Can Your Electric Vehicle Power Your Home? – geek review

Ford's Charge Station Pro EV Powered Home
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Can your shiny new electric car power your home? It’s a question we see a lot these days, especially with the increasing popularity of electric cars. Technically, most electric vehicles have enough battery power to run a home for several days, but things are a little more complicated than that.

All electric vehicles on the road store tons of energy in the battery, but they lack the proper hardware and features to move all of the battery’s power elsewhere. For most electric vehicle owners, the answer is no, you can’t power your home from an EV. However, new cars like the Chevy Silverado E and Ford F-150 Lightning feature bi-directional charging and can share that battery power.

Here are some more details about how this technology works, how you can turn an electric car into an electric generator, and how long an electric vehicle can run in your home.

What is bidirectional charging?

Chevrolet Silverado EV Charging
Chevrolet

Let’s say you want to use your electric car as a generator and power your home in the event of an emergency, a power outage, or other situations like we saw in California or Texas. In this case, you need a newer EV that supports bidirectional charging. And while yes, technically, Nissan had its own Leaf to-home program, in general, you’d need a new EV.

This is likely to be one of the biggest selling points for new electric vehicles in the near future. So what does this word mean? Two-way charging means that your electric car or truck can send battery power in both directions. So instead of just receiving power from the wall, it can send it back to your home or grid.

You may also see this listed as “V2H” or “V2G” technology, which means vehicle-to-home and vehicle-to-network. Either way, they’re all the same idea, which is to share battery power from electric cars with other devices.

In fact, GMC and Chevrolet have just signed a partnership in California to run a pilot program where the new Silverado E electric truck can power homes or even help return power to the grid during peak load times. Some car manufacturers call it a car for everything, such as the Hyundai IONIQ 5.

How does bi-directional charging work?

Ford EV charging plug
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The first electric truck with two-way charging is the Ford F-150 Lightning. This technology is integrated into the truck, allowing it to use the built-in battery to power tools on the job site or in your home in an emergency.

However, you will need more than just a car to equip your home with an electric vehicle. Owners will need an upgraded charging system, a power box that can convert DC current from the car into usable AC power for wall outlets in the home, and an electrician to plug everything in safely. It’s more expensive than a traditional EV charger, that’s for sure.

Since the Ford F-150 Lightning is one of the first vehicles with bidirectional charging, we’ll use it as an example. Ford already sells what it calls the Ford Power Station Pro, and is adding it to your home for $1,300.

Ford EV Backup Power System
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Connecting the F-150 Lightning to your home requires a 19.2 kW Ford Charge Station Pro motor, which comes standard on broadband models and costs extra on base models.

Once you have the wires connected to your home, you’ll be all set to handle bi-directional charging. Although the potential for V2H now exists, we expect to wait a while before it starts to see widespread adoption. It is also worth noting that older homes may not have wiring capable of handling the high current from vehicles.

Basically, it’s still a new, complicated technology and not as easy as buying a new electric car and getting all the required chargers. However, this is the future, and we expect most new electric vehicles to support this feature.

In addition, Tesla has its own Powerwall technology, which stores energy drawn from solar panels on the roof. This is a completely different technology. The Tesla Powerwall is a groundbreaking system for storing spare batteries for your entire home, but it never runs out of Tesla.

How long can an electric car last for a home?

Charging an electric car at home
Herr Loeffler / Shutterstock.com

Now that you know your next electric vehicle can power your home, you’re probably wondering for how long. Again, this is not a direct answer for several different reasons. This depends on the size of the battery in your electric car or truck, the size of the house, and how much energy you use on a typical day.

For example, the Chevy Silverado E has a large 200 kWh battery, which is larger than most electric vehicles on the market today. According to the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Energy Information Administration, the average American household consumes about 893 kWh per month, or 30 kWh per day.

Doing the math, at 30 kWh per day, a Silverado’s 200 kWh battery can power the average home for about six days. However, real world numbers will vary due to DC to AC power loss, and other factors.

After that, many other electric cars have much smaller battery capacities, often around 70 kWh, which means you can get power for a day or two, as long as they support bi-directional charging.

Is there enough power to get around?

A Tesla Model S parked next to a row of superchargers
Grisha Prouv / Shutterstock.com

One thing to keep in mind is the total energy demand. We’ve seen blackouts in California, Texas, and Nevada during the hot summer months. For example, last summer in Las Vegas we had several days where the city asked residents to avoid using the air conditioner to help keep the network running.

When you think about the millions of electric vehicles that will hit the road in the coming weeks, months, and years, this situation could only get worse. As a result, we see a future where cars can use and share energy on the go, as needed, for a home or for an entire city network.

We’re still in the early stages of two-way charging and electric cars. However, as things evolve and improve and battery capabilities increase, this technology could be vital for any buyer of electric vehicles.