Reader Question: Using EV as Battery in Emergency?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply! 

Doug asks: Assume that you have your fully charged electric car at home in the garage and the electric grid is down and roads are impassible. The electric grid will be down from 1 to 3 weeks.  Are there any electric cars on the market that will let you drain your car’s battery bank for some home essentials such as running a few LED lights, fans and maybe a refrigerator? Are there any after-market accessories that would permit this use? I have heard that the typical electrical system of an electric car is 600 to 800 volts DC.  Can this be stepped down to 115V AC or 12V DC?  Assuming this is not possible, could a generator (sans engine) be attached to one of the car’s wheel drive motors? Thanks!

My reply: It looks like yes – in theory – if you have a Nissan Leaf or other EV with “bi directional” capability (see here for more) and you buy the necessary charging/wiring system to go with it. It’s not, however, inexpensive – see the article.

And that’s in addition to the cost of the EV itself – which is considerable.

Years ago, I bought an 8,000 watt IC -powered generator for about $600 – and it only costs about $50 to keep 25 gallons of gas on hand, for just in case. The generator will run about 8-10 hours straight on a full tank (about 5 gallons) so that’s enough to keep my well pump, ‘fridge and WiFi plus most house lights running for several days to a week or more, if not run continuously. This strikes me as a much more cost-effective way to keep the necessary items running.

I really like the idea of a small/solar back-up for lights and a natural hot water heater, using something as simple as your roof and some hose – keeping you clean (and things lit) without needing gas or juice!

. . .

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. I have a 10,000 watt generator I inherited that’s never been used. I’d rather not use gasoline and use propane instead since I have a 250 gallon nurse tank. I’ve wondered about the propane conversion cost and complexity.


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