Prius to home in a storm

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Main Forum' started by Randy B, Feb 2, 2021.

  1. Randy B

    Randy B Junior Member

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    My grid power just went out for a while in the latest snow storm, but I was able to power part of the house from my Prius 08. See pic. Connected my high voltage inverter to the car and ran a few extension cords to house appliances. Note the traction battery connection had been pre-installed. I just connected the two cable segments together between car and inverter. Then I ran the extensions cords and power strips to the house appliances with ad hoc/ off-grid wiring [generator socket to panel not yet installed]. Presto, we had fridge, heat [oil/water/2zones], internet, computers, phones, TV, and one space heater for wife's wet feet [snow shoveling]. Daylight, no need for lights yet. Took about 5 minutes to set up at the car and maybe 10 more minutes to run cords to appliances.
    From the pictures, note the inverter on a cart, cable to the car, and colored extension cords from inverter [and auto-transformer] to the house, and snow in the windows. A door was open behind me for air flow. Yellow cord was to electric starter on snow blower, orange and green to appliances. 2nd pic is the inverter display, showing about 2.5kw power to the house. That's more than we normally use in a storm [foot heater?] but lots more than can be gotten from the 12v system.
    Power back now, so everything put away.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    Can you tell us a little more about the price for such a high-end system and if you worry the power won't go out enough to justify how much money you spent on it?
     
  3. Randy B

    Randy B Junior Member

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    Prius Camper, The inverter system is from plugoutpower.com, my company. Prices are on the website, as is more information. Justification is a personal decision. Many have taken the plunge, many haven't. But, I find very few hybrid owners are even aware the higher output is possible from a Prius/hybrids/plugins, or available. I believe Prius owners would benefit by knowing such a system exists, regardless of purchasing. In New England, we have outages from snow/ice and wind storms, like today. My wife and neighbors appreciate the quiet solution, and I appreciate the reliability and clean power signal.
    Some might use the system for camping, though it is bulky/heavy. It does enable quiet/safe electric camping, which might be useful in dry forests. And there are other interesting camping ideas being worked on by customers. I'll let them explain in their time.
    If you have commerce questions, please address them through the website. I don't wish to be salesy. But, I am happy to talk about requirements and applications for the system here. I hope this helps.
     
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  4. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    Noice!

    For anybody who hasn't seen Randy around, he's the proprietor of PlugOut Power, where you can find the system shown in the photo (in two flavors, a 3 kW and a 5 kW size).

    The idea of running an inverter from the high-voltage system of the Prius in order to escape the power limits on the 12 volt system has been around more than a dozen years, and people have cobbled various things together to do it. Richard Factor put together a basic wish list for the kind of system that would fit the bill nicely.

    Some of the past approaches have been covered in other threads or sites:

    PriUPS-getting electricity FROM your hybrid vehicle

    Using a Prius as a generator — northernarizona-windandsun

    My install and review of the AIMS Prius 2kW Pure Sine Wave Inverter for Backup Power Generator | PriusChat

    My install and review of the ConVerdant LFI30-220 3kVA Pure Sine Wave Inverter for Backup Power | PriusChat

    By the way, that last one was sold by an older venture of Randy's, ConVerdant Power. I ended up getting one of those not long ago, passed along by another PriusChatter. (By whatever fluke of circumstance, I ended up with the one with serial number N001!)

    Compared to the older one I ended up with, Randy's newer ones have come down in both size and weight. The old 3kVA unit was heavy (33 kg) and really, awkwardly, big (about 30 by 55 by 50 cm, nearly 83 liters of space):

    [​IMG]

    ... it was one giant box including a big transformer in the bottom. You can see the system Randy is offering now has the inverter and the transformer in separate boxes, which could give you more flexibility to squeeze them in somewhere, and the inverter box is slimmed down to 10 by 30 by 44 cm, just 13 liters, and only around 12 kg.

    The transformer is still the heavy bit, and bulky (maybe 20 liters-ish). So the whole system still comes in around 29 kg for the 3kW version, but that's better than 33 kg for the old one, and totals around 33 liters, way better than 83 for the old one.

    I'm experimenting with how small a package I could squash the old one into ... it's looking like I could get it to maybe 39 liters without modifying much, just reducing the empty space in the case. Will have to be careful to maintain cooling capacity ...

    [​IMG]

    Some other ways it looks like Randy has improved this one over the old ConVerdant one:

    • This one produces 240 VAC natively from the inverter itself; if that's all you need, it looks like you could leave the transformer behind, which is only needed to produce the 240/120 VAC split-phase output.
    • This one can be attached to a 24 V (or 48 V, for the 5 kW version) dedicated battery bank, and keep that charged for use when the Prius is on errands.
    • These seem to be rated 3 or 5 actual kilowatts (slightly higher on VA); the old ConVerdant units were 3 or 5 kVA, and not quite as many watts.
    • Input voltage rating up to 450 VDC. Should allow use as far back as the Gen 1 Prius, which was always hard to do this with because of its higher 274 volt battery, and also various newer vehicles with higher battery voltages.

    Naturally, I don't have one of these new ones, but I'll be watching for a review thread from somebody who gets one!

    My own wish list would include actual HV cable and connectors used for the connection to the car's HV wiring.

    Other threads about these kinds of systems often fill up with comments about whether it is a good or a silly idea, many of them from people who don't realize they're repeating whole past discussions. To help with that, Richard Factor put together a summary of a lot of the Usual Comments.

    Edit: oop, messages crossed with Randy's. I'm not connected with Randy or his company, I just kind of like the idea, so I don't mind giving details, keeps Randy from having to be salesy. :)
     
    #4 ChapmanF, Feb 2, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2021
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  5. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    This looks like it has an input rating to 450V, and the Prius Prime is on the approved vehicle list. Does that mean the RAV4 Prime will also get approved?

    I believe the AIMS can't go up to the Prime battery voltages.
     
  6. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    Oh yeah, I had meant to include that in the bullet list and forgot. Well, the edit window is still open so ... there it is.
     
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  7. Randy B

    Randy B Junior Member

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    Fuzzy, Don't yet know the voltage of the Rav4 Prime battery. If under 400v, should work.
    The Aims product will not work on the Prime. Thanks for query.
     
  8. Randy B

    Randy B Junior Member

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    Chapman, Thanks for the expansion and history.. Let me know any way I can help. Randy B
     
  9. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    Nominally 355.2 V, vs 351.5 V in the Prius Prime.

    I.e. RAV4 battery is 96 cells tall, vs 95 cells in Prius Prime battery.

    upload_2021-2-2_18-55-4.png
     
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  10. Randy B

    Randy B Junior Member

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    Fuzzy, Then PlugOut should work fine. Not tested one yet.
     
  11. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    Nice website.
     
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  12. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The OTHER One Percenter.....

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    Bump.

    Nice product.
    A bit out of my price range, but.....a great many things are.
     
  13. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    The older ones do sometimes pop up for resale ... as I can attest. As mentioned above, they tend to have narrower input voltage ranges than Randy's new ones, but will generally accommodate regular Prii except for Gen 1. And the old LFIxx's are really bulky, as mentioned. The little blue AIMS made a quite tidy package.

    The approach taken by techntrek was to identify several common commercial UPS models that turn up on eBay from time to time and used compatible battery voltage.
     
  14. Paul Schenck

    Paul Schenck Active Member

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    Now that is the coolest Prius mod I ve seen in a long time! I want one!!


    iPhone ?
     
  15. alftoy

    alftoy Active Member

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  16. Randy B

    Randy B Junior Member

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    These kind of DIY projects inspired me to start ConVerdant Vehicles and now PlugOut Power. Wonderful idea and tech. However, a commercial and supported product was/is needed. Please note, I recall seeing articles about people who converted their cars to electric for about $500... Keep up the good work.
     
  17. Holli

    Holli Junior Member

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    I currently have 1000 w pure sine inverter hooked up to the 12 amp battery. The wire is 6g copper stranded from home depot, the problem is that they are stiff. I was thinking of changing it out with a more flexible jumper cable wire. Jumper cable wire is copper clad aluminum, is that safe?
     
  18. PriusCamper

    PriusCamper Senior Member

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    Yes... Once you get the initial system up and running the next step is further refining the set up so over time it's not only safer, but easier to use and more versatile. Bonus points for making it look nice too! Do all these and life will go well for you!
     
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  19. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    Maybe?

    6 gauge wire is a bit light for that application as it is... good for maybe 60 amps? Meaning that wire would start overheating before you hit the 1000 watt limit on your inverter.

    Good jumper cable wire is fine-strand pure copper, and it can be very flexible with the right insulation type.

    If you are going to redo yours, I would suggest 4ga wire to gain a comfortable safety margin when using the inverter at full power.

    Welding cable is great stuff- needs to be flexible so that the welder can move the tool around.
     
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  20. Randy B

    Randy B Junior Member

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    Holli, The copper on aluminum wire is safe if kept protected from the elements. Aluminum will corode faster, but we are talking years, not weeks or months. Just keep an eye on it over time.
     
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