Originally Posted by xj700
Can a Toyota Prius air conditioner work without the gas engine running?
Does it run off of the electric motor?
My answer may be redundant because I wrote that article for Bob's site. I hope I can clarify here.
Short answer: The air conditioner runs off the batteries.
Long answer: In a Prius, the gas engine will only run when more power is needed than the electric motor can provide ... either because the electric motor isn't powerful enough or because the batteries aren't charged enough.
So, when stopped for the evening and it's too hot to sleep, I turn the car on (in "READY" mode and in park) and run the air conditioner. The air conditioner runs off the batteries. The gas engine does come on intermittently to recharge the batteries when the air conditioner has drained them enough.
The Prius' gas engine recharges its batteries like a generator recharges an RV's house battery. Only, in a Prius, the gas engine automatically turns itself on and off based upon its batteries' state of charge. Using the air conditioner to sleep, the gas engine comes on for about 5 minutes every 25 minutes or so ... using about 1/2 gal of gas for a night's sleep.
I hope this helps clarify.
Suanne ... sure glad for the AC at night last summer in the humid south