By George Harvey
Last February, Green Energy Times reported on a backup power system available from ConVerdant Vehicles LLC. It is a neat little piece of equipment that is put into the trunk of a Prius, and supplies power as the car’s engine is running. It comes in a number of different sizes for different situations, and has a fair amount of built in ability to deal with power surges.
When I first heard about this system, I was very skeptical. I could not imagine how such a system could be powered efficiently by using the engine of a car. On seeing how it was done, however, I realized that I had misunderstood the potential.
The ConVerdant system has the Prius running as a generator. To do this, the car idles, with either its engine or its battery supplying power to the house. The engine shuts down when the battery is full, and restarts to fill the batter when it is not. That being the case, it is no harder on the car than normal driving. It is a robust design with a lot of advantages. It costs less than a typical generator of the same size, and it uses gas more efficiently to make electricity. Additionally, it is very quiet, compared with most alternatives.
Now, the time has come when we can say more. We have a review of how it ran in the field.
Gayathri Vijayakumar, a Building Systems Engineer, set up one of the ConVerdant power systems in her Prius, so it could be connected to her home in New Haven in case of a power outage. Her system is has a 1600 watt capacity, which is sufficient to run the critical circuits in her home, supporting the refrigeration and the electric ignition for her tankless gas water heater.
Gayathri had previously experienced a power outage for which she was not fully prepared. While the gas stove could still be used, and a gas fireplace could provide heat for comfort quite nicely, lack of electricity meant she had neither hot water nor refrigeration.
Her first power failure after installing the ConVerdant showed the problems she had previously had were a thing of the past. Using the car as a generator was quiet and easy. While the cost was double that of grid power, it was still only a fraction of what a typical gas generator would cost to run. There was no need to store gasoline in cans, and no problems with it getting old and gumming up an engine.
Gayathri said of her experience, “Being able to provide basic power for three days on one tank of gas is pretty amazing.”