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Old 05-29-2015, 06:24 PM   #1
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400 watt tailgate outlet

Can a tailgate plug (400 watt outlet) on vehicles be used as a "generator" to top up batteries on cloudy, or any other, days?
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Old 05-29-2015, 09:31 PM   #2
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Sure can; my Tacoma has one and I use it for my tankless air compressor when I need to.
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Old 05-29-2015, 11:25 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by J Mac View Post
Can a tailgate plug (400 watt outlet) on vehicles be used as a "generator" to top up batteries on cloudy, or any other, days?
Do keep some of the numbers in mind.

400 Watts of AC will require at least 30 amps from your Tacoma battery.
Then, the AC will be going to a converter that might loose 20% when going back to 14.x charging volts.

It will work, but it will be hard on your car battery.

Consider this option: Buy a nice sine-wave 1000W inverter, hook it up with short jumper cables to your car battery - while the motor is running. Run the AC to the Escape to charge the battery. Its a crude generator of sorts but you can use the new inverter to run a hair dryer, coffee pot, etc. when not being used as a battery charger. Also, in theory, you could use the same system while driving to supply 110V to the refrigerator. (For reasons unknown to anybody, Toyota says to not use more than 150 Watts AC from the tailgate plug while driving.)

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Old 05-29-2015, 11:28 PM   #4
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Presumably the idea is to use an AC outlet, which is run by an inverter built into the tug, to power a battery charger or the trailer's converter to charge the trailer battery.

If the tug's engine is running, it's a very large engine-driven generator to produce a couple dozen amps of charging current.
If the tug's engine is not running, it's a somewhat inefficient transfer of energy from the tug's battery to the larger battery of the trailer.

Neither is great, but both scenarios work to some extent.
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Old 05-29-2015, 11:41 PM   #5
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Presumably the idea is to use an AC outlet, which is run by an inverter built into the tug, to power a battery charger or the trailer's converter to charge the trailer battery.

If the tug's engine is running ...
That's the key. The Toyota manual for my 2014 says to use the built-in 110v inverter in the 150 Watt position when the engine is running. Extremely odd, but I am not the only one to question this. Its a frequent topic in the Toyota forums.

150 Watts is the same power as the current Escape solar panel. You can expect about 9 or 10 amps into the battery.

As you say - "inefficient" at best.

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Old 05-30-2015, 12:05 AM   #6
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The Toyota manual for my 2014 says to use the built-in 110v inverter in the 150 Watt position when the engine is running. Extremely odd, but I am not the only one to question this.
Interesting - there must be a reason, but it certainly isn't obvious!

The only relevant difference between when the engine is running and when it is not that occurs to me is the voltage: running voltage will be 13 volts or more, while not running will be less than 13 volts. I don't know why Toyota would want less power to be used when the DC supply voltage is higher; also, if this mode switching is needed, why wouldn't it be designed to occur automatically?
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Old 05-30-2015, 12:54 AM   #7
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The Toyota manual for my 2014 says to use the built-in 110v inverter in the 150 Watt position when the engine is running. Extremely odd, but I am not the only one to question this.

That IS odd indeed. Everything I've read about them says they limit themselves to 150 watts when the vehicle shifts out of park. Otherwise they're 400. There are a number of how to articles and videos on how to modify it so it always produces 400 watts even when driving.
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Old 05-30-2015, 01:33 AM   #8
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I run mine on 400 setting when in park for my air compressor and it works fine.
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Old 05-30-2015, 07:24 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by J Mac View Post
Can a tailgate plug (400 watt outlet) on vehicles be used as a "generator" to top up batteries on cloudy, or any other, days?
Let's see if I got this right:
So, with the engine of the tug running, I could use an extension cord from my 400 watt outlet that's at my tailgate and plug it into my trailers power cord and that could top up my trailers batteries?
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Old 05-30-2015, 08:36 PM   #10
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So, with the engine of the tug running, I could use an extension cord from my 400 watt outlet that's at my tailgate and plug it into my trailers power cord and that could top up my trailers batteries?
Yes... maybe.

Since the low-power mode seems to go with driving, not just having the engine running, you would have 400 watts available while idling in Park - that's enough for at a battery charger running at 20 amps output.

If the converter needs more than 400 watts (which seems likely in bulk charge mode but maybe not at the end of the charge cycle), the inverter's output voltage will presumably drop, and the converter would not likely work properly. The only obvious way around that is to use a separate battery charger instead, set to a 20 amp charge or less.
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