This system uses a large battery to store power in times of low demand
The battery and optional solar panels can power the house in case of a prolonged power outage
Owners of the BZ4X can charge their vehicle with the battery, or power their house with the car
A couple of automakers have been looking to use their experience with batteries and high-voltage electrical systems outside of the automotive sphere and Toyota is the latest to do so.
For a few years now, Tesla has been selling batteries that can be used to power houses in case of a power outage and Ford has developed a way to power a house directly from the F-150 Lightning. Toyota’s new technology borrows from both of these systems.
Only available in Japan at first, Toyota’s O-Uchi Kyuden system is composed of an 8.7 kWh battery that is used to store energy that can be used for multiple purposes.
For example, the battery can be charged during periods of low electricity demand and then tapped into at peak hours in order to lessen the strain on the grid and save money by reducing the power consumption during periods where the price of electricity is highest.
Another use case is to provide emergency power when there is a prolonged power outage. In this situation, the battery can power the entire house, as if the grid was operating normally.
Four operating modes are available for the owner to decide if they want to conserve power in case of an emergency or use the battery aggressively in order to lower their power bill.
Just like Tesla does with its system, Toyota recommends using solar panels to charge the battery to maximize the potential savings. According to the automaker, solar energy can even be sold back to the grid when the battery is full, where the energy provider allows it.
Where this system borrows from Ford is that if the owners of a BZ4X, Toyota’s new electric vehicle, have this residential power system installed on their house, they can use their car to power the battery. This means that if a power outage goes on long enough to deplete the system’s battery, owners would simply have to plug in their BZ4X to benefit from many more hours of power.
This system is currently not offered outside of Japan but it seems likely that Toyota will expand it to North America at some point since two of its competitors already offer similar systems here.