Ford F-150 Lightning Generator Test

Ford’s F-150 Lightning is one of its most anticipated vehicles since, well, ever. While the Blue Oval isn’t the first automaker to enter the electric truck genre (it’s its closest rival, the Rivian R1T), its first attempt has what it takes to be one of the best. and most affordable. One of the main talking points of the Lightning is its ability to present itself as a mobile generator. Here’s a quick comparison of battery capacity and how much power each truck can draw at any given time.

Battery capacity versus maximum power consumption

  • Ford F-150 Lightning Pro: 96 kWh | 2.4kW
  • Rivian R1T: 135 kWh | 1.5kW

    Price

    • Ford F-150 Lightning Pro: $39,974
    • Rivian R1T: $67,500

      Either way, Ford has announced that its F-150 Lightning can provide backup power to your residence in the event of a power outage. And it is possible. But there is some assembly required if you want a more integrated solution than just running an extension cord from the truck to your devices. We focused our testing on the truck’s capabilities as a mobile generator, driving to a remote parking lot with as many electronics as possible to see how far we could push its 96kWh battery.

      Home Generator vs Mobile Generator

      Ford isn’t afraid of a bit of show and tell when it comes to the Lightning’s ability to present itself as a portable power bank. Via three-prong outlets in the trunk, bed and even the interior, we tested what kind of electronics and appliances the truck could run and for how long. You’ll see later that culminated with a custom gaming PC with a 1200 watt power supply.

      Tom Messina

      It all starts with installing Ford’s 80-amp home charger in your home, along with the required transfer switch that disconnects your home from the grid, only in the event of a power outage. The loader comes standard with the F-150 Lightning Extended Reach and is optional with the base model truck. Ford says its all-electric pickup can keep power going for up to three days, power a construction site for three days, or give a power saw enough charge to cut up to 30 miles of plywood.


      keep the juice

      The F-150 Lightning has more than enough auxiliary power to power basic appliances like an electric stove or coffee maker for days. The standard all-electric pickup has a 91 kWh battery, while the range-extended truck has an even bigger 131 kWh pack. To provide some perspective, this is enough for the truck to load itself.

      And as we discovered in our testing, the vehicle could handle heavy demand without ever breaking a sweat, for quite a long time. Our testing consisted of performing a “power hour” stress test at maximum load, then calculating the theoretical maximum run time. We found that execution times are actually measured in days, not hours.

      Basic devices

      ford f 150 powerwall review in progress

      Tom Messina

      Giving the F-150 Lightning generator a workout, we started simple. I made myself some coffee, charged my phone and cooled off with a small household fan. Unsurprisingly, it was easy on the truck and used so little power that it didn’t even register in the 15.5-inch infotainment system’s “Generator” reading, which relays metrics like remaining battery life and power consumption. This means you shouldn’t worry when camping if you need to turn on an electric stove.

      Mobile workspace

      ford f 150 powerwall review in progress

      Tom Messina

      After grabbing my coffee outside the cabin, I hopped behind the driver’s seat and plugged in my laptop to get some work done. It drew a peak of just over 95 watts before my laptop was fully charged, meaning the truck could theoretically charge my laptop almost 100 times before running out of juice. It also gave me the opportunity to test out the foldable shifter and center console, which were super easy to deploy and created a surprisingly spacious area for me to work in.

      The process of moving from the center console to the mobile workstation begins with parking the truck. Once the shifter is in its most forward position, there’s a button nearby that allows it to slide neatly into the transmission tunnel. Finally, the center console tilts forward to give you more than enough space to put down a laptop or even have a meal, if you’re so inclined to eat inside your car.

      gaming computer

      ford f 150 powerwall review in progress

      matt crisara

      As a PC gaming fanatic, I was curious from the day we got the F-150 Lightning if it could throw a LAN party with multiple people. I’m happy to report that it easily ran my custom PC, which had a 1200 watt power supply. Even under full load, games like Assetto Corsa Competizione at maximum graphics settings, the computer only consumed about 800 watts of power.

      Our standard range truck, fitted with the smaller 98kWh battery, is capable of running this very demanding gaming PC for just over five days; the extended range pickup’s larger 131kWh battery could keep it running for just under seven hours. We didn’t have another gaming PC to further accentuate the truck’s output, but it could easily handle another similarly equipped computer.

      The verdict

      ford f 150 powerwall review in progress

      matt crisara

      After that hour of simulated power was over, the truck’s range had only reduced by about 2 miles – 161 to 159. Initially, I was concerned that I would run out of juice before I had to return to base. However, Ford has thought of this. There is an on-board facility that can shut off auxiliary power once you have depleted the battery beyond a set point. For example, if you have a 100 mile return trip, you can tell the truck to cut power to anything plugged in when you have 120 miles of charge left.

      Apart from the nifty features, I was really impressed with the battery capacity. This really makes sense, because when the battery isn’t driving both axles of the truck, it can be used as a massive power bank. With 98 kWh of usable juice in the standard battery and 131 in the extended range, you really would have power for days in an emergency or weekend camping trip if you rationed it properly.

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