Using A Hybrid For Emergency Power: Tough Choice

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2011 Toyota Prius

2011 Toyota Prius

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In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, there are still thousands without power--and even shelter--along the Northeast coast.

It makes most of our issues look rather trivial, but admidst the chaos we've seen examples of great solidarity and ingenuity from those affected.

The power losses have also brought to light the alternative use of electric cars as power sources--but in extreme circumstances, even hybrid vehicles have been used.

One New Jersey man used his Toyota Prius hybrid as a backup generator, reports NBC News.

Using a 100 watt power inverter plugged into the cigarette lighter--later upgrading to a 300 watt inverter--and some heavy-duty extension cords, Bob Sakala of Paramus powered lights, laptops and his TV.

The high output of the car's battery was enough to keep some of his electrics working--though unlike a full battery-electric car, the Prius needs its engine to run to keep the battery topped up.

While not a perfect solution, the Prius could at least be considered a more efficient alternative to doing similar with a regular car. Three-quarters of a tank of gas powered Bob's family home for almost a week, while the power was down.

And as many on the East Coast were acutely aware, sometimes all you can turn to is a last resort.

As with any similar system of using a vehicle as a generator, it's a trade-off between the power you need to use to keep your home's electrical equipment on, and being able to travel any distance if you need to. NYC's taxi drivers have certainly been praying for hybrids in recent weeks.

For those who lost power, but were lucky enough not to lose their entire house, an electric car or hybrid could be seen as a suitable way of providing short-term electricity.

It's not ideal, but when worst comes to worst, you take what you can get.


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