Hundreds of thousands of people were without power over the holidays. It was pretty bad this year. Ice storms, snow storms, freezing temperatures. All across the continent it seemed. Winter was slow in coming but when it came, it carried a punch. And, as usual, we dodged all the bullets. We were lucky.
Of course, most of the time it has nothing to do with luck. We are off the grid and that means independent of the grid. That means that our power is in our hands and not in the hands of a utility company. To be fair, they do a remarkable job and the power they sell is cheaper than what we make for ourselves. But the utilities have millions of people who depend on them and even a single blown transformer can affect a lot of people. And an ice storm can cripple half the nation.
When the BIG trip up, a lot of littles take the loss.
We are simply not players in that game any more. So, for the most part, it is NOT luck, it was simply a choice. We chose NOT to play nicely together with the utilities and we seem to be better off for that decision.
But, for all that, I don’t see why more grid-people don’t take a few minor precautions for what seems like an inevitability of living on the grid? It would take very little to make one’s suburban or even urban (highrise, townhouse, condo) home independent enough to get through a few days. Few people, of course, are going to want to run generators in their apartment. And I am not advocating that they do. But a simple battery system (that remains charged from the grid until it goes down) will keep the lights and computers on.
That would be easy. Simple. And not expensive.
Going up a notch, Honda makes two models of small generator that would keep a home going (on the very basics) for days. The Honda Eu1000 (for balcony use) and the Honda Eu2000 (for townhouses) would be sufficient for lights and computers, maybe the fridge, too. A small home could likely keep functioning with the Eu3000 and a good-sized home with all the mod cons would stay on with the Eu6500 (you’d still have to be a smidge careful of use like not doing a wash with all the lights on).
I mention the Eu series of Honda because they are the models that have inverters built in and so the power they produce is ‘pure sine wave’ and good enough for directly running modern appliances and computers. If you use a generator that is not an ‘inverter-equipped’ type then it would be advisable to run the power through a separate inverter and battery system to ‘cleanse’ the wave form. Basically, an Eu6500 is cheaper in the long run given that the use would be infrequent.
I have the Eu2000. Plus I have two other gensets that do not have the pure sine wave output because all their output is ‘cleansed’ by going to my battery banks and then, when I need more power for the house, that battery power goes through an inverter. In that way, I can store power in the battery banks and not have to run the genset all that much. In fact, I can store power from my wind turbine and solar panels, too.
But that is me. That is off the grid.
On the grid types don’t need that. All most of you need is a 5000 watt or larger generator, a plug-in-to-the-breaker box and ten gallons of fuel. That should last you four or five days. If you need ‘clean’ power for computers and fancy do-dahs (as most people would) then get the inverter series. It is really quite simple.
Why write about that which everyone already knows? Well, it seems that not everyone does know. Hundreds of thousands of people are without power still and it has been over five days for many of them. Don’t be one of those left without when the inevitable power outage hits your neck of the woods. After all, how could you read this blog if you didn’t have power?