Hybrid Car – More Fun with Less Gas

Prius Power - 112 hours, 8 gallons

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Posted by bwilson4web on May 7, 2011, 5:59 pm
One reason the Prius is superior to every other car is what happened
when tornadoes tore up the TVA transmission lines last week. My very
first Prius modification was to add a 1 kW inverter:

When the storms took out power 5:20 PM Wednesday, I drove home and
backed the car into the carport. I ran a contractor power cord into
the kitchen and we were on Prius power, four days and six hours, 112
hours total.

We had lights, TV, and radio and I even ran an extension cord too the
neighbors so they had lights and TV. I only had less than three
gallons in the tank and after adding one gallon found at home and the
neighbor's gallon, I was able on Saturday to drive my wife's Prius to
Decatur and fill-up her car and a 5 gallon can. That kept our 03 Prius
running through Sunday 11:30 PM when we finally got power again. This
is something no stinking diesel or gasser could ever accomplish for 2

The Prius provides continuous power to the inverter and only run the
gas engine as needed to recharge the traction battery. It has a
catalytic converter so there is no risk of carbon monoxide poisioning.
The muffler is so quiet it can no be heard outside of our property
line,  unlike gas generators. Best of all, we can refuel it by just
waiting until the engine cycles off and never interrupt power. Once we
had power, I turned off the Prius and the next day, drove it to get a
full tank of gas and supplies, something a gas generator will never be
able to do. In fact, the Prius is regularly operated and maintained,
something not so common with gas generators.

No  one thing makes a Prius superior but this one sure sets a high
mark that inferior gasser and diesels will never be able too
follow ... nor even EVs.

Bob Wilson

Posted by News on May 7, 2011, 6:04 pm
On 5/7/2011 1:59 PM, bwilson4web wrote:

Compelling case.  What's involved with the inverter add-on?

Posted by bwilson4web on May 7, 2011, 7:59 pm
First select the inverter. I went with a 1 kW/1.2 kW surge, inverter
bought in 2004 for $0. I see that Harbor Freight has a similar unit
for $9 rated at 1.0/2.0 kW. However, if I were doing it from scratch,
I would seriously consider two options:

A) ~900 W, sine-wave inverter - should handle extension cords with
less voltage loss and should keep motors a little cooler.
Unfortunately, they are less efficient, 88% versus 92% for modified

B) consider 1.2/1.5 kW modified sine wave - the risk is the inverter
has a 100 A. fusible link and if the 12V battery doesn't pick up the
load, the fusible link could blow. However, there have been several
incidents suggesting the 12 DC-to-DC converter has protected the
fusible link by blowing first!

C) Use an 80A RV, circuit breaker on the inverter feed circuit. These
are available from RV electronic suppliers. It is better to shutoff
the inverter than risk blowing the fusible link. I have not had a
problem with the 1/1.2 kW inverter but why run the risk?

The only weakness is the 100A fusible link which already is known to
inadequately protect the DC-to-DC converter electronics. I might
consider replacing it with a fast-acting, solid-state, current limiter
that has very low conduction up to say 100 A and then absolutely
clamps it at 100 A. These are sophisticated devices and I would
probably design my own.

Next design the mounting as you want short leads to your 12V battery.
It does not require cooling air when not in use but when turned on, it
needs to be freely exposed. I prefer a permanent installation as in
low-load conditions, it can also power laptops on trips.

Bob Wilson

Posted by News on May 7, 2011, 8:59 pm
 On 5/7/2011 3:59 PM, bwilson4web wrote:

Thanks for your insight.  Has anyone commercialized an aftermarket option?

Posted by bwilson4web on May 7, 2011, 11:15 pm
Not that I've heard but my inspiration came from Toyota and Ford:

o Toyota Estima Hybrid Minivan - it was reported as having at least 1
kW, AC inverter
o Ford Escape - originally reported as having a 1.5 kW inverter
option. However, the early Ford sales literature did not list it as an

Now GM once sold a Silverado pickup with a 3 kW power capability for
contractors. However, as a hybrid, it was another GM joke.

Now the plans for my next inverter modification kinda leaves the 12V
inverter solution in the dust ... but let me get some more work done
first. <grins>

Bob Wilson

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