By on August 2, 2011

Ever since the power went out in large parts of Japan after a massive Tsunami slammed into the country on March 11, the big question no longer is “will I be able to charge my EV at home.” It is: “Will I be able to power my house with my car?” This may seem alien to you, but a Tsunami has certain effects, and this is one of them. At a press conference in Yokohama, reporters asked Nissan’s CEO Carlos Ghosn: “When will it discharge?” Meaning the Leaf into the house. A few days later, Toyota showed a house that can be powered by a plug-in Prius should the lights go out. Now Nissan finally shows its great chargeback solution.

In front of Nissan’s global headquarters in Yokohama, on one of the world’s priciest waterfront properties, Sekisui House Ltd. erected a model home that can draw electricity from the lithium-ion batteries in a Nissan LEAF.

With this system, Nissan LEAF can be used as a backup battery in case of a power outage. The batteries in a LEAF store up to 24kWh of electricity, enough to power an average Japanese household for about two days, says Nissan.

The electronic gadgetry appears to be farther ahead that Toyota’s where the reverse charge still needed a bit of work when we inspected the home. If needed, electricity stored in Nissan LEAF can be supplied to a house by connecting the car to the house’s electricity distribution panel using a connector linked to the LEAF’s quick charging port. The connector complies with the CHAdeMO Association’s protocol for quick chargers.

Current Nissan LEAF owners can use the system as long as they make the needed adjustments to the home wiring. More information (in Japanese) here.

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13 Comments on “The Big Chargeback: Leaf Powers House...”

  • avatar

    I think that something like this would be even more useful for the Volt. The thing could automatically detect when power went out, feed back into the house, and then when necessary turn on the gas engine as a generator if the battery was running low. The Volt’s engine is a 55 kW generator, you could power several houses with that in an emergency.

    • 0 avatar

      @aristurtle: Good point. However, let’s hope the owners of the Volt have moved it outside when the engine comes on.

      Of course, the real issues is whether the Leaf is fully charged when the earthquake happens. If so, great! But if not, not so great. I’d think it would make sense to keep one of those little Honda generators in the garage, just in case…

    • 0 avatar

      While I appreciate the sentiment, the last thing I’d want is for the power to go out while I’m asleep and my car to start itself in my attached garage. CO or CO2 poisoning anyone?

      • 0 avatar

        Ah, I grew up with a detached garage and didn’t think of that. Still, if we’re assuming this level of integration we can probably rig it up so that it opens the garage door when the engine goes on and turns on a vent fan or something.

  • avatar

    If you want to power everything, you need some big numbers. But for powering essentials, I have a 7500VA generator that takes care of a fridge, freezer, oil burner furnace, deep well pump and some lights and receptacles. You can’t do it all at once, the furnace and well pump will trip the breakers if both come on simultaneously, but it is an OK solution to occasional outages. Does the Leaf estimate of 2 days imply that the average Japanese house power draw is 500 watts? Sounds like no heat or AC at the very least.

  • avatar

    “enough to power an average Japanese household for about two days, says Nissan.”

    Even longer if you unplug the toilet.

  • avatar

    And after two days of “stealing” power from your Leaf, then what do you do? Sit in the dark for several more years? It will take several years to rebuild the electric generating infrastructure. A publicity stunt.

  • avatar

    I have a very small inverter (2500W) that I hook to my car battery to power the house during outages (I live in a seismic area). Haven’t used it yet. I expect to be able to run the fridge and a few flourescent lights, adequate for a few weeks until power is restored.

    500W per hour is doable. There are three adults and three children in our house and our average winter daily electrical use is 12kw per day and about 8kw per day in the summer.

  • avatar

    This could be a great feature when coupled with “green” companies that provide free charging at work for their employees. Of course the irony is that people will be using a very much less efficient electricity delivery system, more than nullifying the theoretical efficiencies of the electric cars. Hey, maybe California will put in free charging stations open to the public!

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