Powering your Gear with a Hybrid F-150

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OleCuss
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Powering your Gear with a Hybrid F-150

#1

Post by OleCuss »

OK folks. This is not at all likely to be the way in which most amateur astronomers are going to choose to power their astronomical gear, but for those of you who are looking at pickup trucks this might interest you.

We recently purchased a F-150 PowerBoost. The PowerBoost means it is hybrid and the thing has plenty of power and towing capacity. Particularly if you are towing a trailer to a dark site this gets kind of interesting.

The towing capacity of my truck is about 12,000 pounds so it can pull a pretty good-sized trailer. What's more is that it can power that trailer!

Mine has the smaller Inverter Generator. Only 2.4KW. There is another which will put out 7.2KW and might be better for most.

Now if you get the F-150 which is not a hybrid and get the 2 KW generator you'll get a modified sine wave generated by an inverter and your F-150's gas motor will run continuously if you are drawing power.

The Hybrid F-150 operates differently. The motor kicks in only when needed in order to pump more energy into the Lithium battery and output is stated to be a very clean pure sine wave.

I think that if you are using the 7.2KW beast that if you aren't running the air conditioning, driving around, etc. that a tank of gas is supposed to last you something like 36 hours.

With my 2.4KW generator that tank of gas is supposed to last for something like 85 hours at an ambient temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit! And at 2.4KW you can power a fair number of mounts. . .

I've not checked to see how little light I can put out with that F-150 so it might prove to be advisable to set up a light shield. The flip side is that mine has the option of perimeter lighting so I can light up a decent-sized area for set-up and take-down.

Yes, there is a 12V cigarette lighter type outlet and several USB outlets as well (USB-A & USB-C).

I'm not going to claim that everyone should go out and get a truck like mine. Not at all. But if you are thinking about buying a 1/2 ton pickup and you think you might want it to power your astro gear? This might be an option for you.
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Re: Powering your Gear with a Hybrid F-150

#2

Post by JayTee »

Thank you. A novel AND expensive way to power your gear. But hey, if it works, it works!

It sounds like a great truck, congrats.

Cheers,
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OleCuss
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Re: Powering your Gear with a Hybrid F-150

#3

Post by OleCuss »

JayTee wrote: Sat Sep 11, 2021 1:37 am Thank you. A novel AND expensive way to power your gear. But hey, if it works, it works!

It sounds like a great truck, congrats.

Cheers,
It's a pretty nice truck and gives me a lot of functionality I need.

And yeah, if you choose to buy an F-150 just to power your astro gear, maybe you should reconsider.

But there are a lot of astronomers who own trucks and if they are in the market for a new one? A truck which gets somewhat better mileage than most, has a lot more towing capacity than the other 1/2-ton trucks, has a tailgate which is pretty much also a workbench, and can power your astro gear - just might be a consideration.

One big bummer, however, is that the things are a bit scarce and I was told you have to put down a $500 deposit and then wait for 5-6 months for it to arrive. We got ours off the lot because the folks who ordered it chose not to complete the deal - and it was pretty near to just what we wanted.
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Re: Powering your Gear with a Hybrid F-150

#4

Post by Lady Fraktor »

When going to a site that does not provide power for extended times I do not think that there is a perfect inexpensive solution, just what we make fit for our needs.

My motocycle trailer/ caravan has solar, 2 Honda 2000W generators and shore power if available so recharging batteries is easy to do but the cost to purchase is high.
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Re: Powering your Gear with a Hybrid F-150

#5

Post by Groovy2 »

Nice truck -
web says your truck has 1.5 kWh lithium ion battery - is that correct ??
how far can you drive on only battery ?
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Re: Powering your Gear with a Hybrid F-150

#6

Post by OleCuss »

Groovy2 wrote: Sun Sep 12, 2021 3:20 pm Nice truck -
web says your truck has 1.5 kWh lithium ion battery - is that correct ??
how far can you drive on only battery ?
I believe the capacity is correct.

I'm really not sure how far one can drive on battery alone. We really aren't given an option to drive just on batter, the gas engine kicks in whenever the computer deems that necessary.

At low speeds I've seen folk claim they went about 1/2-mile but I suspect that is a generous estimate. I've not gone low speed (20mph and under) for more than about 1/4 mile and it may have been less than that.

I sort of consider it to be a "mild hybrid" and the PowerBoost name to be appropriate. To me it seems intended mostly to generate electricity for getting started after being stopped and then regenerating as one comes to a stop. But. . .

Electric motors have a characteristic of having lots of low-end torque. . . That means that if you are interested in the 0-60 timing in a 3-ton pickup truck? That number is given as about 5.2 seconds.

Ford sells a sporty "Raptor" version of the F-150 intended to be fast off the line and all that. The PowerBoost is actually slightly faster at 0-60!

So I think of the hybrid nature as providing 3 main benefits:
1. Better gas mileage. It's rated at 24mpg in the city and on the highway. My early results (not fully broken in) suggest my city driving won't likely be better than about 18-19mpg (actually pretty good IMHO) although I've gotten as good as about 26mpg one time. On the highway with really good driving conditions I can do 24mpg or better.
2. Better power from a dead stop. That's kinda fun if you are thinking about drag-racing other stock gas pickup trucks and SUVs (and some cars) but the more practical point is that if you are towing a good load you'll be able to get started a little better.
3. You get that darned good generator function. You have to understand that you have a 120V, 20A outlet at the left rear of the truck. Combine that with a tailgate designed to be useful and you have a workbench to which you can clamp stuff and then use power tools to cut and mill as needed. Heck, I've got a Kreg Adaptive Cutting System and that means I could do quite a bit of woodworking powered by that system!

Our priorities were primarily to get the better gas mileage and to be able to tow heavier trailers with the generator as a really nice bonus. As best I can tell there is simply no other 1/2 ton pickup which really competes at towing capacity.
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Re: Powering your Gear with a Hybrid F-150

#7

Post by Lady Fraktor »

Your 0-100 kph time is much better than my Fiat with its 1248cc (76ci) diesel motor, it takes it 14 seconds to get there and that is with your foot down to the floor! 20-25 seconds if you are driving nice. :lol:

It does much better with the mileage though with 3.6L/ 100km (65 mpg US) on motorways and 4.2L/ 100km (56 mpg US) in town.
The towing capacity is also only 1300kg (2870 lb)

It sounds like your new vehicle will do you well.
Telescopes: 1 more than I need but 2 less than I want
Mounts: 5 Equatorial, 3 Az/ Alt
Diagonal: 3 mirror, 2 Amici, 1 Herschel
Eyepieces: Possibly more than 1 person requires
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Re: Powering your Gear with a Hybrid F-150

#8

Post by OleCuss »

OK, you may not have some of the capabilities my pickup has, but I greatly envy you that kind of gas mileage!

But I think I could get that kind of gas mileage. All I have to do is to find a 20 mile long road which is downhill the whole way! Either that or drive off a cliff. . .

I think those vehicles which just sip the petrol are pretty awesome!
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