This blog post generally applies to any car with a 12-volt outlet and if you can use it to charge an electric car in a pinch.
A funny little post is making the rounds on social media showing a Ford Super Duty owner using his center console-mounted 12-volt outlet to charge a stranded Tesla. Supposedly, the electric Tesla ran out of battery so, here comes the all-mighty internal combustion engine to save the day!
Silly electric cars and their slow charging batteries (sarcasm!)
This begs the question, can those 120-volt power outlets found in most Ford trucks, SUVs, and crossovers, actually charge an electric car in a pinch?
Here’s why those outlets probably can’t.
While it’s true, you can charge an electric car with Level 1 charging aka charging off a regular outlet aka 120/110 volts, it largely depends on how much power (or watts) an outlet is capable of delivering.
Regular outlets are rated at 120 volts, capable of delivering up to 15 amps of power (electrical current.) For sustained charging, that’s stepped down to 12 amps.
The 120 volt outlets in Fords are only rated at 400 watts or, at best, can output up to 3.3 amps.
3.3 amps is enough to fast-charge a smartphone, charge a couple of lithium-ion battery packs for power tools, or run a small electrical sander.
The question now is, what’s the minimum amperage Teslas can accept?
Thankfully, Tesla owners put that to the test and have an answer.
According to Youtuber InternetDude, the minimum amperage his Tesla Model S can accept is 5 amps.
At that low amperage, using a simple to use electric calculator found here, theoretically, charging a “dead” Tesla with an 85 kWh battery to 5 percent, or, enough to make it to a charging station, would take 3 hours.
And, even if you could use Ford’s 120-volt, 400 watt outlet, charging an electric car at just 3.3 amps, taking our example above, it would take 5 hours to charge said “dead” Tesla to 5 percent.
Do you think any good Samaritan with a truck is willing to wait five whole hours on the side of the road with their truck running (so charging a dead Tesla doesn’t kill the battery?)
I don’t think so.
This isn’t to say all Ford Trucks can’t charge an electric car because, if you equip your Ford with Pro Power Onboard, your on-board generator can deliver 240-volt charging capabilities at 2000 or 2200 watts or, if you option Pro Power Onboard on Ford’s new Hybrid Electric F-150, up to a whopping 7,200 watts, that’s 7.2 kWh aka 30 amps.
Theoretically, with Ford’s Pro Power Onboard, it would take you only half an hour to charge said “dead” Tesla up to 5 percent.
That’s more realistic.
In conclusion, no, you can’t realistically charge an electric car off those 120-volt 400 watt outlets in Fords without optioning Pro Power Onboard.
With Pro Power Onboard is a different question.