When Ford Motor Co. introduced the 2021 F-150, it revealed a lot of clever features designed for people who use their trucks as a mobile workstation. The most interesting – and perhaps most confusing – feature is Pro Power Onboard.
We know it acts like a mobile generator, and there are three variants – one for the gasoline model and two for the PowerBoost hybrid. But how does it work, what exactly can it power, and why is this even necessary?
Most of our curiosity centers around the 7.2 kW output available on the PowerBoost.
So, we took some questions off my TikTok account of all places, and sent them to Ford, who graciously had Nigar Sultana, the Pro Power Onboard feature owner, provide us some answers.
@jillciminilloReply to @coltonarmstrong4 Ford says available 7.2 kw output of Pro Power Onboard can power 28 fridges for 32 hrs. 😳 ##fordf150 ##cardujour♬ Glorious (feat. Skylar Grey) – Macklemore
Q: A lot of people called this an inverter instead of a generator. How do you answer that, and what is the difference between the two?
Both are partially correct as our system is technically an inverter generator. Conventional (non-inverter) generators take the output directly from the engine-coupled electric machine (aka generator) to produce a modified sine wave at the outlet. Inverter generators add an additional DC-to-AC converter (aka inverter) after the generator. The inverter uses dedicated power electronics to smooth out the voltage ripples and produce a pure sine wave at the outlet. Another benefit of the inverter is that it allows the engine to run at a lower and variable RPM as opposed to full throttle to provide the same capability, which results in lower emissions and noise and increased efficiency.
Pro Power Onboard has vehicle mounted inverters, which are capable of generating 2 kW, 2.4 kW or 7.2 kW of output power. The output from the inverters are consistent and reliable power, which does not rely on the engine speed. The power generated by inverter (pure sine wave) is much cleaner than the power produced by conventional generators (modified sine wave).
Q: People see the plugs in the back and say: My Toyota or Chevrolet or whatever truck had that years ago. How do you answer that?
While other competitors provide up to 400 watts of power, which is just enough for a work lamp or a blender, our Pro Power Onboard is capable of providing up to 18 times more power (2 kW for gas and 2.4 kW/7.2 kW for HEV vehicles) to power an entire job site. The output produced is a pure sine wave, which makes sensitive electrical appliances safe to use. Power is available while the vehicle is in Park or in Drive. Customers can also check real-time power consumption and system status through the SYNC 4 screen.
Q: How exactly does Pro Power Onboard work? (Power flow from engine to battery to generator)
Gas: Engine > Alternator > Battery > Inverter
HEV: Engine > Electric Machine (Motor/Generator) > Power Converter > HEV Battery > Inverter
Q: How long does it take to charge the battery to power the generator? Or is it a constant flow? If it’s a constant flow, how long will a tank of gas be able to generator power?
Note: This assumes 30° C [86° F] ambient temperature with AC off.
For the HEV, the high-voltage (HV) battery serves as a power reservoir for the loads. As it depletes based on load demand, the engine turns on to simultaneously provide power the inverter and to charge the HV battery. Once the HV battery is fully charged, the engine may shut off until the battery is depleted again.
Q: One person specifically called out the 7.2 kw output and said there’s no way it could power 28 refrigerators for 32 hours. (We admitted this was a weird metric. But this is what we were told during a formal presentation. So, we were looking for something a little more relatable.)
The embedded graphic below shows some examples of what 7.2 kW (as well as the 2.0 kW and 2.4 kW systems) can power simultaneously, but for quick reference:
The 7.2 kW optional Pro Power Onboard has a 32-hour maximum runtime on a full tank of gas, and can simultaneously power the following while framing a house:
Or, if you’re using your truck for play instead of work and are spending a day at the ORV Park, it can power:
Q: Why is something like this better than an actual portable generator?
Pro Power Onboard provides the ease of customer convenience by eliminating the need to carry a separate portable generator, which is noisy and takes up valuable bed space. For comparison, a 2 kW portable inverter generator can weigh 40 pounds and take up 2 cubic feet, while a 5.5 kW portable inverter generator can weigh more than 250 pounds and take up more than 14 cubic feet of cargo volume, not to mention a gas canister to refuel.
Now, F-150 owners are no longer forced to carry around a heavy generator since it’s all integrated seamlessly into the truck. The power is also more usable because PPOB is available while in park or while driving, inside the cabin and outside in the bed or around the truck, and the customer can also monitor and control the feature in real time and remotely using the SYNC screen and via FordPass.
But what is it going to cost you? Well, first you’ll have to add the hybrid powertrain, which will cost between $1,990 and $4,995, depending on trim and configuration. Then you’ll have to add the available 7.2 kW Pro Power Onboard option, which is another $750. When we spec’d out a base XL with the SuperCrew and 5-1/2-foot box, added the hybrid and Pro Power Onboard – without any extraneous options – we were looking at a price of $43,760 including destination. We configured the Limited trim similarly and topped out at $74,420 – again without any additional options.
For comparison’s sake, you can get an 8,000-watt generator at Home Depot for $1,049.
All right, we imagine these answers might beget more questions. So, if you’ve got ‘em be sure to comment below. We’ll follow up for you and find whatever answers we can.
But the gist is, this on-board generator is something a full-size pickup truck has never had, and it creates a level of convenience a portable generator doesn’t have (aka you don’t have to lift 250 pounds). Not to mention the fact that it’s as compact as it is powerful. But it won’t be cheap.
Can it recharge a stranded Tesla?
– Dan Ashler, Chicago
Can you please advise how to connect the 2021 Ford F-150 Pro Power generator/inverter (twist-lock NEMA L6-20 240-volt, 30-amp outlet) to the shore power plug input on a travel trailer. Specifically is there any cord/appliance that can step down the 240v to 110v conveniently to charge trailer batteries while driving or at least run the AC on the trailer when stopped? This looks like a great feature on the new Ford F-150 hybrids but I am having difficulty figuring out how to make use of it for camping.
The article had a youtube video showing both 240v and 110v receptacles on the truck, same as what you would find on most portable generators
You just need a splitter to split each out the two separate 120V/30A legs to a pair of plugs. The 240/30A is just two 120V/30A legs.
No one cares about the deactivation, how did they get the horsepower/torque bump??
When you option for the pro power models doesn’t it replace the 400W plugs in your cab with higher draw outlets? I’m curious if I added the 2kW option would I get 2kw power to the plugs in the dash and crew cab?
David, did you ever get your question answered? I have the same question. Thanks
Would it be possible to add extra batteries to this system for additional storage (Say under the back seat)? Also, do you think some solar panels could be added to the top of the cab to help trickle charge the system?
I’m just about to take ownership of my new 2021, F150 ecoboost 3.5
Can dealer install the 2KW option at dealer?
Where is the battery? Does it have unique alternator or it use main engine alternator?
Thinking about the next blackout….what do you think would the gas, standard, and optional hybrid systems run in terms of household lights and appliances, and for how long?
So when is this going to be available in a Super Duty?
What is the output for the 3.0 Powerstroke? 2.0 or 2.4?
Is it available to mount on my 1995 f350 diesel 7.3
This would be great to have
Will they ever put the 7.2kw generator in the Raptor? Currently it’s only available in the 2022’s in the 2.0kw – nice feature but doesn’t power very much.
How do I invert the power from the bed of the truck to power my 12v dump trailer? I would like to get rid of the battery in the dump trailer.
Please somebody tell me how much the curb weight on the truck increases by adding 7.2kw propower. Trying to calculate payload. No specs out there anywhere!
Lots of people, even the author, comparing the Pro Power generator to a Home Depot generator. There is a HUGE difference between a conventional generator and an inverter generator and it shows in the price tag. Yes, a conventional generator of the same size will be in the low $1000 range, but the cheapest inverter generator of that size Ive ever seen will be $2000 (Harbor Freight). The inverter does several things a conventional generator does not: more fuel efficient, runs quieter, and, maybe most importantly, produces “clean” power that is safe for sensitive electronics like charging your phone or laptop (basically anything with a microchip or circuit board). Research harmonic distortion for more on that.
Generators typically have 2 wattage ratings: running watts and starting watts. Do we know which of those these Ford-published wattages of 2.0, 2.4, and 7.2kwh are?