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Published on December 30th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


Using An EV To Power A Home

December 30th, 2012 by  

Here’s a useful repost from the Electric Vehicle Association of Greater Washington, DC. This is quite a nice little advantage of EVs.

Over 8 million people were left without electricity in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and last summer’s derecho storm left many without power for a week or more. Some resourceful electric vehicle owners in the DC area have figured out how to use the big battery in their cars for emergency power. Television station WUSA, channel 9 in Washington, DC did a story on EVA/DC member Doron Shalvi who used his Nissan Leaf to power his refrigeratorwhen the lights went out at his house during Sandy.

This could have been you, and it is something to think about when you shop for your next car.  Could an EV or a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) fulfill your needs, stroke your desires and enhance your shelter requirements — all at the same time?  The answer, of course, is “Yes!”   Whether it is the next power outage — and there WILL be a “next power outage” –  rising prices at the pump, concerns about America’s energy security and/or a strong desire to contribute to the planet, EVs and PHEVs offer advantages that are unmatched by internal combustion vehicles or even by non-plug-in hybrids.

“Well, couldn’t I just put an inverter on any car and have the same advantage?” you might ask. You could, but it wouldn’t work nearly as well, as Doron Shalvi points out.  And you might have to leave your ICE vehicle idling for days at a time until the power came back on — something that you definitely would not want to do in an enclosed garage.

Would you like to learn more?  Why not attend the next meeting of the Electric Vehicle Association of Greater Washington, D.C. and meet friendly people who have “been there, done that,” and are delighted to share what they know! EVA/DC member Scott Wilson will give a live demonstration of one of these EV inverter systems at the November meeting. He plans to brew us some coffee from the power coming off of his Nissan Leaf. We will also have pizza and soft drinks.

The public is invited to all EVA/DC meetings which are usually held at the Silver Spring Library on the third Wednesday of each month. See our Meetings page for map and details.

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • anderlan

    It’s maybe not so much the emissions in the garage that keeps you from doing this with a gas car (just crack the bay door). It’s the efficiency, like the anchor said. If I left my car idling for 3 days, wouldn’t it run out of gas? A Prius might work better–more efficiently–because it has a largish battery to use as a buffer and the ability to turn on and off the engine.

    I’ve been eyeying the Prius’s capability as an efficient camping generator for a while. Anybody have experience in that regard?

    • Bob_Wallace

      The alternator in your car is very small. It just wouldn’t produce a lot of power. You’d use up your gas just making the engine spin.

      A Prius would definitely work better than a normal gasmobile. A plug-in Prius with its larger battery would work better still.

  • I can draw a constant 400 ac watts from my Volt just by using the cigarette lighters. More if you get the fuse kit (1,000 – 2,000 watts). Here’s my basic back-up Volt power video.


  • New building code ” Homes to be resilient enough to power itself for one week with installed PV and storage batteries ether in home or interactive vehicle” this could jump start the electrification with renewables of our built environment cut the cost of rebuilding the grid and the cost of building new electric generation..

    • A day of back-up maybe, a weeks worth of battery bank would have several thousand amp hours and cost over 12K….

    • Ronald Brak

      If the goal is to have more solar and energy storage it’s probably going to be a lot more efficient to directly design incentives to reach that goal. As housing stock is replaced very slowly building codes are a very slow way to change things.

  • Bob_Wallace

    The Leaf comes ready to power ones home.

    Grid-tie inverters need to be modified so that they can serve as “off-grid” inverters allowing people to use their EVs and PHEVs as storage batteries during power outages.

    And even if you don’t have solar panels you could (given open roads) drive your EV to a Level 3 charging station, fill up, and come home to run your house for a few more days.

    • anderlan

      Basically, a grid-tie needs to be an option at the drop to every house from the grid, so that every household can provide power, and the grid-tie capability of your inverters can be disabled.

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