Home » Electric Trucks Are Literally Saving Texas’s Bacon As Storms Cut Power Again

Electric Trucks Are Literally Saving Texas’s Bacon As Storms Cut Power Again

Houston Ev Power Ts
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The people of Houston have been going through it, lately, as countless storms plague the city. Hurricane-force winds struck the city last week, claiming multiple lives and cutting power to almost 1 million homes. Electric trucks have been serving Texans well amidst the chaos by helping to restore power while the lines are down.

This weekend spawned multiple stories that run quite contrary to the usual jokes levied against EV owners. “What will you do when the power’s out?” goes the usual refrain. “My gas truck’ll still be running while you’re EV’s out of juice!”

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This time, that was anything but the case. Not for the first time, electric trucks proved they were able to come through in a crisis.

Cybertruck to the Rescue

As reported by Teslarati, one Tesla Cybertruck owner was able to flip the script on its head. The electric truck was apparently able to get a gas station at least nominally back online using the power sockets in the bed.

@misssbaaah

A #cybertruck coming through after houstontornado. #fyp #xyzbcafypシ #houstontx #crazyweather #tornado #storm #outage #houstonweather #thunderstorm #tesla @ABC13 Houston

♬ original sound – Misbaah

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The video from TikTok user misssbaaah suggests that the whole store was running off the Cybertruck, including pumps, cash machine, and all. We’re treated to a view of the bed, which has two extension cords plugged into the two 110-volt sockets. We also see what appear to be loose wires threaded into the 240-volt socket underneath.

It’s difficult to verify that the Cybertruck was indeed able to get the gas station fully back online, including the machinery to actually pump gas. But it’s not totally out of the question.

Vlcsnap 00056
That’s not how you should use a NEMA 14-50 socket, but it would conceivably work in a pinch.

The twin 120-volt outlets can deliver a total of 20 amps combined (or around 2,400 watts). There are two more in the cabin that can independently offer a further 20 amps combined, too. For reference, 2,400 watts is enough to run multiple cash registers and maybe even a fridge or two. However, starting up a whole gas station’s worth of fridges would probably trip the breaker quite easily due to the high inrush current. To say nothing of the gas pumps.

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The Cybertruck has two 110-volt ports in the bed, and a 240-volt port beneath that.

The Cybertruck’s 240-volt port is much more capable, offering up to 40 amps, or 9,600 watts. However, that doesn’t stack on top of the 110-volt ports. The truck can only deliver a maximum of 9,600 watts in total through its bed ports. The Cybertruck can offer up to 11.5 kW of AC output, but only through a Vehicle-to-Home (V2H) charger setup, not the bed ports.

Given the high output of the 240-volt port, it’s plausible that the Cybertruck may have been able to get much of the equipment online, including the gas pumps. From the wiring seen in the video, it appears that the bed ports are being used together, with both the 110-volt and 240-volt port hooked up. It’s conceivable that the 110-volt ports are being used to get the registers back online while the 240-volt port was used to run the pumps. Even at a continuous maximum draw of 9.6 kilowatts, a fully-charged Cybertruck would be able to theoretically run the store for over 10 hours, thanks to its 123-kilowatt-hour pack.

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In any case, the video shows a ton of cars visiting the store for gas. The lights are also off inside, which would make sense if you’re trying to minimize unnecessary power draw. Assuming it’s legit, it’s almost ironic that gas cars are relying on an EV in a crisis, and not the other way around.

Vlcsnap 00054
We see a rats nest of wires and extension cords in the video.
Vlcsnap 00052
The gas station appeared to be doing a roaring trade.

Lighting Strikes Again

Ford made the news in a big way in 2021 when an F-150 Hybrid with a Pro Power generator was able to save a wedding from a major power outage. The storms in Houston spawned a very similar story, with F-150 Lightning owners relying on their EVs to get them through.

Michael Kaler was able to power his home using his F-150 Lightning, catching the notice of Ford CEO Jim Farley in the process. Kaler noted the Lightning was even able to power his microwave during the storm. He also posted a screenshot showing that the Pro Power Onboard was delivering 3,000 watts to his home.

Similarly to the Cybertruck, the F-150 Lightning is able to deliver up to 9.6 kW via its Pro Power Onboard sockets. Kaler noted his household needs only used about 10% of the Lightning’s battery capacity overnight. He was able to drive to a fast charger to top up in the morning, and then returned to run his home and a neighbor’s house via extension cables.

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On a smaller scale, F-150 Lightning owner Evgeny Kashtanov relied on his truck for just a few hours. He was able to run an extension cord to power his fridge while the grid was dark.

It’s true that houses are wired for much higher power draws than the 9.6 kW output from a F-150 Lightning or Cybertruck. However, if you’re careful with what you use, that’s more than enough power to keep a few fridges, computers, and lights on. If you are drawing more than 10 kW continuously at your home, you’re either running your oven or HVAC system at a pretty good clip, or you’ve forgotten to turn your pool heater off.

Ultimately, EV trucks can prove very useful in trials like these. They’re able to efficiently provide electricity, whether you want to keep your fridge running or just recharge a few phones. In contrast, trying to do the same with a gas-powered truck can be very wasteful in comparison.

If you live in a disaster-prone area and you’re buying an EV, consider getting the best vehicle-to-home or AC-output option you can afford. It could give you plenty of comfort the next time you’re suffering through an extended power outage. You might even be the hero of your neighborhood if you can keep a TV running for the big game. Stay safe out there!

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Image credits: Tesla, misssbaaah via TikTok screenshot

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J Money
J Money
1 month ago

But….why are we avoiding the obvious reality that drawing down the power of your EV to power your house in some way will leave you with a drained EV that you cannot charge because….the power is out. Or do you then just buy another EV to charge your depleted EV? The possibilities are endless!

Nauthiz
Nauthiz
1 month ago
Reply to  J Money

Because unless you’re in some very apocalyptic conditions where the power is 100% out to miles and miles of area, you can just drive your big battery on wheels and charge it somewhere there’s still power? Unless you’re running some sort of live saving medical device, you can likely unplug your appliances for a few hours to go get a charge.

J Money
J Money
1 month ago
Reply to  Nauthiz

I mean…. we’re talking in these examples about the current situation in Houston. I was living there for Ike in 2008 and there was no power in the entire area for a week. So do EV true believers actually think they could use their precious juice to power some appliances for a while and then drive who knows how far (~50-100 miles?) in potentially brutal traffic to recharge? It’s a fantasy.

Andrew Wyman
Andrew Wyman
1 month ago

At what point will fridge makers start launching models with a built in battery pack for power outages? Fridges are commonly the home appliance that we worry about most when power drops, so it makes sense that they would do that. They already have screens on them, so I imagine battery packs are next.

J Money
J Money
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Wyman

a hybrid fridge! This guy’s a genius.

Gene1969
Gene1969
1 month ago

Tim from Pickup Truck plus SUV Talk powered his house after a storm back in 2021 using a Ford F-150 Hybrid with the built in generator. All these trucks are useful during disasters and should be considered if you live in an area that experiences storms like Hurricanes, Tornados, or Polar Vortex.

Tangent
Tangent
1 month ago

I’m planning on moving to an area that’s way more likely to have storm-related power failures so I considered the economics of getting an EV truck to power the house if/when that happened. It just took a couple of minutes to figure out that was a bad deal though; the electric version of the truck I’ve been looking at would cost tens of thousands of dollars more than the gas version but a whole-house generator is under $5k and will keep the house powered without making the truck undrivable in the mean time.

Gene1969
Gene1969
1 month ago
Reply to  Tangent

Just keep at least 3 five gallon gas cans full before the storm season as well as a few quarts of the proper oil and oil pan.

J Money
J Money
1 month ago
Reply to  Gene1969

Whole home generators usually are connected to natural gas, I think.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
1 month ago

Esoteric Comment Warning:

With respect to inrush currents, I keep a 25 ohm 50 watt resistor on hand for such situations. It limits the draw for large caps (motors and inverters) and transformer coils/cores just enough to keep things in a more reasonable range. I’m not saying it is a faultless solution and compressors cycling on and off are tough case if the caps go flat between cycles, but so far I haven’t popped a breaker or killed a battery (LiFeP04 type that is). Powering a whole gas station might require a higher current resistor.

Gene1969
Gene1969
1 month ago
Reply to  Crank Shaft

Or run in three phases instead of one.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
1 month ago
Reply to  Gene1969

Never tried that. However, I do always have a pair on hand, so I suppose I would try one on each hot. Note that I am no expert at this stuff in any way shape or form. I just learned the trick because LiFePO4 batts and large inverters. However, it does work to limit inrushes to caps and cores.

Last edited 1 month ago by Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
1 month ago
Reply to  Lewin Day

Not at all. Because what might be called the circuit here involves temporarily closing (shorting?) the positive or hot across an otherwise hot connection for a moment to pre-charge device caps and cores more slowly than usual and I refuse to call it anything more than a perhaps foolish jury rig that works. Definitely not a ‘circuit,’

I should also mention that the powering a whole gas station might require a larger resistor was meant in jest.

Fuzzyweis
Fuzzyweis
1 month ago

I’ve been looking at a inverter option for my Bolt, things like this really make me want to click the buy it now button. It can do like a 1,000 watt nominal/3,000 peak load, which would keep things like my fridge and probably my furnace running ok.

Really for the cost to implement and the price EVs go for there shouldn’t be an EV sold today that doesn’t offer some V2L option, even if it’s just a couple 10 amp outlets in the console/hatch.

Ultimately want to just get a couple solar panels and a battery for the fridge and not have to even think about it.

Knowonelse
Knowonelse
1 month ago

We have been using our hybrids to power our house when the power goes out. Have been for years. Only uses about a gallon per day to run everything except the big fridge. We have a mini-fridge for meds that need it. This is why campers should be hybrids, best of both worlds for travel and boondocking.

Travis Morgan
Travis Morgan
1 month ago

Well that’s something the 75 F-150 can’t do.

Dudeoutwest
Dudeoutwest
1 month ago

If you live in California and are a PG&E customer, they’ll come install a transfer switch on your panel for free. It’ll give you a safe place to plug your truck into your home and run it, complete with circuit breaker protection so you don’t burn your house down.

Do NOT USE one of those double ended extension cord dongs and energize your home from an outlet. You’re bypassing the circuit breakers and that is BAD.

Us folks in fire country California know some things about not having power. I’m glad to see the Texans are learning about the advantages of being able to store power. Next thing ya know, they’ll make the jump to making power on their roof and being as free of ERCOT and their utility as possible.

Nice work, y’all. Sorry about the storm. Some of my friends and colleagues are dealing with a quite a mess there in East Texas.

Rick Garcia
Rick Garcia
1 month ago
Reply to  Dudeoutwest

If that is true, I need to get PG&E on it. Do you know where to go about getting a transfer switch? I can’t seem to find it on their website. Last power outage I was running an extension cord from my ioniq 5 through the window to power the fridge.

Dudeoutwest
Dudeoutwest
1 month ago
Reply to  Rick Garcia

https://www.pge.com/en/outages-and-safety/outage-preparedness-and-support/general-outage-resources/backup-power-transfer-meter-program.html

They represent it as being appropriate for specific generators that are 3000kw and over, so you might need to perform some sleight of hand…

I hope that’s helpful.

Last edited 1 month ago by Dudeoutwest
Jsloden
Jsloden
1 month ago

My uncle runs a small convenient store in a rural area. He keeps a couple of car batteries under the registers for just such an occasion. He even has it rigged to where they cut on when the power cuts off. I tried talking him into a couple of apc units but he wouldn’t hear it. Engineers gonna engineer.

Toecutter
Toecutter
1 month ago

Steve Clunn was doing similar with his DIY lead acid battery EV conversions in the 1990s and 2000s. He didn’t have to worry about hurricanes taking his power out. His EVs were plan B.

If the grid goes down and you have solar panels and a compatible inverter, you can also still recharge your EV from solar, while the gas pumps may or may not be operable at your local gas stations.

Stoney got got (potentially)
Stoney got got (potentially)
1 month ago

Once again, not seeing the forest through the trees.

It’s so ass-backwards that we can get enamored by the capability of “reverse-energy” transmission draw as a solution to a problem that shouldn’t even be one to begin with.

Lauding the “put a band-aid” on a cut solution, rather than cut the problem off at the head beforehand, is where we have devolved to.

It’s great and all that this ONE gas station found a workaround. It really is. But, come on now…all the tech/advancements we have as a species, and we’re exemplifying the ingenuity of a few people that understand electricity. Ok.

Just fix it preemptively already. Like, the solution exists. Just do it and get it over with.

Houston electricity issues? Just tell her to take a Plan B, and we’ll table the discussion until further notice. lol.

MY LEG!
MY LEG!
1 month ago

I agree but the problem is nobody gets rich off of solving a problem for good. They can make a fortune selling bandaids when people get cut by the hard edges of the problem, though.

Last edited 1 month ago by MY LEG!
Stoney got got (potentially)
Stoney got got (potentially)
1 month ago
Reply to  MY LEG!

Yep. It’s funny how you get likes for saying the same thing I said.

I see how it is, Autopian commenters, lol.

Professor Chorls
Professor Chorls
1 month ago

I might have missed the memo, but what is the “Problem that shouldn’t be one to begin with?” Are we talking robust grid and ready emergency processes or mass grid storage or

Reasonable Pushrod
Reasonable Pushrod
1 month ago

You aren’t powering a gas station with a couple 20 amp connections. That building probably has a 400 amp service.

MY LEG!
MY LEG!
1 month ago

Do you work with this sort of stuff? I assumed that the Cybertruck was feeding the backup system, carrying a separate pumps-only load.

Reasonable Pushrod
Reasonable Pushrod
1 month ago
Reply to  MY LEG!

I’m an MEP consulting Engineer I don’t work on the electrical side, but I know a little bit about it.

My guess is that cybertruck they used the 20 amp connections to power up a cash register or two. I assume they connected to the 240V to power a few pumps. I have no idea what size pumps gas stations use, so I have no idea how many they could run. I doubt they have any further power for all the coolers and any other equipment.

10001010
10001010
1 month ago

So is that just some random CyberTruck dude who decided to generously power his local gas station, or is that possibly the gas station owner’s truck? I just like the irony of a gas station owner owning an EV.

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
1 month ago
Reply to  10001010

Don’t get high on your own supply.

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
1 month ago
Reply to  10001010

They’re pretty striking in person. Park it out front as a draw.

Those convenience stores need pretty hefty power sources for running everything at once, IIRC. Would make a great spot for a few fast chargers.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
1 month ago

I wonder if the obvious utility of having an EV provide power in an emergency will help turn the tide of negative opinion about them. The guy who lost a freezer full of food while his neighbor across the street still is making coffee might start considering one

MY LEG!
MY LEG!
1 month ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

one hopes.

BoneBrothOutback
BoneBrothOutback
1 month ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

I’ll tell you h-what. We had a three day outage here (MD) a few years back, and my neighbor who has panels, two Bolts, and a plug-in Escape hybrid had all of his lights on, and was mowing his lawn (with his battery mower) on day two while the rest of us were sweltering in the heat. I had always considered panels/evs but to see it in stark clarity like that was eye opening to say the least.

Defenestrator
Defenestrator
1 month ago

The panels are a bit tricky. Generally by default the inverters are grid-following. That is, they only generate power when there’s also a grid connection feeding them. You’d also need a battery, and for the system to be set up to charge the battery when grid power is down. It’s pretty straightforward, but it’s not the default (because trying to feed the grid when it’s down would either fail miserably or electrocute utility workers).

BoneBrothOutback
BoneBrothOutback
1 month ago
Reply to  Defenestrator

Afterwards at a block party I asked him how its all set up, and he mentioned this specifically. He said he has to disconnect himself manually during an outage. I said “so you’re saying when the power goes out you have a big Dr. Frankenstein switch you throw and everything powers back on?” and he laughed and said essentially yes, but with less sparks and monsters.

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
1 month ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Better to buy a natural-gas powered generator so that you aren’t sacrificing your transport to power your house. They have come down considerably in price from when I purchased my first one at my previous house.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack Beckman

Agreed. A NG fueled generator makes a lot of sense. Gasoline can run out and can go bad, gumming up the fuel system. For extra insurance have a few tanks of propane on hand should too many of your neighbors have the same idea.

Bonus points for utilizing the *free* waste heat for the HVAC and water. That would be really welcome in a winter bomb cyclone.

Mgb2
Mgb2
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack Beckman

All depends on the event you’re planning for. If you’re trying to ride through an outage that may be up to two or three days, and it’s not a wide area disaster, you can drive a bit to a charging station and it’s all good. No real extra expense, no additional equipment to maintain, etc. NG generator would be better for longer term or more widespread damage, but if the NG infrastructure is damaged, due to say, an earthquake, you’re dead in the water.

MY LEG!
MY LEG!
1 month ago

A cybertruck doing something pro-social instead of being an attention-seeking dick? very cool!

Last edited 1 month ago by MY LEG!
James Carson
James Carson
1 month ago

The couple of times a year the power goes down here, I spin up my $1200 9500 W generator. It easily provides enough to power the entire house, fridges, water pump, microwave, computers lights. More cost effective that a 75K plus electric truck. I keep enough gas containers on hand to run for a few days. I rotate these through the cars, lawnmower and snowblower to keep the gas fresh. Worst powerdown was 10 days a few years back.

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
1 month ago
Reply to  James Carson

That’s a nice generator. I have one I got for $600 – 5000w (surge) and it still powers most of my house. I borrowed my brothers once (9000w) and I literally powered everything in the house (minus AC). At one point my wife was drying her hair, I was making coffee and using the toaster and microwave and it still only got up to 65% load.

I don’t store gas, but with a few extra cars sitting around petrol is always just a siphon away. And generators are cheap in the grand scheme of things.

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
1 month ago
Reply to  James Carson

Plus, you can still drive your vehicle without powering down your house.

Mgb2
Mgb2
1 month ago
Reply to  Jack Beckman

Your home will be just fine if it needs to be powered down for a while.

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
1 month ago
Reply to  Mgb2

Maybe *yours* will. Not mine.

Thevenin
Thevenin
1 month ago
Reply to  James Carson

Even if you’re avoiding fossil fuels, a 30kWh LFP server rack goes for about $6500 these days. If you can offset the price tag with solar or off-peak delivery, it would keep you going when the natural gas pumps freeze over like they did in Texas in ’21.

No matter how you cut it, powering your home with an EV is sort of a “gee whiz, why not?” proposition, not a serious disaster-preparedness plan.

SNL-LOL Jr
SNL-LOL Jr
1 month ago
Reply to  Thevenin

LiPo and LFP batteries are insanely cheap these days. Supposedly it’s down to $60/kWh wholesale in China. Here we can get a 1200Wh LFP car battery for $250.
I’m seriously considering getting a few of these LFP car batteries for backup and to charge my RC planes and helis in the field.
The best part is that if I keep the demand ratio within about 60%, the batteries can last practically forever. At 60% demand it is rated for 15000 cycles. If I charge it once a week that’d be pushing 300 years.

Last edited 1 month ago by SNL-LOL Jr
Mgb2
Mgb2
1 month ago
Reply to  James Carson

I don’t think anyone is suggesting that an expensive new truck is a cost effective way to do this. Rather it’s a value add if you’re in the market for that vehicle. And it doesn’t need to be an expensive new truck. An electric Hyundai can keep your refrigerator running.

BentleyBoy
BentleyBoy
1 month ago
Reply to  James Carson

Same here but I have converted it to run either on gas or propane. The propane does not go bad or gum up the works and can sit forever in its bottle.

Danster
Danster
1 month ago

My Rav4 prime with 1500 way inverter can power the vehicles HVAC all night but most importantly the fridge, microwave, coffee maker or whatever (one at a time though) . If the battery gets tapped out it will run the engine in hybrid mode and still power the inverter.

Danster
Danster
1 month ago
Reply to  Danster

Should be 1500 watt not way, new member can’t find the edit option, sorry.

Ben
Ben
1 month ago
Reply to  Danster

The edit button disappears after a period of time (15 minutes?).

Danster
Danster
1 month ago
Reply to  Ben

Makes sense, thanks.

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
1 month ago

When there is a power outage and I have to run my generator beyond a couple days I syphon gas out of my cars. Fun to see basically the same thing happen with an EV. Except my cars have enough gas to run the house for at least a couple weeks (including the furnace). Yay energy density.

Not that I like disasters at all. But it is fun to see the ingenuity of people and how they use resources when pushed. I’ve definitely jammed wires into a socket like that before.

Alexk98
Alexk98
1 month ago

The real lesson here is the Texas power grid is absolute garbage, and has been for a long time.

Seriously, Texas has it’s own grid, entirely independent from the East and West grids that each have half the share of rest of the lower 48. Naturally, they have minimal redundancy, but they get to scream about being special and independent.

Last edited 1 month ago by Alexk98
Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
1 month ago
Reply to  Alexk98

Yes! Came here to say the same. I am all for independence and having your own grid if it doesn’t completely suck! I was in San Antonio in 2021 I think it was when the huge winter storm shut things down for a week, and tons of people lost power for days to weeks. I could forgive them for not prepping for storm like that, but then 6 months later in the heat of the summer they were doing rolling blackouts again and asking people to set the AC to 80 to not overload the grid. How does Texas not have the ability to prepare for the heat?! That then became a thing every summer thereafter. I do not understand how a state can be so incredibly incompetent in so many ways.

Scotticus
Scotticus
1 month ago
Reply to  Brandon Forbes

The energy companies donate generously to Abbot and his cronies’ campaigns, so they ensure that any legislation is completely lacking actual penalties for failing to institute necessary weatherization.

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
1 month ago
Reply to  Scotticus

Not surprising. There were a lot of things I enjoyed about living in Texas, but man I am glad to have escaped.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
1 month ago
Reply to  Brandon Forbes

A fellow escapee here. 44 years gone, still dealing with the PTSD.

But the women were a lot of fun, for a while…

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
1 month ago
Reply to  Col Lingus

I’m only a year removed from it, still working through the trauma.

Don Mynack
Don Mynack
1 month ago
Reply to  Alexk98

This isn’t a case of grid failure. Transmission lines were knocked down. Tapping into more power does not get lines back up.

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
1 month ago
Reply to  Don Mynack

That is correct this time, but there have been a dozen or more instances where the grid just fails due to various reasons over the last couple years because the infrastructure is absolute garbage and has literally killed people because they can’t provide heat in the winter, nor can they provide enough power to keep things cool in the summer.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
1 month ago
Reply to  Alexk98

Them’s fightin’ words.

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