In Sandy’s Wake, a Nissan-Powered Fridge

November 9, 2012

One of the clean little secrets about dealing with climate change is that, making the right choices about climate will also make us safer, more prosperous, more secure, and more resilient in the face of the unexpected.


As millions of people fired up generators and burned candles in the wake of superstorm Sandy, some EV owners hacked their cars to keep their lights on and refrigerators humming.

For Virginia resident Scott Wilson, that involved nothing more than making sure his Nissan Leaf’s battery pack was topped up the night before, along with having a ProWatt 1000 DC-to-AC converter and a pair of $25 (£15) cables at the ready. And it’s something that EV owners along the east coast can do as they prepare for the latest nor’easter front.

After a derecho storm hit the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest in June of this year and Wilson lost power for a few days, he wanted a sure-fire plan to keep the juice flowing during Sandy. That involved ordering the ProWatt from an online marine store (for $270 (£170), which could use the electricity from his Leaf’s 24 kWh lithium-ion battery pack to power his refrigerator, microwave and even his coffee maker — although not all at once.

“I had the inverter hooked up and ready earlier in the day,” Wilson told, explaining that the modification had been done by many members on the MyNissanLeaf enthusiast site, and others involved in the Electric Vehicle Association of Greater Washington, DC.

While this roll-your-own solution is relatively new in the US, with only a handful of the geekiest EV and hybrid owners employing the setup in the last few months, Nissan has offered an official solution that’s been on sale in Japan since June.

Originally shown as a concept at the Tokyo Motor Show last year, the ” Leaf to Home” system was a response by the automaker following the devastatingearthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March of 2011 and left millions without power.

More of the bigger picture in my EV video below:


3 Responses to “In Sandy’s Wake, a Nissan-Powered Fridge”

  1. Hi Peter,

    I teach this concept to students and have shown them the plug-in hybrid video on a number of occasions. Here are my thoughts on this:

    I spend a lot of time on my boat, which has PV panels to keep the main batteries (3 x 100 Ah) charged and so it is self-contained. Most stuff works on 12 volts DC, including the fridge, which is rated at 75 Watts. I made coffee using an alcohol stove rather than a 2kW coffee machine (these stoves cost about €100 from any marine store and can also provide heat) .

    My concerns now are with maintaining communications during a blackout. I can create a mobile hotspot with my android tablet, but I rely on the UMTS network to maintain operations for the duration, which in the case of Sandy were many days, with some people still not connected.

    The Leaf is a pure EV rather than being a plug-in hybrid, which means it can only bridge the power gap for a few hours at most. I think we need to focus on how we can better acheive resilience in the light of this.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      clearly we are only at the beginning of the transition and no doubt there will be differing configurations in different regions – but the advent of powerful auto batteries, charging stations, solar panels on residences and businesses, and more islanded micro grids in cities, regions and neighborhoods, is going to
      change the equation, hopefully in the direction of more resilience.

  2. Bruce Miller Says:

    Doomed nation stuck with 4 more years of political grid-lock and the folly of nuclear holocaust in the Middle East, sparked by fanatic sociopaths in a small corner of the Israeli government, and fought on loans from China to U.S. with American bodies on the ground.
    Sick nation stuck on oil, facing an energy revolution set to change the Energy Maps of this world, eradicate oil dependence, force the U.S. Dollar/Oil hand, and even revolutionize shipping, rail, car, subway, tram, streetcar, transportation, render oil intensive jet flights useless, even fuel factories, hospitals, Heavy Industry, towns, villages, cities, with cheaper electricity and no transmission losses, expenses.
    Asia about to eclipse U.S. as a World Power, Thorium energy to drive Pan Eurasian Alliances to Empire in decades.

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