Is it possible? Can a car actually power a house? We’re getting there. In this article, we’ll show you a couple of technologies already in development for Canadians that can at least help you out during a power outage.
Bi-Directional Charging and Discharging
Let’s clarify a few basics. First, to charge electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids, energy only has to flow in one direction. To charge houses (or anything else) from our vehicles, energy has to flow in the opposite direction. But we’re not talking about just connecting something to your car’s cigarette lighter (nowadays known as a 12V DC outlet). The energy has to flow much faster than that.
The idea of vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology was born out of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, where EVs were used as mobile batteries. We need this technology to be commonplace to all EVs so that EV batteries can act as power backups, and we’re getting close.
A unique way to power up your home in a power outage that is set to roll out across North America by the end of 2023 is with the dcbel r16 home energy station. Using solar energy, the dcbel can be used to both power your home and charge up your EV. In the case of an outage, dcbel uses its Blackout Power feature to transform the EV’s battery into a backup power source.
While the dcbel can charge up any EV, it can only transform the batteries of certain models. In order to work as a backup power bank, the dcbel must be paired with an EV with bi-directional charging, such as the Nissan Leaf or Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrids.
The dcbel r16 is already available in select areas of the United States.
DIY Battery Backup
If you’re a DIY fan, you can try creating your own battery backup. Depending on your vehicle and how much power you want to produce, there are a few different ways you can complete this project.
If you do decide to take this route, remember to prioritize your safety. Make sure you do plenty of research, seek advice from professionals, and follow all safety rules when working with electricity.
Power Inverter for Any Vehicle
A power inverter that plugs into your cigarette lighter can get you through a power outage during business hours and power your laptop, for example. This, of course, won’t power your house, but it’ll make do when you have to finish that report for your boss or client.
A power inverter works by transforming the DC power from a battery into conventional AC power. After connecting the inverter to your vehicle’s battery, you can plug devices into the inverter to get them running during an outage.
The major downside to this method is that your gas-powered vehicle’s engine needs to be running. If you keep the engine off, the battery will drain quickly and the engine may not start the next time you need to drive somewhere.
That also means you’ll want to park your car outside if you plan to use it as a temporary home office during a power outage: tailpipe fumes can be extremely dangerous.
Cars As an Extension of Your Home
It’s starting to feel like that, isn’t? No longer will your car be a drain on your wallet. In fact, it may help you out by acting as a backup battery or possibly even put electricity back into the grid and money back into your wallet! With a little planning, an EV can help you through your next power outage. Let there be light!