Summer is almost here and with it, the high temperatures and cranked air conditioning that often lead to power outages. Some Angelenos may have considered a costly gas-powered generator for backup power, but another option is already sitting in their driveways: cars.
Power inverters on the market connect to car batteries to keep home appliances running. Just pop the hood, connect the inverter directly to the battery of a running car and thread the power cord from the inverter into the house. A refrigerator, television, lights or other devices that usually plug into a wall outlet would instead connect to the inverter power cord.
PowerBright, based in Coral Springs, Fla., makes inverters in a variety of power configurations. A 900-watt version, costing about $60, is strong enough to run a sump pump, freezer or refrigerator, and it can handle the peak power surge from first plugging in a refrigerator, Chief Executive Gil Hetzroni said. A 2,300-watt version, Hetzroni said, can power many appliances at the same time.
Power inverters work with gas-powered cars as well as electric vehicles, but Nissan Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. have both developed equipment specifically for electric cars. The bi-directional electric vehicle charger, which Nissan calls the Leaf to Home electricity supply system and Toyota dubs V2H for vehicle-to-home charging system, can reverse the flow of electricity from electric car to house in case of blackouts.