Posting in Energy
Nissan's new technology will allow owners of its Leaf EV to use the car's electricity to power their homes in the event of a blackout.
We've written previously about Nissan's plans to create technology that would allow an EV not only to draw power from your home's electrical grid, but also to use the car's battery to power a home.
Earlier this week, the automaker presented this technology, which allows the Nissan Leaf to not only charge via a quick charging port, but to double as an electrical power generator, via its lithium-ion batteries. According to the automaker, the initiative is "part of its comprehensive efforts toward the realization of a zero-emissions society."
Through this system, the energy stored in the Leaf's battery can be distributed to a house by way of the home's electricity distribution panel, using the Leaf's quick charging port. The car's Lithium-ion batteries can store as much as 24kWh of energy - almost as much as the average American household uses in a normal day.
With this system in place, the EVs would not only provide transportation, a charged Nissan Leaf could also function as backup generators in the event of a power shortage. Nissan hopes to make the technology commercially available by the end of this fiscal year.
What do you think? If this technology were readily available to electric vehicle owners, would you be more inclined to purchase an EV?
Aug 4, 2011
Hi! I sell Home battery backup systems, and getting an EV to work as a battery bank for a home is pretty simple if you already have an inverter/charger battery backup system. The easiest way to do it is to have an EV with the same voltage as your battery bank. If you have a 48VDC battery bank, and a 48VDC EV (ok, a golf cart) all you have to do is attach a socket box that matches the car's socket, and attach it to the inverter's DC Busbar. If the EV does not match the battery bank voltage, it takes a little bit more engineering, but not that much more. Many home inverter charger/battery backup systems have solar, so the car's charging is free if it is during the day. (or you can set the inverter charger to deplete it's battery charging the car and recharge during the day with solar--This shortens the life of the batteries, but can work well in a pinch and you don't want to use grid power to charge your EV.
The next step is to connect the car directly to the inverter of a home solar electric system like the one we have in our home. Then an electric car would act as a generator that would never run out of power during a power failure. The car could also be charged directly from the DC solar panels. I know that Sharp has been working doing on this as well.
I like the idea very much. It is not a generator, but it will provide a good amount of power for a reasonable time (maybe an expert can tell us just how many KWhours are in the battery?). And it will be nice quiet power, unlike most home generators. Probably also very clean (electrically) power for computers and such. Most of us have two or more cars, and the Leaf would probably be the only electric one so we could drive the other vehicle (or bike) until the power comes back on. Or we could charge the Leaf with the generator in the middle of the day, making nice quiet power at night. The point about the transfer switch is well taken. In may places it is illegal to power a house without a transfer switch, something Nissan would have to address before offering this. But many people already have transfer switches installed. This feature could convice me to buy a Leaf.
Someone mentioned about using special automatic switches to feed the auto's power to the house. Well I've been doing it Mexican style for years. It's called "Manuel". Just simple elbow and hand work. All I do is number one: OPEN the house's fuse box main circuit breaker that's fed from the street. Next, plug in your car or generator's electrical output into a house's standard electrical outlet. For me, I use a long and large diameter cable with male plugs on each end. One end gets plugged into the generator, and the other end gets plugged into the house's external 220V outlet. Don't start the generator before doing this!! Then start your generator! The 220V current gets distributed throughout the entire house, to power anything you normally have been using. You simply have to have the presence of mind to OPEN your main Circuit Breaker first! Otherwise, you'd be electrocuting some poor lineman worker, down the line. And second, you are working with a cable that has two MALE connectors on each end. DO NOT run your electrical source while plugging in the AC cable from the electrical source to your house. This is the best way to avoid an accidental electrocution of your person. Lastly, don't tell your neighbors that you are doing it this way. One of them may just be an idiot, and do things wrong way, and become toast. Enjoy!
Good post. In our Villages(India) Old Motorcycles,tractors are used to pump water from Irrigation pumpsets. Energy can take different forms. Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India Wind Energy Expert E-mail: email@example.com
I already have a 3 point hitch 7000 watt generator for my either one of my diesel tractors, a 1500 watt inverter I can use on the other tractor, a 5000 watt gas generator, and a number of smaller inverters. At least I am honest about my emissions, unlike the EV crowd. With over half the electricity produced by coal in this country where do they think their power for their back up batteries come from? Transmission loss on the power lines adds to the carbon footprint of this scheme. Now, a Prius, used with an inverter would be OK, as it's power is locally generated compared to the Leaf. I have about $1500 invested in my back up power systems and I can use them anywhere. After the ice storm of Dec 09 it pays to be prepared.
Unless a proper generator bypass switch(either manual or automatic) is installed at the main service panel, you should not attempt to flow power back into the house wiring. Should the power company unexpectantly restore main power, there would be serious damage and possibly a fire. I kind of doubt that the Leaf charging power supply includes this in its base price. Anyone have any information on installation of the Leaf charging station?
I have to agree with Carol Fuhr in comments that its a battery backup and not a generator that presents unique challenges as a temporary power source. But imagine the possibilities if Michigan State is successful with its Wave Disc Generator. Its a generator that runs on a small amount of a wide variety of fuels that provides an enormous variety of integrated solutions for power supply applications.
People have been using Priuses (Prii?) for backup power for years: Connect a 12v inverter to the starter battery, and run your essential stuff. When the starter battery gets low, the electronics will re-charge the starter battery from the traction battery, and when the traction battery starts getting low, it will automatically start the engine and re-charge it's batteries and turn the engine back off once the batteries are re-charged, all without user intervention,. My ex-father-in-law started doing this years ago, when having a Prius was still verty much something to brag about.
"a zero-emissions society.??? A Solar Energy estimate is good place to start. Rich Hessler Solar has a free online solar estimate system.
First, we would need two, unless you expect me to leave my wife without power when I go to work. Second and third, it would depend on how long it could power the house and how much it would cost. My last serious power outage lasted almost 4 days, and I suspect that the car would not last that long. Additionally, I can get the appropriately-sized generator fueled with natural gas installed for around $5,000. I've never had the gas go out. I suspect that the car would not be equal to the task.
A battery backup is not a generator. It is no selling point for me at all that I could drain my car's energy to power my home - for a day - after which time I can't drive anywhere if the power hasn't been restored yet.
Let me get this straight... So the power's out for an indeterminate period and I cannot cook or microwave. (Assume for a moment that my gas grill's empty, which I never allow to happen.) My only possibilty for a meal is to drive to a restaurant which has power. And you want me to drain the car battery? Naaah!
...or you can just spend $300 on a quality 12V DC -> 120VAC converter and run it off the car you already own, for a longer period of time...
This is a great Idea, yet another reason to purchase an all electric... I want one sosooo bad, but I can't afford it! I think thats the major sticking point - is the oil industry paying manufacturers to inflate the prices on emission-less vehicles? Call me paranoid , but I think so!
It's not that prices are inflated on EVs - it's that there are immense subsidies built into all levels of the supply chain for manufacturing IC vehicles and EVs can only take advantage of some of them.