Plug-In Cars That Power Your Home


Soon, in California, you may be able to power your home with your car during a blackout, or even have the utility company pay you for the power that your car produces. San Jose Mercury News reports that PG&E, a Californian utility company will showcase a converted Toyota Prius in Sunnyvale, CA. (Update: See a video of the prototype cars on this page). These “vehicle-to-grid” cars charge by plugging into a three-prong 110- to 120-volt outlet. If the home needs energy, such as during a blackout or on a peak day when electricity prices are high, a switch can be flipped to send the charge the other way.

EnergyCS_PHEV.jpgThe investor-owned utility, which appears to be the first in the United States to demonstrate a car that can power a home, says customers will be able to use plug-ins to cut greenhouse gas emissions as well as high home-energy bills. Prices for plug-in hybrids are expected to range from $3,000 to $5,000 more than conventional hybrids, which would mean cars such as the Toyota Prius would be in the high $20,000 price range, said Bill Van Amburg, senior vice president for the industry trade group CALSTART.

The small number of plug-ins on the road today are custom-converted vehicles, much like PG&E’s tricked-out Prius.

PG&E’s conversion, done by EnergyCS, cost $40,000. The car’s lithium battery, which takes up the bottom of the back trunk where a tire would go, adds an extra 180 pounds to the car’s weight. It produces 9 kilowatts of electricity; the average house uses about 2.5 kilowatts of electricity an hour.

Like a traditional hybrid, plug-ins have both electric motors and batteries as well as a gasoline engine. The gas engine kicks in when the car is moving about 20 to 25 miles per hour.

A 2007 Toyota Prius gets 55 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving, according to a government report late last year. But a plug-in hybrid has a bigger battery, allowing it to use the gasoline engine less and reach 100 miles per gallon.

Most hybrid plug-in prototypes simply take energy from a home’s electricity outlet. But a growing number of engineers, including those at PG&E, say any plug-in can also be used as a two-way generator.

:: Via San Jose Mercury News

Comments 3

  1. I’d just kind of like to point out that using your prius to power your house is horribly inefficient. If you could make more power than it take to run your car, you’ve created a perpetual motion machine…and well you know about that one. lol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *