This idea came about while I was helping to load lumber into a vehicle belonging to my customers. They are building a small house on wheels. It was mentioned that one of the biggest challenges with this house, was where to get the electricity. Sometimes it would be parked at a friend's farm, where power could be obtained by running cords from the house or barn. Other times it might be at somewhat remote locations, since the fellow works in forestry.
The answer was sitting right in front of us. The mother of one of these young people had arrived in her fully electric Kia Soul. The kids had been talking about the expense of a large battery bank and solar panels. To me, a large battery bank is much more valuable if you can move it around easily. When an electric car is used as a battery bank, it can take you to work and back. It can take you lots of places. The technology to convert the electricity for household use is quite simple and available. You need an inverter that will cost between fifty and a couple hundred dollars. No other electronics are required.
There are many places where a person can charge their electric car. The Victoria area alone has 85 free charge stations. Both parties work at places that could provide power.
Solar panels and the battery banks combined with all of the electronics are probably the most theft prone thing that you will add to a house on wheels. People aren't going to break in and steal your windows or your flooring. These items are also prone to damage. The panels can be damaged in transport and many people damage their own electronic devices accidentally. Car manufacturers have worked out all of the kinks in managing their battery banks. Those batteries are quite secure inside the floor of a locked car that is insured.
It might still be handy for the home to have a small battery bank with one or two batteries. This could be charged up when the car is attached.
I am seriously considering going mobile again. In the past I have lived in vans and trucks at my job sites. This time I would convert a trailer for living and buy an electric car to tow it. Most models are not suitable for towing. This would need to be a much lighter trailer than what most people use. I don't need a lot of space and I don't care if my range is only 100 kilometers. The cars that I'm considering have a range of 200 kilometres when not towing a trailer.
I've read quite a bit of negative press concerning electric cars and I assume that most of it is coming from those who stand to lose financially. To me, every bit of what I've read, and it's quite a lot, is approximately equivalent to one fart in one wind storm. Electric cars are going to be around for a long time.
I think Tesla is already pushing this as a second use for their cars and the batteries in them. (not the trailer part, but the powering a house bit)
I'm not sure that I would want to pull a trailer with a light duty electrical car. Tongue weight is of course something to consider and is easily overcome with axles and careful balancing but overall gross weight when it comes to stopping is the one to really watch. Sure electric brakes and a good controller may solve this but it is something that must be considered very early on in the design stages. Also adding a trailer increases the 'Gross Vehicle Weight' (GVW) and this may have a negative impact on your car insurance should something go wrong.
I look forward to the electric powered light duty trucks.
Some one needs to make an electric or hybrid RV.
Not as flexible as the arrangement that Dale is talking about, but imagine hopping from campground to campground paying for the hookups but not the fuels.
Lots of roof space for solar. The differences in the drivetrain might make for a better interior layout.
Definitely an interesting option, and your upsides are all good points.
I do think there is a bit more to it than described, if you are looking for anything beyond quite minimal power from the vehicle.
Dale Hodgins wrote:
The technology to convert the electricity for household use is quite simple and available. You need an inverter that will cost between fifty and a couple hundred dollars. No other electronics are required.
IMO a $50-$200 inverter is going to be a crapshoot unless it's very low wattage; some of the cheap/chinese models in this range seem to work out alright, some(most IMO) are unreliable, and some are downright dangerous. Can't argue with the price if you aren't plugging in picky/expensive stuff though.
A better one will be more like a grand; a big high-quality true sine unit with a real warranty (Victron, Mastervolt, Magnum, Outback) will be be more like 2k+...
It would be advisable to check in advance how much 12V power a given EV can provide; the battery bank itself will be a *much* higher voltage in all cases that I have heard of, so there will be a DC-DC converter involved to step the voltage down from say 400V to 12V. I assume this is generously sized relative to the nominal 10-20A output of a cig lighter socket, but in some cases it could be a bottleneck if you're looking to power anything sizable.
Inverters capable of handling the battery bank voltage exist, but aren't cheap, or easily available, and are a hell of a lot more dangerous to play with than 12V stuff!