Tailgating tech: Testing Ford Pro Power Onboard in the 2021 F-150 – Roadshow

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The F-150’s Pro Power Onboard system proves potent for work and play.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

A great tailgating party needs a few things: Snacks, a screen, sound and of course, a tailgate. But not all tailgates — nor the trucks connected to them — are created equal and today, we’re highlighting a specific truck tech that I recently put to the test in my very own driveway: Pro Power Onboard in the new 2021 Ford F-150, an in-bed power system that could take your tailgate parties to the next level.

Ford Pro Power Onboard is available in three flavors, depending largely on the pickup’s powertrain. Non-hybrid F-150 models are available with an optional 2.0-kW inverter system that outputs via a pair of 20-amp, 120-volt outlets in the bed. Choosing the new hybrid PowerBoost model upgrades to a 2.4-kilowatt Pro Power system as standard equipment. Finally, there’s the most potent 7.2-kilowatt optional upgrade for the PowerBoost hybrid with three times the output, four 20-amp, 120-volt connections and a locking 240-volt NEMA plug — similar to the kind you’d plug your clothes dryer or electric car charger into.

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7.2 kW is great if you’re building a house off the grid, but the 2.4-kW setup is the Goldilocks sweet spot for tailgating. For starters, it’s standard equipment on the PowerBoost F-150, a truck that we already really like. This means you don’t necessarily have to pay extra if you’ve already decided to go hybrid.

2,400 watts is also more than a decent amount of power for the sort of gear you’ll be using for a tailgating party. During my testing, which you can see in the video above, a 50-inch LCD TV, a 2.1-channel sound bar with subwoofer, a gaming console and a laptop computer only used about 400 watts of power. That leaves plenty of capacity for running a mini fridge, lights or any of a variety of electronic devices or small appliances, but it also means that with more careful gear selection you could possibly run your tailgate party from a much less powerful 400-watt inverter like the one in the Ram 1500 or the Honda Ridgeline. (The Ridgeline even has a cooler and an audio system built into its bed, making it a pretty sweet choice.)

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The 2.0-kW and 2.4-kW systems both feature a pair of in-bed 120-volt, 20-amp AC power outlets.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

The 85 hours of run time for the 2.4-kW setup is more than enough for even the longest overtime game and, as it’s a hybrid, a lot of the time the Pro Power system will be running off the truck’s battery pack, so the engine won’t just be idling the whole time — good for your lungs and better for the environment. Less idling also means more gas left in the tank when it’s time to head back to work on Monday morning.

While we don’t recommend that you go out and buy a whole new truck just for tailgating, Ford’s in-bed power system is a touch more capable than most and gearing up to enjoy the big game outdoors in a safely socially distant manner is as good a time as any to highlight this truck tech.

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