Energy Products

Temporary Off Grid, Extension Cord powered?

I have what I imagine is a bit of a unique situation. My house is about to be renovated which involves disconnecting the main power for 4 months to allow for a garage to be demolished and rebuilt.

I'm exploring ways we could live in that house for 2-3 of those months on a low-power-consumption diet. Ie, no washer/dryer, no dishwasher, no air conditioner, etc. One lifeline I have is an extension cord running from my neighbour's house.

Option 1 is to simply live off the extension cord. Run the fridge, our wifi, and charge a few laptops as needed.

Option 2 is to purchase an electric powerstation product such as GoalZero's YETI meant to support camping or offsite construction, leave it plugged into the extension cord, and run limited power off this. This gives me time at night to charge it up, and opportunity to use more than 15 amps of draw during the day to power a microwave, desktop computer, etc.

Option 3 I'm looking to consider is getting a 13kwh powerwall. It could form the basis of a future solar setup, offsetting some of the initial costs. This would avoid us running extension cords all over the house, and we'd just need to limit our usage based on state of charge.

Is there a way I could potentially run a PowerWall, and charge it using an extension cord running 12Amps or so? It could charge at night, and be used during the day?

Comments

  • In the USA, option 3 with charging from the grid is not allowed as the utilities do not want this combination except in special events (hurricanes, fires, etc.), called Storm watch.

    A fourth option is to get Temporary Utility Services. They usually attach a meter to a wood pole. I'm not sure what they may provide but I see it at a lot of construction sites. There are often outlets which you can use. It would provide more power than an extension cord.
  • Small gasoline-powered generators are relatively cheap. You just need to keep it filled, and you run the risk of annoying the neighbors with odors and noise. They probably would prefer the extension cord route anyway.

    If you've got an EV, many of them will allow you to run a 12VDC to 120VAC inverter off of their auxiliary 12V PbA battery. I have a Chevy Bolt, and can draw 1kW from the aux battery. The Bolt needs to be "on", though, so the 60kW traction battery can keep the aux battery topped up. This forms the basis of an emergency backup system that can keep a refrigerator cold, a couple LED lights on, and a laptop and cell phones charged for almost a week.

    Me? I'd go with an extension cord to the neighbor, but if possible, be selective about where it's plugged in. In an ideal world, you'll get a 20A socket with nothing else on the circuit. If it's a shared 15A circuit, you'll run the risk of tripping the breaker. (As it is, you'll need to unplug your fridge to run the microwave anyway.) Don't cheap out on the extension cord, as you'll be pulling serious current through it for a long distance. In an ideal world, it would be 100' of #10AWG, but #12AWG might do the trick. Avoid #14AWG or #16AWG at all costs. (The bigger the AWG, the smaller the wire.) A 100' #12AWG "contractor grade" extension cord will run ~$75.

    Good luck!
  • > @"TeslaTap.com" said:
    > In the USA, option 3 with charging from the grid is not allowed as the utilities do not want this combination except in special events (hurricanes, fires, etc.), called Storm watch.
    >
    > A fourth option is to get Temporary Utility Services. They usually attach a meter to a wood pole. I'm not sure what they may provide but I see it at a lot of construction sites. There are often outlets which you can use. It would provide more power than an extension cord.
    >


    I'm in Toronto, Canada , and honestly I'm not sure how they'd be able to tell that I charge a battery off the grid, so I think I'd be able to get away with it for a few months.

    Temporary Utility services would effectively give me a couple plugs for the contractors to use, and I'm told that would cost upwards of $8k to install for temporary use. I'd still be stuck running extension cords to run internal services.
  • > @gregbrew_98470014 said:
    > Small gasoline-powered generators are relatively cheap. You just need to keep it filled, and you run the risk of annoying the neighbors with odors and noise. They probably would prefer the extension cord route anyway.
    >
    > If you've got an EV, many of them will allow you to run a 12VDC to 120VAC inverter off of their auxiliary 12V PbA battery. I have a Chevy Bolt, and can draw 1kW from the aux battery. The Bolt needs to be "on", though, so the 60kW traction battery can keep the aux battery topped up. This forms the basis of an emergency backup system that can keep a refrigerator cold, a couple LED lights on, and a laptop and cell phones charged for almost a week.
    >
    > Me? I'd go with an extension cord to the neighbor, but if possible, be selective about where it's plugged in. In an ideal world, you'll get a 20A socket with nothing else on the circuit. If it's a shared 15A circuit, you'll run the risk of tripping the breaker. (As it is, you'll need to unplug your fridge to run the microwave anyway.) Don't cheap out on the extension cord, as you'll be pulling serious current through it for a long distance. In an ideal world, it would be 100' of #10AWG, but #12AWG might do the trick. Avoid #14AWG or #16AWG at all costs. (The bigger the AWG, the smaller the wire.) A 100' #12AWG "contractor grade" extension cord will run ~$75.
    >
    > Good luck!

    I have a 2015 Tesla Model S 70D, but I don't believe there's a way to draw power other than via the USB or 12V connection, and as you say, for the 12V it needs to be "on". I have a cord that I've used to charge my Model S at 12Amps, so I'm planning on using that, and then getting a few more high quality lines internally to feed a room or two with power. That said I'd still rather have something feeding my main panel so I could just disconnect what I didn't want running rather than running cords throughout the house.
  • $8K - Yikes, that's crazy high. I'd expect something like under $1K.

    Ok, another option, it sounds like the meter and panel are in the garage that's about to be demolished? If so, is there a way to keep the small portion of the wall where the power comes in during most of the renovation? It might be a bit tricky, but it only needs to be a 1-foot wide section or so, perhaps with a 2x4 brace to hold it in place. I bet an electrician can connect an outlet for < $500 to that meter panel (maybe a lot less depending on your area).
  • Not an option, since a larger garage is being installed in its place, which means where the electrical meter is is where the middle of the new garage will be, requiring a new slab to be laid, etc.
  • There are ways that an extension cord from your neighbor could be used to back feed both legs of your main panel (after it's disconnected from the utility feed), through a couple of re-purposed regular breakers made into "feed" breakers. With all but one "load" breaker disabled, it would be relatively safe, but decidedly against any electrical safety code in existence. It would require breaker management to get the desired load circuit working, one circuit at a time. It would be easier than running around with an extension cord. (I think this is where I reference old episodes of Green Acres, for those of you old enough to remember.)

    It would require someone with a modicum of skills in electrical work, and I suspect that licensed electricians would simply refuse to do it.

    I am not recommending that anything illegal or unsafe be performed, and am not responsible for any damage, injury or death resulting from unauthorized electrical work.
  • Thanks for the input. I consider myself skilled enough to install a few switches and lights, and have even changed out a breaker, but don't feel confident enough to play with something like that :)
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