Using PIP As A Generator

Discussion in 'Gen 1 Prius Plug-in 2012-2015' started by El Dobro, Oct 29, 2012.

  1. Corwyn

    Corwyn Energy Curmudgeon

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    My question was not home emergency power specific. How about normal everyday power?
     
  2. Corwyn

    Corwyn Energy Curmudgeon

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    Well that is a third interpretation of what he said. You are using my first interpretation (except that you are separating evening and morning). This interpretation has been explicitly denied. Let's leave it at, there was some confusion given the way it was phrased. Which is one reason why using units in a standardized way is helpful to a conversation.
     
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  3. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    To run our irrigation pump (850' deep) requires 1.6kW and the appx 2-3sec. startup Surge is 3x that. We've already tried to play the game of what we can do with marginal power. Although we do have liquid paraffin lamps for emergency lighting - we'd have to put little covers over their chimneys - to use them outside in the rain. So it's best to have a little extra power for traditional lighting outdoors and indoors - even at night when power consumption is minimal .
     
  4. techntrek

    techntrek Member

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    Like I already said, and hill has confirmed, "the grid" is the the most efficient everyday option which is why most people use it. However in some locations between the high price of the grid, and one-off closeout deals on solar PV, it is possible to come close with a solar system (per kw over the lifetime of the PV system). Just not in most places, and you gotta know where to find the closeout deals.
     
  5. JamesBurke

    JamesBurke Senior Member

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    So using one of these APC units with any Prius or PiP? in HV mode you should be able to charge a PiP with the Level 1 EVSE? Level 2 if the pilot signal PWM could be changed to match the amps out of the 208v models. Not sure the commercial Level 2 units are that adjustable but the Open EVSE should be. What's the minimum amps needed by the PiP for Level 2? Or the Max it will pull? (OK not efficient but it could be done right?)

    The APC 208v units have programmable ac outputs for 22ov, 230v, and 240v depending on the model. Anybody change theirs or check to see if the used ones had been changed?

    If you live in an area where water is not to scarce and wild fires are possible you might have pumps to supply your sprinklers both inside and out. Some places require minimum storage tank and pump size to support local firefighters also. (Ashland, OR iirc)
     
  6. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    Here's a fun "Prius as a Generator" thought.
    Let's say you regularly use you PiP (or Volt, for that matter) as a battery backup. In theory your traction pack could be getting cycled 50% more frequently than what it would normally cycle (discharge/charge). In essence, your pack - in stead of lasting 150k miles, could loose capacity at 100k miles (random example/numbers). Doesn't it make you wonder . . . . might not Toyota (or will they) create monitering equipment so they won't have to give you a free traction pack "under warranty" ??
    After all - Plug-in manufacturers intend to sell you a plug in car for transportation ... not running your home during emergencies. Do they have a valid argument?
     
  7. 3PriusMike

    3PriusMike Prius owner since 2000, Tesla M3 2018

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    Good thought. But I would think that you would do a full charge once every day and you would use your car as a backup generator maybe 10 days a year...most people, statistically, even less.

    Mike
     
  8. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    fair enough ... maybe I shouldn't have pigeonholed the idea - by only referencing backup generators. So many folks keep talking about using plugin vehicles FOR V2G. With our crummy grid, during times of high demand, vehicle to grid can act as a stabilizing element once there are thousands of plugins running around the landscape. That method of grid support would certainly add to traction battery use.
     
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  9. 3PriusMike

    3PriusMike Prius owner since 2000, Tesla M3 2018

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    I think the idea of using expensive car batteries for V2G is nonsensical. You are taking an expensive battery, designed for high density, low weight, etc and sacraficing some percentage of its life when a cheaper non-mobile battery could be used instead. And in ending the life of your battery sooner you are shortening the life of the entire car, most likely.

    Better to use the car to its end of life and retire the used batteries to a large reuse location next to a power plant somewhere.

    Mike
     
  10. techntrek

    techntrek Member

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    Some of the newer Prii do not have 201 volt nominal batteries - the battery spec can be found on Toyota's website with the other Prii specs. The ones that are higher would have to be measured to find out what their operating range is. My 2008 Gen II runs 200-244 volts depending on state of charge, and briefly drops to 190 when the engine starts. 244 is a bit above the normal operating range of the APC's DC bus, but it doesn't complain. Much above that and I would worry about destroying it.

    The APC SURTs are programmable to output any of the above AC voltages, I changed mine to 240 when I got it.
     
  11. techntrek

    techntrek Member

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    The battery cycles up/down in a 12 hour period are less than or equal to the number of cycles I've seen during a typical rush-hour commute. With a constant 1500 watt test load mine was cycling on for 2 1/2 minutes (charging), then off for about 4 1/2 minutes (discharging). For the typical overnight or work day loading of 200-300 watts the cycling is far less. For the dozen or so full days of operation in "generator mode" that I may use my Prius the additional cycles on the battery over its lifetime will be statistically insignificant.
     
  12. Corwyn

    Corwyn Energy Curmudgeon

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    Last I did the calculation for my area, the break even on day one price for solar PV was $4.70 per peak watt (installed). It is easy enough to find a price like that without looking for closeout sales. People who live in areas with cheaper grid power or more cloudiness will need cheaper panels, those with more sun or more expensive power (I'm looking at you California) really have no good excuse for not saving money and fossil fuels by installing PV.

    But that isn't what I was talking about. Solar PV can be had that is almost 20% efficient. Wind is hard to measure efficiency wise (my guess would be in the 60% range). Estimates for grid losses range from 6% to 30% depending on who you ask. One thing seems clear at least to me, 'obvious' does not cover it.
     
  13. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    Wow! that's some high costs;
    Fueled by Cheap Chinese Panels, U.S. Solar Use Soars - WSJ.com
    "... The price gap with traditional power sources is shrinking fast. When President Jimmy Carter installed a solar-powered water-heating system at the White House in the late 1970s, solar panels cost about $15 per watt of electricity generated, or about $50 in current dollars, according to GTM Research, a consulting firm that co-wrote the new report. Now they average about 84 cents a watt. ..."
    Our system (over a half decade ago) was at $3.50/watt (after fed credit/state rebate) and I thought THAT was steep.
    .
     
  14. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    Um, you don't need - "expensive transformers" to go from 3-phase to single phase. Lots of folks convert power for residential use. We use a rotary phase converter for turning our residential 240v single phase to 3-phase, to run some machinery. Similarly, note the power cable for our UPS - it's a 3-phase NEMA 5 pin L21-30P. But as you can see, the UPS power box's 120v receptacles are standard single phase 5-15R's.
    [​IMG]
    (Hint: Rewire any of the 3 phases to neutral of 480v and what do you get)
    Our UPS was about the same cost as yours. However, as surplus equipment typically goes, its battery bank needed replacement in short order. Just to keep it honest, home UPS backups need maintenance - (and replacement batteries are hundreds of dollars) just like a good gen-set needs maintenance. Even our 'precious' traction packs are not immortal.
    techntrek I checked out some of your 'powers my house' link, but I couldn't tell if you do like me to use the Prius to keep the UPS batteries up (or if you just plug cords into your UPS) - or if your system is backfed directly into your main service panel (ours is, using a main power interlock/disconnect). Did you at some point mention you've heard your Prius cooling fans come on? Do summers in your part of Main get that warm? Do you use a scan gauge or similar to monitor Prius inverter or battery temps? Heat is the nemesis of batteries, which ultimately hastens capacity loss/pack replacement. Normally the Prius is moving - which in part, acts to cool the traction pack. So it's to be expected that discharge/charging continuously while stationary would generate more heat. Running the AC too, acts to cool batteries - but then you're killing backup power efficiency by maybe an additional 5%-7% running AC. But again - efficiency isn't what e-power is all about.
     
  15. techntrek

    techntrek Member

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    Sure, three phase 480 can be tapped single-phase, but that gets you 277 volts to neutral each phase, you would need a transformer (or equivalent, like the opposite of your rotary phase converter) to get 120 volts. You are probably thinking of 208 volt three-phase, where each leg does give you 120 volts. That is the most typical power situation in commercial buildings. 480 is usually only for industrial situations.

    Your older UPS natively outputs split phase 120/240, which was typical of the older UPSs. My 12-year old Liebert does the same. However, modern server rooms have gotten rid of 120 volt equipment and typically use 208 now. The more modern APC UPSs output unbalanced single-phase 208 (or 220, 240), which can't be converted to 120/240 split phase without a transformer. I use the APC SURT003 since I could get it as cheap as my UPS and it stacks on top nicely. There are two very (very) rare models that output 120/240 natively but all they did was bundle the SURT003 transformer within the UPS case. I've never seen one for sale on Ebay, far easier to get one of the common models and the transformer. That gives me 120/240 split-phase so I can hook it directly into a subpanel, which I installed right after I got my Liebert. That panel has almost all of my 120 volts circuits, the only exceptions are things like my attic and crawl space which just don't need power in a blackout. When I only had the batteries hooked up I did load management from inside the house but now with the Prius I don't worry about it. I don't use the Prius to charge the lead-acid batts, I disconnect them when the Prius is attached.

    When I bought my Liebert I immediately recycled its batteries and bought 16 deep cycle flooded lead-acid batteries. I specifically bought it because it could be fed directly from the Prius but I decided in the end to get the batteries. We get enough brownouts and short blackouts that having the UPS work as a UPS was nice. Later I finally got around to tapping the Prius and using it to feed the Liebert after a hurricane took out the power at my parent's house for 3 days and I realized I could have kept their lights on with the Prius and Liebert. Soon after I decided to look for a more modern replacement for the Liebert, it is getting old enough that I was worried it would die soon (ironically the charger in my APC died the day after Christmas). That led me to the specific models of the APC SURT line. I ran two 12+ hour tests to see fuel consumption and see it in action, finally when Sandy came I used it for real.

    I'm in MD, and it definitely gets hot. That was my reasoning for getting the 12 kw genset 8 years ago because it could power one of my 2-ton A/Cs. But in the end I've never needed to do that.

    When I ran my tests I did hear the Prius' fans come on. I don't have a Scangauge. Almost got one to monitor the tranny temps in my minivan when I towed but I've moved up to a Suburban now and all that info is on the dash. I've run tests of the Prius sitting with the A/C when it is hot out (a normal situation the engineers would have to deal with) and it cycles on/off about the same as the load tests I later ran with a 1500 watt heater. And most importantly, as I read on the priups.com site, Toyota themselves powered a house with a Gen II as a test years ago and said that the Prius could safely continuously provide power at 3000 watts - it can do more but thermal issues will be a problem above that. It can do up to 6000 watts for shorter periods and well above that for surge.
     
  16. Corwyn

    Corwyn Energy Curmudgeon

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    The $4.70 per peak watt installed, includes all costs, inverter, wire, labor, etc. I suspect you paid $3.50 for panels alone. It includes fed rebate, but not state (as those are gone almost immediately), and debt service. And I should note that that is the calculated break even cost, not any estimated price, if you think that cost is high, then panels are a great deal.

    But yes, electricity is $0.16 per kWh here (or was when I made the calculation).
     
  17. DadofHedgehog

    DadofHedgehog Active Member

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    Folks,

    In the spirit of the title of this thread, I call your attention to this web site:

    Plug-Out Island kit Prius 3kw 120v-60hz psw: Home

    I think the Web site might be new - I certainly never found it before today. It's a New England-area company.

    Enjoy!
     
  18. techntrek

    techntrek Member

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    I do remember seeing that before, not sure if it was that website or on another.
     
  19. JamesBurke

    JamesBurke Senior Member

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    ConVerdant News and Announcements:
    1/31/2013 - ConVerdant and Plug-Out getting first industry press in AutoBlog-Green. Read the Article:http://green.autoblog.com/2013/01/30/these-kits-turn-your-prius-into-an-emergency-generator/.
    1/28/2013 - Randy Bryan, owner of ConVerdant Vehicles, is interviewed on the NH Women in Business radio show in New Hampshire. The show is about an hour long and covers background on ConVerdant, the Plug-In products, Plug-Out products and customer anecdotes. To listen in, click on the website: http://nhwomeninbusiness.podbean.com/2013/01/30/nh-women-in-business-01-28-13-randy-bryan-conversant-vehicles/
     
  20. zenMachine

    zenMachine Just another Onionhead

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    Bump. In case any Prius owners in the Northeast need this info in preparation for the Big Blizzard.
     
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