The editorial answers you | Warm up your home with your electric car

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Posted at 11 am.

Felipe Mercury

Felipe Mercury
The press

With climate change, power outages are likely to increase. Do Quebec building and electrical standards allow for an electric vehicle that would power the home in the event of a breakdown? Like a big Tesla Powerwall on wheels?

Gilles Vinet, Blainville

Mr Vinet,

The idea you evoke is far from absurd. It is even of great interest to Hydro-Québec. “Yes, it is possible to do so. This is something we are likely to see more and more of in the coming years,” said Jonathan Côté, a spokesman for Hydro-Québec.

The advantages of turning your vehicle into a battery are numerous. Having your own power source during a power outage as you mentioned is one of the most obvious.

But Hydro-Québec is also interested in peak management. Consumers who charge their vehicles at night, when electricity demand is low, and then send that electricity back to their homes during the day, smooth out peak usage and reduce pressure on the electrical grid.

Hydro-Quebec even conjures up the scenario where citizens would return electricity to the grid as “self-producers”, like consumers who have solar panels, for example. Hydro-Québec’s subsidiary Hilo is working on these projects.

Before you can connect your vehicle to your home, there are some technical prerequisites.

First, your car model must allow this. To find out if this is the case, we must identify the expressions V2H (vehicle home), V2G (vehicle to the network) or V2L (Cargo vehicle). Basically, this means that we should be able to take power from the vehicle.

It is becoming more and more common. The electric Ford F-150 presents this possibility in some of its advertisements. Hydro-Québec also mentions the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 among the models that offer this feature.

Nissan has also made an upgrade to its electric vehicles that allow the function, and Volkswagen will soon be doing so on all of its relatively new vehicles, again according to Hydro-Québec.

Another prerequisite: you must have a two-way charging station. The dcbel r16 terminal, for example, designed in Quebec, starts at US$5,000.

Hydro-Quebec insists that a certified electrician must put his nose in the installation.

“If we return electricity in the other direction, there could be safety issues if it is not well insulated. Let’s say there is an outage in your area and you decide to power your home with your vehicle. If the system is not built correctly, it can send electricity back to the electrical wire in your street and pose a risk to Hydro-Québec employees who would come in for repairs”, illustrates Jonathan Côté.

What kind of autonomy can an electric car provide? Jonathan Côté calculates that with a battery of 64 kWh, common in several models, we could power a refrigerator, LED lighting and some electronic devices in the summer for more than a week.

Of course, it becomes more complicated in winter with the heating, the vehicle runs the risk of providing enough electricity for just a few hours. But there is always a way to keep the heating to a minimum, heat only a few rooms, or use a public fast-charging station (if not affected by the breakdown!)

Remember that, in any case, most interruptions are short-lived.

We hope these possibilities will fuel discussions for years to come!

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