By on May 12, 2022

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

Yesterday, we (and the rest of the Internet) brought you our drive impressions of the all-electric F-150 Lightning, putting it through its paces in a variety of typically trucky situations and finding it to be a largely familiar experience behind the wheel – albeit one powered solely by electricity. If part of the challenge in getting truck customers to make the jump to electric is convincing them the experience will not be totally alien, Ford’s approach with the Lightning will pay dividends.

Here’s the thing about most electric vehicles: That enormous battery deep within its frame can, with some creativity, be used for more than just shoving a 6,000+ pound pickup down the freeway. Ford has a few ideas – some of them slickly integrated into the truck and others costing thousands in expenditure to implement. Let’s dig in.

Ford hoovered up a lot of media attention and goodwill during last year’s power outages in Texas when images of F-150s equipped with a Pro Power Onboard generator served as sources of electricity for residents who’d otherwise be left in the dark. While no one at the Blue Oval will ever say they were glad that weather event happened, you can bet your boots there were some boardroom high-fives when those images started surfacing on social media.

In those scenarios, the battery in an F-150 hybrid provided enough juice to save the day on several different streets. That amount of onboard electricity has been supersized with the Lightning, providing a large bank of power upon which owners can draw. First, like its gasoline-powered PowerBoost brother, the Lightning can be equipped with a yaffle of household-style outlets to power job site tools or party coolers and the like. All trucks get at least a 2.4kW Pro Power generator in their bed, with customers of base model Pro trims and some XLT trucks able to upgrade to a 9.6kW unit for about a grand. The bigger unit is standard on zooty Lariat and Platinum models.

This provides four power outlets in the secure frunk, a great spot to charge up battery-fed power tools, and more outlets in the bed (including a 240V) plus a couple in the cab. Ford says the 9.6kW unit, on a fully charged truck, is enough to power a typical residential construction job site for three days. Or, if you feel the need, cut almost 30 miles of plywood. We’d love to meet the person who tested that figure. And, yes, Pro Power Onboard is usable while the vehicle is in motion; bed-wetting lawyers haven’t figured out a way to scupper that functionality – yet.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

Buried in Lightning’s infotainment menus – or the Ford app – is the ability to halt the use of these outlets when the truck’s battery discharges to a certain level. This means you won’t be out of luck after helping to partially recharge your buddy’s electric car, a feat the Lightning can easily accomplish. Gives a whole new meaning to providing a jump for someone, we figure. But the real story, and one in which many are interested, is Lightning’s ability to power an entire house through the Intelligent Backup Power system. Ryan O’Gorman, Ford’s Energy Services manager, walked us through some of the gritty details.

As many of you surmised in the comments yesterday, there is an outlay of cash for some hardware. First, you’ll need the Ford Charge Station Pro, a Level 2 charging station that’s designed to be installed in residential homes. Unlike other chargers of its type, it uses a big Level 3 style connector – that’s the one with a round connector underneath which there is an additional flat connector. Remember that last part; it’ll come in handy later.

This charge station is included gratis with extended range trucks ($1,300 otherwise) where it’ll force-feed about 30 miles of range per charging hour back into the truck from your home’s electricity supply. Note well: This is a brute of a unit, requiring 80 amps in yer panel box, a sum not available in more than a few older homes in which money-fuelled upgrades may be required. You’ll also need to pay someone who knows what they’re doing to install the thing.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

With the Charge Station Pro up and running, it can then be paired with the Intelligent Backup Power unit. This is the so-called home integration unit branded by a company called Sunrun, priced at $3,895 and designed to sync up one’s home with their snazzy new F-150 Lightning. Now, recall that bigger-than-necessary connector on the charging station – the reason for this is that it is bi-directional, meaning it can draw power from the truck’s battery instead of just acting like a typical charger.

With the Sunrun unit properly installed and the truck plugged into the system, a transfer switch can trip if the normal residential supply of power from the grid is interrupted. This will cause the truck to stop charging itself and feed power back into the home, converted from DC to AC along the way. According to Ford, a fully charged extended-range Lightning should be able to juice a house for up to three days without any power rationing – using hot water, running the fridge, playing video games, all the essentials. Dialing usage back to Amish levels could stretch reserves to over a week.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

There’s potential here to take advantage of time-of-day power rates, too. Imagine you arrive home from work around dinner time, the Lightning roughly 80 percent charged after having it plugged in all day at work. It could be possible to plug the truck into this at-home set up and run your house for the evening off the partially charged truck instead of paying for grid power. Then, when all hands go to bed and electricity is cheaper, the system could flip a switch to put the house back on the public grid – which will then charge the truck for your morning commute. Toss in some solar panels and one’s dependence on the grid could become very light.

Which is part of the Lightning’s appeal, of course. Since it’s more than a battery on wheels, this truck moves beyond being just transportation and becomes part and parcel of a whole-home solution. Suddenly, signing a note at the Ford dealer doesn’t just bring home a new pickup; correctly equipped, it can be an integral part of how your house operates and there is an argument to be made this is all just the beginning of home and vehicle integration. Ford’s veep of electric vehicle programs, Darren Palmer, told this author that when solid-state batteries are ready for prime time it’ll “change the game again”, suggesting the company is looking a lot further into the future than the trucks (and their batteries) you see here.

Ford also knows the majority of EV charging is done at home. These tools leverage that and the cynics (raises hand) will point out it’s all just another way for a company to weave its tentacles into more corners of our daily lives. Knowing one’s EV could act as a supplemental energy source turns the vehicle into a lot more than simple transportation. Turns out the electric revolution could have an impact far beyond just how we get to work.

[Images: Ford, © 2022 Matthew Guy/TTAC]

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30 Comments on “Charging Ahead: The Myriad of Ways an F-150 Lightning Can Power Your Home – and Other Things...”


  • avatar
    kcflyer

    So which would be more useful in the Texas freeze power outage? The BEV or the F-150 with the ICE engine / onboard generator?

    • 0 avatar
      jmo2

      I read that the Lightning can power your home for 3 days with no conservation efforts and 10 days if you’re careful. I think the dual alternator system on the convention F150 can only provided power for 30 hours.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      The real solution would probably be to move here to Colorado, where we have a working power grid and a government that’s not on peyote. But there are enough folks here already.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      Consider what happens when there are a few million of these trucks plugged into homes all across the country. All of a sudden, you have a vast energy-storage capability and, I predict, an artbitrage market for electricity with many hundreds of thousands of players. I can envision running code on my home server that manages where and when I buy the power to charge my EV and, on the flip side, provides a nice return when I sell that power back to the grid during periods of high demand. The utilities have already figured this out. One sign is that bills are being introduced in various states to restrict the return individual customers could get from this practice by severely capping net-metering rates. In short (bad pun there), they want to corner the market before it develops.

      Another way to look at it is that all these electric vehicles are, potentially, the energry storage needed that makes solar and wind power superior in all respects to any other form or power generation.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      If the gas pumps can’t run, it may just even out. That presupposes that you are the sort of person who always keeps the gas tank filled. An EV plugged in every night is likely to have more available energy stored up because no one fills their gas tank every night.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Using there Lightning as a home emergency generator is a nice party trick, but in reality is it an expensive option for that rare loss of power, especially if you need an electrical panel upgrade to fit that 80amp circuit.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo2

      You’d have to price it against a Generac and a Powerwall if you’re someone who needs a backup.

      • 0 avatar
        haze3

        Yes, it’s about pricing against the developing alternatives and what drives those alternatives. The use-case is also a subset, as always. If you live in a single-family home in hurricane country (raises hand), this is significant. If you live in multi-family housing or on the open range, not so much.

        To pricing, the $4K-ish price tag is in the right ballpark vs. a high-power, high-quality portable generator, probably lower than a good stand-by generator. A good generator hookup runs $500-1000 itself, so, short of backfeeding a 240v outlet (many issues) or running lots of extension cords (also many issues), no good backup solution is close to free.

        Equally important is how the power is generated; this will be silent, alternatives really won’t be, except for power walls, which won’t drive you to the lake. NG or large tank propane (500-1000gal) are great for backup power but, like gasoline or diesel, can be pretty loud, especially if portable variety. The existing F150 hybrid power system is a great gasoline option: quiet and efficient and refillable (so long as the stations are not closed or empty… see hurricane).

        Ultimate problem is the cost. The extended battery starts at ~$72K, right? Best backup solution would be the pro model with 9.6kv upgrade but I’ll be stunned if it has real availability, too good of a deal.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      Consider what happens when there are a few million of these trucks plugged into homes all across the country. All of a sudden, you have a vast energy-storage capability and, I predict, an artbitrage market for electricity with many hundreds of thousands of players. I can envision running code on my home server that manages where and when I buy the power to charge my EV and, on the flip side, provides a nice return when I sell that power back to the grid during periods of high demand. The utilities have already figured this out. One sign is that bills are being introduced in various states to restrict the return individual customers could get from this practice by severely capping net-metering rates. In short (bad pun there), they want to corner the market before it develops.

      Another way to look at it is that all these electric vehicles are, potentially, the energry storage needed that makes solar and wind power superior in all respects to any other form of power generation.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      It is a concern. But the missing piece here is if you have solar panels. My feeling is that an investment in the home infrastructure of this sort needs to go as far as possible in order to reap the most benefit. A typical solar panel and battery installation is somewhere between 35 and 50K. That’s a lot of money. But if you can eliminate the battery by having a Lightning and get rid of the need for a whole-house generator, the cost differential isn’t that big.

      That might be the real genius if the Lighning, that the “powering your home” thing could become a major game changer in the adoption of solar and the distributed grid.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    The real trick here isn’t being able to power your house with your truck – that’s a gimmick and I suspect most buyers won’t lay out the extra cash for that capability.

    But right off the showroom floor, this truck can juice up all of your power tools. If you can power up a house for a day with one of these trucks, imagine how many power tools could be powered instead. This is going to be a very useful feature for people who actually use their trucks for real work.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Unless you’re running an arc welder you can power tools with any F-150.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        “you can power tools with any F-150”

        This is a slight overstatement, based on availability. The bed outlet which is standard on King Ranch and above is 400W — nice to have but let’s not get crazy. The Pro Power Onboard systems are optional and tied to certain powertrains.

        https://www.beartoothford.net/the-2021-ford-f150-pro-power-onboard.htm

        (Ford is pretty selective about which power tools they show. Also unclear how they are accounting for startup surge [inrush current].)

  • avatar
    ajla

    With the Powerboost journos were saying all you needed to power your house was a 30amp transfer switch but on the Lightning there’s all these additional items needed. Is there something particular about a BEV that requires the charge station and backup power unit or were people incorrect about the hybrid?

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      You could do that with the Lightning too, it has the 30a 240v outlet too (which you should draw more than 24a from for long periods). You just have to drag out the cord and flip the transfer switch.

      This acts as an automatic transfer switch and can then supply 40a @ 240v continuously, well at least until the battery is discharged to the cut off point.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    “These tools leverage that and the cynics (raises hand) will point out it’s all just another way for a company to weave its tentacles into more corners of our daily lives. ”

    Oh FFS, heaven forbid that a company come out with new features and products that people find useful.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    So I can power my house with this truck after I’ve helped to deplete the shrinking grid capacity of CA by charging said truck.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Meh. My state produces like 130 percent of the power we use. It’s almost like leaders out there just failed to plan.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      It’s just regular corruption while they keep jacking up the rates, charge more at peak, then charge even more to opt out of rolling blackouts. CA particularly expects wind and solar to make up the diff. Plus abandoned houses and businesses when it becomes the next Detroit.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        I think California expects dirty electricity from coal and natural gas plants in other states to make up the difference.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          CA/CARB criminals don’t give 2 craps about the environment, anywhere, not even LA. It’s all a money grab, end to end. Quick story; I have two friends in CA, drinking buddies, one’s a multi-millionaire landlord and the other, his handyman. Both got arrested for DUI separately within a month, same county everything. No doubt the rich guy got hooked up with bail, $10K fine (1st time arrest), DUI school, breathalyzer car interlock, community service, the works. The handyman (deadbeat) just got released on his own recognizance, AND with 9 active (prior driving related) warrants for over $100K. Just shown the back door.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    I’ve read that any home equipped with a generator is supposed to have a device that won’t put power back out on the lines themselves, potentially zapping the very people trying to restore power?

    I assume this is handled the same way. After, say, two days of conservatively powering an average house, how much range would that leave in the vehicle?

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    “Charging Ahead: The Myriad Ways an F-150 Lightning Can Power Your Home – and Other Things…”

    No ‘of’.

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