When an ice storm knocked out power to much of New England, one Toyota Prius owner reached for his inverter and powered some of his home with the happy little hybrid. Smug FTW? Yes.
John Sweeney, of Harvard, Massachusetts, was among the many residents of Eastern Mass without power after a big ice storm hit on December 12th. Sweeney, an electrical engineer, saw his Prius as the answer. Using an inverter, he converted the DC power coming out of the car into AC power for his house. Though he couldn't run his entire house one his one car, they were able to get approximately 17 Kilowatt hours of energy. This was enough to power his refrigerator/freezer, television, lights, wood stove fan and accessories for a few days. Although anyone can use a regular DC power supply, like the battery found in a non-Hybrid car, but a hybrid is ideal.
First, the Prius carries a much larger batter pack than a regular car, allowing someone to power more appliances for longer than the conventional AC Delco found in most cars. Second, unlike some backup battery systems found in homes, the Prius, like other cars, can recharge its batteries with its normal internal combustion engine. And here's the best part — because the Prius automatically turns itself on when the batteries drain to a certain level, Sweeney left the car running and it automatically turned over when it needed to recharge — about once every 30 minutes. If you were trying to do what Sweeney did with a non-hybrid, you'd find yourself spending a lot more time outside in the cold. The efficiency of the auto-on feature meant Sweeney only used around five gallons of gas. As with any time you're trying to use your vehicle as a generator, you'll probably want to use a well-ventilated area.
If any of Sweeney's neighbors thought he was smug about his car choice before the storm they must have really hated him when he turned on the television and lights while they huddled for warmth on the hood of their Tahoe. Hat tip to Danny!
Photo Credit: PriusChat