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Of course the engine needs to be on!I used to it to keep power on in my house for 3 days when Sandy hit. Used only 6 gallons of gas. With the Prius, the engine only runs when the HV battery is discharged, so it is very efficient for low duty cycle applications.
One needs some knowledge with LI batteries. I'm sure most of you know about the problems with the Hoover boards. Even Boeing had problems with the Dream Liner batteries. I gave up on battery power tools, just use the good old fashioned AC types. No problems with charging, discharging etc. It is rare when I need a power tool that I can't get to plug into an AC outlet. For that, I have a 1 KW inverter in my Prius
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