Tesla as a power source for home appliances?

Tesla as a power source for home appliances?

I had an idea while reading the thread called "Those door handles" which is about dealing with door icing. Hopefully Tesla will provide handle heaters to deal with the issue. In the discussion, somebody mentioned a hair dryer as a solution. Great if you're parked near a power outlet. If not, you'll also need an extension cord. That's when I thought; "Wouldn't it be nice to have easy access to a little of the electricity sitting in the big Tesla power cell for other purposes if needed?" Imagine an outlet on your Tesla to power appliances like; an electric razor, computer, boom box, TV, power tools, George Foreman grill; you get the picture. I can imagine many situations when it would be convenient to suck off a few watts.
All cars have 12VDC outlets to power any number of devices. The Tesla should support those, but it would also be nice to have a 110 VAC outlet (for USA, or other geographically appropriate power outlet). It beats idling an ICE for power, using generators or using 12VDC/110VAC inverters for powering home appliances. Sounds like a tailgater's dream...which could become a nightmare if you get stupid and try to run a clothes dryer. Could also be a life saver in some emergency situations.
I don't understand the technology well enough to know if a person would quickly deplete the batteries or if you could run a radio all day and barely notice to usage. I don't know if this would involve a lot of expensive engineering or could be easily integrated into the design.
So, is this a stupid idea or does it make some sense? Is it practical or a cost prohibitive engineering task? Would you love it, hate it, or not give a fig?

VolkerP | April 16, 2011


the onboard PEM can produce nearly any type of useful power. DC 12V,
AC 110V or 240V, even 3 phase AC @400V, 50Hertz or 60Hertz. It is a fully programmable AC synthesizer.
I assume some extra circuitry would be required to match the power output with the required power. Plus a power outlet somewhere.
The amount of power a Tesla car could deliver is exceeding most every day applications. 1kW is nothing, 10kW no problem and even 100kW for some 15 minutes should be possible. All fans and the AC would turn on, though - comparable to quick charging.

I don't expect to see such a power outlet in a car any time soon. For EV fire engines or other disaster relief vehicles it would be a must have.

Lush1 | April 16, 2011

Thanks for your very reasonable response VolkerP. Glad to hear from someone better informed than me that I wasn't engaged in magical thinking. Seemed like a reasonable idea, though you are probably right to say it's unlikely to be offered. It's a small thing, though I would like the utility of it. Maybe there will be a Tesla aftermarket customization industry in the future. Many a day, while puttering in the garage, I have gone hunting for an extension cord so I could watch a game on my small TV while fixing my motorcycle, or needed to saw a board, drill a hole, tighten some screws or do some other job requiring a power tool. It would be great to just plug those things into my car. Guess I need more outlets in my garage. It really makes more sense for times when the car isn't near an outlet. Thanks again.

Oliver in Seattle | April 17, 2011

The power company might not allow it. For example, they require solar inverters to shut down when they don't get power in from the line. The problem they face is the line workers getting zapped from a lone that shouldn't have power. There certainly are systems such as backup generators that provide power when there is a power failure, but the safety systems would need to be built in.


Vawlkus | April 18, 2011

It might become an option down the road when batteries are larger than they are now.

BladeRunnings | April 18, 2011

This is somewhat along the same lines and seems pretty interesting:

BladeRunnings | April 18, 2011

Maybe not so you can plug in a radio, but it is an interesting idea.

Kallisman | April 21, 2011

Would be handy to be able to plug in the laptop, camera, cell phone etc. for charging, without needing a separate 12V charger for the car. And make it possible to leave that on even when the car is parked, but shutting it off automatically if the range get too low.

Vawlkus | April 21, 2011

Where would you set the cutoff at? Some people need more juice to get home than others do.
Maybe make it user defined?

Kallisman | April 21, 2011

Yes, I was thinking user defined. If it is explained in the user manual and on screen it's up to the user how to use the power. Should also be possible to set a timer on it. The standard setting should be set to off. Then users will have to read the warning on screen and choose to use this feature despite the cost of range. If the car is connected to power/charger when parked, it can supply power to devices connected inside,like a small fridge etc.

roccosima | August 29, 2012

I'm new to the site and this is an old thread so I hope someone knowledgeable responds. The V2G (Vehicle to Grid)app for the Tesla makes no sense but back up for occasional (rare) power outages seems like an excellent use of the battery storage capacity. The Tesla could feed the home's electrical panel via a transfer switch which could be either manual or automatic but I suspect manual would be better for a number of reasons. These are in common usage with back up generators. What is the downside? Will the Tesla's PEM cut the power feed before the batteries are completely discharged? Would any additional equipment be needed or would the Tesla automatically back feed the transfer switch. I have a large grid tied PV system and it drives me nuts that I can't use it's output when the grid goes down. Using the Tesla would save a ton of money on a Bi-modal inverter and separate battery back up.

EdG | August 29, 2012

When the grid is down, my PV system must disconnect so that anyone working on the wires knows it's safe.

If the Model S had its own circuits to interface with my PV inverter or use its own inverter to push the meter back, one might be able to "sell" power back when it's expensive and "buy" it back when it's cheap. As far as I know, the Model S has no such circuitry, and it isn't going to happen.

Sudre_ | August 29, 2012

The problem is someone plugging the car into a house with no power and telling the car to supply power. They forget to turn off the incoming power source (so they feed the whole block). The power comes back on and fries the Tesla.

This is a great idea for people who have transfer switches but there are too many other people out there that would jury rig it and back feed the entire neighborhood possibly killing a line worker. | August 29, 2012

Same as EdG here. My PV system is on the grid. I provide power during the day & draw power at night. When the grid is down my PV system is shut down also. My agreement with Xcel Energy does not allow me to disconnect from the grid.

Volker.Berlin | August 30, 2012
gagliardilou | August 30, 2012

I think its a great idea. Would be very useful in many situations. Must have the proper safety precautions built in. Would add a whole new set of benefits and value to a Tesla customer.

EdG | August 30, 2012

It seems to me that the first time I'll see a function like this is when my Model S battery is replaced (circa 2022) and I get my electrical service rewired to allow me to switch to battery power using my old battery pack. In addition to the existing technology for switching, I'd need Tesla Motors to provide a battery controller-inverter to allow me to keep the battery pack at correct temperatures, etc., as it would in a car.

Even better would be to use the old battery pack as a large capacitor to filter out any noise on incoming power if a nice sine wave could be produced.

Somehow I don't think Tesla has hired anyone to work on this yet.

Epley | August 30, 2012
Epley | August 30, 2012

On a side note, a neighbor got a Leaf this week. I drove it and...gutless. But, honestly, pretty well done. It's roomy inside (we can debate the external appearance ad nauseum--some love it, some hate it: for sure it's no Model S). The electronics are laid out nicely and it's easy to know where to look. The regen is light, and the car is truly gutless in "eco" mode where there is regen. It has a bit of spunk when not in eco mode, but no regen. You can tell when it switches from regen to brake. There is a "fake" engine block--weird. I'm glad Tesla spent the time to give us extra storage space. It makes a slight noise when going slow, and there is a pleasant backup beep. Overall, I'm truly excited about the future of electric cars--it can only get better!

jkirkebo | August 30, 2012

The Leaf has exactly the same power available in eco mode, you just have to push the pedal further in to access it. 80kW is available in either mode. I always drive mine in eco as I need the regen.

jbunn | August 30, 2012

I would like a 12V outlet in the frunk... For that matter, some cars have a 120vac inverter built in. You know... Just in case you need to camp and have an espresso machine.

Oddly, a common occurance in the Pacific Northwest. Don't laugh... ; )

Brian H | August 31, 2012

My little espresso machine is a manual. Just gimme a hotplate or campfire.

Michael S | September 6, 2012

The Seimans Corp. has already gone much farther in this line of thinking. They envision all cars being connected to a grid that keeps the cars charging until the power is needed by the grid, then the grid would draw power from the cars, preventing brownouts. Check it out:

jbunn | September 6, 2012

So long as the grid comes out and gives me a jump start or a ride home if they drain my battery in the middle of the night and I can't get to work.... lol.

Volker.Berlin | September 7, 2012

jbunn, the assumption is that you can configure your car to guarantee certain charge levels at certain points in time. Then of course you ask: "Why should I configure it to anything other than hold max charge at all times? I need/want the flexibility!"

The idea is to compensate you for the service you are doing for the grid. It's a market with demand and supply, and if you don't offer (part of) your car's battery capacity, additional cost will incur for the grid owner. All of which is meant to say, the compensation has to be (and likely will be) substantial to make this whole thing work. At some point you'll go from "I need the flexibility" to "I want the flexibility" to "I don't actually need the flexibility, let the car pay for itself". (Well, of course the car won't pay for itself, but it may offset your monthly electricity bill quite a bit.)

ItsNotAboutTheMoney | September 7, 2012

As others note the LEAF will do it and I believe that Toyota is already looking at the same thing with the Prius (Some people have already used their Prius as a generator).

I'm skeptical on v2g, but big on the potential of smart g2v to provide variable demand that could be match to renewables and other demand to reduce variations in peakers. But, we're a long way from getting useful capacity.

Vawlkus | September 7, 2012

I thought I read somewhere that the inverter of the PEM can't supply power back up the chain to the charger: only in one direction, whether that's into the battery or the motor.

bgoodwin | September 8, 2012

For what it's worth, the Roadster's warranty states you'll void it if you try to use it as a stationary power source. I suspect the same will be true for the Model S.
It is disappointing there isn't at least an accessory 110VAC outlet in the car. Though I wouldn't be surprised to see it in the X or later cars that Tesla produces.

EdG | September 8, 2012

Perhaps an app for the Model S could be made so that any cars that are charging and internet connected can be told when to charge by an internet packet sent by the power company.

You come home, plug the car in and tell the car to charge when it's best to do so, but be charged to 80+% by morning. The power company sends the car a message when its experiencing higher output than load, thereby increasing the load at its own discretion. With enough cars, it might help take the edge off an otherwise abrupt drop in load.

jerry3 | September 8, 2012


I really do not want the power company messing with my car's battery and shortening its life or leaving me with an car that's 10% charged in the morning. (unless the power company wants to own the battery by paying me up front for the battery). This is a bad idea and if it's adopted you can bet there will be no recourse against the power company when they mess up--and there's zero percent chance they won't mess up.

The end result is that anyone with an EV will, at a minimum, have to go off-grid solar to charge their car to keep the power company's mitts off of it.

stephen.pace | September 8, 2012

@Lush1: Bob Lutz's new company, Via Motors, proposes optional on-board power export inverters--one of the videos talks about both 110v and 240v options, so your idea is certainly possible:

If the option for a 110v plug was available on the Model S, I probably would have ordered it if it was under $1k. I have converter for the DC plugs I use on my current car, but the fan noise it produces is annoying.

bgoodwin | September 9, 2012

Also note that a portable inverter in the Roadster will damage the 12V feed and is not covered by warranty (as one owner found out -- the hard way). Not clear if innverters are supported on the Model S.

EdG | September 9, 2012

@jerry3: I wasn't clear enough.

You program the car to start charging at the lower power rate time, perhaps at 10PM, to get a cheaper rate.

The sun sets and local air conditioners start switching off at 8PM. As the local power company spools down, it tells local EVs they may start their low cost charging immediately.

If the message doesn't come through, the car starts charging at 10PM as pre-programmed.

This would have to be a totally optional feature for both sides. The EVs may not be plugged in or may need to be charged sooner, and the local power company may have various reasons not to send the message.

Volker.Berlin | September 10, 2012

EdG, that's precisely where the "intelligent grid" is heading. Only that it's not a single bit, like on or off. Rather, it's a more or less continuously adjusted electricity rate. You could tell your car to guarantee a charge of x% by y o'clock but charge up to full if the rate drops below z ct/kWh. Or start charging only when the rate drops below z ct/kWh, unless/until the charging needs to start to get to the desired charge level by the morning, whatever the rate. Or any other algorithm someone can think of and implement as a 3rd party app (some day in the not-too-distant future).

With enough cars, it might help take the edge off an otherwise abrupt drop in load. (EdG)

Yeah, that's the idea behind it.

Volker.Berlin | September 10, 2012

EdG, I did not notice your second post at first. My above reply is responding to your post on the previous page. Seems that we are pretty much on the same page now! ;-)

jerry3 | September 10, 2012


Okay, that makes sense.