Prius as Generator

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Principessa, Dec 29, 2008.

  1. Principessa

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    Prius: It’s Not Just a Car, It’s an Emergency Generator


    Which would you rather have in a winter emergency?
    (Photos: Toyota (top); Daniel Steger/OpenPhoto.net)

    The Prius has a new use, and it does not involve driving. The Harvard Press — which serves the Massachusetts town of Harvard as opposed to the university — reported that the car’s battery helped keep the lights on for some locals during the recent ice storms.

    The newspaper reports that John Sweeney, a resident who lost power, “ran his refrigerator, freezer, TV, woodstove fan and several lights through his Prius, for three days, on roughly five gallons of gas.”

    Said Mr. Sweeney, in an e-mail message to The Press: “When it looked like we were going to be without power for awhile, I dug out an inverter (which takes 12v DC and creates 120v AC from it) and wired it into our Prius.”

    According to the newspaper, “the device allowed the engine to run every half hour, automatically charging the car battery and indirectly supplying the required power.” (The Times reported on a similar venture last year.)

    In fact, this development, which comes at a tough time for Toyota, which makes the Prius, may not be as strange as it sounds. Mr. Sweeney’s tinkering is along the lines of the “smart grid” technology that many utility executives and other experts say lies in our future. The idea is that the battery of an electric car — a plug-in, in most smart-grid scenarios — can feed power to the electricity grid when the grid needs it.

    Even President-elect Barack Obama has endorsed this idea, as seen toward the end of this YouTube clip in which he said: “We’re going to have to have a smart grid if we want to use plug-in hybrids — then we want to be able to have ordinary consumers sell back the electricity that’s generated.”

    Mr. Sweeney, out of necessity, got there first.
     
  2. Principessa

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    Oh come on, I can't be the only one that finds this interesting. Not to mention pretty darn cool.
    The newspaper reports that John Sweeney, a resident who lost power, “ran his refrigerator, freezer, TV, woodstove fan and several lights through his Prius, for three days, on roughly five gallons of gas.”
    I have lived through ice storms and blizzards when I resided in north central Massachusetts. They are only pretty for the first hour, after that it's just a bitchfest with the neighbors about when it will stop. I was fortunate not to lose power for more than a couple hours.

    As a renter a normal gas generator would most likely violate a lease. However, your car is not a problem. :cool:
     
  3. D_Ivana Dickenside

    D_Ivana Dickenside New Member

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    wow that's freakin cool!!! i've been wanting a prius since they came out. i never would've thought it could be used to generate electricity like that. sweeny's a clever dude. this gives me more of a reason to buy a prius (but only after i'm done being a slave to overpriced college tuition :frown:).
     
  4. finlandboi

    finlandboi Well-Known Member

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    It's cool what they've done with it in the article but overall I think the Prius is overrated. How I see it is that most people think that when they buy a Prius they automatically become environment savers and start driving economically but in reality it still is about how you drive. They did a test few years back in Top Gear where they drove the Prius normally and put it against a BMW M3 wich is a car with a 4 liter V8 engine and has over 400 hp and they drove it economically. I can't remember the exact figures but the Prius did about 20 miles to the gallon and the M3 did around 40.

    Anyway, sorry for derailing your thread a bit njqt466. I'm not trying to bash the car (I'm sure that if driven properly you can get great mileage out of it) but I just think the image of the Prius is a bit misunderstood.
     
  5. JF

    JF
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    I like the ingenuity displayed there – shows great lateral thinking. However, the same result could be achieved with any car and an inverter. The inverter is popular with caravaners so they can power portable mains-operated appliances from their car battery – the running engine keeps the battery topped up whilst the inverter converts the DC from the battery into a suitable mains AC voltage. Whether or not the Prius does it more economically is unknown.

    J
     
  6. B_Hickboy

    B_Hickboy New Member

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    My poor stupid eyes and brain. I read the title of this thread as "Priapus as a generator.".
     
  7. cutedorkwho

    cutedorkwho Member

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    Yes any car can do this.

    But I think the reason this works well on the prius is because of it's large bank of batteries already onboard. This allows a large reserve of power to be used before needing recharging. (by turning the engine on)

    Motorists with large audio systems (and massive banks of batteries) would be in the same well suited position to use their vehicles as generators. Now he just needs a way to trigger the car to turn itself on automatically when the voltage starts dipping.
     
  8. D_Tintagel_Demondong

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    I love the new attitude that many people have regarding alternative energy of late, but this is really just another fossil fuel problem. Solar cells and wind turbines are a tried and true solution... with no carbon monoxide.

    Whether you use a Prius or green energy, the RV scene uses tons of 12V appliances, from microwave ovens to TV's. No inverter is needed, so you don't get he energy loss.
     
  9. JustAsking

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    Here is another idea. When using your Prius as a generator, you could get another car radiator and set it up right on the Prius' radiator and circulate hot water through the house for heat. This would make the Prius a co-generator via a heat exchanger.
     
  10. D_Bob_Crotchitch

    D_Bob_Crotchitch New Member

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    A viable alternative fuel can be made from Kudzu. It requires little care, and is both drought and flood hardy. The plant can grow 1.5 feet a day. The only energy needed is to harvest it, and convert it to ethanol. It has no pest problems, requires zero fertilizer, and it doesn't need watering.
     
  11. kalipygian

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    A Prius has a small standard 12v lead acid battery for starting, lights, computer, Etc., separate from the large 400 volt NiMH for driving.

    It works better than a standard car for this purpose, because when it is switched on and parked, under computer control, the gas engine will automatically cycle on and off as needed. The engine is more effecient than most cars.

    Other cars could be set up with a comuter control which would do this.

    You can also connect an inverter to the alternator of any car, you don't need even a battery, but you have to get the RPM up pretty high, so it is not effecient.

    Solar or wind power system inverters have the ability to charge the battery bank from a generator.
     
  12. cutedorkwho

    cutedorkwho Member

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    No need for inverter sure but are you REALLY suggesting we move to 12V DC appliances? Losses due to voltage drop and the need for gargantuan cables to carry the current would offset any gains in eliminating inverter losses. There's a reason power transmission is done at high voltage.

    Not to mention the efficiencies of modern digital switching power inverters has efficiencies in and above 90%. And don't you think there may be an inverter or two inside that 12v TV or refrigerator? :wink: And probably not a very clean one either.

    120V AC is fine for the way we live. What we really need are more efficient end devices AND power plants. *cough nuclear cough* :wink:

    (Although I do wish the auto industry would hurry up and give us our 48v automobiles they promised us ages ago! )


    And good explanation kali! I completely forgot the prius shuts its engine off with the ignition on. Doh!
     
    #12 cutedorkwho, Dec 29, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2008
  13. JustAsking

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    Just don't turn your back on it. It has been known to eat cars and small children.
     
  14. D_Tintagel_Demondong

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    The DC voltage drop isn't that bad, especially if you have the generators/PVC's close to the house.

    I'm not saying that an entire home should be strictly DC. I'm just saying that there's no reason why many people with an acre of land can't put up a wind turbine or someone with a rooftop can't put up some PVC's. A few appliances can run off of these, and whatever wattage isn't used can be put back into the grid (which earns you money in most areas).

    That's much better than the big old analog inverters that I've used in the past. Even so, most electronic appliances (DVD players, computers, and almost anything with an LED display) need a transformer to convert the AC back into DC--with energy loss. Why not use DC in the first place?

    RV appliances are not only DC, but very small and energy efficient. Many homes have old appliances--like ovens--intended for larger families. Since the trend is smaller and more energy-efficient, 12VDC appliances seem to be ideal for most homes.

    As for nuclear, I totally agree with you. It's a much better alternative to fossil fuels, but there is still waste, security and safety issues to deal with... not to mention initial cost.

    :rofl:
     
  15. Principessa

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    Ever since the folks moved south four years ago I have been trying to get my dad to put up solar panels. Our home sits on a treeless 1.25 acre lot and even in winter months the house often gets enough sun that we turn off the heat. I like the idea of a wind turbine, but we often have violent weather patterns with very high wind warnings. I'm not sure how well it would fair.


    :lmao:
    Kudzu is the bane of every southern farmers existence.
     
  16. D_Ivana Dickenside

    D_Ivana Dickenside New Member

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    so i'm thinking of getting my prius in red. what do you guys think? is red my color?
     
  17. B_pinoyurge

    B_pinoyurge New Member

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    ill try it some time
     
  18. D_Tintagel_Demondong

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    The cost of solar panels is steadily going down. They are subsidized in some areas. I'll admit that they can be somewhat of an eyesore, but they are a good option in your neck of the woods.

    You might be surprised at the weather extremes that a wind turbine can handle. A good turbine has vanes that are flexible and rotate inward to match the speed of the wind. This makes them very resilient to strong winds. Besides, they look nice. :smile:

    Also, with only one turbine, you don't get the wind park effect where the turbines block each other's wind.
     
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