Winter wise: benefits of an EV in an outage, when you have no home battery

Winter wise: benefits of an EV in an outage, when you have no home battery

Looking at a home battery but haven’t made it happen yet? You might wonder what you could do with an electric vehicle (EV) battery. Our take is that your car can absolutely give you an edge to take on punishing wintertime power outages, without the air pollution or safety issues of prolonged idling in your driveway. Let’s envision some times when your charged EV would come in handy in the wake of a nasty snowstorm.

Recap: even solar customers lack energy in an outage without a battery

On a normal day, when the grid is up, there is essentially nothing limiting the amount of energy you could use. At any time, you have energy for all your devices up to the total amperage feeding from the utility and your solar energy system into your home. 

That changes when the grid is out. Without a backup battery system, your solar panels can no longer power your home because the energy flowing at your meter could render the power lines on your street unsafe for others. See below for some ideas for how you can use your EV to get through an outage without in-home energy storage.

As a solar energy user you’re probably more aware of your home energy use than many energy customers are, which can be an advantage when you need to make things work in an outage. With some strategy, you’ll be poised to play the outage game to win, with ample energy to weather the outage in relative comfort.

Relying on your EV to back up a few essentials? No problem!

The EV parked in your driveway is more than your transportation when a power outage strikes. Many of today’s EVs feature cold weather amenities that can be cleverly incorporated into your routine and will be all the more welcome when you’re waiting for the grid to come back on:

Fully charged and ready, your electric car can safely back up so many of the activities that you’ll need to do:

  • Plug in phones, smartwatches, tablets, and depleted portable chargers
  • Enjoy favorite radio stations - music, sports, talk, fiction - dealer’s choice! - for a relaxing “driveway moment” on that crisp car stereo before heading back indoors
  • While devices you need are charging, bring out a spare older smartphone and plug that in too so the kids can watch a favorite movie or TV show without stealing power from your good devices. (With a range up to 300 miles on many new EVs, that translates to a lot of screen time! Pro tip: Many cloth face masks can double as a readymade phone holder, which works both for front and rear facing child car seats using either the back for front seat headrest!)

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  • Invest in one or more extended smartphone charger cables, to make sure that device that your child is watching way in the back can reach an outlet 
  • Itching to watch the sporting event or show that you recorded on DVR, but your cable box is offline? Many providers offer an app to watch those programs on your mobile device, but usually there is an extra charge to unlock this ability. So if you’re interested in having that available, be sure to download the app ahead of time and see whether your provider requires a subscription upgrade to access premium DVR use. 
  • If conditions are safe to drive, think of those folks you know you may be having a harder time with the weather and grid outages than you are and use your EV miles to pop over to help out or deliver essentials.

Keep in mind that like indoor HVAC, heating the cabin of the car can be quite energy intensive after a while. Flick on your heated seats to reduce the need for fanning hot air. Leave your jacket on or use that clutch backseat blanket, while doing your part to advance a decarbonized, electrified future powered by clean energy. 

When you travel to a public charger or friend’s house to top up 

If you’re dealing with a longer outage affecting your street or neighborhood, while nearby areas have power, you may find yourself heading out to a public car charging station. Try this expert move: Run the climate control nice and warm using the remote start, if your vehicle has this function, before you disconnect your vehicle from charger power, to maximize comfort while stretching the full charge you just got. You can even do this while you’re still in a store or restaurant getting ready to return to your car.

No worries about gasoline lines or local shortages in the aftermath of severe storms, because your vehicle will be all set to fill up with juice as soon as the lights come back on.

While we hope your power stays on this winter and you won't have to use these tips, we also know that having an EV makes life better in so many ways, and we hope you'll find these ideas only add to the list of benefits of owning an EV and solar. And if you're thinking about battery storage to add to your storm resilience then by all means get in touch with us to talk about it. You can give us a call at 866-484-7786 or click below!

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