Using 2013 Plug-in Hybrid for backup power

Discussion in 'Gen 1 Prius Plug-in 2012-2015' started by 2013priusguy, Aug 28, 2020.

  1. 2013priusguy

    2013priusguy New Member

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    All,
    The yearly PGE pro-active black out might be coming soon so I want to use my Plug-in Hybrid as a back up power supply by installing an inverter. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area (Mountain View) and looking for a company that can do it for me. Does anyone have any recommendations? Also, how much will it cost to install one of these?




    Thanks for your help.

    Best,
    Priusguy
     
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  2. Pluggo

    Pluggo Senior Member

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    The 1000 Watt Power Bright Pure Sine Power Inverter sells for $260 and connecting it to the Prius as he did with the 2 gauge wire, 80-amp fuse, and Anderson connectors could easily add another $50 to $100. You could stop right there and run a good extension cable to your refrigerator, maybe even to a 15-amp outlet strip for lights and phone chargers. But if you want a 10-circuit switch like his, you'll be paying a few thousand dollars more for the hardware and an electrician. Some people might safely put a disconnect on their gas furnace or oil furnace so they can unplug from the fuse box and then power off the car with a good extension cord - but probably not while the refrigerator is running, too.
     
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  3. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    That video showed some interesting techniques for MacGyvering the terminations onto the heavy-gauge inverter input cables (the Amazon punch crimper and sledge hammer, and pipe cutter for wire stripping).

    It's probably ok, but I'll mention my favorite way to make cables like that is to walk into my friendly local independent auto-electric shop and say "Mark, could you make me a cable in this gauge, this long, with these style terminals on the ends" and about two minutes later he hands me it, beautifully made up with the heat-shrink still warm on the ends and the exact terminals I needed, crimped in the exact matching crimp die.

    A little bit of money changes hands, but it's fair, and for as often as I do such things, it just makes the most sense. He has all that inventory and all those tools right at hand and it's just easy for him.
     
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  4. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    well said (y)
     
  5. 2013priusguy

    2013priusguy New Member

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    Thanks Pluggo. I am afraid to touch the electrical so I would like a pro to do this. I don't need this elaborate setup. All I need when PGE out is 1. heater/furnace because all of us have sinus 2. one or two LED table lights 3. modem and router. Will this setup work?
     
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  6. Pluggo

    Pluggo Senior Member

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    Here is a safe, easy way to manually switch a furnace over to generator power.

    1. Before starting work, turn off the furnace power at the fuse box and at the red-cover furnace switch.

    2. Disconnect the furnace power line from the furnace switch. (In this case, it's a goose-neck conduit).

    3. Attach a regular household outlet to the side of the furnace using a metal surface mount box and cover plate.

    4. Move the furnace power line to power the new outlet box.

    5. Install a grounded plug onto a short piece of Romex cable. 14/2 with a ground is fine.

    6. Connect the other end to the furnace switch box where you previously removed the power cable.

    7. Plug the short piece of wire into the new box, turn the furnace switch and circuit breaker back on.

    8. When there’s a power failure, pull the new plug and put it into an extension cord (orange in the photo) powered by the generator. This gas-powered forced-air furnace requires 475 watts of electricity; any generator can supply that much, so can many automotive inverters.


    upload_2020-9-6_8-30-6.png
     
    #6 Pluggo, Sep 6, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2020
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  7. Scarface2005

    Scarface2005 Junior Member

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    I use my 2012 Prius plug in as a generator A LOT. We have our power shut off whenever the wind blows here in the Southern California mountains. After a 6 day power outage last year tried to buy a generator, but they were sold out for 100 miles in any direction. So, I bought a 2000 watt modified sine wave inverter and long, thick gauge cables at harbor freight, for under $100.
    Installation is super easy; red cable onto the red battery terminal, and black cable grounded onto car via a bolt right there in the trunk by the 12v battery. Then, I e taped the crap out of the terminals on the inverter. I keep a spare tire in the trunk, and the inverter fits right inside the tire’s well.
    I plug in our gas furnace, the internet modem, the WiFi router, a tv, and a couple lights. The furnace’s heat is gas, but the circulating fan is electric, so it’s low amp, except at startup there is a surge up to around 16amp. My cheap inverter has a basic meter to show the load, and after the furnace’s initial spike, it all mellows out to 30%, which I reckon is only 1500 watts! So my 2000 watt inverter is a bit of overkill, but handles the initial spike easily.
    I don’t plug in the fridge, because it’s so cold here in the mountains that I throw the food in a cooler and put it outside. Plus, my fridge being on a 30amp breaker scares me that I might overload the 2000watt inverter.
    I run it for about 8 hours at a clip, which is long enough to heat up the whole house, let the kids do all their WiFi stuff, and watch some movies. If I happened to have the car fully charged, it can supply my 8 hours of electricity with minimal ICE needed. Like it might turn on once in the 8 hours. If there’s zero charge in the plug in battery, the ICE runs for about 5 minutes per hour.
    After 4 days of using the Prius plug in as a generator as described above, the fuel level indicator went down two bars, which I believe is around one gallon of gas. My neighbors during that same stretch have had to fill up their traditional gas generators a couple times... not to mention how smart loud and Smokey their shitty gashole generators are!
    I also have a 2017 Prius prime plug in, and am thinking of adding an inverter, but am weary bc the 12v battery is under the hood. I worry about high temps there in the engine compartment. Anyone have an inverter going on the Prime?
    The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has thus function built in from the factory, but only 1400watts. I believe the new RAV4 Prime has it as an option???
     
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  8. Scarface2005

    Scarface2005 Junior Member

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    Bad math above ^... after initial spike power consumption mellows out to 30% of 2000 watts, which is 150 watts not 1500! Duh! Sorry about that
     
  9. ChapmanF

    ChapmanF Senior Member

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    30 percent of 2000 is 600.
     
  10. Scarface2005

    Scarface2005 Junior Member

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    yes I truly am bad at math. Thanks !
     
  11. Pluggo

    Pluggo Senior Member

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    It looks like Harbor Freight's 2000 watt Jupiter brand inverter sells for $170 today. I can wait for a coupon.
     
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  12. ILuvMyPriusToo

    ILuvMyPriusToo Active Member

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    Modified sine wave inverters are less expensive than pure sign wave inverters, but the pure sign wave voltage is better for sensitive electronics and a lot of other loads.
     
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  13. Pluggo

    Pluggo Senior Member

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    A good power conditioner might be the answer for an inverter or even a generator that does not deliver perfect power. This one handles 1800 watts and was left behind when an office copier went to the junkyard.
    temp.jpg
     
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  14. Scarface2005

    Scarface2005 Junior Member

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    One little hiccup with my harbor freight inverter setup... we can hear impedance when we watch tv up in our living room when powered off the Prius. Ya know... a constant electrical hum. I think I need to figure 8 the slack on the extension cords? Maybe a bad ground somewhere?
     
  15. Pluggo

    Pluggo Senior Member

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    Most likely it's a certain degree of "dirty power" common to most inverters and small generators, too. Rather than an ideal sine wave, you probably have something that is squared off a bit. [​IMG]
     
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