Hello Electrified Miata Fans! What a crazy week this has been. The recent winter weather events make it clear to me, we need the technology behind electric cars now more than ever! This week we'll dive into power and what components of an EV might be suitable to run your house in the case of a grid failure. Our plans were totally disrupted by the extreme cold weather!
Many Texan's experienced for themselves what happens when the electrical
grid goes down. Your house temperature starts to move closer to the outside temperature. Your internet connection is gone. In some cases, the cell phone connections were down too. Your lighting depends on the sun or clouds. While those conditions may have been normal for the pioneers, or camping trips, it's not how we are used to living. I really wished my Electrified Miata was finished! Why? I could have ran my house for at least 24 hours on the power it has, and mine has
a minimum amount of battery storage. I was so thankful our Tesla PowerWall and solar panels helped us through the power outage. One less thing to worry about. The sound of breaking tree limbs snapping and shattering under the weight of thick ice was enough stress this week.
Can you run your car in the garage with the doors closed, trying to get some heat to warm up or charge your cell phone? With an all electric car, yes! What about lights and small appliances? How much power does your house use? Our 3 bedroom 2 bath house with 75% LED lights uses .5 to .9 kilowatt (Kw) when 'idle'. Idle is with no appliances running.
The microwave can take nearly 2 Kw when on, but it only runs for a short while. The furnace, with natural gas heating, takes about .5 Kw when running, but quite a bit more when it first starts. Same for dishwasher, dryer, washing machine, refrigerator.
The high usage items are electric heaters in the winter and air-conditioning in the summer. A small space heater may take 1-1.5 Kw. Our AC uses 3.5 Kw when running. The AC may take much more to get it started. So how much power would you need in the winter to survive 24 hours? We'd need .5 kw x 24 (house & lights ) and .5 kw x 12 running the furnace 50% of the time, or about 18 kw hours (KWh). How much power does a electric car have? This depends on the car, but at the bottom of the line is an older Nissan Leaf. These have about 21 KWh batteries. That is enough power for one day. The current top of the line EV is a Tesla model P100D. The P100D has enough power for 5 days. We have two cars + a 21KWh partially complete Miata. Assuming they were electric cars, we'd probably have power for a week. The new, soon to be available Rivian, can have 180 KWh. The power of a pair of Rivian's would last until the sun came out again!
Generators work fine, as long as you have fuel to run them or you can get to the gas station to get more. But guess what? You can make electricity with solar panels. Yes, I chose to climb up on the roof to clean them off from our historic snow.
The whole system, 18 panels and 1 power costs about the same as a new Toyota
Camry. However, at the end of 10 years, I still have 85-95% of its value. Maybe more if the electricity rates go up. In 2020, the system generated 7145 KWh. It was designed to meet 1/2 my electricity needs, since I'll pay a service fee from Pedernales, regardless of whether I use 1 watt of electricity or not. I can use the excess I generate to charge my car(s) and have back up power at the same time. The caption picture at the start of this blog was our Tesla system during the storm. The solar and battery technology gives us more options on how to manage our grid and power. If you're interested, contact me and I can show you more detail about
How would the grid handle all these electric cars if the grid is so fragile it can't handle some weather problems? Weather and capacity are actually two different problems. We'd would need to expand the current grid capacity by approximately 33% to accommodate 90% electric cars. When the US was focused on infrastructure growth, we were expanding our grid capacity at 4% per year. We can certainly meet the challenge as we did when air conditioning became available and popular.
Despite my enthusiasm for the newer technology, I know there are limits on what technology can do. As Joe pointed out that even if we had everyone's car on the grid, what's to prevent people from unplugging their cars, to make sure they have enough electricity for themselves? Technology can only go so far....
On a more personal note, I didn't realize how much I depend on the other guys for positive engergy till I didn't see them on for two car nights, due to the frozen road conditions.
We won't be writing to to you next week. As much as I love the challenge of going fast with electricity I could use a small break, especially after a solid week of high alert weather conditions.
In the next two weeks, our goals are:
1. Get Formula Mazda metal cut! Let's try again.
2. Get BMS logging started
3. Start assembling the large Miata battery.
Hope y'all are staying warm, have power, heat and water!