Some new EVs boast the ability to serve as an emergency home power source. But what if you could do the same with your existing hybrid?
PlugOut Power has been selling such hardware for nearly 10 years, and it claims to have been the first commercial aftermarket high-voltage inverter that provided vehicle-to-load (V2L) or vehicle-to-home (V2H). Under its previous name ConVerdant Vehicles LLC, the company has offered kits that turn a Toyota Prius into an emergency generator. Now PlugOut Power has an updated version it claims is compatible with most Toyota and Lexus hybrids and plug-in hybrids.
The PlugOut-5 is a 5-kw inverter that can draw power from a hybrid's battery pack to run appliances, lights, televisions, and well pumps, or even charge 48-volt solar batteries after extended periods of cloudy weather, the company claims.
2020 Toyota Prius
After installation and depending on the model, the inverter can plug into an AC outlet in the car. Many new vehicles have these outlets, but in Toyota/Lexus hybrids the engine is only cycling on as much as it needs to for more efficient electricity generation.
PlugOut Power claims the hybrid system generates 50% to 100% more electricity per gallon than a conventional generator. And although the company doesn't make any estimates about emissions, this way of producing backup power—and the Prius' relatively low tailpipe emissions—is almost certainly cleaner than using standalone internal combustion generators. Running a Toyota/Lexus hybrid is quieter too, at an estimated 60 decibels.
With a full tank of fuel, owners should get three days of electricity generation at an average of 1 kw, according to the company. Just keep in mind that this might void your hybrid's battery warranty, so it's probably best to opt for this solution on an older hybrid.
2021 Lexus NX (NX300h Hybrid)
This is a smaller-scale solution than the Ford F-150 Lightning's home power backup system, which includes an 80-amp Charge Station Pro and Home Integration System inverter and battery pack. Ford has said the Lightning's 131-kwh Extended Range pack can provide enough power to run large homes for days.
PlugOut Power's kits compete with Hyundai's V2L system, which provides 3.6 kw of power output in the Ioniq 5. And technology like this helps pave the way for bidirectional charging to turn future EVs into home power banks, opening up a new dimension in home energy.
Getting the PlugOut for an older hybrid could make financial sense. The 5-kw unit weighs about 70 pounds and costs $2,595, while the 4-kw unit costs $1,995—excluding shipping costs and any costs for installing the pigtail cable into the hybrid battery.