Nissan Leaf-To-Home Power Station: Will It Make It To U.S.?

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Eighteen months after the earthquake and tsunami that devastated parts of Japan, electric cars are viewed there in a whole new light—as portable sources of emergency energy.

Now Nissan has taken that usage to a new level, with the Leaf-To-Home energy station that it announced in May and put on sale in August.

The owner of a Nissan Leaf can plug the battery-electric car into the station via a cable that connects to the car’s CHAdeMO DC quick-charging port.

The Leaf-To-Home station converts the high-voltage direct current from the car’s lithium-ion battery into the 100-Volt alternating current used in homes in Japan.

With the average Japanese household consuming just 10 kilowatt-hours of electricity a day, the usable 20-kWh capacity of the Leaf’s 24-kWh battery can power a home for up to two days.

And Nissan is now proposing that by recharging a Leaf overnight, when electricity rates are lowest, the Leaf-To-Home station can be used to power a home during daytime hours—when rates are much higher.

The video below describes a test the company is mounting to demonstrate how this might work in the real world.

Nissan discussed the Leaf-To-Home station at its Advanced Technology Briefing, held Wednesday at its GranDrive facility in Oppama, Japan.

Could such a system be offered in the States as well, supplementing or replacing a household’s gasoline or diesel generators?

Nissan officials demurred, saying that the company was “studying” the U.S. market.

The challenge, quite simply, is that the average U.S. household uses more than three times the electricity of an average Japanese residence.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, average U.S. electricity consumption is 32 kWh a day—though it varies considerably by state, with Tennessee residents using more than two and a half times as much as Maine residents.

But using the average of all households, even a full 20 kWh from the Leaf’s usable battery capacity could only power the home for part of a day.

Most power outages last only minutes to hours, so that might be enough for at least some applications in the U.S.

But both cost-shifting and emergency home power that use electric cars as energy storage are new concepts in the U.S.—and a gasoline generator may only cost several hundred dollars.

The cost of the Leaf-To-Home station in Japan is $4,300, before a government rebate of roughly $1,000.

To date, Nissan executives said, the company has sold about 200 Leaf-To-Home stations.

Nissan provided airfare, lodging, and meals to enable High Gear Media to bring you this first-hand report.


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Comments (17)
  1. I don't think this is a good idea for the following reason:

    1. Cost. It just cost too much for this inverter, although I assume it will be quieter than conventional portable generator.

    2. Battery life cycle. I am NOT sure if anybody would want to risk their battery life for the power outage, especially for Nissan Leaf in hot states where battery life is already an issue.

    3. Battery charge state. Maybe Japan might have pre-planned power outage. But in the US, that is rare. Most of the power outage are weather or construction related. In the weather releated outage, it is NOT predicable. So, you are trading off your mobility for home electricity use. You can't assume your car battery is full when you need it.

  2. I think this is where plugin hybrids Voltec Powertrain has an advantage.

    If they allow Voltec powertrain to have a power outlet, then it can supply your household with power needed during a power shortage. The Voltec powertrain is more efficient and potentially quieter than the similar sized home generator. With the Volt, the generator can easily supply 45KW power. That is more than enough for about 3x to 4x what a typical US home need. So, the Voltec generator can operate almost at idle for a long period of time. Even at 40 mpg (40mph) rate, the Volt can supply ~ 15KW power at 1 gallon/hour rate. 15KW is more than 100Amp service at 120V.

  3. GM should do this in a "plugin" Pickup trucks or SUV. It become an efficient trucks/SUV and a powerful portable and quieter electric generator...

  4. Not sure it is appropriate to compare this to a "several hundred dollar gasoline generator."

    If this could really power a whole home, it seems more comparable to generators that cost between $2K to $4K.

    I think this a great idea, particularly for larger battery packs like the model S. Depth of cycling could be limited by software, an only critical home circuits could be powered.

  5. Sure, if it is on battery, it is also quieter and usually far more powerful.

    But the biggest assumption is the fact that the car is "fully charge" or have enough charges when the power is needed for the house during emergency.

    If it is for grid power balancing, then that can be "optional" for EV owners and give them "credits" similar to solar panels...

  6. Hard to justify a lot of cost for the semi-rare, short duration US power outages. However, it would have some merit if it could be used to turn a grid tied solar system "on" while the grid is down. Using the car's battery for night use, and the solar system to recharge the car battery during the daylight hours.

  7. Supplementing a grid tie system is great idea and gets us one step closer to Vehicle to Grid systems as well. One reason I don't like grid-tie is the fact that you lose power like everyone else even if your solar panels are generating current. This allows one to operate a grid-tie system like a grid fallback system, A correctly configured solar system could recharge the vehicle as it supplies energy to the home during an outage.

  8. I agree JP, I see this as a path toward grid-free living. It makes sense to purchase two 20 kw batteries with a solar and/or wind system for a home. As the prices for the large batteries drops, it makes even more sense.

  9. JP White that's very true, would be nice to be able to use a solar system on days when grid power was out. Even without a battery for back-up, the house and car would be powered during daylight. All you'd need is an automatic lockout device that isolates the home from the grid, when the grid is down. But the power companies have made that illegal where I live.

  10. Great idea, and the price is good compared to the noise and smell of generators. If Nissan works to allow solar panels to provide power through the system too, it's even better. The effectiveness of the system will be determined partly by the home energy efficiency of the user. I could make the system last a couple of days even during a cloudy winter period. My area has had multiple day power outages in the last few years, I've been lucky it hasn't been right at my house. I'm looking for something to give me backup power without fossil fuel.

  11. Doesn't the Prius *already* have this capability. I don't own one, but my brother does, and he said it can supply 110v (USA power standard) during power outages.

  12. wrong

  13. Sadly, no. There have been some conversions to do this however.

  14. There's a $30 Leaf to Home solution… great for lights or for charging a few laptop computers, but not so useful for powering a hair dryer! (provides upto 400 watts of 110V AC from 12V DC) On plus side, a fullly charged battery will last for weeks. :)

    A 5kW DC to AC converter can be had for ~$350. Problem is you can not draw this amount of current from Leaf's 12 Volt system; you'll need ~$2000 400V DC to 12/24V DC/DC converter. This will provide a similar amount of power to what a typical $1000-$1500 petro-powered generator would provide. Leaf's power will last a couple days vs. 6-10 hours on petro and let you sleep sound. Searching solar equipment providers to get results for many alt. options.

  15. The Leaf is a great car. The power-the-home idea.. bad really bad for all the reasons mentioned on the comments already. Nissan's marketing dept should get a clue and cut the nonsense out of the US ads.

  16. Green Car Reports, You folks Rock! I love it that you live on the curling edge of alternative travel. We just had our 1 year check up on our Nissan Leaf and we have about 10,000 miles on our car. It has taken over about 90% of our family's travel. We have loved this great experience.

  17. Noo, no, noooooooooo, $4300.00 when I only need a $7 switch and some soctware changes to use my cars DC to AC converter...Noooooo!

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