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Sep 23, 2022

5 min. read

Remember in August 2003, when a massive power outage affected millions in Ontario and the northeastern United States?

Today electric vehicles (EVs) could limit the impact of such a disaster, thanks to bidirectional charging.

Here’s how it works and how it may help if you’re without power.

What is bidirectional charging?

This allows electric vehicle drivers to charge their battery, but also use stored energy to charge other items.

Not just your phone or laptop though—an EV can power a trailer, campsite or even a house.

Powering up

Some EVs feature a three-prong plug, which is useful for everyday electronics.

But bidirectional charging requires a home charger, which converts and transfers power from the vehicle to the household.

In a blackout extended-range EVs, like the Ford F-150 Lightning, can power the average house for about three days—or longer if you’re energy conscious.

The electric pickup includes a standard 2.4-kW built-in inverter and several outlets, and the optional 9.6-kW system includes even more voltage, to help power a home in an emergency.

And EVs that feature less powerful inverters, like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6, have high-voltage plugs that allow you to use appliances.

Is it effective?

In serious situations, EVs with bidirectional charging are today’s unsung heroes.

Following Typhoon Hagibis in Japan, which destroyed power lines in the Nagano Prefecture, Nissan Leafs helped the community get back on its feet. These small-sized EVs were able to charge the tools needed by the citizens to remove the debris. The cars also provided light, and helped with food storage and preparation.

Unlike gas generators, EVs are mobile so they can get to critical areas and around crowds or buildings, making them ideal in emergency situations.

But keep in mind that using an EV to power a home will shorten its battery life.

With EVs becoming more common and the added benefit of bidirectional charging, the memory of long-term power outages may be in the rear-view mirror.

Read on

To learn more about electric vehicles, visit CAA National Electric Vehicles.

Image credit: wakila/iStock

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