Texans trapped without electricity for days in their homes have suffered without heat or lights or the ability to run refrigerators or stoves despite freezing temperatures.
But Randy Jones, 66, a retired refinery worker from the town of Katy, outside Houston, and the owner of a 2021 Ford F-150 Hybrid piwith Pro Power onboard, generated envy on social media after posting images of how he's using his pickup to power his home and help neighbors during the blackout affecting millions in the Lone Star State.
"We were out from Sunday through Wednesday evening," he said early Thursday. "It's been miserably cold and frustrating to have loss of power for that many days."
The experience felt like a bad movie, something Jones said he couldn't really describe in words that would be printable in a family newspaper.
"You're living your life normally and all of a sudden you're thrust into the dark. I think it got around 9 degrees. It's been in mid-20s and low 30s. You don't expect that in south Texas. You don't expect to lose power when we have nuclear, natural gas, wind and solar power," he said. "The truck gave us light at night, TV access to catch the news and weather. It helped give us a little bit of heat and a good pot of coffee."
He just bought his new F-150 the first week of February, replacing his 2015 F-150, which replaced his 2010 F-150.
"We have hurricanes down here more than freezes. We went through two hurricanes just a few months ago," Jones said. "I bought the truck specifically because of the generator for my own safety. I'm happy I bought it. Some of my neighbors are too, because they could charge their cellphones and iPads off my power supply."
His wife was away, visiting their son in Louisiana. They had power.
"It's just so unusual in this day and time to have a power outage for four days," Jones said. "You can't ever rule anything out. You always have to be prepared."
Jones took pictures and posted them on the f150gen14.com forum, saying, "2021 F-150 PowerBoost's 7.2kw Onboard Generator Saves the Day (3 days!) During Texas Power Outage.
He wrote earlier this week:
"A little south Texas 10-20 degree cold front took out the power for 3 days so I had a chance to try out the generator on my truck. I haven’t put in a switch to my house power panel yet so I just used a few extension cords. Ran power to some lights, coffee pot, 75” Tv, toaster oven, space heater and refrigerator. I ran it for about 10-12 hours per day to keep the freezer food frozen. I guess that’s not much load because it only used a few gallons of gas over that time. I am more than pleased on what it did for me.
Easy to use, just turn it on and forget it. I had to reset the 2 breakers in the truck bed to start since they were tripped by the salesman when he gave me the initial tour. Took the keys with me and locked my door. It started and stopped the engine occasionally. Cell service was out also so I didn’t get a chance to try the Ford Pass App. Much quieter than the neighbors generator and I didn’t have to refill it in the cold every 8 hours. No filling stations open so he was in the dark after his two 5 gallon cans ran out.
Ease of use: Check
Plenty of power for my needs: Check
Quiet service: Check
Glad I have: Check
Jones doesn't have a Twitter account but his images and experience were picked up and quickly shared by news consumers and fans of the F-150.
Ford CEO Jim Farley retweeted the image of the working truck and said, "The situation in the SW US is so difficult. Wish everyone in Texas had a new F150 with PowerBoost onboard generator...."
Dan Basile, 38, a cybersecurity analyst from Bryan, Texas, said Thursday he doesn't even have license plates on his new 2021 F-150 he purchased in January that he has used to heat his home during rolling blackouts in recent days.
He posted on the F-150 forum in response to Jones, "I have been doing the same thing! I figured I would use the 7.2 every now and then, but this sold it for me. Luckily the blower on the furnace only uses 400w. Been running for days with no issues. I only wish I could turn the screen on the dash off."
While his power was restored late Wednesday, Basile said he wasn't confident about how long it might last.
"I'm worried about aftereffects when we start finding broken pipes — there's no telling," he said.
Other forum comments from F-150 owners included:
- "I am doing the same thing in Texas. My power boost is running fridge lights cable modem router tv ... my power recliner coffee pot. It has been running constantly for 72 hours. It has used 1/4 tank of gas. Also am using extension cords as I haven’t wired my house yet. The Ford pass works great. This truck is amazing."
- '"I find it easier to run power to it for a few hours a day. (going on day 4 now) It keeps everything frozen in the freezer and cool in the refrigerator section. With no power the temperature goes up and things defrost. No waste and no clean up.
- "It might be a bit of a gimmick until you need it. While I didn't have a direct need for the 7.2KW option, I went for it. Glad it helped you out in a bad situation."
Both the hybrid and non-hybrid 2021 F-150s offer Pro Power onboard.
With the hybrid, the 2021 Ford F-150 comes standard with 2.4 KW that runs for 85 hours with a full tank of gas. Buyers often upgrade for $750 to a 7.2 KW system, which generates more power, and can run 32 hours at full load.
The gas-powered version has optional Pro Power with 2 KWfor $995.
The gas-powered 2021 F-150 starts at $28,940, including destination fees. The PowerBoost Hybrid is only available as a SuperCrew and starts at $43,485.
All F-150 pickups are built in Dearborn and Claycomo, Missouri.
While people throughout the Deep South are struggling to keep themselves and their families warm, a few F-Series owners are using their pickups to pull semi-trailers out of trouble during the snowpocalypse.
They're posting video of the rescues this week. Check these out:
Follow Detroit Free Press reporter Phoebe Wall Howard on Twitter@phoebesaid.