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Could FFH be used as emergency home generator?


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39 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   Texasota

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 07:28 PM

I searched this forum for this topic to see if it has been previously discussed and could not find it. My apologies if this is a repeat.

 

There have been numerous articles about the Toyota Prius being used as a backup home generator using an inverter.   Here is an example:

 

http://www.harvardpr...3353&PortalID=0

 

Could the FFH be used in this same manner?  Would the FFH automatically start the ICE to charge the 12 volt battery like the Prius apparently does?

 

I am interested in this because our sump pump is crucial to keeping the basement dry after winter snow melt and spring rains. It would also be great to keep the refrigerator running.  I already have an inverter (2300 watts) that I will hook up to my truck if we lose power but it will require keeping the truck's engine running the entire time. If the FFH's ICE would automatically startup to charge the 12 volt battery this would be a great solution during power outages to keep the sump pump and refrigerator running.

 

What do you all think?  Could the FFH function like the Prius?









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#2 OFFLINE   corncobs

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 07:53 PM

What do you all think?  Could the FFH function like the Prius?


A Prius will never function like an FFH it's way to nice for that! ;-)

The FFH has a regular 110V outlet but only for 150W but other than that the 12V is charged by the HVB which is charged by the ICE so technically it should function very similar.
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#3 OFFLINE   murphy

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 08:35 PM

2300 watts divided by 12 volts equals 191.67 amperes assuming 100% efficiency.  The inverter is more like 50% efficient.  A 12 volt battery pumping out that kind of current would last about 5 minutes.  I don't know what the rating on the DC to DC converter is but I doubt it was designed to supply that kind of current. 

 

The sump pump and the refrigerator both have induction motors.  The starting current for an induction motor is about 7 times its running current.  What is the running current of the two motors?  You can't assume that they won't both try to start at the same time.

 

The DC to DC converter runs off of the HVB.  When the HVB drops to its lower trip point the engine should start to recharge the HVB.

 

Without having the detailed specifications on the FFH electrical system it could be an expensive gamble.

 

You can get a 3250 watt portable generator from Home Depot for $400. 

You will not repair the car for $400 if the DC to DC converter is destroyed and the repair won't be covered by the warranty.


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#4 OFFLINE   corncobs

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 09:41 PM

Very nice analysis murphy and I agree with you on the $400 generator - use each tool what's designed for.
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#5 OFFLINE   Texasota

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 11:21 PM

Corncobs, you made me laugh with your post.  I assure you, no disrespect was intended toward the FFH. 

 

I bought an inverter with a larger capacity than I really need and my post may have given the false impression that my draw would be 2300 continuous watts. The sump pump draws 9.5 amps (~1045 watts). I don't know what the starting current is for the sump pump but this inverter handles it okay. The sump pump at worst cycles about every two minutes and pumps for about 10 seconds. With the testing I have done it appears this inverter and the truck's 12 volt battery is more than adequate for the job.  I have not done any testing with the refrigerator as the sump pump was my primary concern.

 

My inverter (http://www.powerbrig.../pw2300-12.html) advertises that it is >90% efficient and is rated at Peak Load Power Rate of ~4600 Watts.  This inverter seems to be an inexpensive, simple, and zero maintenance solution to my emergency generator needs for the rare occasion when our power goes out and the sump pump needs to operate. I considered a portable gasoline generator but decided it was overkill for my limited needs.

 

It was an interesting Consumers Reports test (http://www.consumerr...rator/index.htm) that sent me down this path. The main drawback with this solution is that the truck has to be left running; otherwise, the battery would eventually be drained. The FFH being able to start up the ICE when needed (to charge the 12 volt battery) and then shut down again would seem to solve this shortcoming and likely use no more (and maybe much less) gasoline than a portable gasoline generator.



#6 OFFLINE   vangonebuy

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 08:45 AM

As someone who ran a van to power a house, I can tell you. It's not efficient.

Back in Hurricane Sandy, I ran my house off the Chrysler T&C.

400 watts of power! My home had lights, internet and hot showers.

NO TV or Refrig's.  I wanted to try a small chest freezer in the basement with a 1 KW inverter. But start up would kill it too.

 

http://www.cleanmpg....hlight=inverter

 

 

I looked into it when I first go our FFH.

I believe the back seat inverter is powered off the little trunk battery, not the BIG boy. (check me on this)

Also the power output of the BIG boy is well over 100volts.(160v I believe) So a step down sine wave inverter will be needed. Ending up around the same price as a basic generator.  

   

2300watt/12volts =192Amp. big wires and fuses.

I wont risk my FFH on this .

 

 

 

The burn rate of fuel / output of watts was way too low.

I spent time tracking my fuel usage and power output. 

ScanGauge and a KiloWatt meter.       400 watts for about $3.5 an hour.

BUT, If your power draw is less. It still cost $3.50 an hour. 

Obvious the FFH would be less.

 

Gas got crazy scarce and my free phone charge station, free open internet had to end.

 

 

 

I would recommend you look at a smaller pump, Maybe a DC boat version to run off your truck. 

OR a generator.



#7 OFFLINE   lolder

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 10:25 AM

If it ran off you're truck, it might run off the FFH. The only problem might be cooling the DC to DC converter. It is water cooled but everything in a car is a cost compromize with allowances for peak conditions. An example is the larger transmission oil cooler in vehicles designed for towing. The converter cooling capacity in the FFH might be insufficient. I believe you would get a message center alarm in such case. You would need a very good connection to the 12 vdc battery. In the early '0's, Toyota sold a hybrid van in Europe with about a 1.5 kw inverter on the HVB. That's the way it should be done but that's not an after market modification. I'm suprised that hasn't appeared as an option because a larger inverter could power your whole house including AC with today's hybrids. The generators are 25-60 kw. 


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#8 OFFLINE   acdii

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 01:12 PM

I have a 10KW genset that holds 5 gallons of gas. I can power 2 fridges, 5 pumps, lights, TV and one HVAC(house has 2) off of it for a full day on one fill.  Genset cost me $800 from Home Depot.  When I dont need it, I have it put away in a shed, but in 5 minutes can have my house powered up.   Even if the FFH could do it, why risk it. Besides, what if its your only car and you need to rush out somewhere. 


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#9 OFFLINE   hybridbear

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Posted 27 August 2013 - 03:09 PM

I know the importance of keeping the sump running in MN, basements flood fast here with spring melt and April rain. I agree with other comments about not risking the car on this. Using your vehicle as a power source like this will void the warranty which is likely worth more than the $400 you'd spend on a gas generator. Or if you don't want to spend money on a gas generator then you could just continue to use your truck as the power source which is less efficient than the generator, but over limited use you likely wouldn't make up the $400 initial cost of the generator is fuel savings long-term. If your truck works fine for the rare occasions where you need power this way then I'd just stick with what you're doing.


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#10 OFFLINE   Texasota

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Posted 28 August 2013 - 05:23 PM

Thanks for the suggestions and comments. I don't yet own a FFH but am considering a 2014 in the newly available S trim line. However, hooking up my inverter to if for the usage described here is not a factor in my purchase decision.  I was just curious if it would work better than the truck. 

 

The sump pump runs at most 5 minutes per hour and does not stress the truck at all.  I have also tested the inverter on my lawn tractor and even that small battery seems to handle the sump pump just fine with the tractor idling.

 

In the 21 years I have lived at this house I have so far never lost power when the sump pump needed to operate but I have witnessed the damage several neighbors have dealt with when they did not have a sump pump installed or the pump failed (they do need to be replaced periodically). For me the inverter is a simple and inexpensive solution that will save us from having to manually bail the sump basket during temporary power outages.



#11 OFFLINE   TX NRG

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 11:26 PM

A possible better alternative is getting a secondary battery backup emergency sump pump for a few hundred bucks that would operate in case your power goes off, or your 20 year old main pump fails. Then you would be covered for both situations, and you don't have to rush home if the power goes out to plug into the truck.
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#12 OFFLINE   acdii

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 07:44 AM

I wish my p[umps lasted twenty years. I had two, 3YO pumps fail on me this year. Got 2" of water in my entire basement that took 2 weeks to get out, the 5 pumps I have can keep up with the water, provided all 5 are running, but when 2 of them quit, the water gets past the pits and takes for ever to drop down.  I discovered too late that one drain tile was clogged, and that is how most of the water got past the floor joint, once I punched a hole in the sump liner, that relieved the pressure and I was finally able to start getting the water out.  We had a second heavy batch of rain and it started all over again, but this time the pumps kept up and only saw a little water come in where it usually does, cant do anything about that except pull out the stairs, and punch a hole in the floor for another sump pit. It just happens to be the lowest part of the basement, and where the stairs go out to the garage. 


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#13 OFFLINE   hybridbear

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 08:20 AM

Thanks for the suggestions and comments. I don't yet own a FFH but am considering a 2014 in the newly available S trim line. However, hooking up my inverter to if for the usage described here is not a factor in my purchase decision.  I was just curious if it would work better than the truck. 

 

The sump pump runs at most 5 minutes per hour and does not stress the truck at all.  I have also tested the inverter on my lawn tractor and even that small battery seems to handle the sump pump just fine with the tractor idling.

 

In the 21 years I have lived at this house I have so far never lost power when the sump pump needed to operate but I have witnessed the damage several neighbors have dealt with when they did not have a sump pump installed or the pump failed (they do need to be replaced periodically). For me the inverter is a simple and inexpensive solution that will save us from having to manually bail the sump basket during temporary power outages.

No sure where in MN you are, but if you're near the Twin Cities I highly recommend Apple Valley Ford. That's where we bought our FFH and their sales dept was excellent! Their service department has been awful but sales was great. If you're interested in going there I can give you the name of our salesman. He did an excellent job. AVF will also sell you the car at invoice price if you special order, no questions and no haggling, which is a really good deal.


Edited by hybridbear, 30 August 2013 - 08:20 AM.

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#14 OFFLINE   expresspotato

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 09:27 PM

I used mine when I was without power for about 2 days...But wow you need a lot of Amps and thick cables, so much so they were getting warm under moderate load of about 600W = 50 A at 12V... Also I don't think anyone on here knows what the rated capacity of the DC-DC converter is. Leaf its 80A, Prius is 100A.

 

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#15 OFFLINE   Texasota

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 09:16 PM

 

No sure where in MN you are, but if you're near the Twin Cities I highly recommend Apple Valley Ford.

 

Hybridbear - We live in Rochester MN.  I have bought 3 Focuses from Rochester Ford and their sales department is fair but the service department has been fantastic in my experience. Thanks for the tip on Apple Valley Ford. I am going to be up there on Tuesday after Labor Day and will make a point to stop in. I would appeciate the name of your salesman (my e-mail is in my profile).  Thanks.

 

I wish my pumps lasted twenty years

 

Acdii - I replace my sump pumps every 5 years (even if they are still working fine) and I always have a new pump (in the box) ready to install right away if the currently installed pump fails. The Wayne pumps I use seem to be very reliable and they are very inexpensive compared to the cost to cleanup a flooded basement.



#16 OFFLINE   Jim Boss

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 11:01 AM

Is there a high capacity inverter than an run off the higher voltage battery? ...unlike the 12v inverter, the high voltage battery/engine should be able to power your entire house, including a/c and refers. ... That would be VERY nice ... And something that would make the hybrid premium more than worth it.

#17 OFFLINE   lolder

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 12:41 PM

Integrating such an inverter would be a job for the manufacturer. An after-market mod would be very dangerous to install and likely require new software. That being said, you are right in your expectations. Toyota sold a hybrid van in Europe in the early 'oughts with a 1.5 KW inverter for a short time. These cars can provide peaks of 20-30KW. I find it strange that it hasn't been offered as an option. There are probably some liability worries on the part of the hybrid car manufacturers about safely hooking it up to your house. The electrics and plug-in-hybrids that already connect to houses might have an easier time of it. The automatic changeover to the car upon commercial power disruption is a fairly expensive relay device that would have to be added even to the plug-ins.


Edited by lolder, 04 August 2014 - 12:43 PM.


#18 OFFLINE   acdii

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 01:02 PM

If you are going to go the route to add a transfer switch, you would be better off just having a whole home generator installed. Depending on where you live, they can run on Natural or LP gas. They are not that expensive either, $3k can install one for the whole house. 

 

that reminds me I still need to install a transfer switch for mine, right now I back feed through a 50 Amp breaker after shutting the mains.  I have a lockout on mine that has a tag, SHUT OFF MAINS FIRST. 


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#19 OFFLINE   lolder

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 08:14 PM

Many unplug dryers or water heaters and plug in  male plugs from their generators. This is a hazardous practice that you have to be meticulous about. I built a sliding mechanical interlock into a breaker box years ago so that I couldn't turn on a circuit breaker hooked to the generator without turning the master breaker off. Some homes don't have a master breaker. The electrics and hybrids could provide 30+ KW and completely power even air conditioned homes unlike most smaller emergency generators. A hybrid could do it a long time. I would buy one with that accessory. Most dryer and heater circuits are for 240 vac at 20 amps so that's only 5 KW. A much bigger feed would be needed for high powered hybrid inverters.


Edited by lolder, 04 August 2014 - 08:16 PM.


#20 OFFLINE   darrelld

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Posted 05 August 2014 - 06:37 AM

I have a 10KW genset that holds 5 gallons of gas. I can power 2 fridges, 5 pumps, lights, TV and one HVAC(house has 2) off of it for a full day on one fill.  Genset cost me $800 from Home Depot.  When I dont need it, I have it put away in a shed, but in 5 minutes can have my house powered up.   Even if the FFH could do it, why risk it. Besides, what if its your only car and you need to rush out somewhere. 

 

I agree about not risking damage to your Fusions electronics by trying this. Earlier this year I installed a 20k whole house Generac natural gas powered generator for around 10k. Prior to installing the Generac I checked out a number of options for using the C-Max as a Generator and currently have, 20' 8 gauge wire, a 2500 watt inverter, and 2 single pole generator disconnects for electrical panel interface. I would sell all the parts to the project if anyone is interested. My plan was to mount the inverter on the wall close to my electrical panel located near the garage door opening and use the 8 ga wire to feed the inverter from the C-Max battery jump points located under the hood. I wasn't certain the inverter circuit could withstand sustained current draw at the level required by the 2500 watt inverter feeding the house electrical panel through the generator disconnect.


Edited by darrelld, 05 August 2014 - 06:38 AM.

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