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Discussion Starter #1
If you do a search on Northern California fires you'll see what my life has been like the last 24 hours. Family, friends and house is safe so that is the good news, but I'd like to talk about something fun for once today, and thought I'd put up a post on having the Bolt in an emergency - basically it's been a lifesaver.


Power went off at midnight, cell towers lite up and cable/cell coverage either went down or dropped to nothing. Throughout the whole thing this car was our one source of stability - the phones couldn't make calls to reassure family, but OnStar was the only connection that worked (and if we were really stuck I could have called OnStar for help - 911 got flooded). The 4G was the only good connection (except for one full blank out period) and most importantly, we had the radio which was our only information source for much of it (and frankly some music which reassured my kids).



Gas lines queued up when some gas stations opened, but I heard they've run out. Anyhow I started out at a 30% charge after a full weekend. I planned on charging at work today which is why I let it get down so much. When I saw the fires at midnight I plugged in, but the power cut shortly thereafter. Anyhow, my brother across town still had power, so after a hour drive that normally takes five minutes (roads were completely clogged with fleeing people), I used my JuiceBox to charge up off his laundry connection. The Bolt was perfect for navigating the roads, and it didn't use any capacity practically in the stop and go.



Around 3PM it looked like our house was going to be OK, so we went to a different town to dig up some dinner, and with the help of the mapping and 4G which now was good found a new place (which really helped reassure the kids). We're back in the house still with no power and an enforced curfew, my wife refuses to leave the Bolt so is out there and we're using the WIFI, which easily reaches into the house.



Anyhow the car was invaluable during the whole thing. Dealing with the panic traffic was much better in this car than it would have been in our van which we abandoned. The one thing I missed? I really, really wished I had gotten a 2kW 12V inverter which I've been planning. Just got the car and was going to get it in a few weeks. Having that right now would really make a difference, I could easily power the fridge and some other stuff.

Things I'm glad for? That I had data on the Bolt, phone minutes on the Bolt, and OnStar. Paid for itself today.

Anyhow, thought you folks would enjoy a story.
 

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Prof, I’m happy to hear you came through it ok. I have a few friends, who weren’t so lucky, with lost homes and jobs. This disaster has struck close to home for me, and made me realize how unprepared we are. I just ordered a new 12v inverter; and I’m going to get some adapters for our EVSE. It’s nice to know that I’m driving a rolling power source. I rarely let the SOC drop below 50%, so we should always be able to get somewhere with electricity, should ours go out. I’m also going to start keeping some emergency supplies in the car. These fires hit fast, and some people didn’t have time to grab much, before evacuating. My Bolt is now going to be part of my bug-out kit.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the words.

I found an inverter in a different town. Note on using these, when I first connected it the car was running and it turned it self off, scary. So I tried again by having the car off, connect inverter, turn car on. That works fine and I'm charging a Apple laptop just fine off the modified sine cheap inverter.
 

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If you do a search on Northern California fires you'll see what my life has been like the last 24 hours. Family, friends and house is safe so that is the good news, but I'd like to talk about something fun for once today, and thought I'd put up a post on having the Bolt in an emergency - basically it's been a lifesaver. ... Anyhow the car was invaluable during the whole thing. Dealing with the panic traffic was much better in this car than it would have been in our van which we abandoned. The one thing I missed? I really, really wished I had gotten a 2kW 12V inverter which I've been planning. Just got the car and was going to get it in a few weeks. Having that right now would really make a difference, I could easily power the fridge and some other stuff.

Things I'm glad for? That I had data on the Bolt, phone minutes on the Bolt, and OnStar. Paid for itself today.

Anyhow, thought you folks would enjoy a story.
Dear Prof and everyone else living through this, hearts out to you. Your experience have really educated me about not only this disastrous fire but also how one can survive through it. Thank you for sharing this story, and hoping you do okay through all of this.

I just googled inverters... Makes me wonder what Puerto Rico would be going through now if they had had a distributed solar and EV infrastructure instead of beat-up old one they had.
 

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Inverter Recommendation

ProfessorBolta, glad you escaped unscathed.

Can you (or others) recommend a quality inverter of about 1-2kW that would be usable with the Bolt?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Can you (or others) recommend a quality inverter of about 1-2kW that would be usable with the Bolt?
hard to find quality ones, most of them are modified sine's not true sine. I have a scope, when things get back to normal I'll check but I can tell from running a HEPA room filter on it this evening that it's a mostly square wave (my whole valley is still without power so I'm running the fridge and filter off the car). Some true sine's on Amazon (listed as such) I'm a little suspicious of. Having said that we successfully charged up an Apple laptop off this cheap unit I got from Napa Auto Parts.

Also, this is a 750W but I found it more than plenty to do what I needed. I'm getting a second (to have at least one backup, I'll not get caught short again!) and I'll opt for getting quality over total wattage. Really you don't need 1600W probably.
 

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Glad it's working out for you. Did you find that you can just turn on the car and it it continues to replenish the 12V battery, or does it automatically time out after a certain amount of time? Was there anything special you had to do beyond connecting the inverter and starting the car?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Glad it's working out for you. Did you find that you can just turn on the car and it it continues to replenish the 12V battery, or does it automatically time out after a certain amount of time? Was there anything special you had to do beyond connecting the inverter and starting the car?
1 Turn car off
2 connect inverter to battery terminals
3 turn car on
4 run appliances
5 leave fob in car so car doesn't turn off
6 safeguard car

Under a kW it looks like it can do that practically forever (a long long time at least)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Day three, still no power*. Am running fridge again off the car again this morning. Even though I know the math its surprising how well a 60 kW battery can do this. I estimate its using about 500W or so for the fridge and extras and the range is changing so slow I don't see it. Traction is what eats the battery.

By the way, we heard on the radio that around 90 cell towers went down out of 110, and with everybody on their phones with the emergency its no surprise the service went to one unusable bar. Except for the Bolt 4GLTE. As I said above none of our devices worked, except we were still able to get some minimum Internet and make OnStar phone calls only in the worst of it. Good case for keeping data and phone minutes. I got 300 minutes for the year for something like $20 (introductory one time price), next year I'll pay for a plan that gives an allotment of yearly minutes.

By the way we blew through the free GB right away, when it got to 20% I signed up for unlimited @ $20/mo. I'll surely change that over to a $10/extra device, and be ready to switch back if anything like this happens again. Anyhow with the unlimited my kid is happy as he was able to download all of his games.

Reminds me here are updated procedure

  • Turn car off
  • Turn inverter off
  • Connect inverter to battery terminals
  • Plug appliances to inverter
  • Turn car on
  • Press and hold Infotainment button to enter low power mode if you don't need it
  • Turn on inverter
  • Leave fob in car so car doesn't turn off
  • Safeguard car
* We are on the edge of the city and were among the first to see the fire, so we got tagged as an evacuation zone. Even though the fire has moved on the power company won't come in to reboot the neighborhood until it's on the whitelist, and I think they're too busy elsewhere to get to it. No wind which is good for the fire but means the smoke is back. My brother got evacuated but at the moment it appears his neighborhood will be OK. Tons of support from all over California, seeing police cars and fire trucks from everywhere, so it's finally gotten better organized.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
The car turns itself off after a while of sitting there doing nothing, and detecting that you're not sitting in the seat. I'm checking as to the schedule but seems like around a half hour to an hour of idle. That's bad obviously as presumably the 12V is no longer being charged from the HV.

Otherwise having lots of supplementary Lithium batteries is very helpful. I wasn't sure about this before, but I have a bunch of Ryobi Li batteries which have been invaluable with the Rhobi flashlight. I can fill those from the Bolt if need be. Likewise I was looking at this before the fires

[ame]https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XBPQKTR[/ame]

I ordered it (some mail and deliveries are getting through). I can fill it from the Bolt and it will provide lots of light and other power options.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Yes it turns off after about an hour it seems, even if you open the door or whatnot. Goes off of the passenger occupancy I think. Easy way to monitor is if you're on the WIFI and it cuts out.
 

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hmmm - wonder if a 70 lbs weight thrown in the driver's seat would keep the car "on"…

Tesla's do the same thing (shut down after like 40 minutes) but there are some 3rd party remote apps that let you put it in "camping" mode which keeps the car "on" for hours at a time…
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Don't scoff at the included "Portable Cord" EVSE - I'm using it right now in a situation I can't easily use anything else. It's slow, but I've got time to let it sit and charge and the house I'm staying at has no other option. It's really nice as a light, simple and quick to set up unit, I'd hate to deal with anything else and feel good using the OEM supported unit.

Some people are selling their's on eBay - I got one to upgrade to 220.
 

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Don't scoff at the included "Portable Cord" EVSE ... Some people are selling their's on eBay - I got one to upgrade to 220.
You don't really need to touch the EVSE itself, you just need to make a plug adapter that lets you connect it to a 240V outlet. Which means you don't really need two adapters - the one that comes with the car will work equally well from a 120V outlet or (with the adapter) a 240V outlet.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Don't scoff at the included "Portable Cord" EVSE ... Some people are selling their's on eBay - I got one to upgrade to 220.
You don't really need to touch the EVSE itself, you just need to make a plug adapter that lets you connect it to a 240V outlet. Which means you don't really need two adapters - the one that comes with the car will work equally well from a 120V outlet or (with the adapter) a 240V outlet.
I've heard that and looked at pics of the circuit board, it seems to be the case, but I've heard intimations to the contrary too. Guess I'd rather use the JuiceBox in that case.
 

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Also glad to hear you are safe. The fires are devastating and my community of winemaker friends have contributed to the many organizations helping out.

Not being an electrical engineer, I had some questions on using the Bolt as a power source.

This summer we had several power outages (and brown outs) on hot days and the window air conditioner ceased working. I was wondering about the following:

* can an inverter handle a small window air conditioner of 450 W at 4 amps?
* what is the math I need to use to figure out what the Bolt is capable of supplying through an inverter?

* can more detail be provided on how the Bolt works as a back up battery? For example, does the inverter draw down the power in the battery to zero and then the Bolt draws on it's main battery pack to recharge? And, does it take time to recharge? Or does the Bolt provide continuous power to the 12V battery while the inverter is running?

* are there any downsides to using the Bolt with an inverter for extended periods of time, say multiple hours?

By the way, I use a number of portable re-chargeable utility lights from Costco (here's the same on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/ydyw7o2x
) which, beside being fantastically bright lights, have USB ports to recharge cell phones etc, which are handy in emergencies and/or working out in the field when needing to keep the cell phone charged.

Thanks and best wishes.
 
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