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EV Hack Keeps Homes Humming After Hurricane Sandy

As millions of people fired up generators and burned candles in the wake of superstorm Sandy, some EV owners hacked their cars to keep their lights on and refrigerators humming.

For Virginia resident Scott Wilson, that involved nothing more than making sure his Nissan Leaf’s battery pack was topped up the night before, along with having a ProWatt 1000 DC-to-AC converter and a pair of $25 cables at the ready. And it’s something that EV owners along the east coast can do as they prepare for the latest nor’easter front.

After a derecho storm hit the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest in June of this year and Wilson lost power for a few days, he wanted a sure-fire plan to keep the juice flowing during Sandy. That involved ordering the ProWatt from an online marine store (for $270), which could use the electricity from his Leaf’s 24 kWh lithium-ion battery pack to power his refrigerator, microwave and even his coffee maker — although not all at once.

“I had the inverter hooked up and ready earlier in the day,” Wilson told Wired, explaining that the modification had been done by many members on the MyNissanLeaf enthusiast site, and others involved in the Electric Vehicle Association of Greater Washington, DC.

The Leaf’s DC-DC converter can supply up to 1.7kW of electricity, but keeping the draw between 1.0 and 1.5 kW is the safer bet, according to members of the EVADC website. And the real key is making sure not to plug the converter’s terminals to the negative post on the Leaf’s 12V auxiliary battery — it’s equipped with sensors and could have implications for the charging system.

The Leaf to Home system is Nissan’s official powering solution, but it’s only available in Japan for now. Image: Nissan

With that caveat in mind, Wilson managed to make himself a fresh pot of coffee the morning of the storm. Had the power been out any longer, he figures he could have intermittently powered several appliances for at least three or four days.

Nissan Leaf owners stuck without power used their EV’s battery to keep their homes running after superstorm Sandy. Image: Nissan



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