Using a Prius as a generator

124

Comments

  • MarkCMarkC Solar Expert Posts: 150 ✭✭✭
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator

    If only there was some efficient way to use my 4000 watts of solar power to recharge the APC (or look-alike) battery system. I'd then have the best of all worlds - and never run out of power! Then I can possibly figure out how to use a Prius traction battery to power my golf cart!! - Be the fastest in town and have a spare for the old Prius too. I've changed out motors in my cars in the past, should be able to change a battery without killing myself! The charge controller manufacturers are starting to think about (really) high voltage battery systems, but not 200-250 volt yet.

    Thanks for all your advice - I agree, you have about the best multi-functional generator system around.

    Edit comment; After at little on-line checking, appears I might have the fastest golf cart, but might not go very far - the traction battery is about equivalent to one of my deep cycle batts in useable energy!
    3850 watts - 14 - 275SW SolarWorld Panels, 4000 TL-US SMA Sunny Boy Grid tied inverter.  2760 Watts - 8 - 345XL Solar World Panels, 3000 TL-US SMA Sunny Boy GT inverter.   3000 watts SMA/SPS power.  PV "switchable" to MidNite Classic 250ks based charging of Golf cart + spare battery array of 8 - 155 AH 12V Trojans with an  APC SMT3000 - 48 volt DC=>120 Volt AC inverter for emergency off-grid.   Also, "PriUPS" backup generator with APC SURT6000/SURT003  => 192 volt DC/240 volt split phase AC inverter.  
  • MarkCMarkC Solar Expert Posts: 150 ✭✭✭
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator

    Many thanks to techntrek (and other Prius pioneers) for all the help in another successful Prius "generator startup" (so far). The 2009 Prius was up and running last night with an APC SURT 5000 supplying ~240 volts to a hairdryer at ~7 amps.

    The attached pictures are intended to augment other installation pics on this forum. Note that the entire left side and back portions of the interior panels are best all removed. Toyota does a good job of making replaceable panels, so it is quite straight-forward and best of all, go back without having to replace "clips". I decided to use 8 AWG THHN wire and Anderson connectors since this will eventually be installed in a rural location with a 15+ foot run into the inverter storage room. The input to the APC SURT is thru the back (white) Anderson connector (note that you must use one of the two "APC" style connectors on the back as the mating connector - APC uses a proprietary connector).

    Attachment not found.

    Overview picture of work area




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    Battery area exposed





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    Side panel area with Anderson connections to the SURT 5000 (on work bench). Upon disconnect, the short cable is routed next to the spare. I plan on wrapping the short cable in orange cable wrap.




    Attachment not found.
    Entire side panel exposed




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    Traction battery output/relay connectors exposed




    Attachment not found.

    New 8AWG connectors with POS/NEG marked. Note - did not remove plastic terminal protectors on the battery output side - no need.




    The following is the data output from the SURT 5000 network card. Note that the % battery capacity is in error. At 0% cap the alarm went to "3 beeps" but the SURT did not shutdown. Likley I need to reconfigure the number of battery packs and retry - does not appear to be a problem.

    NOTE - Sorry data is so jumbled - Is there a way to insert a .pdf file directly that would stop all the formatting issues of copy/paste?


    Prius Data - 2010 Gen II model using APC SURT 5000 UPS (2005 production)

    *
    *Date* * Time* * Vmin* Vmax*Vout* Iout* %Wout*Freq* %Cap*Vbat* TupsF*%VAout*
    *12/04/2014* 20:20:57* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 0.0* 239.7* 77.3* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 20:19:57* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 0.0* 227.8* 77.3* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 20:18:57* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 0.0* 216.0* 77.3* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 20:17:57* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 0.0* 203.0* 78.2* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 20:16:57* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 0.0* 208.4* 78.2* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 20:15:57* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 3.0* 213.8* 78.2* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 20:14:57* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 6.0* 221.4* 79.3* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 20:13:57* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 10.0* 234.3* 79.3* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 20:12:57* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 13.0* 233.2* 79.3* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 20:11:57* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 16.0* 221.4* 79.3* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 20:10:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 19.0* 200.8* 79.3* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 20:09:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 21.0* 206.2* 79.3* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 20:08:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 24.0* 211.6* 79.3* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 20:07:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 28.0* 218.1* 79.3* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 20:06:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 31.0* 226.8* 79.3* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 20:05:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 34.0* 237.6* 78.2* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 20:04:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 37.0* 225.7* 78.2* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 20:03:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 41.0* 212.7* 78.2* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 20:02:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 44.0* 204.1* 78.2* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 20:01:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 47.0* 209.5* 78.2* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 20:00:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 50.0* 216.0* 78.2* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 19:59:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 54.0* 223.5* 78.2* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 19:58:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 57.0* 241.9* 78.2* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 19:57:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 60.0* 231.1* 77.3* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 19:56:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 63.0* 217.0* 77.3* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 19:55:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 67.0* 203.0* 77.3* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 19:54:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 70.0* 208.4* 76.2* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 19:53:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 73.0* 213.8* 76.2* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 19:52:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 76.0* 220.3* 76.2* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 19:51:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 80.0* 228.9* 74.3* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 19:50:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 83.0* 240.8* 74.3* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 19:49:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 86.0* 228.9* 74.3* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 19:48:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 89.0* 222.4* 74.3* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 19:47:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 92.0* 210.6* 73.2* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 19:45:56* 0.0* 0.0* 239.8* 7.34* 49.0* 59.96* 98.0* 205.2* 72.3* 35.0*
    *12/04/2014* 19:44:56* 0.0* 0.0* 241.0* 0.00* 6.0* 59.96* 99.0* 211.6* 72.3* 0.0*
    *12/04/2014* 19:43:56* 0.0* 0.0* 241.0* 0.00* 6.0* 59.96* 100.0*212.7* 71.2* 0.0*
    *12/04/2014* 19:42:56* 0.0* 0.0* 241.0* 0.00* 0.0* 59.96* 100.0*214.9* 71.2* 0.0*
    3850 watts - 14 - 275SW SolarWorld Panels, 4000 TL-US SMA Sunny Boy Grid tied inverter.  2760 Watts - 8 - 345XL Solar World Panels, 3000 TL-US SMA Sunny Boy GT inverter.   3000 watts SMA/SPS power.  PV "switchable" to MidNite Classic 250ks based charging of Golf cart + spare battery array of 8 - 155 AH 12V Trojans with an  APC SMT3000 - 48 volt DC=>120 Volt AC inverter for emergency off-grid.   Also, "PriUPS" backup generator with APC SURT6000/SURT003  => 192 volt DC/240 volt split phase AC inverter.  
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators Posts: 26,768 admin
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator

    If you go to "Go Advanced" there is a "#" tag which will use "CODE" tags (with square brackets []). This keeps the spacing/tabs -- Can make tables more readable.
    [B]Prius Data - 2010 Gen II model using APC SURT 5000 UPS (2005 production)[/B]                                                    
     *                                            
    *Date*    *       Time*    *       Vmin*    Vmax*Vout*            Iout* %Wout*Freq*    %Cap*Vbat*    TupsF*%VAout*        
    *12/04/2014*    20:20:57*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    0.0*    239.7*    77.3*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    20:19:57*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    0.0*    227.8*    77.3*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    20:18:57*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    0.0*    216.0*    77.3*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    20:17:57*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    0.0*    203.0*    78.2*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    20:16:57*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    0.0*    208.4*    78.2*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    20:15:57*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    3.0*    213.8*    78.2*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    20:14:57*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    6.0*    221.4*    79.3*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    20:13:57*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    10.0*    234.3*    79.3*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    20:12:57*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    13.0*    233.2*    79.3*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    20:11:57*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    16.0*    221.4*    79.3*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    20:10:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    19.0*    200.8*    79.3*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    20:09:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    21.0*    206.2*    79.3*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    20:08:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    24.0*    211.6*    79.3*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    20:07:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    28.0*    218.1*    79.3*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    20:06:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    31.0*    226.8*    79.3*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    20:05:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    34.0*    237.6*    78.2*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    20:04:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    37.0*    225.7*    78.2*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    20:03:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    41.0*    212.7*    78.2*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    20:02:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    44.0*    204.1*    78.2*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    20:01:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    47.0*    209.5*    78.2*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    20:00:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    50.0*    216.0*    78.2*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    19:59:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    54.0*    223.5*    78.2*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    19:58:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    57.0*    241.9*    78.2*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    19:57:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    60.0*    231.1*    77.3*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    19:56:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    63.0*    217.0*    77.3*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    19:55:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    67.0*    203.0*    77.3*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    19:54:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    70.0*    208.4*    76.2*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    19:53:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    73.0*    213.8*    76.2*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    19:52:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    76.0*    220.3*    76.2*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    19:51:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    80.0*    228.9*    74.3*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    19:50:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    83.0*    240.8*    74.3*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    19:49:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    86.0*    228.9*    74.3*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    19:48:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    89.0*    222.4*    74.3*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    19:47:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    92.0*    210.6*    73.2*    35.0*                
    *12/04/2014*    19:45:56*    0.0*    0.0*    239.8*    7.34*    49.0*    59.96*    98.0*    205.2*    72.3*    35.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    19:44:56*    0.0*    0.0*    241.0*    0.00*    6.0*    59.96*    99.0*    211.6*    72.3*    0.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    19:43:56*    0.0*    0.0*    241.0*    0.00*    6.0*    59.96*    100.0*  212.7*    71.2*    0.0*        
    *12/04/2014*    19:42:56*    0.0*    0.0*    241.0*    0.00*    0.0*    59.96*    100.0*  214.9*    71.2*    0.0*
    

    Also try cut an past the whole chart. The software can build readable tables (sometimes).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • techntrektechntrek Solar Expert Posts: 1,366 ✭✭✭
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator

    Excellent! Glad I could help over these last few months. The Prius is still my primary emergency power source, with the Honda in 2nd place if the car is on the road. As quiet as the Honda is, the Prius is much quieter when running, doesn't have an exhaust smell, and burns slightly less fuel.

    I recommend you route the Prius' connection into the small storage compartment that is on your left as you are standing at the rear of the car (the area that is at the top-left of the 3rd photo). Then you only have to lift that cover and reach in to get to it. If you leave it in the wheel well it will take a lot more effort right when you just want to get your lights on (and the snow is blowing hard). Maybe that was your intention since you used the Anderson, which is easier to get small fingers or objects into.

    Don't forget to submit an entry for the priups.com website, he loves hearing about new systems.
    4.5 kw APC UPS powered by a Prius, 12 kw Generac, Honda EU3000is
  • MarkCMarkC Solar Expert Posts: 150 ✭✭✭
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator

    Thanks BB - I'll try that format tool next set of data

    Techntrek - you are right on - the Prius belongs to my Daughter and I have Grandson who is about to start driving. The cable needs to be accessible, but not too easy. Underneath the spare seemed a good compromise. I'll put a warning label for anyone changing the tire that it could be live - although not likely.

    Some additional notes;
    1. The SURT 5000 (2005 model) had to be hot started - would not respond until powered up - even with the 200+ volts into the white Anderson. Both browns were disconnected. The Prius did not seem to care!
    2. The traction battery relay terminals are quite small - did not measure, but believe they are 5mm standard thread. My ring connectors were probably too big, but using a star washer seemed to lock it in very well.
    3. At the ~1800 watts, the Prius would cycle about 4 minutes on/off. The battery display cycled from 2 green bars to one orange bar.
    4. I could not get my hand behind the back seat to fasten the back right bolt on the main support bracket - just left it off as I was not in the mood to remove the seat. Any suggestions?

    Back to the workbench!
    3850 watts - 14 - 275SW SolarWorld Panels, 4000 TL-US SMA Sunny Boy Grid tied inverter.  2760 Watts - 8 - 345XL Solar World Panels, 3000 TL-US SMA Sunny Boy GT inverter.   3000 watts SMA/SPS power.  PV "switchable" to MidNite Classic 250ks based charging of Golf cart + spare battery array of 8 - 155 AH 12V Trojans with an  APC SMT3000 - 48 volt DC=>120 Volt AC inverter for emergency off-grid.   Also, "PriUPS" backup generator with APC SURT6000/SURT003  => 192 volt DC/240 volt split phase AC inverter.  
  • techntrektechntrek Solar Expert Posts: 1,366 ✭✭✭
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator

    Odd, I've never had a problem with a black/cold start from battery power. Did you hold down the power button until the 2nd beep? I like the connectors you used, much beefier than the ones I used. As I mentioned much earlier in this thread I found about the same on/off cycling times with about the same load. Of course overnight when there is only a few hundred watt load the battery shines since the engine only needs to come on a few times an hour. If I'm thinking of the right bolt I had to use a crescent wrench to get it tightened.
    4.5 kw APC UPS powered by a Prius, 12 kw Generac, Honda EU3000is
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators Posts: 26,768 admin
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator

    If do not have a Green Wire to UPS chassis connection to UPS Neutral connetion (like in a pure off grid usage)--I have seen inverters that will not start (because of the lifted ground/neutral bond with no AC mains connection and the building bonded neutral).

    The others, like Techntrek said, hold down the power button for a couple of seconds for a "cold" start.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • 90cummins90cummins Solar Expert Posts: 57 ✭✭
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator

    Have you calculated the actual cost per kw for your Prius Power?
    I did fuel consumption on 2 Generac XL4000 generators and 1 Yanmar L70 diesel.
    The cost per/kw was $0.54 on both Generac's and the Yanmar was $0.41 per/kw.
    These tests were at or near full rated load.
    90cummins
  • icarusicarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,090 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator

    Late to this party, so sorry if it has been mentioned previously. There is considerable conversation on the Priuschat.com [fixed typo in website name. -Bill B.] forums on this very subject.

    Tony
  • techntrektechntrek Solar Expert Posts: 1,366 ✭✭✭
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator
    90cummins wrote: »
    Have you calculated the actual cost per kw for your Prius Power?
    I did fuel consumption on 2 Generac XL4000 generators and 1 Yanmar L70 diesel.
    The cost per/kw was $0.54 on both Generac's and the Yanmar was $0.41 per/kw.
    These tests were at or near full rated load.
    90cummins

    In actual use, mine uses about the same amount of gas as a 2000 watt Honda inverter-generator, but with the ability to do 4000 watts continuous (I never get nearly that high).
    4.5 kw APC UPS powered by a Prius, 12 kw Generac, Honda EU3000is
  • MarkCMarkC Solar Expert Posts: 150 ✭✭✭
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator
    techntrek wrote: »
    Odd, I've never had a problem with a black/cold start from battery power. Did you hold down the power button until the 2nd beep? I like the connectors you used, much beefier than the ones I used. As I mentioned much earlier in this thread I found about the same on/off cycling times with about the same load. Of course overnight when there is only a few hundred watt load the battery shines since the engine only needs to come on a few times an hour. If I'm thinking of the right bolt I had to use a crescent wrench to get it tightened.

    Yes, I held both "test" and power buttons down (individually) for over 5 seconds with no response. The voltage on the back Andersons were 200+ volts DC. Not sure about grounding as I made no attempt to connect any additional ground wires except incoming 240 volt split phase from my home panel (for battery charging) is hooked up without the neutral - two 120 volts and ground to SURT.

    If you look closely at the cable, about every 8 inches, I zip-tied the two 8AWG wires together, then used 1" adhesive shrink wrap around each zip tie which resulted in a rather "stiff" but manageable cable that can be routed/anchored without the two wires going all over the place! Again, the big wire may be overkill, but I do have a fair distance from the Prius to the SURTS and I had plenty of the wire available. What is great about these larger SURTS is that you end up with plenty of APC style Andersons - especially if you have a extended battery pack!

    I just could not get the bolt started - could not find a way to get my hand that far down/back because of the seat itself. I'm assuming there is no way to easily tilt or remove the seat. I have a closed end ratchet wrench that would easily tighten the bolt, but starting was just beyond me.

    Attachment not found.
    3850 watts - 14 - 275SW SolarWorld Panels, 4000 TL-US SMA Sunny Boy Grid tied inverter.  2760 Watts - 8 - 345XL Solar World Panels, 3000 TL-US SMA Sunny Boy GT inverter.   3000 watts SMA/SPS power.  PV "switchable" to MidNite Classic 250ks based charging of Golf cart + spare battery array of 8 - 155 AH 12V Trojans with an  APC SMT3000 - 48 volt DC=>120 Volt AC inverter for emergency off-grid.   Also, "PriUPS" backup generator with APC SURT6000/SURT003  => 192 volt DC/240 volt split phase AC inverter.  
  • techntrektechntrek Solar Expert Posts: 1,366 ✭✭✭
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator

    Definitely odd, as you hold down the "on" button you should hear 1 beep, a pause, then a second beep, then release during that beep. Maybe check the settings to see if there is a power-on delay specified. It can be set to NOT come on unless the battery has X % of charge on it (15% being the minimum). I have mine set to 0 so it will come on no matter what.

    I'm still not 100% which bolt you are referring to. I seem to remember there was one sandwiched behind the seat cushion right up against the battery pack. That one?
    4.5 kw APC UPS powered by a Prius, 12 kw Generac, Honda EU3000is
  • MarkCMarkC Solar Expert Posts: 150 ✭✭✭
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator
    techntrek wrote: »
    Definitely odd, as you hold down the "on" button you should hear 1 beep, a pause, then a second beep, then release during that beep. Maybe check the settings to see if there is a power-on delay specified. It can be set to NOT come on unless the battery has X % of charge on it (15% being the minimum). I have mine set to 0 so it will come on no matter what.

    I'm still not 100% which bolt you are referring to. I seem to remember there was one sandwiched behind the seat cushion right up against the battery pack. That one?

    Just got back from out of town - I'll check the configuration to make sure and try the cold start again. I have all set up at the rural property now, but have not done any testing - hopefully this week.

    The bolt is likely the one you describe - if you were looking down on top of the traction battery (in the tire well), it would be the bolt furthest to the right and between the seat cushion and pack. Very tight clearance - much to tight for my hand - might get my wife to try sometime! She has done such a trick before. I got it out with the ratchet socket and a magnetic tool.
    3850 watts - 14 - 275SW SolarWorld Panels, 4000 TL-US SMA Sunny Boy Grid tied inverter.  2760 Watts - 8 - 345XL Solar World Panels, 3000 TL-US SMA Sunny Boy GT inverter.   3000 watts SMA/SPS power.  PV "switchable" to MidNite Classic 250ks based charging of Golf cart + spare battery array of 8 - 155 AH 12V Trojans with an  APC SMT3000 - 48 volt DC=>120 Volt AC inverter for emergency off-grid.   Also, "PriUPS" backup generator with APC SURT6000/SURT003  => 192 volt DC/240 volt split phase AC inverter.  
  • MarkCMarkC Solar Expert Posts: 150 ✭✭✭
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator

    Busy holidays! Moved additional test gear (extended battery packs) to the rural property - in the Prius. This car actually has quite a bit of cargo room - and sure is easy on the gas (I drive a Suburban for my business).

    I was able to both set the battery return % to "0", set the power on delay to none and also turned off the low battery alarm. The "cold start" then worked. Apparently there is an algorithm in these SURTS that keeps lowering the battery charge percentages (LEDS) when running on the Prius, even though the voltages vary up/down continuously. Since the battery charge % was near or at zero, it would not cold start unless the return is set to "0". Appears the SURT needs to be shutdown to reset the battery charge algorithm?

    The test went as expected. The Prius/SURT 5000 has no issues powering 2 ceiling fans, half dozen lights, LCD TV, refrigerator and a 18,000 btu A/C unit (240 volt). I plan on posting pictures and data when I get a chance.
    3850 watts - 14 - 275SW SolarWorld Panels, 4000 TL-US SMA Sunny Boy Grid tied inverter.  2760 Watts - 8 - 345XL Solar World Panels, 3000 TL-US SMA Sunny Boy GT inverter.   3000 watts SMA/SPS power.  PV "switchable" to MidNite Classic 250ks based charging of Golf cart + spare battery array of 8 - 155 AH 12V Trojans with an  APC SMT3000 - 48 volt DC=>120 Volt AC inverter for emergency off-grid.   Also, "PriUPS" backup generator with APC SURT6000/SURT003  => 192 volt DC/240 volt split phase AC inverter.  
  • techntrektechntrek Solar Expert Posts: 1,366 ✭✭✭
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator

    Prius and Suburban describes us, too (and a 93 Caprice for a 3rd car). Nothing like driving the most efficient and just about the least efficient vehicle at the same time.

    Not sure what the problem is with the charging, I've run mine for a day and a half non-stop from the Prius and the battery % ran up and down up and down, then with the lead-acid batteries back in place it fired up again.

    Wow a 1 1/2 ton A/C, very cool. :p
    4.5 kw APC UPS powered by a Prius, 12 kw Generac, Honda EU3000is
  • Badfish740Badfish740 Registered Users Posts: 13
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator

    Finding this thread has been like finding the Holy Grail! Great read! Thanks to techntrek for sharing all of this knowledge. I'm pretty late to this party and don't even own a hybrid yet, but am in the market for one. I need a small SUV like the Ford Escape or Toyota Highlander (I think that's it except for some of the pricey Lexus models) for a couple of reasons-first I need room for kids and cargo, and second, I'd like AWD and more ground clearance than a Prius would provide because this will be our family adventure rig that we can take camping, surf fishing, etc... Eventually I'd like to utilize the vehicle as a power source for a planned small off grid cabin, and intermittently as an emergency generator as you folks have. I got started on this by pouring over the "PriUPS" site after someone had introduced me to that and the kits sold by ConVerdant.

    Have any of you looked into off-grid solar inverters as a potentially simpler (no batteries, no black start issues, etc...) way to get hybrid power to your house? I ran across these recently:

    http://www.sma-america.com/products/solarinverters/sunny-boy-3000tl-us-3800tl-us-4000tl-us-5000tl-us-6000tl-us-7000tl-us-7700tl-us.html#Technical-Data-137451

    The DC voltage range on these (175-480) seems to be within the parameters of a variety of hybrids (I believe the Ford Escape operates around 330 volts and the Highlander about 280?), so unless I'm missing something, if one of these were hardwired into the car (They look to be about the size of a desktop tower), one could simply run a cord from the output with a twist lock NEMA plug to a transfer switch connected to the main panel of the house, or directly to the panel in the case of an off-grid application. They're not cheap at about $2K, but maybe worth it? Looking forward to hearing feedback on this and learning a lot!
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator

    Welcome to the forum.

    That SMA you linked to is not and off-grid inverter. It is a grid-tie inverter meant to run from solar panels directly. You should not attempt to power it from a high Voltage battery bank.
  • Badfish740Badfish740 Registered Users Posts: 13
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator
    Welcome to the forum.

    Thanks!
    That SMA you linked to is not and off-grid inverter. It is a grid-tie inverter meant to run from solar panels directly. You should not attempt to power it from a high Voltage battery bank.

    I see where I got confused-those inverters are linked from the "Off Grid" page on SMA's website, but they are indeed, grid tied. So I suppose that begs the question, is there an inverter out there fit for the job, or is a UPS still the only workable option?
  • techntrektechntrek Solar Expert Posts: 1,366 ✭✭✭
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator

    Welcome. It depends on the voltage range of the hybrid you buy. Even the Prius line has 2 different voltage ranges now. Toyota lists the nominal voltage of their hybrids on their specs page, I don't know about the other manufacturers. They key is finding a UPS or inverter that can accept whatever range the car has. Might be easy, might not. I listed some models earlier on this thread that would be usable with some of the other non-Prius hybrids.
    4.5 kw APC UPS powered by a Prius, 12 kw Generac, Honda EU3000is
  • solar_davesolar_dave Solar Expert Posts: 2,330 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator

    The SMA requires a grid to push power into and will only become active 15 minutes after qualifying a good electric grid attachment is detected, not designed for battery operation.
  • Badfish740Badfish740 Registered Users Posts: 13
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator
    solar_dave wrote: »
    The SMA requires a grid to push power into and will only become active 15 minutes after qualifying a good electric grid attachment is detected, not designed for battery operation.

    I realized that it wasn't what I thought it was, so the search continues. I'm going to comb back through this thread to look at some of the UPS units that were listed to see what might work for the vehicle I end up with.

    *EDIT* Hold that thought, actually-what about this one:

    http://www.sunfinepower.com/en/Product_show.asp?Bid=28&id=162

    Input range is 180-360 VDC and output is up to 4800W continuous - 220VAC/26A. From what it looks like (It's tough to tell because the product description is in that awkwardly translated English), its meant to power irrigation equipment with no battery storage, so it's an "all or nothing" affair-either PV or AC from the grid/a generator. I would think that I could connect the DC inputs to the car and simply never use the AC inputs.
  • techntrektechntrek Solar Expert Posts: 1,366 ✭✭✭
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator

    Hmm, I can't get the link to work. One thing I'm worried about based on the numbers above, usually 220 volt units are 50 hz and not 60. Maybe that isn't an issue for you if you aren't in North America.
    4.5 kw APC UPS powered by a Prius, 12 kw Generac, Honda EU3000is
  • Badfish740Badfish740 Registered Users Posts: 13
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator
    techntrek wrote: »
    Hmm, I can't get the link to work. One thing I'm worried about based on the numbers above, usually 220 volt units are 50 hz and not 60. Maybe that isn't an issue for you if you aren't in North America.

    Just tried it and it worked for me-the forum platform seems to have shortened it but it should still be there. I'm in North America so 60hz is a requirement. This is what the specs are with regard to AC power (copied from the site):

    220Vac+20%,50/60Hz+1Hz, true sine wave<3% THD, single phase

    What does "50/60Hz+1Hz" mean? Also, on another site, someone told me that this might not be safe to connect to both legs of my main panel-I don't completely understand why it would have to be hooked up this way though:
    To use the Sunfine with just 220v only appliances, you would hook the sunfine L to L1 of the house and the Sunfine N to -L2 of the house. The sunfine N would not be connected to ground. Any 110v outlet that was connected would have the line hooked and the neutral floating. A bad situation. You would have to check what I say with an electrician. I am not an electrician and I doubt the sunfune would meet USA codes.
  • techntrektechntrek Solar Expert Posts: 1,366 ✭✭✭
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator

    Got the page to load. What that means is it is user-selectable either 50 or 60 Hz, likely with a slew rate of 1 Hz. However, this line "(limited by local anti-islanding regulations)" tells me it is a grid-tie model which won't work.

    When I've tried to contact Chinese inverter manufacturers about product availability in the past I've received no response. Odd.
    4.5 kw APC UPS powered by a Prius, 12 kw Generac, Honda EU3000is
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,121 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator
    techntrek wrote: »
    Got the page to load. What that means is it is user-selectable either 50 or 60 Hz, likely with a slew rate of 1 Hz. However, this line "(limited by local anti-islanding regulations)" tells me it is a grid-tie model which won't work.

    When I've tried to contact Chinese inverter manufacturers about product availability in the past I've received no response. Odd.
    If it is really a GTI, then the only reason you would need to select 50 or 60 Hz instead of just matching what is coming in is to properly set the frequency limits used to validate the utility power before turning on the GTI operation.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • Badfish740Badfish740 Registered Users Posts: 13
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator

    This is harder than I thought and perhaps the reason that a UPS is still the best option. What I don't understand is why there don't seem to be any truly off-grid inverters out there. Here is another that I linked to before that is listed as "off grid," but the wiring diagram clearly shows that there is a provision for connecting to the grid:

    http://www.sunfine.com/products/category2/
  • inetdoginetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,121 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator
    Badfish740 wrote: »
    This is harder than I thought and perhaps the reason that a UPS is still the best option. What I don't understand is why there don't seem to be any truly off-grid inverters out there. Here is another that I linked to before that is listed as "off grid," but the wiring diagram clearly shows that there is a provision for connecting to the grid:

    http://www.sunfine.com/products/category2/
    There are two considerations here:

    1. Most of the off grid inverters are designed to be used with battery banks ranging from 12V to 48V. Higher voltages are seen primarily in units designed for UPS use or for telecomm or utility use with
    high voltage battery banks not suitable for residential use.
    2. You will also see some hybrid inverters which can operate from battery banks (up to 48V) but also have a grid connection which can go through a transfer switch directly to the load. When grid power goes away the transfer switch opens to keep from backfeeding the grid and the inverter carries the full load. Many of these units also have the option to sell back power to the grid just like a GTI does. This is a different operating mode from the standalone operation, but uses mostly the same internal hardware.

    What you will not see much of is an inverter with a high voltage MPPT input for direct panel connection with GTI capability and also standalone capability with a lower voltage battery supply.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • Badfish740Badfish740 Registered Users Posts: 13
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator

    I got a response from the Chinese inverter company and they don't produce anything that would work, so I suppose the UPS is still the only game out there. I've looked around for the 8kVa Toshiba 1600EP and found a few between $1000-2000 with batteries. I'm looking at purchasing either a used Highlander or Ford Escape, which should work with these based on techntrk's observations. Just a few questions though:

    If the UPS puts out 8kVa what is that going to translate to in watts? I found a web based calculator and then had to guess on a power factor (my choices were .8 or 1), which gave me 6400W and 8000W respectively-that's quite a bit of power, which is great, but would that be asking too much of the battery/charging system?

    I did some research on the battery voltage of each vehicle's battery pack and found the following website:

    http://www.hybridcars.com/hybrid-car-battery/
    The nickel metal hydride battery used in Highlander Hybrid—and the Lexus RX 400h—is packaged in a newly developed metal battery casing. The 240 cells can deliver high voltage of 288 volts—but the motor-generators units can operate on variable voltage anywhere from 280 volts to 650 volts. The battery pack supplies 288 volts, but the boost converter, a part of the inverter above the transaxle, changes this to 500 volts. This battery pack provides 40 percent more power than the Prius battery, despite being 18 percent smaller.

    Would that present a problem with regard to the Highlander? The Ford Escape seems a little more straightforward-voltage is simply listed at 330VDC.

    Despite the fact that the units are so incredibly heavy and cannot be black started, they still would allow me to realize my goal of having quiet, fuel efficient, and convenient home backup power. I suppose that I could come up with a hybrid form of what I had originally proposed (a trailer mounted genverter system) and mount the UPS and current 4200W genset on a trailer in a protected housing (not sure how shock sensitive UPS units are). This way in the event of a power outage I could start up the UPS with by briefly running the 4200W genset and switching over to hybrid power in my driveway. I could do the same at the off-grid property and also be able to use the 4200W unit separately if I wanted to feed a large load or use it elsewhere on the property.
  • techntrektechntrek Solar Expert Posts: 1,366 ✭✭✭
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator

    You probably don't want to draw more than 3-4kw continuous so the maximum output of the UPS doesn't matter.

    I would bet those higher voltages only exist while the vehicle is on the road during regen braking. I've read the same is true for the Prius. What counts is the min-max voltage while the vehicle is in park.

    Not sure I would mount a UPS on a trailer, that is a harsh environment.
    4.5 kw APC UPS powered by a Prius, 12 kw Generac, Honda EU3000is
  • MarkCMarkC Solar Expert Posts: 150 ✭✭✭
    Re: Using a Prius as a generator
    techntrek wrote: »
    Prius and Suburban describes us, too (and a 93 Caprice for a 3rd car). Nothing like driving the most efficient and just about the least efficient vehicle at the same time.

    Not sure what the problem is with the charging, I've run mine for a day and a half non-stop from the Prius and the battery % ran up and down up and down, then with the lead-acid batteries back in place it fired up again.

    Wow a 1 1/2 ton A/C, very cool. :p

    Well, I checked the serial number on the PTAC style A/C - it is a 1 ton unit with heat pump and 3500 watt strip supplemental heater strip. You got me thinking - 1-1/2 tons is big "window" style unit. This high efficiency unit will cool a large area however.
    3850 watts - 14 - 275SW SolarWorld Panels, 4000 TL-US SMA Sunny Boy Grid tied inverter.  2760 Watts - 8 - 345XL Solar World Panels, 3000 TL-US SMA Sunny Boy GT inverter.   3000 watts SMA/SPS power.  PV "switchable" to MidNite Classic 250ks based charging of Golf cart + spare battery array of 8 - 155 AH 12V Trojans with an  APC SMT3000 - 48 volt DC=>120 Volt AC inverter for emergency off-grid.   Also, "PriUPS" backup generator with APC SURT6000/SURT003  => 192 volt DC/240 volt split phase AC inverter.  
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