Modern society depends on electricity, and without it, most everything ceases to function, including heating and cooling, refrigerators, mobile phones, computers, and the list goes on. In emergencies, such as Hurricane Sandy knocking out power for millions of people, some for weeks, backup power generators make all kinds of sense to have on hand.
Backup generators typically run on gasoline, and portable ones can power your home. Hospital diesel-powered backup generators can power whole buildings.
Toyota Prius owners have this option as well, if only there was a way to get that power out of the vehicle and into the home. In October, Toyota announced that there would be a factory-installed option available for between $800 and $1,200 on top of the vehicle price. Rated at 1.5kW, the Toyota system offers, either in-car 120V outlets, or an adapter that plugs into the charge port.
Toyota isn’t the only one working on turning these green machines into backup power plants, though. ConVerdant Vehicles, LLC offers a 3kW Plug-Out Kit which has been tested with the batteries in the Toyota Prius and Prius v. After Hurricane Sandy, ConVerdant actually sold out its entire stock. ConVerdant is currently testing its system for application on the Prius c and Prius Plug-In, which use different batteries.
One of the things that makes the Toyota Prius such a great backup power source is the fact that the engine doesn’t have to run all the time. Electricity is stored in the battery until it reaches full charge, after which the engine-generator can shut off. Since the inverter doesn’t drain the battery as quickly, the engine only has to run whenever the battery needs to be recharged. Portable generators, however, need to run all the time, even if power usage is low.