Back in November, when I was invited to visit Nissan's American headquarters outside of Nashville to give the Leaf — the company’s revolutionary, emissions-free electric vehicle — a spin, my main concern wasn’t with how the car handled on Tennessee’s lonely back roads (it handled just fine) but with its sleeping arrangements. Because, after all, as I noted in my post-drive post, this mass-market EV has a more intimate relationship with the home than other cars: you plug this tailpipe-less wonder into a 220/240 volt port at home overnight — ideally in a garage — to charge it much like a cellphone. Essentially, your home acts as the Leaf's primary filling station.
With the Leaf’s crucial home charging aspect in mind — by the way, the vehicle’s home charging dock is not included in the Leaf’s as-low-as-$27,700 post-federal rebate sticker price — I was intrigued to learn that the company plans to release a new, two-way charging system capable of powering not only your car but also your home during power outages and shortages. Nissan estimates that the Leaf’s mighty lithium ion battery, capable of storing 24 kWh (kilowatt hours) of electricity, could power the average Japanese home, appliances and all, for two days if needed.
In addition to acting as a back-up power supply, Leaf drivers that consistently charge their cars overnight, when electricity demand and cost is at its lowest, can even save on monthly energy bills as the juice stored in the car’s battery is pumped back into the household power grid during the daytime hours when electricity costs are at their highest.
As pointed out by Andrew Michler over at Inhabitat, the process of converting battery-stored DC power into grid-friendly AC power is nothing new (it’s how solar panels feed into the grid) but when you involve an electric vehicle, things get interesting … and advantageous for homeowners.
The prototype for the Nissan Leaf’s two-way charging system, dubbed "Leaf to Home," was just unveiled in energy-starved Japan and is expected to be available in that country at some point prior to April 2012 with availability in other markets to follow.
Also on MNN:
- Inside the Nissan Leaf facility — the nation's largest — in Nashville
- Understanding Nissan's delivery issues