Prius as emergency generator

Energy & Sustainability
Prius as emergency generator

Chad sends this on how John Sweeney survived the recent bad patch of weather in the Northeast by using his hybrid car to power many devices in his house.

During an ice storm last week Sweeney, of Harvard, Mass., powered his house by hooking it up to his Toyota Prius. The Prius, a hybrid vehicle, starts the gasoline-burning mode of its engine every 30 minutes to recharge the battery with an internal generator. In turn, Sweeney ran his refrigerator and freezer, wood stove fan, lights and television off the car’s battery.

So if you have a hybrid, do you need a generator? People have talked about hydrogen fuel cell cars being used in a similar manner to power houses, but does it come in a full size version yet? How do you use your hybrid or electric car for uses other than getting groceries? Are you still waiting for your mass produced plug in hybrid electric vehicle? How about a street legal battery electric vehicle? What are you doing to release yourself and others from the carbon bonds of foreign oil?

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12 thoughts on “Prius as emergency generator

  1. BigD145 says:

    It’s too cold outside so let’s power our fridge/freezer. Hmm.

    1. Chris Connors says:

      I don’t know, maybe they have a freezer full of game meat. The point is that he figured out a solution to a common problem. His neighbors didn’t have his options.

      What do you do when the power goes south for a week or two like it did in this storm? Freeze in the dark, or turn on the car and run the fan on the wood stove? How long could most people last without battery chargers for their cell phones?

  2. JB says:

    I don’t really see the big deal in this. The article seems to make it seem as though the Prius can run your house. It seems to me, at least that he just took an off the shelf inverter, and plugged it into the cigarette lighter port.
    Whenever the 12 volt car battery drained the hybrid batteries start the car, to run the engine, to power the gener/alternator,to charge the lead-acid car battery. Nothing big.
    Everyone else could have done the same thing w/ their cars, if they had been willing to run the car every once in a while.
    (BTW, does the Prius even have a cigarette lighter port? Seems like it would defeat the purpose of owning a Prius if it did. LOL!)

  3. JB says:

    By the way, I could last a long time without a cellphone charger, because I don’t have a cellphone.
    On another note, I agree that it doesn’t make sense to run a fridge/freezer when the power goes out, because it’s too cold outside. If I lived any further north than I do now, I would probably build a cold storeroom addition to my home. (I saw one in the series by [I think] Popular Mechanics, where they had an editor in Vermont(?) who lived off-grid. Basically, he built an insulated shack about 2x the size of the fridge he was using. He insulated it from the house, and the cool/cold weather naturally cooled the food inside, during the winter. It dramatically reduced his power consumption, but he still had to use a refrigerator during the summer.) That seems like a much more viable option.
    And please, somebody respond to my first post. It’s true, ya know.

    1. Chris Connors says:

      You might want to look into Root Cellars Here are a few links to get you started:,7518,s1-5-19-173,00.html
      Or maybe you want to go whole hog:

      I used a root cellar when I had a cabin in South Dartmouth MA one summer. It works pretty well. The ground stays about 45 degrees year round. Boxing an area of your cellar is an old technique, and many antique houses have root cellars.

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