being sensible about shutting down the other accessories in the car when are using your laptop, just to be on the safe side, anyway. If the battery is only 3 years old hopefully it won't be permanently damaged by this one incident.
     
  17. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    i keep track of my 12v. and yet, one day it started fine, i drove 4 miles and parked, went for a 45 minute walk, and it was dead as a doornail when i got back. it happens
     
  18. George W

    George W Active Member

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    Trying to think of the least expensive emergency jump starter that is readily available, and this worked for me once.

    Stranded without AAA, I was able to jump my Nissan Sentra battery, with an 18 volt power tool battery, in this instance a Ryobi 18V . I taped the bare wires onto the Ryobi, and held the other end to the car battery for 90 seconds. It worked. I had nothing else available to me except a power drill with its battery.

    As long as you know which contact point is positive and which is ground, a power tool battery to to your 12 volt could flow enough to boot the Prius' computers
     
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  19. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    macguyver :p
     
  20. GreenPriusGuy

    GreenPriusGuy Junior Member

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    I checked the battery voltage first thing when I woke up this morning after the car was off for 6 hours. 12.5V, perfect. Turning on the inverter put it down to about 12.2-12.3V. With the car on the reported battery voltage was always 13.8-14.0V with low beams, stereo, heater, and inverter all on. I'll just assume a door was slightly open or something and stop thinking about it. I'm past it now and the car is good.

    I'll check Doordash. Delivering grocery would be best. When it's food people are too concerned about time and I'm not about to hurry on these streets. They're too rough.
     
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