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Using car as generator for house power

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Accessories and Modifications' started by ED9593, Oct 31, 2012.

  1. DadofHedgehog

    DadofHedgehog Active Member

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    I agree. I've read his sites back & forth several times and one of my E.E. brothers and I are in "discussions" about how to proceed... In the meantime, I've been shadowing the related PriusChat threads and learned quite a bit. It's really a fascinating systems integration project.
     
  2. szgabor

    szgabor Active Member

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    I guess only trying will tell for sure. Toyota uses less then 4AWG ... btw front and the battery ..the cable can not be made out of silver/gold diameter is half what 4awg copper is ... but very neat !!!and very well done connections. I am not sure it is designed for 100A ... we will see.
     
  3. Judgeless

    Judgeless Senior Member

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    The Prius starts at $22,000, why waste the money on converting it to a 3KW generator that might hurt your only method of transportation. A 3KWat generator is $400 at Home Depot. You can get a 10KW generator for $1,100. During an emergency who cares about how much it cost to fuel it. $10 vs. maybe $20 a day?
     
  4. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    But I do care about fuel availability. The emergencies I'm thinking about are often accompanied by fuel shortages, so efficiency does matter.
     
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  5. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

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    Well, shall we use the same 'style'?
    The 3-10kW inverter investment becomes a permanent part of the house and provides double-duty if also connected to a photo array. During the day, the photo array driven inverter offsets electrical costs, saving money. In this mode, the inverter can also recharge a plug-in Prius when it is home.

    During a power-outage disaster, the Prius investment is returning value by powering the inverter for whole house power. We're talking enough for home air conditioning, heat-pumps, refrigeration, cooking, e.t.c. instead of wasting the Prius investment by sitting inert in the driveway.

    In contrast to dedicated but seldom used and dangerous engine generators, the cost-effective Prius is quieter and much safer because it all but eliminates the deadly carbon monoxide hazard. The Prius is much more reliable because it operates daily versus an idle, inoperative generator that is exercised during infrequent power outages. But gasoline handling is much safer with the Prius.

    The well protected, Prius 11-12 gallon fuel tank reduces the gasoline refueling to twice per week versus 30+ times per week with a generator. The Prius can be driven from a power-outage area to working gasoline pumps at service stations and back. In contrast, a generator converts the formerly safe Prius into a Molotov-Prius with a cabin full of gas cans with the driver and passengers.

    Bob Wilson
     
  6. Judgeless

    Judgeless Senior Member

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    My generator is tri-fuel. That is gasoline, propane and natural gas. That offers a lot better availability then just gas. During Sandy gasoline was the hardest fuel to get.

    I do not see a standalone generator any more dangerous than a lawn mower, snow blower, weed eater or any of the other gas engines most of us have in our garage. Carbon Monoxide is not an issue if you use a generator is used as directed, outside of the garage or house. There is no gasoline handling when you use natural gas and it will run indefinitely. The Prius will run out of gas.

    I love building things and have I am always working on fun projects. This one does not seem practical to me. I am sure it has value to others. I just do not see spending money on this when you can buy a standalone generator for emergencies for about the same price.
     
  7. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

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    Then don't . . . there are folks who like to modify their Prius in ways that make me walk away shaking my head in wonder. For example, replacing the audio system or tinting the windows . . . but I try to be polite and not interrupt them. Whatever they are doing entertains them so good on them.

    This is a technical thread where we have been discussing the mechanical, electrical, and practical aspects of expanding what a Prius can do to provide emergency power. So I tend to read posts as:
    • If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
    I understand many will not modify their Prius and that is OK. But if a technical thread is interrupted by "Why don't you do something entirely different?" it begins to sound like 'part of the problem.' . . . In effect, this shadows what an internet troll tries to accomplish by hijacking the discussions of others.

    I don't fault those who install standalone, dedicated generators because that is the solution they want to pursue. So perhaps, out of simple respect, let this technical thread continue to share what we are doing so we can:
    • minimize risk
    • maximize performance
    • share what works and doesn't
    That the thread exists does not force anyone to follow and if a posting is not part of the solution, it may be part of the problem.

    Bob Wilson
     
  8. Judgeless

    Judgeless Senior Member

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    Bob,

    I have done a lot of modifications to my Prius. I am an Electrical Eng and love to tinker with anything mechanical or electrical. When I create a project I weigh in how practical it is, how efficient, cost effective and how often it will be used.

    I read about a lot of the projects people start here. I am not trying to be a troll or a problem. I just posted that using stand alone tri fuel generator is cheaper and more practical then connecting one to your car for most application.

    I have an inverter in my Prius that I use for small devices if needed. It does not stay connected. It plugs in the cigarette lighter.

    I was not trying to be a problem. I was offering alternate solutions.
     
  9. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

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    That is what we initial started with using our old Echo. Then I found a 1/1.2 kW inverter at Costco and integrated it with our Echo but it could only provide about 300W at engine idle.

    We bought the Prius about a year later and its 12V system solves the engine idle problem of the Echo and provides a sustained, 1kW of emergency power. It also provides power when driving out of town:
    [​IMG]

    Our 2003 Prius had unused space above the 12V battery where the inverter could stow:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    So this has been a very successful modification.

    Unfortunately, I have yet to find equivalent, stowage space in our ZVW30, 2010 Prius, for the inverter. My first efforts with the storage tray unfortunately risks blocking access to the spare tire. I've also tried an Anderson connector and 120A, 12V circuit breaker and found too much (I**2)R losses to achieve a steady 1kW operation. However, I have verified it can handle a surge to more than 1kW by drawing from the 12V battery.

    So I'm headed towards our original, Echo solution that connected the inverter only during a power outage. But the recent photo of the 'Prius c' suggests if I remove the rear seat, I may find a mounting place for the inverter. This could be a technically neat solution!

    Bob Wilson

    Over the years many hybrid skeptics have done everything they can including posting in Prius forums their "alternate solutions:"

    So perhaps take a clue from their bad examples and follow Thumper's advice:

    "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all" - Disney "Bambi" 1942.​
     
  10. windstrings

    windstrings Certified Prius Breeder

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    I'm surprised no one has built a generator /battery bank/inverter setup to sell to the public for camping and/or. Emergency disasters.

    They could be sold without the batteries with instructions on which batteries to add such as 4 golf cart batteries or 2 RV batteries etc.

    A nice project? How about a luxury model that already has the lithium batteries already added, lightweight, long lasting, and the buyer does not have to worry about changing the batteries periodically or keeping them charged so they don't go bad.

    Sensor relays already added for the generator to kick on when battery voltage drops to a certain trip level and back off again on battery voltage r amperage input shows batteries are charged.

    This would remove the need for a noisy generator to run 100 percent of the time and to only kick on to replenish the batteries similar to exactly what the Prius does.

    While a cool idea to know how to do it in a pinch, there are some drawbacks to tying up your mode of transportation for such a simple task, a diesel generator would remove carbon monoxide concerns however it maybe a little more difficult to obtain the fuel and a little more costly



    Alan.. Sent with Tapatalk 2
     
  11. 3PriusMike

    3PriusMike Prius owner since 2000, Tesla M3 2018

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    What is 7.5 watts/hour?
    (I assume you mean it generates a maximum of 7.5 watts when sunny)
    And what is 1.9kW/h? Do you mean 1.9 kw-hours in a year? That's not very much...only about 5.2 watt-hours per day, on average...not even one full hour of sun per day.

    Mike
     
  12. DadofHedgehog

    DadofHedgehog Active Member

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    Judgeles, I appreciate opportunities to have the choice to buy whatever my budget can bear - however, I note that depending on our situations, not everything that is purchasable is worth purchasing. In my case, living in a tightly built 1930s inner suburb, I would have a huge problem should my neighbor fire up a mid-size generator between our houses which have a setback space of 20 feet wall-to-wall. Neither would I want to impose such a constant, smelly and loud life burden on myself or on others. One thing about a 1930s neighborhood that is tightly built is that we all know each other and so we live like a community and think about what we do that might affect others. Now, were I to live on a multi-acre ranch in western Montana, my 1st solution would indeed be a standalone generator. Of course, living on that hypothetical ranch, I would gain the freedom to run my generator and to shoot squirrels from my front porch rocking chair while trading away the freedom of very quick work commutes, the freedom to go to work (at multiple work places at that) without being tied to the use of a car, and the freedom of guaranteed daily mail delivery, restaurants within ambling distance and availability of milk in the worst winter weather.

    As a 2d argument, I prefer to adapt already bought well-designed end user items to function beyond their uses while maintaining their performance parameters. I find that very satisfying, just like the 1st kid who figured out that an empty residential swimming pool of a certain shape can be a perfect skateboard arena. Why not adapt our bought possessions for multiple uses? especially when the cost is largely that of labor and thinking time, i.e "tinkering"?
     
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  13. DadofHedgehog

    DadofHedgehog Active Member

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    Mike,

    I copied these figures the other day from my PV array monitor's display. I might have garbled something - I just don't remember my exact sourcing for these figures. Here are today's figures (it's already night here):

    day's total: 3,866 W h
    month's total (30 days' total): 70 kW h
    yearly total (last 12 months): 1,751 kW h

    On thinking about it, the "7.5 Watts/hour" might well have been the measurement of DC current generation at one peak moment the other day.

    Does this make more sense?
     
  14. DadofHedgehog

    DadofHedgehog Active Member

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    Alan, actually this is kind of what my E.E. brother and I are in early stages of talking / dreaming about, using his education and my income as project resources, my car and house as a lab, and our mutual cooking as the motivator to do the project (drinking will come if we pass inspection and make everything work).
     
  15. DadofHedgehog

    DadofHedgehog Active Member

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    Judgeless, that's a neat setup. Unfortunately, 1930s houses (like mine) were REALLY SMALL :eek: and our basement is already rebuilt as very needed habitable space.
     
  16. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    I see how that makes sense for people with natural gas service. I don't have such service.

    Does propane for an emergency generator make sense for folks lacking any other form of gas service? The only neighbor who tried propane for heat had too much trouble with the delivery company, and dropped it when the initial contract period ended.
     
  17. Judgeless

    Judgeless Senior Member

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    A 1KW generator is 1/3 the size of engine used on a lawnmower. It is close to the size of a weed eater. It might make a little less noise but less then a hair dryer. I think you are thinking of a big generator that needs wheels. 1KW is q few pounds and super small.

    The servers take up all the space. The inverter and batteries use very little space. A lot less than Prius takes up in the garage or the driveway. This entire setup is less then size of a filing cabinet.
     
  18. Judgeless

    Judgeless Senior Member

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    On the lower east coast most houses are heated with propane tanks in the ground. We go to Hilton Head a couple times a year and every house on the island uses propane for heat.

    Do you live in Washington DC? I am shocked they do not have natural gas or propane heat?
     
  19. Judgeless

    Judgeless Senior Member

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  20. Judgeless

    Judgeless Senior Member

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    Mike, That is how power is rated over time. This is a snap shot of my house.

    [​IMG]

    WATTS = (V*I) or Voltage * AMPs
    KW = 1,000 WATTS
    KWh = 1,000 WATTS used over one hour