The recent snow and ice storms in the northeast left hundreds of thousands of residents without power. In Harvard, Massachusetts, however, one Prius owner found a way to keep the lights and electricity going by using his hybrid as a backup generator.
John Sweeney ran his fridge, freezer, wood stove fan and even his television and lights using his Prius for three days while the power was out in his town. By using an inverter to convert the car’s DC power supply into household AC, Sweeney was able to generate 120 volts
The New York Times wrote about this a year ago. The battery in the Prius is able to provide an uninterrupted power supply as long as the engine turns on and off periodically to recharge it. Any car battery can be used this way, but only hybrids start automatically when they need to recharge their battery. As long as the Prius has enough fuel, it can produce three kilowatts of continuous power. That’s enough to maintain the basic household electrical needs.
After three days, Mr. Sweeney’s Prius used up a mere five gallons of gas to power the electricity in the Sweeney household – a bargain and a real smart grid solution.