During the blackout on the east coast following the wake of devastating Hurricane Sandy, storm-weary residents made do with flashlights, candles, fireplaces and generators. But at least one resident kept his home lit with his Toyota Prius.
It’s a little known ability of hybrid battery/gas cars like the Prius: with a power inverter and a few extension cords, the car’s powerful battery can become a back-up power source for a home.
Bob Sakala of Paramus, New Jersey told MSNBC that he bought his Toyota Prius Hybrid in June to save gas. In the week since the storm, he powered his home – including lights, laptops and a television – on three quarters of a tank of gas.
Sakala says he first read about the Prius' use as a power source years ago on the Internet.
"The neighbors kept saying, 'Does Bob have a generator?' No, it's the Prius. It's a spaceship," said Sakala.
Image via Shutterstock
This form of vehicle-to-grid technology, often called V2G, has attracted hobbyists, university researchers and companies like Pacific Gas & Electric and Google (News - Alert), according to a recent New York Times article. Although there is some skepticism among experts about the feasibility of V2G, the big players see a future in which fleets of hybrid cars, recharged at night when demand is lower, can relieve the grid and help avert serious blackouts.
Both Xcel Energy and the federal National Renewable Energy Laboratory are reportedly exploring V2G technology.
Another great benefit of hybrid or electric vehicles after storms? Their owners are much better positioned to survive shortages of gasoline, as parts of the northeast are seeing right now.
For more information on V2G technology and how it can help you, see this Discovery Channel segment on the Prius-to-house process.
Edited by Braden Becker