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Reminder to Floridians: Hybrid cars make generators

August 29, 2019

While my experience was using a Prius, most any hybrid car should make a decent field generator. Attach an inverter to the 12V side, power your lights and low-amp appliances through it, and the car engine should obligingly cycle on and off every few hours to keep the large battery and 12V side charged. It is more efficient than a standard generator, because the engine doesn’t run continuously. Our Prius burned about a half gallon of gas each day it powered our lights, small appliances, and fridge, for the days Harvey left us without grid power. You won’t need an inverter if the car comes with an AC power outlet.

I don’t know if this is a use case that hybrid designers include in their thinking. But it should be. Obviously, in any particular make and model, there will be particular characteristics that may make this easier, or may hamper this. I cannot guarantee it will work with every hybrid, or that it won’t cause some damage to the car. That was a disclaimer! As a second disclaimer, if any of this sounds too techie for you, you may not want to pin your safety or comfort on it.

I wish hybrid makers would state this as an explicit use case. Better yet, always include an AC outlet and put in the spec sheet the continuous amps that can be expected from it.

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