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Cooking eggs (part 2)

April 10th, 2017 at 05:33 am

Uh, induction cooking. Wow, where do I begin? I am going to jot down as much technical information as I can recall for reference and future use. I've spent days just trying to decipher and understand all this, and I still feel hazy about it. Feel free to double check me, and let know if you see something doesn't look right. After that, I'll share what I have learned so far by trying to cook an egg. (You can jump to the next sections, marked as [INSTALLATION] or [TESTING] if you want to skip this part.)

Oh yeah, I chose cooking an egg as a way to test things, in part because it's a cheap and easy way to see roughly how well something like this works... and because I like eggs and know it's something I would like to actually be able to do.

[SPECS]

* Ok, so the Prius gas engine sometimes self-idles to supply power to its electrical counterpart, the High Voltage Battery Pack (HV for short).

* The HV pack, in turn, provides power to the conventional 12 volt car battery, which provides the power to the car instrumentation and systems like any other conventional car.

* I think the HV pack supplies something like 100 or 110v, making it ideal to power the induction plate. However, everything I've read so far suggests that I should stick to the 12v battery instead. Less question marks, and really, no documentation on how I would even go about hooking up anything to the HV pack.

* Ok, so after some research, I read that one should definitely not try to draw 100 amps from a 12v. Separately, another Prius owner with an inverter has pushed as far as 75 amps, but stating that is pretty much the limit as he started to pop a fuse.

* The lowest wattage setting available on an induction plate is 600w. That means that it should only draw about 50 amps at a time, so this should work.

* The medium wattage setting is 900w, and that's when it requires 75 amp draw, and therefore should be avoided at all cost.

* I should still turn pretty much everything off when running the induction cooker, just to be on the safe side.

* However, the Prius should be left on at READY to help keep power supplied throughout its batteries. I also read that most 12v batteries should have a 45 to 50 Amp Hour capacity, and I highly doubt that I would ever need more than say 10 to 15 minutes anyway to cook anything. Nevertheless, it's wisest to keep the running of the induction plate as short as possible.

* I am using a 1000 watt pure sine wave inverter, with a peak of 2000 watts, to power the DC/AC conversion. This should be adequate for a 600 watt setting. It might even be OK for the 900 watt setting, although that would be pushing it, and I intend to stick with 600 watts anyway.

* As for peak power, I've seen other videos and sources showing that, during startup peak, the induction plate barely registered 1 watt for a second on a Kill-o-watt, so startup peak is definitely not an issue here.

* The inverter's user manual only recommends a battery draw of only 50AH from a 12v, so this pretty much pins me down to only 600 watts anyway.

* My inverter's user manual also recommends to ground the unit, but does not specify how or provide the wiring for it. I will have to look into how to do so very soon.

* The user manual on the NuWave Precision compact induction plate mentions that both the low setting (at 100 degrees F) and the low/med setting (at 175 degrees F) are rated at 600 watts, so these will be the only two settings I will use. The induction plate also has a setting button that explicitly sets the plate to only 600 watts, which is a good thing.

So, on paper, this should work. This also explains how David has managed to pull this off in the first place. Ok, so on to the second part and actually trying to piece all of this together.

[INSTALLATION]

Ok, so this is supposely an easy job. First, I am already fortunate enough to have the car battery be conveniently located in the rear passenger side seating, rather than under the car's hood like most other cars. Also, it's already exposed for use due to me having to build a bed, so, even easier.

However, my first hurdle was when I realized that the Prius does not actually use a normal 12v car battery. Apparently, it uses a smaller, custom glass mat battery all to its own. Consequently, the terminal post for the positive (red) end is a bit too big for the inverter's wire hole to fit. However, after double and triple checking that there is indeed metal contact from the side screw on the positive end, I decided to try screwing it there instead.



Doing so was rather scary to me, because every metallic contact I accidentally made, including from my ratchet tool to say the safety cage, would spark. I paused to check the internet yet again to make sure I am not going to screw this up or electrocute myself... and to find out why it's sparking so much. Apparently, I was suppose to work on the positive (red) end first. Then the negative (black) end. I only did the negative (black) end first because it was harder to reach but the wire hole fitted easily. Lesson learned.

Funny story, but at this point, my mom called me on my cellphone, asking me if I wanted something for dinner. The cellphone buzzing freaked me out for a second, thinking I just got electrocuted haha. Wow, it made me think I really should not be messing with any of this, but I was in too deep and wanted to see this through.

Finally, I got the inverter wired up, and very slowly and carefully, I powered up my car, then, I powered up the inverter, then I plugged in the induction plate, and well, next thing you know I am this crazy man sitting out in the drive way, cooking eggs out of a car....

[TESTING]

Oh, before that, I did test the induction plate plugged into a regular receptacle and cook an egg there first, just to have a baseline as to what to expect under normal conditions. It was not scientific by any means, but I say the egg cooked in roughly 2 minutes under 600 watts.



Armed with this knowledge, I then cooked a second egg using the car and the inverter. This time, it cooked even faster, presumably because the pan was already warm from the first time. It basically worked like a charm. Nothing strange that I can tell happened. No strange fumes or smoke. Nothing sparking, failing, or dying. The engine didn't even cut on. I just sat there, silently, watching an egg getting cooked.



Another observation I would like to add is that the induction plate has a safety feature where if it doesn't detect the pan or pot in contact with it, it would turn itself off. Because of this, I can't pick up the pan to tilt it or flip the egg like I normally would with a regular stove. Well, to be exact, I think there is like maybe 5 seconds delay before the plate would cut off. I haven't counted, but the point is, the pot or pan should be left on the plate at all times. Unable to pick up the pan, I did the best I can to flip the egg, but it didn't work, so I was like OK scrambled it is.



About an hour later, I checked back on the plate, the inverter, and my car in general. I was paranoid and wanted to see if anything looked or smelled off. Luckily, nothing seems to be amiss. So far so good!

10 Responses to “Cooking eggs (part 2)”

  1. PatientSaver Says:

    So now that you have accomplished this, wouldn't it be easier and just as cheap to go to mom's for breakfast? Or a diner, etc.?

    I am glad you were feeling paranoid, but this still sounds risky to me. What is the reason you are doing this? You aren't broke, right? You could afford to pay someone else to make you breakfast. And what happens if you get tired of eggs and want waffles?

    I guess I'm wondering what your ultimate goal is and what is motivating you to do it. Maybe you just get a kick out of seeing if you can do this? If so, I sorta understand. Being able to say you can cook up a couple of eggs using your car battery is I'm sure a real eye opener to other people. And people tinkering around and experimenting does lead to all sorts of interesting breakthroughs. DaVinci, Einstein, Sikorsky, they all did it.

    I do admire your ingenuity but I'm just wondering what is driving all this and what your ultimate destination is.

    You sound like you are enjoying yourself so please, tinker on, but PLEASE be careful.

  2. CB in the City Says:

    I had the same thought -- you're in the car already -- DRIVE THROUGH! I do understand this is a challenge that is important to you, but do be careful.

  3. creditcardfree Says:

    Yummy! I like eggs.

  4. Kiki Says:

    Have you considered a solar battery like this one: http://www.goalzero.com/power-packs

    As a safer alternative to playing with the car battery? They can be recharged via solar panel or plugged into a wall - like if visiting your parents or something. I have two different ones for when the power goes out. If I can plug in a small heater to heat my bedroom or use my electric blanket then they would work for you, too.

  5. Tabs Says:

    Patient, I elaborated more on this in my apologist treatise (haha) found in the previous entry, but I admit that, yes, a part of me just loves a good challenge. To be able to learn and build things, despite its rather restrictive parameters. Brings out the cock-eyed look and toothy grin in me.

    CB, 10-4.

    ccf, I do too. Just so it's clear to everyone reading this though, it's not just eggs that I am planning to cook (despite my subtly snarky titling). I want the ability to cook almost anything basic, using existing tech and with minimal footprint. Eggs was just an easy and cheap way to test things, as you see roughly how quick it goes from transparent to white for example.

    Hey kiki, OMG yes of course I'd rather use turnkey solutions if I can get away with it. For what it's worth, GoalZero tend to be quite expensive compared to its lesser known but equally reputable competitors. For example, me tapping into the car battery with a decent power inverter is basically the equivalent of buying GoalZero's 1250 power station listed at $1600.

    Regardless of which route you take still requires power input from somewhere. Now while solar would be great, and yes, I am indeed looking into it, but for high power devices like an induction plate, even running at low setting, you would need a lot of solar panels on a bright sunny day to offset that and prevent discharge and prematurely wearing out the batteries. Well, I suppose it possible it would work seeing as how I don't intend to run the plate that long to begin with, but even so, we are looking at a lot of solar panels... way more than certainly the roof of my little car can handle.

    However, when it comes to using demanding appliances, most people end up just going with a small gas generator instead. Which is great for me because with the way the Prius works, the existing car gas engine already acts like a gas generator, and I even have a larger, more powerful secondary (HV) battery pack backing up the 12v car battery.

    So basically what I am saying is, everything I need to make this work already exists on the car. I just have to learn how to set this up properly, and I should be gold. I will also save at least $1000 doing it this way also.

    But again, I am still looking into solar panels nonetheless. I think it could be helpful with other things, but we'll see though.

  6. Tabs Says:

    Correction: The entire setup that I am using now is going to be roughly $200 when it's all said and done. True that it is not cheap, nor easy for that matter.

    However, GoalZero's equivalent unit (and one that I would need to run the induction plate) would require the PowerStation 1250, which costs $1600.

    A single 100w solar panel should cost roughly $100 each. Putting aside the lack of space for installation, you ideally want say 8 of them, but realistically can only install say 4 on a cargo van. That's about 400 watt ideal, so you'll have to watch your battery levels to make sure you have enough charge before you can run your plate.

    Conversely, you can use it just about anytime if you go with say a 1000w gas generator, which runs for at least $800. Let's ignore this though because it costs more.

    Soo bare minimum, I would say the cost then starts at $2000, and you would need to wait for it to charge. Not necessarily a bad way to go, especially out in the boonies, but contrast this with my $200 setup that I can use at any time, and in any weather, so long as there is gas in the car.

  7. PatientSaver Says:

    OK, I am sorry, once again I am reading your posts in reverse order for some reason.

    OK, so you like a challenge. That helps me understand. I still think there's a much larger audience for you out in Internet Land with a blog/FB page appealing to survivalists, adventurers, off gridders and anti-government types. Just sayin' you could build a following and earn some money off this and your audience reactions would probably motivate to do even more.

  8. Tabs Says:

    Oh, and as for the social media monetization thing, I'll consider it. The big thing everybody is trying to make money on is YouTube videos. Yes, FB too, but basically videos. I may or may not do that. They're starting to get rather sophisticated. Many have these thousand dollar cameras, active gimbal stabilizers, and are even using drones now. Yeah, nobody needs all that to start out, but just saying, there are a lot of people doing videos just like these, and I follow them myself.

    But hatching a social media outlet is like an entirely separate project that I would like to set aside along with everything else until I can complete this camper project. It's enough of a challenge and I want to be 100% focused on it.

    I also kind of have a deadline, and that's to get it done before the summer heat really gets here.

  9. ceejay74 Says:

    O the questions I have! Big Grin Biggest ones: I assume you'll buy ingredients for one meal at a time. Are you going to try and chop ingredients? Keep basic seasonings on hand? Buy single-serve portions of ingredients so you don't have to store leftovers? Will you use all disposable dishes or have at least some reusable (like cooking utensils)? Where will you wash/store them?

  10. Tabs Says:

    Hi ceejay. I am kind of skipping ahead, but ok, I'll do my best to answer this, because it will indeed be interesting to see how all this will actually work in the end. This is also part of what I am tackling right now.

    Basically, I realized that I need some kind of flat surface to put the induction plate, and to chop veggies and stuff. When not pulling kitchen duty, I can also use it like a desk I suppose.

    The trick is that I am also running out of available space in the car, and the only place available is an odd space in the rear passenger area. Let me check the numbers again: 21" Length x 13" Width on one side x 18.5" Width on the other side, and perhaps around 15" tall. So yeah, that's an oddly specific dimension but that's the space I have left to make this thing happen.

    Chances are, I may resort to building yet another piece of custom wood furniture, but for now, I have been shopping around for coolers that may fit the bill. I had no idea they can get so ridiculously expensive, like Yetis. Then again, I hear they are amazing, and hence, the price premium. I don't know, I think a cheaper brand will do for me. That's where I am right now with that.

    However, if I can't find a suitable cooler, then I will resort to building a custom wood or plastic table of some sort. The trick here is that it will require legs of varying lengths, but also, done in a way where it will not somehow apply pressure the various battery parts that was once the rear seat.... But coolers are ideal because it will allow me some ability to store fresh ingredients and leftovers.

    So to answer your questions, yes, I am going to try to chop fresh herbs and veggies in there. The only seasonings I have found that I truly need or want is just garlic salt and olive oil, so that part shouldn't be too difficult. I am going to try not to have too much leftovers, but if I do, they can be placed in heavy duty ziploc bags, and stored in said cooler.

    I think I will probably start with some plastic silverware, but really, all I'm going to do is mostly eat out of the pot.

    Washing and storing is a really good question. From what I've seen how others do it, they keep something like a spray bottle of vinegar and they spray it down and wipe with paper towels mostly. Apparently, if you do spray and wipe enough, it will come out fairly clean. Some also use cast iron cookware, so residual oil on it is normal anyways for seasoning. I don't want to get too fancy starting out, so it's going to be just one pot.

    Plus, remember the guy that accidentally tossed the absorbent pad that you find on the bottom of the meat packs into his crockpot stew? Yeah, that was me. I want to eat fresh and healthy, but I need this cooking process to be stupid simple hahah.

    Anyways once they are all washed, I think it should be possible to store them all inside the cooler, or at least somewhere with spare space available.

    Oh, and here's a spoiler alert: I am also going to try to grow fresh herbs in the car. Crazy huh? It's lower on my to-do list though, so we'll have to see about that.

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