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Recharge Prius at Home on AC power?

Hi,

I was wondering if anyone has information on recharging Prius batteries to full charge at home using AC power, but WITHOUT changing the battery set.

The idea is simple. Prius batteries are allowed to run lower than full charge to optimize fuel use. At your house electricity is cheaper than gas, so charging your car is cheaper than using the car as a generator to recharge it.

Should be pretty simple, and boost mileage a bit.

Any thoughts?

John
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Comments

  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    Flawed theory.

    LithIon batteries are dangerous to re-charge @ home, and the car isn't designed to do that on purpose. You did not purchase an electric vehicle, but a hybrid. There is a BIG difference.

    You could have saved yourself thousands of dollars and bought a golf cart if you wanted an electric car. :P

    The prius is not made to run on electric other than backing up and starting the trip. It is made and designed to work with its ICE gasoline engine.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    The Prius uses NiMH batteries, not Li-ion.
  • As the other poster said, Prius uses NiMH not Lithium Ion batteries.

    Also, both of those battery materials are commonly purchased at any store in all sizes.

    Lithium Ion is not especially dangerous, if properly charged, and heat is monitored. Standard NiMH consumer grade (AA type) batteries can be recharged usually with similar or the same circuits that recharge NiCad batteries.

    I don't know if it's feasible, but I wonder if it would be possible to charge the vehicle through the 12V port while the car is "powered on". This might cause it to use the built in charge controller.

    John
  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    Sorry to have mistyped LithIon instead of NiMH....BUT you miss the point:

    The Prius is not made to run on electricity other than backing up and starting the trip. It is made and designed to work with its ICE engine. :P
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    Toyota is pursuing the idea of offering the Prius with PHEV capability within the next few years. It is primarily just a matter of bigger battery packs and modified software. There already is a plug-in thread that discusses this matter extensively. There are a handful of companies that will modify an existing Prius to make it a PHEV. Two major problems with this is that it is expensive, 9-12 thousand dollars, and Toyota will void your warranty. Nevertheless it has been done and, if you ignore the price for the conversion, it does result in considerable lower costs. Because, as stated earlier, grid electricity is much cheaper per mile driven than burning gasoline.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,028
    I somewhat agree. The Prius is already over weight for the suspension and tires. Enough batteries to give any reasonable distance would really make it too heavy for the less than great brakes it has.

    As far as Li-Ion batteries being safe. They have critical parameters that have to be followed or they can become dangerous. Ask the 4.1 million Dell laptop owners with Sony Li-Ion batteries being recalled.
  • I'm not really looking to run the Prius only on batteries.

    I'm just thinking since the Prius doesn't top off the batteries, because then it'll have no room to use things like regenerative braking, it might be good to fully charge it at night, and then the first mile or so could be on batteries since I live in a residential area, where I have many turns, and must go slow speeds.

    It wouldn't be much, but I figured if it was easy to do once I park in my garage, it would be a little extra every day.

    Basically, the way I see it. If you don't introduce outside power, all the power that goes into the batteries comes (at some point) from gasoline. If you put some power in from the outside, it won't need to charge the batteries.

    I'm not looking to replace the batteries, or make an all electric vehicle. I *was* thinking I could plug it in, recharge it at night, and get cheap costs on the next mile or two worth of driving.

    This is not crucial, as 45-60mpg, you are starting to split hairs when you don't have a daily commute (although I'm 20 miles from any well-known stores).
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Posts: 1,015
    The Prius battery can be recharged at home. Search the net and you'll find the special 200V charger required. You can't charge the "traction battery" from the 12V system, though you can charge the 12V battery from the 208 V system.

    What you have to realize is the current car is a "system". All parts are interrelated. The system is designed to maintain the "traction battery" between 30 and 70% charge. There are several reasons for this:
    1. Stopping charging at 70% allows "headroom" to recover kinetic energy via regenerative braking - accounting for about 20% of the fuel savings the car manages. If the battery ends up with too much charge the system will "dump" the energy - resulting in poorer mileage.
    2. Keeping the traction battery between 30 and 70% charge lengthens battery life - a lot. When you charge a NiMH battery above 70% charge it starts to convert a lot of the charge energy to heat - and that is the enemy of most batteries and this type in particular. That's why most "rapid chargers" you can find shut down "rapid charge" mode at 70-80% charge and switch to "trickle charge" mode. If you get them too hot they will vent gas and electrolyte - and very little of that will leave them as dead weight.
    3. If you try to run on battery power only it will take you a few miles. It's a "small" battery in the world of electric cars. Charging it to full would add perhaps one or two miles to its' range. Not really worth it considering the down side - shortened life.

    What some have done is increase the battery size by adding another in parallel. This allows more energy to be stored and a longer range on electric mode (search for EV switch), making electric mode almost practical for short runs for groceries, for example. The extra battery capacity also allows capture of more kinetic energy via regenerative braking. This has reportedly improved mileage into the 100 MPG range. It has also added weight - about 70-80 lbs for the extra battery, and loss of some cargo room.
    Generally you wouldn't want to parallel batteries, as one tends to get overcharged and the other undercharged - not the best situation for battery life, but because the Prius operates the battery in the 30-70% charge range this doesn't seem to cause problems.

    The rumour is the 2008 Prius will have home charging capability and a larger capacity battery - perhaps a lithium ion type to decrease weight and volume. We shall see.
  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    Many things have been done, including making cars that run on Hydrogen. Much better, only they EXPLODE in accidents! :P

    If you ignore the price of conversion, that is lunacy. If you consider the real-world, not the fantasy one that may come someday, conversion and electricity is hugely more expensive than gas. The future will most likely belong to Hydrogen, not some fantasy battery that is light weight and powers a Navigator! ;)
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    conversion and electricity is hugely more expensive than gas

    You are hugely wrong. Most Americans right now are spending around $2000 per year on gas. The cost of using electricity would be roughly a third of that. With savings of $1300 per year you can pay for a lot of conversion. The cost of additional battery capacity would be considerably less expensive if the car was originally manufactured that way rather than having to be converted.
  • Do bear in mind, when calculating the savings of gas, when starting from a car over 45mpg, you aren't really saving as much as you say.

    If you really did spend $2000/yr in gas while driving a Prius, you would be driving at least about 30k miles/yr if you only got 45mpg, at 60mpg, you'd be driving 40k miles/yr.

    At that point, maybe it's better to spend money on comfort, because you are saving, bed, and housing costs, because you probably *live* in your Prius.
  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    Well, once again, I must say that is a foolish argument.

    Are you prepared to day it costs the United States nothing in resources to generate that electricity for you, no matter what you pay for it? What about the secondary generation pollution? :surprise:

    In most areas of the country, producers can barely keep pace with current demand, let along adding hundreds of thousands plugging in high-voltage chargers.

    If the idea is one of saving resources, in total, rather than the selfish interests of just one or two users, one must look at everything.

    While you are obviously, and laudably committed to alternative energy, please understand that MOST users will not be willing to keep their speed down below 50MPH, not run their air conditioning and all the other electronics they have grown used to. Not to mention the rather limited cruising range, and the hassle of plugging in, or for that matter, finding a place to do so. ;)
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    That's a very valid point and its why it makes more sense to incorporate this type of technology in an SUV or truck. Far greater gas savings, low end torque and the extra weight doesn't seem as significant. Its also why I never understood the popularity of the Prius. A Prius has roughly the same utility as a Corolla, which is a vehicle that already got very good mpg. It seems this would be the last type of car that hybrid technology would make its way into since it would take the longest to recover the additional costs. It turns out to be just the opposite.
  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    I agree.

    Most using Hybrids today should be doing so to make a statement, not seeking "savings".

    I view it more as offering financial encouragement to the auto companies to stick with alternative fuel development, and don't make a game of coasting, driving very slowly, not running the AC, etc.

    If one wants to actually save resources and their cost of transportation, currently one would be far better off buying any car with excellent gas mileage than a hybrid.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    You clearly don't understand what the technology is capable of.

    No special high voltage charger is needed. A standard 110v home outlet will suffice. I'm guessing the process of plugging in will be less than 30 seconds, not much of a hassle. That time is probably more than offset by the time saved in fewer stops to the gas station.

    If the recharging is done at night it is beneficial to the utilities due to load levelling. At least that's what the people that run these utilities say and they embrace PHEVs.

    You don't need to drive below 50 mph. Even at speeds above that some of your propulsion is from the electric motors.

    Around 55% of the electricity in this country is generated by burning coal, which probably is as dirty as burning gasoline. The rest is considerable cleaner. So 55% of the time you are polluting as much as the gas burner, the rest of the time you are not. Still a big improvement and we don't have to import coal.
  • terry92270terry92270 Posts: 1,247
    Well, I will bow out of this discussion as you are clearly off on a tangent, some moral and political tirade.

    Most of us live in the real world, and cannot rely on what might be, or could be. You have a lot of "ifs" in your theories. You received a good answer as to why re charging and topping off the battery is bad, so nothing more needs to be said on that score.

    Good luck in your modifications! :)
  • crashqcrashq Posts: 5
    I think the "savings" aspect is not nearly what some people think. Most consumer organizations have even stated that you won't get any savings with a hybrid currently. You have to figure in replacement battery costs etc. The more you charge a battery the faster it will need replacement. I haven't seen any estimates on electric vehicles since teh EV-1 wen belly up, but I suspect the cost isn't any lower than the hybrids.

    That said, I see no problems with the enviro-statement, or reducing gasoline consuomtion. (there is still pollution from the power plant used to make electricity though).

    Buy the charger, charge it to 70% and let us know what the result is.
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Posts: 1,015
    Sigh, the poor misunderstood Prius. ;)
    Go have a good look at one.

    First, on the outside, it's about the same size as a Corolla, as you compared it to. On the inside it's about the same size as a Camry. Check the specs. Same cargo capacity, same passenger room (within 0.5 cu ft).

    The Prius will go about 130% farther on a gallon (or litre) of gas. Maybe more, if driven "correctly". Don't accuse me of comparing the mileage of the "highmilers", I'm just looking at what posters to this and other forums are claiming. Even if you tried to "highmile" a Corolla, you wouldn't increase mileage more than about 20% - the Prius can and does much better than 50% increase when driven that way.

    Much of the appeal, for me, anyway, is the car is "electronic". It even has an "on/off" switch! Cool technology.

    My friend keeps saying it's too expensive compared to "normal" cars. What "normal" cars? If we compare to cars with equivalent usable space, such as the Camry, the cost is about the same. In fact, owners of both cars report when they go to pick up "goods", they take the Prius. When they go on long trips, they take the Camry. They say they can get a lot more into the Prius, even though on paper they are about the same size space wise.

    The cost of ownership appears to be much less. Currently resale value is phenomenal.

    It's just cool technology. Further incentive is the perception that Prius drivers must be environmentally responsible.

    Of course, if none of this turns your crank, then it's obviously not the car for you.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I think that if you looked at the demographics of people purchasing these hybrids you'd conclude that they're probably smart enough to realize it isn't a money saving proposition. It doesn't matter to them. They probably also recycle, there's no money in that.
  • moonkidmoonkid Posts: 6
    HOw about slot cars?
    Run on electricity
    could charge while they drive on the freeway
    Have small battery for say 20 miles independent driving.
    Charge at work, store, home, and solar panels.
    One hops in the car, drives to the freeway, plugs in the slot, reads a book, 30miles later gets out of the slot, drives 5 miles to work on local roads.
    A computer on the car could calculate electricity usage and you could pull into a station once a month to pay your bill.
    what do you think?
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    You've totally misjudged where I'm coming from. I have nothing against the Prius. Well that's not true. I don't particularly like its styling. I am surprised to find out that it has more room than a Corolla. I drove a Corolla for a couple of years and averaged around 35 mpg, combined city and highway. It was a totally competent vehicle. I'd say that back then I used about 400 gallons of gas per year (14,000 miles) so today that would cost me around $1200/year. If I had been driving a Prius that got 50 mpg I would have spent $840 on gas for a savings of $360, not bad.

    Here's my point and I'm sure you've heard it before. If instead of my Corolla I had been driving a 15 mpg SUV that could have gotten 18 mpg with hybrid technology the dollar savings would have been $470, around 30% greater. So I guess the message is that people who drive trucks really don't care all that much about mileage to begin with, which is why they haven't embraced hybrid technology even though from a dollars and cents perspective they'd be the biggest beneficiaries.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I'm with you on this one. I actually believe that once electric vehicles(EVs) become more prevalant someone will devise a way for them to charge as they go on specialized lanes. I don't know if it will be slots but the idea is basically the same. That would totally eliminate the criticism regarding their limited range.
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Posts: 1,015
    Except I think people still misunderstand the Prius. It's not an electric vehicle. It's a gasoline powered vehicle that uses hybrid technology to improve efficiency. ALL it's motive power comes from gas.
    The improved efficiency comes from:
    1. Use of regenerative braking to recover ordinarily lost energy.
    2. Because of the power plant design, it can shut down the "ICE" (internal combustion engine) when it's not needed to provide power.
    3. Because of the presence of the MG (motor generator) to enhance power, the ICE could be designed to optimize efficiency (atkinson cycle - lower power output).
    4. Use of a CVT (continuously variable transmission) to optimize the output of the ICE.
  • tpetpe Posts: 2,342
    I think people are pretty aware of what the Prius is. It does have a battery pack and it does have an electric motor, the two components required for an electric vehicle. If the battery pack on a Prius is always charged between 30-70% then there is always some capacity to store additional energy that can come from an outside source. This new energy could then be used to power the car, i.e. it would now be able to go farther. Whether or not this is a good idea or whether it will void the warranty are separate issues. In the case of the Prius the battery pack is so small any additional distance gained would be negligible. I'd guess that if you charged the battery from 70% to 100% you would now have maybe 1/2 mile of all electric driving before you were back down to the 70% charge that you started with.
  • I searched for hours and couldn't find a separate charger that specifically said it would recharge the prius batteries.

    Recharging to 70% is fine for me.

    Any ideas/links to find the charger for sale?

    To be clear, people keep talking about electric vehicles, or modifications. I *do not* want to modify my prius, nor try to drive it as an electric car. I just thought it would be nice to drive the first mile or two each trip on electricity, since I must maintain slow speeds (~25mph) for about 4 miles anyway.

    For people who get on some rant about switching from one form of pollution to another, perhaps this is not really a good forum to rant in, since a Prius is a small car, and you would charge at night, I don't think it would "load down" our power grids. I'm also not looking to drive more than a few miles on electric.

    If someone comes up with a way for $500-$800 or so to drive 10 miles on electric at <35mph which goes into the Prius, even if it is fully house charged, I'd be interested, but so far everything I've seen is $3k-$12.5k which is not appealing in the least.

    John
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 29,028
    Any modification you do to a Prius hybrid system will void the warranty without a doubt. If you live in CA that is 10 years or 150k from new. The only way I would consider it is if I bought an old Prius that needed a new battery anyway. Then you could justify spending the money. You could probably pick up an out of warranty Prius for near nothing. There is one being offered on eBay with 110k miles for $4295 "buy it now". Says in perfect condition. Not salvage titled. Take it and invest 12 grand in Li-Ion batteries and a 110 volt charger and you may be the envy of Edmund's.
  • "I think that if you looked at the demographics of people purchasing these hybrids you'd conclude that they're probably smart enough to realize it isn't a money saving proposition. "

    LOL the selling point of Hybrids is that they have high gas mileage and therefore it is implied they save money!

    However, if you look at objective reviews on mileage measurements even the mileage savings is suspect.

    Cheers,

    MidCow
  • Host --

    You have two threads that appear to be the same. May be they should be combined.

    Look at thread "Plug-in Hybrids"

    Cheers and Power-On'

    MidCow
  • acdiiacdii Posts: 753
    I drive an F350 Dually Crewcab diesel Pickup. I just bought a Prius and with the amount of miles I drive each week just to go to work, the savings are about $500-600 a month, or so I figured, only time will tel for sure. Your statement regarding people who drive big truck dont think about mileage is false. Most people who drive big trucks have an ego issue, and dont care that they are dishing out huge bucks to drive their ego mobile around. OTOH, people like me who have the truck because I NEED the truck, I have horses, would LOVE to have a diesel hybrid that got 30% better fuel economy. Currently my 8000# truck averages 14 -18 MPG depending on weather and traffic, highway close to 20MPG. Diesel is a very efficient system, and if the Prius was diesel we would be looking at better acceleration and getting at least 60 MPG city instead of the actual 48. Highway would be considerably higher as well. We really need to have more diesel cars out there, but people have this impression that diesel is dirty etc, when in fact it is cleaner than gasoline cars, especially when properly driven and well maintained. Check out the new Mercedes benz E series diesel, it gets better EPA ratings than most hybrids, including the Camry and Accord. The new Particulate filters get rid of the PM that you see coming out of the tail pipes of trucks, the black smoke, which is really the only bad part of the diesel, and what most people dont realize is the particles from that smoke fall to the ground, and dont hang in the air like the exhaust fumes from cars do. Ever been behind a car that the driver mashed the accelerator on? That stinks worse than my truck under a hard load, and guess what, those hydrocarbons are what go UP into the atmosphere. The only true bad emission from a diesel is increased Nox emmisions when too much heat is applied to the fuel, from too much boost, or fuel delivery for increased horsepower. A properly tuned and driven diesel produces less NOX, CO, and CO2, than the newest ULEV gas engine. The newest diesel, with the EPA junk added on meets the same levels as the Prius does.

    If more SUV's, cars and trucks were diesels, they would get better EPA ratings, and put out fewer emmisions, people will just have to deal with the smell of the fuel itself, as the tail pipe smell is gone now from the new diesels.
  • jg6jg6 Posts: 70
    No Way!!

    The Camry has over 5% more passenger volume and over 4% more cargo space.

    You should have stuck with the "about" the same size.....
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