Homeowners up and down the East Coast have bought a lot of hybrid converters, devices that turn their Toyota Prius into an emergency generator. In fact, ConVerdant Vehicles, LLC, which offers so-called Plug-Out Kits, sold out after Hurricane Sandy caused blackouts in upper Northeast, said owner Randy Bryan.

Given semi-regular power outages, there had been some interest in the kits before the Superstorm, Bryan said, but once the storm hit and local residents were plagued by blackouts for days after the downpour, the demand for Plug-Out Kits took off. "They're using it for a lot more than just a 12-volt battery," he said.

Bryan has used a Prius generator for non-emergency power tasks – from powering speakers and a microphone at a nearby sustainability fair to charging a Tesla (the mind whirls). Once the kit is installed, using it is a simple process – connect an extension cord from the car to the house or worksite and enjoy the power.

ConVerdant (the name means "with green") claims the Prius generator is much more efficient than typical backup generators, which need maintenance to keep them working and produce their fair share of noise and exhaust. Since the Prius has built-in stop-start technology, it only runs the generator motor when the battery gets too low. Of course, all the energy is still coming from gasoline, but stop-start allows the Prius to use only a fraction of the fuel required by typical generators, the company says.

Most of ConVerdant's customers are using their Plug-Out Kit on a second- or third-generation Prius or on a Prius V. The Prius C doesn't use the same battery, and neither does the Prius Plug-In Hybrid, so those vehicles are not compatible. ConVerdant Vehicles is testing out the larger li-ion battery packs and their potential for backup generators, but for now, the regular Prius hybrid powertrain is the natural fit. In Japan, Toyota is testing vehicle-to-home connections using Prius Plug Ins.

The Concord, NH, company also sells Plug-In Advanced Kits, converting hybrids like the Prius into super high-mileage plug-in hybrids.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 15 Comments
      EZEE
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is such a no brainer. Every hybrid should have this for emergencies. Even camping...
        Actionable Mango
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EZEE
        I completely agree. Heck, even pure EVs should have this feature. Sure, the batteries will eventually run out but that should be the owner's choice. I could see wanting to power something like a gas furnace blower rather than be able to drive when everything is shut down anyway. IIRC the global Leaf commercial shows this feature, but then the fine print says it is for Japan only.
        paulwesterberg
        • 2 Years Ago
        @EZEE
        I hate people that run generators while "camping" so they can watch tv in their air conditioned camper. But if people are going to be F-ing idiots this would be a much more efficient generator setup. I just can't see those "campers" owning a prius or driving/hauling it along in order to provide power.
      Giza Plateau
      • 2 Years Ago
      It generates environmental emergencies
      Randy Bryan
      • 2 Years Ago
      From my experience, one can run a fridge, lights, tv, computers-network, phone chargers on 1kw. Add the non-electric [gas-oil] house central hot-water heating system on 2kva, and add any one 1kw heater device [coffee maker, hair dryer, microwave] with the 3kva system. If averaging less than 1kw power, you can run for days on a tank of fuel. Running at 3kw average, you have to refill daily. I think Sandy opened a lot of eyes to what loosing power can mean to one's life. Someone below said campers wouldn't use it. Some do, but you can have a great tailgate party in any parking lot or field with all the comforts, and none of the noise.
      • 2 Years Ago
      It's a emergency generator, that has nothing to do with climate change other then omitting CO2 from car exhaust, something we do every day. Gas power lawnmowers omit 11x that amount in one hour.... Myself, own a hybrid car, battery powered lawnmower / weed eater, 70% more efficient cookware!!! Pay a little more up front for these amenities to save money in the near future; plus, reduce my own footprint on our only fragile environment!!! "TURN THE SWITCH OFF"
      Ford Future
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sold! Great Idea. Especially with another global warming induced Hurricane Storm heading up from the South.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ford Future
        I'm imagining ford future observing the storm in the distance with binoculars.. looking at the shape of cloud formations, the hue of the air and thinking.. 'oh yeah, that's a dead ringer. That's definitely a global warming storm out there and not a normal one, just look at it'
        2 wheeled menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ford Future
        Man, if we didn't have this global warming problem, there'd be no storms huh.
        EZEE
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Ford Future
        Thank God for global warming (and ford, you are behind the times - it was global ice age, global warming, global climate change, then global climate disruption - get with the program) - during the past 6-years since Hurricane Katrina, global tropical cyclone frequency and energy have decreased dramatically, and are currently at near-historical record lows. According to a new peer-reviewed research paper accepted to be published, only 69 tropical storms were observed globally during 2010, the fewest in almost 40-years of reliable records. Furthermore, when each storm’s intensity and duration were taken into account, the total global tropical cyclone accumulated energy (ACE) was found to have fallen by half to the lowest level since 1977. In his new paper “Recent historically low global tropical cyclone activity”, Dr. Ryan Maue, a meteorologist from Florida State University, examined the last 40-years of global hurricane records and found strikingly large variability in both tropical cyclone frequency and energy from year-to-year. Since 2007, global tropical cyclone activity has decreased dramatically and has continued at near-historical low levels. Indeed, only 64 tropical cyclones were observed globally in the 12-months from June 2010 – May 2011, nearly 23-storms below average obliterating the previous record low set in 1977.
          EZEE
          • 2 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          Fine.... Although when it is cold out, we are told weather isn't climate, r, it is because of global climate change. We are told that droughts, as well as floods are climate change. We are told there will be increased cloud cover, and no clouds, due to climate change. We are given figures that later prove to be off by 300%, but if we point this out we are paid by oil companies, or saw it on Fox News. People who agree with climate change are sainted, and then when they research and change their minds, their are evil, paid by oil companies, or Fox News. Never mind if predictions are off by 300%, to point that out, oil companies, Fox News. No sense in any disagreement,m because oil companies, and Fox News. Climate change is now an article of faith.
          Rob J
          • 2 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          I down voted you because 1) You plagiarized your post without citation and 2) You copied it from a website run by a weather man with about 50% ridiculous information
      Rotation
      • 2 Years Ago
      62lbs and 3kW. I'm kind of guessing that really means 3kVA. 3kVA is pretty good. It'll probably run your refrigerator which is often what people want in an emergency. Of course, if you had this during Sandy it would have been of limited usefulness because up near NYC (especially Long Island where the blackouts were) you couldn't get gasoline either.
        BF4ALTF
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rotation
        I looked at my fridge, and it shows 8.5a, which would be 1020W at 120V which I guess is about 1.3 kVA. What is not clear from the label is if the 8.5a is the starting current or running current. Most inverters will provide a peak wattage of about double constant wattage rating.
        BF4ALTF
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rotation
        Refrigerator probably run on 3kVA? I would hope so since they plug into a standard 15a 120v circuits. Their site shows watts as "Refridgerator 75-250". That sounds low to me, but nowhere near 3kVA. I will check when I get home.
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