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  • Writer's pictureDoug Hull

Wheelie Useful Batteries

I remember being fascinated by Swiss army knives as a kid. What a clever idea to have so many functions in one compact little gadget. You could open tins of baked beans and bottles of wine, tighten screws, pull out splinters with tweezers... AND it was a knife! Fast forward to the late noughties and the dawn of the iPhone. It was a computer, a camera, an iPod ... AND it could make phone calls! What is the next multi purpose device I hear you ask? Well I think the Electric Vehicle may just be it.

A friend of mine who lives on the Gold Coast of Australia was recently unfortunate enough to be hit by some extreme weather over Christmas (say... have you noticed more extreme weather lately? I wonder whats causing that...). Anyway, he, like many others in the region, lost power for almost 4 days. Which ordinarily would have been a serious inconvenience, but when you have 24 guests coming for Christmas dinner it is disastrous! Enter the multi-tool of the modern age... his Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid EV. Over the course of 3 days he used it to power his fridge, lights, dishwasher (the day after having 24 guests!), a load of laundry, charge phones and run the wifi router. The Outlander comes with two standard 240V power outlets with an aggregated maximum output of 1500W. He plugged in an extension cord and used it to power his household devices. According to him, "The most fun part was we had to do a bit of a cleanup after the storm. My neighbour and I connected his electrical circular saw (1000Watt) to the EV and cleaned up the fallen wooden fence that was a hazard!"

This type of facility is called V2L (Vehicle to Load), and is proving to be popular. Apart from helping survive blackouts, there are benefits for tradies with battery powered tools that need to stay charged throughout the day, and for campers. Imagine being able to camp out in the sticks and still run your fridge, lights, bluetooth speaker and Starlink. Working from home just got interesting...

There are other ways that EVs will be useful in the future too. V2H (Vehicle to Home) will enable the use of an EV as a home battery, which will mean no additional home battery needs to be purchased. I recently priced home batteries and it seems the cost for an average household is around AU$10k.. which is a big chunk of the cost of an EV! On top of that, consider that a typical home battery system has a capacity of 10-15kWh whereas the average EV battery capacity is around 70kWh, which is more than four times greater! The average Australian household with 3 people uses around 15kWh per day of electricity - that means you could be self-sufficient for a full four days with just an average EV battery running things. And capacities will only increase in the future.

Then there is V2G (Vehicle to Grid), which is where the real magic will happen in the future - allowing cars to sell energy from their batteries back to the grid and actually pay for themselves while you sleep. Mind. Blown.

Both V2G and V2H do need special bi-directional chargers, which are currently quite expensive, but in the future all of these things will be viable options. In addition it must be noted that very few EVs currently support bidirectional charging - in Australia only the Nissan Leaf and some of the Mitsubishi PHEV's do, however others will no doubt follow soon.

While some of the benefits of EV's have not yet arrived, there is little doubt that they are not far off, and it's hard not to be excited by them. Aside from all of the battery benefits mentioned here, the reduced emissions and the cost savings that EV's offer, they are pretty cool to drive too. What's not to love?

Until next time!


The Regeneralist

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