I hooked up a shopvac to the 2021 F-150 4×4 Supercrew XLT and the rest is history

The Ford 2021 F-150 4x4 Supercrew XLT on a construction site with the back loaded with lumber and using its generator to power a saw.
Credit: Ford

I didn’t know a truck could be a portable generator until yesterday.

I was out in my yard and I noticed a huge puddle in my driveway, one that was just barely annoying enough to cause a splash each time we drove in. In normal times, before technology invaded every part of our lives, I might have waited until the water evaporated.

Instead, I had an idea.

I was curious about the new generator feature in the 2021 F-150 4×4 Supercrew XLT. I had heard about how people had used the 2021 model during power outages in Texas, powering their entire home, running their appliances, and heating their home.

I pulled the truck over to the puddle and kept the engine running. In the back, there’s one button to press to start the generator, although you can also use the touchscreen in the cab to start it. I noticed there’s also a zone lighting feature and since it was about dusk, I enabled that as well. 

The touchscreen displaying the electric features like the zone lighting feature.
Credit: John Brandon

I’ve never seen anything like this.

I took a shop vac out to the truck bed and plugged it into one of the four outlets, thinking this was going to be too powerful to run off an electrical connection in a truck. (By the way, many cars and trucks have outlets these days in the cab. As you can imagine, it’s for your phone.) 

Credit: John Brandon

In the past, I’ve tested Goal Zero generators on camping trips and you would not want to try and connect a shop vac, a hairdryer, or a Dyson fan because you will trip the breaker. I wasn’t expecting the generator to be that powerful, although the story about the Texas truck owners powering their entire house was encouraging. With a flip of the switch, I was sucking up water with no problems, something I have never done unless I was closer to the garage.

I started picturing a bunch of other scenarios.

With a portable generator like this, I immediately thought about tailgating. An HDTV and sound system for the game. A mini-refrigerator. Maybe a couple of fans. With four outlets and tons of power available, it seems like the F-150 could become a roving power plant, even if I know Ford likely intends people to use power tools at a work site. I imagine the company was as surprised as anyone about how the Texas truck owners relied on the generator during the emergency, especially since no one can possibly plan for that.

Credit: John Brandon

For me, it would be all about camping.

I could see powering an electric grill, maybe a few chargers for phones, running an extension cord for my laptop, and possibly using an outdoor television. The generator outlets are easy to access off the truck bed, and there are thick plastic covers to ward off snow and rain. It’s a brilliant idea, even if you end up using it for a hairdryer and fans.