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We currently go camping and use a $30 little Amazon inverter to run a small pump for the air beds. I don't need to power a microwave with my van.

But I want to use this van for lots of camping and adventures, and folks here seem really excited about the inverter, so are there some reasons I'm not thinking of? Is it to be able to charge devices with the car turned off (using the big hybrid battery)? I could see that being valuable, I guess.

Given the limited supply, I'm just trying to figure out how important this option would be (e.g., is it worth giving up the 8th seat because I'd have to get an XLE AWD instead of an LE AWD)?

Thanks!
Roja
If you go to YouTube there are a lot of Van lifer electrical videos on there where I think you could find better answers
 

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I use the van for motorcycle track days so 1500w is super convenient in case I can't find power.

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Charging the batteries for our e-bikes for one. If your home is natural gas hot water baseboard heat like mine, you can heat the whole house in a winter power outage.
 

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I ran a 1200W space heater from the outlet. When driving home from skiing this winter I'd go from 10% to 100% on the HV battery in the first 5 miles and then engine brake for the next 15. The van would run the engine to keep the temp up cabin heater. I set up the space heater between the 2nd row (kids could reach it if it tipped), turn off the climate control system and just use it plus the heated seats. The van did less engine braking and we stayed warm!

I wish Toyota had just added a electric heating element but this works pretty well!.
 

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I ran a 1200W space heater from the outlet. When driving home from skiing this winter I'd go from 10% to 100% on the HV battery in the first 5 miles and then engine brake for the next 15. The van would run the engine to keep the temp up cabin heater. I set up the space heater between the 2nd row (kids could reach it if it tipped), turn off the climate control system and just use it plus the heated seats. The van did less engine braking and we stayed warm!

I wish Toyota had just added a electric heating element but this works pretty well!.
You identified an interesting use case, and I understood perfectly the scenario you describe from my prior hybrid mountain driving experiences.

While I can't put my fingers on it immediately, Toyota did experiment with electric heating elements, but not very powerful, in the earlier Prius generations. You may already be aware, but they do have some fairly advanced electronically controlled thermostatic valving to maximize warm-up and maintain drivability (including emissions) on their current hybrid ICE's. Prior to using the electronic valving on the Prius ICE, they actually had an insulated coolant reservoir to help maintain engine temps and cabin temps to reduce ICE run time in cold weather.
 

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It is a complex problem and I'm sure a lot of the solutions also add weight. Plus long downhills are pretty much the only time you won't have a ton waste heat from the ICE. My use case is pretty much the worst for the van/battery. Starting at 15F and immediately descending 1500ft over 20 miles. The space heater trick is kinda hacky but it works quite well and avoids engine breaking with a cold ICE.
 

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It is a complex problem and I'm sure a lot of the solutions also add weight. Plus long downhills are pretty much the only time you won't have a ton waste heat from the ICE. My use case is pretty much the worst for the van/battery. Starting at 15F and immediately descending 1500ft over 20 miles. The space heater trick is kinda hacky but it works quite well and avoids engine breaking with a cold ICE.
Curious - before you used the heater - what would the van do when there was still demand for heat (running the ICE), traction battery full, did it still attempt to do engine breaking on the downhill run?
 

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We have a small dinghy with an 8 HP electric outboard, and charging it at 10 amps draws ~550W (I could charge at twice that rate if I upgraded the wiring in the pack). Being able to add some juice to the battery while picnicking for lunch at a state park is an appealing usage case. There are so many cool electric water toys nowadays (foil/jet boards) that offer like 30 minutes of fun before they need to be recharged, and they don't exactly have 120V outlets for the general public at the boat ramp. Having 1500 W available in the parking lot is cheaper/less hassle than buying a bunch of spare lithium batteries for all your toys.
OCTcc.jpg
 

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I'm going off topic to ask what brand of boat is that, can you post a link to it, how many hours of run time do you get, how does it ride??
I bet you could run a power cord out the trailer wiring plug under the spare tire compartment and charge it while travelling.
 

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I'm going off topic to ask what brand of boat is that, can you post a link to it, how many hours of run time do you get, how does it ride??
I bet you could run a power cord out the trailer wiring plug under the spare tire compartment and charge it while travelling.
I'm not a big social media person, but I felt compelled to make an Instagram account about this boat because I get so many questions about it. OC Tenders is the brand, out of New Zealand. The hull weighs less than 100 pounds (I picked the full carbon fiber option), but can carry almost 1,000 pounds of passengers/gear. Only inflatables can touch that payload:weight ratio, which is what I used to use. It was great being able to throw the 10ft Zodiac in the back of my hatchback, but I got sick of inflating/deflating/fixing leaks/etc. This composite dinghy has a buoyant 'rub rail' around the outside that makes it stable like an inflatable, but you don't have to deal with the aforementioned hassles (plus it has over twice the deck space for a given length/beam, since there are no tubes). Much drier ride than an inflatable as well. Between the motor+battery+boat, it cost as much as new a new Camry, though. But I know guys that spent twice as much on a bass boat that can only carry two people, so rationality always goes out the window when it comes to boats. I like lightweight dinghies with launch wheels, because I don't need a ramp to launch them; any beach/gentle bank will do.

It'll go flat out (~15 mph) for about an hour, or cruise on plane (~9 mph) for a couple hours. The battery pack weighs 65 pounds, and I don't transport it in the boat anyway (it's usually in the back of the van), so yeah, I'm looking forward to charging while on the road. We ordered a Sienna AWD Platinum in January, and the dealer said we won't get it until late JUNE. Microprocessor shortage :rolleyes:. Our 3rd gen has 70k miles and works fine, but I'm excited to jump from 19 mpg -> 34 mpg.
 

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It would at least try to run the ICE more and use the actual brakes a bit. It also just didn't put out that much heat.
I have not had any of my hybrid vehicles in the mountains in cold conditions doing a downhill run yet, but my 3/4 ton pickups, one gas and one diesel, would start in the normal operating temperature range, and then drop nearly into the C range, probably a 50 degree drop, just during the extended down-hill run at essentially idle fuel consumption when in the single digits.
 

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Yeah, our previous van (2011 Odyssey) did the same thing when descending. If I used engine braking it cooled down even faster. I wish I could pull more than 1.5kw in heating on those days to really use the electric motors for braking. Doing that same descent in our Tesla Model 3 is fun, you get to watch the estimated range number increase as you drive down the mountain :D
 
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