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I am writing this posting from my cell phone while sitting in the driver's sear of my Volt. Relax, the car is on but parked in my garage.

We were avacuated from the Outer Banks on Thursday, and drove back to Philly. When Irene arrived here she blew out our power, and it's still out. This is a disaster for our household that has no idea what to do without TV or Internet.

But the Volt has saved us, recharging phones, PCs, iPods, an iPad, and a Kindle. With a mobile hotspot, we even have the Internet. Trust me, without the Volt we would be killing eachother by now.

To preserve our "emergency generator" we are not driving the Volt. In almost three days of hard service, the Volt's range has dropped from 40 miles to 21 miles. But it's literally a life-saver!!!
 

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I understand what you went through.

Irene was a tropical storm when it made landfall in Puerto Rico past Monday morning (around 3:00 AM), August 22nd. It past about ten miles south of my home (uprooted two small trees in my backyard that were replanted later), left the island around 6:30 AM west of my home, and became the first hurricane of this season.

My home suffered no damages but I lost electrical power immediately. It returned about 16 hours later (most of my service is underground), yet we still have many other towns and homes without power after a week (one of them still without power is my sister-in-law).

If the Chevy Volt or any other EV were available here, then we could have survived as you did. In my case, I used a 5 KW Onan genset to power my home until the main power returned.

I hope no other Volt user suffered any major losses during this past weekend.

Raymond
 

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Very cool. You did have to "start" it though right? (otherwise it would have just drained the 12v battery). Starting lets the 360v battery keep the 12v "charged". We had some discussions about this on facebook. My response.

Terminals in the hatch would make more sense [for larger inverters as the cig/aux plug ins have limited wire/fuse sizes]. Manual indicates front ones have fuse that could blow (see jump starting in manual ([jumping] them vs you [getting jumped]).
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They even have larger inverters like 1500 watt like this: http://www.amazon.com/Cobra-CPI-157...IDDC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1314480818&sr=8-2 and 3000 watt max which you may need for the startup of say a fridge motor.
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Also you could run the gas generator in the Volt by raising the hood when the car is in park.
Eric C made this point:
I like this inverter: http://www.amazon.com/Sunforce-1124..._1?s=automotive&ie=UTF8&qid=1314504118&sr=1-1 It is a true sine wave inverter which is friendlier to appliances like refrigerators. It's more expensive, but is worth it.

I agree with Scott, the best thing to do is use the terminals in the hatch. Make sure the car is turned "on" or the DC-DC converter off the Volt's main battery won't be running, and you'll just run your 12V battery dead.
 

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And of course you could not have made the trip from NC to NJ in, say a Leaf. You might want to write to the local news station and tell them your story... the added generator side might get them interested.

I keep a 120v inverter (for my laptop)... never though about the fact that the Extension cord could be going out of the car. Cool idea. Note you don't need to preserve your generator too much as it is a "Gas powered" generator with a battery buffer. When you need it, just fire up the Volt in MM and it will recharge the batteries and keep things powered. But remember accessories run from the normal battery (so its nto much different using the accessory plug in any car) -- but the news people probably won't really notice and would think its cool.


I wonder what the ratings of the accessory sockets are. Anyone know? Could you power the fridge?



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300miles pure EV and counting up.
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Very cool. You did have to "start" it though right? (otherwise it would have just drained the 12v battery). Starting lets the 360v battery keep the 12v "charged". We had some discussions about this on facebook. My response.



Eric C made this point:
Yes, we have had the Volt "on" when using it as a generator. We've used the HDD but not the DVD. Good idea though!!

We have only powered small devices. Having already replaced two Volt accessory fuses, I know how expenses those little things are!
 

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Thanks for re-posting my inverter recommendation, Scott! I actually just "put my money where my mouth is" and ordered that Sunforce inverter last night.

Any larger load (over 100-200W?) should be done using the DC battery terminals in the hatch. That way, you won't blow any fuses. And as mentioned above, you need to make sure to have your car "On" so the 12V battery that you're hooking into battery will be charged by the Volt's main battery pack.
 

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Wow! I am glad you are alright. It sounds like the making of a Volt commercial. :) Just to get back at the Nissan commercial you could have a stranded Leaf next door! LOL
 

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My only question in doing this is the rate of the 12V charging system from the Li. i.e. the max DC - DC conversion amps. Personally I think this is a great idea, been looking @ these:
http://www.solar-electric.com/exsiwain.html
to cover a energy star deep freeze and fridge in an extended outage. I think the 1100W 12V model might work sweet assuming the DC - DC conversion is high enough to keep the 12V battery charged.
 

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My only question in doing this is the rate of the 12V charging system from the Li. i.e. the max DC - DC conversion amps.
Previous discussions put the output of the APM (the DC-DC converter in the Volt) at 175 amps, or about 2 kW.

If you don't want to wire across the battery (and it doesn't seem like a great idea to me) there's a spare 100 amp fuse slot pointed out by this post in the battery fuseblock.

Hooking up an 12V DC to 120V AC inverter doesn't seem like the most efficient way to get energy out of a Volt (and it isn't, theoretically). But it's probably the only way that doesn't grossly violate any warranties.
 

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Thanks Rusty, seems a 600w/1100wsurge inverter should work just fine attached to that point in the fuse box, I assume that would not invalidate the warranty either.
 

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Previous discussions put the output of the APM (the DC-DC converter in the Volt) at 175 amps, or about 2 kW.

If you don't want to wire across the battery (and it doesn't seem like a great idea to me) there's a spare 100 amp fuse slot pointed out by this post in the battery fuseblock.

Hooking up an 12V DC to 120V AC inverter doesn't seem like the most efficient way to get energy out of a Volt (and it isn't, theoretically). But it's probably the only way that doesn't grossly violate any warranties.
Yep the warranty is a concern, looks like a 600watt/1100watt surge inverter could be connected there, which is right on the ragged edge. Perhaps a Xantrex or a Samlex in that range is doable.
 

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GM is missing the Boat

Its nice that people are excited about using the Volt to charge their ipods and cell phones. But for me it is frustrating because, the Volt could "readily" be used as a whole house generator. You have a vehicle capable of producing 112 kw. The Volt already has an inverter that converts 360 vdc to 3 phases of 120v AC.

The energy demands of your AC, refrigerator, water heater, etc. are child's play compared to moving a 3781 pound vehicle down the road at 70 mph.

Nissan and Mitsu are already producing inverters size to handle refrigerators and such.

Eventually someone will do this. It makes more sense than spending tens of thousands for a whole house generator that you may never use, or maybe use once a decade.

Now here comes Rusty to tell us all the reasons why this is very difficult and the myriad safety concerns that it raises :)
 

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I've been doing this in a limited sense for the past 3 days.

I hooked up two 400w inverters directly to the battery. Inverter #1 ran a dorm-style fridge, which only draws about 75 watts but the inrush current was a real problem for the inverter. Inverter #2 ran a couple CFL lights in the evening and charged cell phones, etc. The little "400w" inverters completely suck. I tried starting a 55" LCD TV (150w) and it came up but there was so much audio noise I turned it right off.

I suspected the main pack would not charge the 12V battery if the car was off and did not want to find out otherwise so I've left it on the whole time. The main pack lasted about 30hrs and I've burned about 1.5 gallons since. The car starts and runs for 90 seconds or so every 15 minutes or so. I never actuall looked at my watch.

Finally hooked up a generator last night but I'll keep using the Volt late in the evening for a few lights.
 

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The cheap inverters are a problem, also know as Modified Sine Wave inverters. For things like electronics, motors ... the MSW doesn't create a clean enough signal to efficiently operate those. Also some cheap inverters rate themselves by the max surge watts, which they are definitely are not good for continuous operation. For true sine wave inverters most rate themselves @ continuous load and have a separate surge rating that can be 50% - 100% higher then the base rating, but only for a matter of seconds, usually. This is to handle the surge required at motor start time. The bottom line is these are not cheap Chinese junk off eBay. Brand names like Xantrex, Outback, and Samlex should be considered.

Also direct connection to the battery without proper fusing is dangerous. if the inverter has a failure creating a dead short a fire will surely ensue. If you are connecting to the battery make sure there is a fuse involved before the inverter. Lots of Amps require lots of safety. Also make sure you run heavy enough wiring to the inverter, under sized wiring is a fire hazard as well.
 

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Now here comes Rusty to tell us all the reasons why this is very difficult and the myriad safety concerns that it raises :)
Naw, there are other people who've had to get inspection certification of their tie ins with their PV systems that'll do that. I don't have experience there.

My understanding is that while Volt inverter does produce 3 phase AC, but I've not heard anywhere that it's 120V. And I believe it's also variable frequency AC, not specifically 60 Hz. I don't know if 60 Hz is even on the menu.

But if it is, I don't see any technical reason running straight off the inverter won't work. As an aside, you said the Volt can produce 112 kW (my math says 149 HP main motor output is 111.2ish). But that's peak. Maximum sustained output would be limited by the 80 HP ICE, which maths out to about 60 kW before the various conversion losses set in. So maybe 50 kW might be closer.
 

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The cheap inverters are a problem, also know as Modified Sine Wave inverters. For things like electronics, motors ... the MSW doesn't create a clean enough signal to efficiently operate those. Also some cheap inverters rate themselves by the max surge watts, which they are definitely are not good for continuous operation. For true sine wave inverters most rate themselves @ continuous load and have a separate surge rating that can be 50% - 100% higher then the base rating, but only for a matter of seconds, usually. This is to handle the surge required at motor start time. The bottom line is these are not cheap Chinese junk off eBay. Brand names like Xantrex, Outback, and Samlex should be considered.
From the 3rd post Eric pointed this out:

Eric C made this point:
I like this inverter: http://www.amazon.com/Sunforce-1124..._1?s=automotive&ie=UTF8&qid=1314504118&sr=1-1 It is a true sine wave inverter which is friendlier to appliances like refrigerators. It's more expensive, but is worth it.

I agree with Scott, the best thing to do is use the terminals in the hatch. Make sure the car is turned "on" or the DC-DC converter off the Volt's main battery won't be running, and you'll just run your 12V battery dead.
Product Features
  • Provides stable power to run a pump or mini motor that modified sine wave inverters cannot
  • Equipped with two 110V household electrical outlets
  • Short circuit shut down and high speed cooling fan
  • Surge Power up to 2000 Watts
  • Power home appliances directly from your 12V battery (DC to AC pure sine wave)

Product Description
The Sunforce 11240 1000 W pure sine wave inverter is the tool you need to provide stable power to run a pump or mini motor that a modified sine wave inverter cannot. This is excellent for powering home appliances directly from your 12V battery; DC to AC pure sine wave. With 2000 watts of high surge power, this product is the perfect solution for power failure emergencies. The 11240 features numerous safety features including an overload alarm and LED light, a soft start system, low battery shut down, DC input overload voltage, output overload, overload temperature, short circuit shut down, and a high speed cooling fan. Equipped with two 110V household electrical outlets, this inverter is so advanced that it is patented. The 11240 provides continuous power of 1000 watts and has a 2000 watt surge power capability. Your purchase comes with a full product manual, and a DC/AC power inverter remote control modular connector cable and key chain remote.
 

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50 kW might be closer.
"Most" (unless you've got Al Gore's size house) whole home generators are in the 18 - 25kw range so 50 would certainly be sufficient.

Great speculation and I'm sure at some level it's doable, just wished we where there. :confused:
 

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Certainly noted about the cheap inverters. I actually contacted my local Graingers to check on getting a good, hardwired inverter, but they had none in stock.
 

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The electric utilities (and EPRI) are already looking at how to make this happen as a smart grid. See snippet from arcticle below....

Looking toward a proliferation of plug-in cars on the horizon, utility company researchers and General Motors have been collaborating on a broad-based, three-year project begun last year intended to facilitate next-generation smart charging capabilities.

How smart?

Smart enough that one day soon, it may be possible to sell the power in your electric car back to your local utility company. Or, during an electrical black-out, it may be possible to channel current from your plugged-in car into your home system as though it were a backup generator.

http://gm-volt.com/2011/03/25/smart...rs-–-gm-and-utilities-team-up-for-the-future/
 

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I wonder what the ratings of the accessory sockets are. Anyone know? Could you power the fridge?
Definitely not.
The mechanical design of the "cigarette lighter" socket doesn't allow for much more than 10A, which is what they are usually fused at. Fridges have often a huge start-up current due to the fact that their compressors start under pressure of the refrigerant, and even the running power is probably around the max 100-ish watts you could extract from an aux plug.

Wiring a kW inverter straight to the battery is probably just fine.

Commercial 12V compressor fridges exist, and they are happy with 4-8 amps, but you can't compare those with a household one.
 
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