Soon, in California, you may be able to power your home with your car during a blackout, or even have the utility company pay you for the power that your car produces. San Jose Mercury News reports that PG&E, a Californian utility company will showcase a converted Toyota Prius in Sunnyvale, CA. (Update: See a video of the prototype cars on this page). These “vehicle-to-grid” cars charge by plugging into a three-prong 110- to 120-volt outlet. If the home needs energy, such as during a blackout or on a peak day when electricity prices are high, a switch can be flipped to send the charge the other way.
The investor-owned utility, which appears to be the first in the United States to demonstrate a car that can power a home, says customers will be able to use plug-ins to cut greenhouse gas emissions as well as high home-energy bills. Prices for plug-in hybrids are expected to range from $3,000 to $5,000 more than conventional hybrids, which would mean cars such as the Toyota Prius would be in the high $20,000 price range, said Bill Van Amburg, senior vice president for the industry trade group CALSTART.
The small number of plug-ins on the road today are custom-converted vehicles, much like PG&E’s tricked-out Prius.
PG&E’s conversion, done by EnergyCS, cost $40,000. The car’s lithium battery, which takes up the bottom of the back trunk where a tire would go, adds an extra 180 pounds to the car’s weight. It produces 9 kilowatts of electricity; the average house uses about 2.5 kilowatts of electricity an hour.
Like a traditional hybrid, plug-ins have both electric motors and batteries as well as a gasoline engine. The gas engine kicks in when the car is moving about 20 to 25 miles per hour.
A 2007 Toyota Prius gets 55 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving, according to a government report late last year. But a plug-in hybrid has a bigger battery, allowing it to use the gasoline engine less and reach 100 miles per gallon.
Most hybrid plug-in prototypes simply take energy from a home’s electricity outlet. But a growing number of engineers, including those at PG&E, say any plug-in can also be used as a two-way generator.
:: Via San Jose Mercury News