2300 watt inverter on a 2010 Prius?

Discussion in 'Toyota Prius Family' started by aleniko, Sep 1, 2011.

  1. aleniko

    aleniko Member

    Hi all;

    After Hurricane Irene, I've decided I should have a backup so if I lose power, I don't lose my basement...
    I'm thinking about getting either the Powerbright 2300 watt or the 1500.


    Are there any issues with doing such a move? I don't want to ruin my beloved "Lady B" (The nickname the kids have given the Prius).
    If I connect too many devices to the inverter - could that damage anything? Can the Prius battery support such a load?

  2. fuzzy

    fuzzy Mild hypermiler

    The traction battery likely can support that load, but the 12V system cannot. I believe the HV-to-12V inverter limit is around 100 amps, and some of that must go to the car's systems.

    The small 12V battery alone, with the car not in 'Ready' mode, absolutely-positively cannot support this inverter.
  3. groar

    groar X-Frenchy: very

    I remember reading someone did that a few years ago with his Prius. He started the car which was starting the ICE only when necessary.

    I don't know how he connected his inverter to his Prius nor how much power he needed. In my cars, I don't know about Prius, the biggest fuse @12V sockets is 20A, so I would need to connect such an inverter directly to the battery.

    Keep the power needed low, ie switch on only what is necessary and try to find alternatives to electricity. Keep your car in a ventilated place.

    I though about that myself. I heat the house with electricity, but I have a chimney I can use when I don't have electricity. I cook with gas. I have a cell phone. I have a small radio with batteries. I have 2 old car batteries that I try to keep full with a small inverter for light and other small things, such as charging the cell phone. I have a "small" 80W solar panel that may help, but electricity problems happen only during winter storms here...
    The fridge and the freezer can keep food for 2 days. If needed I can connect them to the inverter connected to the spare batteries connected to my running car.

  4. RedylC94

    RedylC94 Well-Known Member

    Although I'm not an expert on Prius electrical systems in particular, I agree with fuzzy. That 2300-watt inverter would demand well over 200 amperes input at full load. You might get by with a MUCH smaller inverter (like 150 watts or less, I'd guess). The 12-volt battery alone wouldn't be able to support even that for more than a very short period.

    If you need anything approaching 2300 watts of emergency power, you need a separate generator. If your explanation " ... so if I lose power, I don't lose my basement..." means you're thinking of using the inverter primarily to power a pump, a pump driven directly by an engine would be more efficient and less expensive than using an engine to power a generator to power a pump.
  5. ALS

    ALS Super Moderator Staff Member

    Sears sells a battery pack/jump unit that has a built in 12 volt support. You can run AC off it and it even has an USB for charging and an air compressor built in . It can either be charged by AC or you can get a cigarette adapter with two male ends to charge off your car.

    Portable Power 1150

    It might be an option available to you.

    Ignore the reviews I'm betting those who were un happy with the unit didn't read the owners manual. You need to check it every two or three weeks to make sure it is at full capacity. They probably charged it and left it on a shelf for a few months and never checked the state of charge.

    I have the 950 BTW and am very happy with it.

    It is real hard to check it's power level, you have to push a rocker switch on the front to see the state of charge on the LED display.:p

    I bought it so can jump the Volvo because it sits a lot and in case the power goes out I can plug in the laptop and watch a few movies until the power comes back on.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2011
  6. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    The larger inverters require hooking directly to the battery. I have a 2000 watt inverter that I have had hooked up. It says it will power up to 17 amps. This winter I will hook it up again. You can't run something like a water heater or a new computer controlled furnace off of these cheaper inverters. Use the proper cables for hooking up this style inverter. A bad connector or undersized cable could cause more problems than no power.

    You need a pure sine wave inverteror it will either not operate the furnace or toast something on it. I would use the Prius if needed for lights etc. I have a 2000 watt Honda powered inverter/generator that I would hook up for the furnace, refrigerator, and freezer.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2011
  7. mrlee770

    mrlee770 Member

    Hi, first off I take no responsibility for damage to one's car or voiding of warranties. That being said, however, the prius is more than capable of running a 2300w inverter hard wired to the battery terminals while the car is in ready mode. I have spoken to toyota techs regarding this very issue and have been told the prius will support a load of 30 amps from the 12 volt battery in the hatch area, providing the car is in the ready mode, where the inverter can maintain the charge of the 12 volt battery. The claims of extremely high amperage are in error, as a 12v dc to 120v ac inverter at 2300 watts will draw just under 20 amperes at peak load (volts x amps = watts). Since the inverter in the prius supplies 120 amps this is hardly a heavy load at all, but the tech felt 30 amps was a safe number, though 40 was certainly feasible. The prius will simply idle occasionally to keep the smaller 12v battery at peak charge, but will be able to do this for a very long time while using very little gas. Just remember to keep all other accessories in the car as well as lights turned off to maximize efficiency. Also, be sure the wires connecting the inverter terminals to the prius battery are sufficienly heavy gauge as to not create unneeded resistance. Good luck and enjoy your new mobile power station!!!
  8. RedylC94

    RedylC94 Well-Known Member

    You're unfortunately confusing input and output. Assuming you're correct about 30 amperes from the 12-volt system being a maximum safe load, 12 volts x 30 amperes = 360 watts. That's power going into the inverter. Because the inverter is less than 100% efficient, its output at 120 VAC would be less than 360 watts.
  9. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

    What load does the OP actually want to replace?.. a water pump?
  10. aleniko

    aleniko Member

    Thank you all for responding to my message. Maybe I didn't make myself clear:
    I want to connect the inverter directly to my Prius battery, and run mainly the sump pump. Once the threat of water is gone, If still no power, I would connect the fridge.

    I would leave the car in "ready" so the 12V battery won't deplete.

    My worry is can I do any damage to the Prius by doing this?

    I think MrLee's response is exactly what I'm aiming for, but I just want to be sure I won't screw up anything.
  11. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    A 1/2hp Wayne sump pump is about 5 amps. What is deceptive and you need to be cautious about is the starting amperage. When started under load, the amperage could multiply for a milli-second.
  12. aleniko

    aleniko Member

    Is the 200 watt inverter connected to a Prius?
  13. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    It is a 2000 watt that I connect to the Prius. I work 12 hr. shifts and am gone a total of 14 hrs on the days I work. I wanted something easy for my wife to hook up, so I set it up for the winter ice storms to power a couple of lights and the blower on a gas log.
  14. EVuser

    EVuser Well-Known Member

    Try the above link

    As noted above you are limited to about 1000 watts continuous as that is near the limit of the Prius converter. I can't vouch for any info in that article but it is what you are striving for so use as you feel comfortable.

    From my off grid living experience you are going to find all kinds of problems operating everyday things on a modified sine wave inverter. Resistance loads are fine, others all have potential issues and you will find many variables. Some of which can be costly as the things don't always just not work but slowly get destroyed.

    One of the small inverter based generators make a great power source for short term use. They can power from about a 1000 to 1600 watt AC load for many hours on a gallon of fuel. Likely less than the Prius and without any risk to the Prius. I have a Honda as do many friends and find it reliable and useful. Have over 500 hours on one i2000 and it still works fine.

  15. mrlee770

    mrlee770 Member

    Actually, not at all, as voltage is increased amperage is decreased in proportion, assuming wattage remains the same. That is why a 240 volt air conditioner will draw half the amperage of a 120 volt unit if the btu remains the same. Please google "inverter amperage calculator" to see the relationship between the three factors. There is a handy web site which allows you to calculate these for yourself...www.supercircuits.com/resources/tools/Volts-Watts-Amps-Converter
  16. mrlee770

    mrlee770 Member

    Also, by way of field testing, I ran a 750 watt inverter off the prius for several hours recently, it worked great and the car was in ready (idle) mode, and it only turned on to recharge the battery pack a couple of times. The inverter was run using a plug supplied with the unit into the 12volt prius power port with no ill effects whatsoever.
  17. lolder

    lolder Well-Known Member

    The SIZE of the inverter in watts is relatively unimportant. The power continuously available from the 12 v system ( 12 X 30 = 360 watts? ) is. You can have almost any size modern inverter hooked up so long as the steady state load you plug into it is less than about 350? watts. The continuous duty load of the Prius DC ( HV ) to DC ( 12 v ) converter is unknown to me. THAT is the limiting power. It is cooled and has design parameters. Running this converter outside these parameters could damage it. The only thing you can safely say is that you can use the power that is available from the dc power sockets.
    The way to really do this is an inverter running off the HVB where many kilowatts should be available but that is not an amateur users project.
  18. fuzzy

    fuzzy Mild hypermiler

    Either your claim that the 2300 watt inverter will draw only 20 amps from 12 VDC is in error, or my Electrical Engineering degree and entire engineering career are in error.

    RedylC94 has it right.

    I repeat: Prius' 12V system will not safely support a 2300 watt inverter. Only the high voltage side, i.e. traction battery side, has that potential capacity.

    What was being powered from this unit?
  19. ILAveo

    ILAveo Well-Known Member

    Sounds like you have plenty of extra capacity for that load and your battery should be able to buffer any momentary demand surges.

    I've actually pumped a lot of wells using pumps hooked up to my truck's battery. I wonder if the OP has actually tested the load from his pump...I think most of them need less than 500 watts (1/2 hp < 500 Watts). I would guess that a 1000 watt inverter would serve his pumping needs without much risk of overtaxing his car's electrical system.
  20. mrlee770

    mrlee770 Member

    I was running a pc/ router, modem, a box type fan, lights, and recharging all my devices, such as phones, ipad, etc. Perhaps I was unlear before, the prius tech was speaking of 30 amps ac draw....you do agree that as volts increase, amps decrease proportionately, yes? So 120 volts ac at 2400 watts would be 20 amps ac, is this not correct? And perhaps it is irreponsible on the manufacturers part, but if a 750 watt 12 volt dc to 120 volt ac inverter draws huge amounts of dc amperage, how are these made, and used, with dc cigarette type plugs? Isnt the limit on cigarette lighter style plugs 10 amps as stated in the manual?
    I guess the best way to measure these figures is with meters, which I do not have, since even drawing a mere 480 watts thru an amp plugged into the dc power would be drawing 40 amps at 12 volts dc? That would have blown my fuse immediately, but this didn't happen.

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