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#283964 - 03/03/17 04:39 PM Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject)
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 5959
Loc: southern Cal
There I was, at ease , watching the Weather Channel listing all the tornado alerts in Illinois a few nights ago, and suddenly:

No lights, no TV, no electricity - nada!

A glance outside showed that the outage was widespread, so I broke out my EDC light which lit the way to my stash of lanterns, batteries, and miscellaneous lighting appliances. Dinner was nearly cooked, so I didn't get a chance to fire up my big camp stove, but we ate by subdued lantern light.

Tucked into the sack a bit early, even for me, and everything was back to normal by morning. There was no word as to the cause of the outage.

Basically, it was simply a minor inconvenience. My stash of lights was charged and ready and functioned well. DW's headlamp was not functional (low batteries) and the backup headlamp had a non-performing lithium which was a surprise, but replacement batteries were readily at hand. DW got a tour of my recharging setup so she can recharge batts when I will be away.

My stock of AAA Eneloops is a bit low, so i will be ordering....All in all, a useful inconvenience which mildly tested our preps.
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#283965 - 03/03/17 07:33 PM Re: Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject) [Re: hikermor]
haertig Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/13/05
Posts: 1925
Loc: Colorado
What's scary for me, is how much we are dependent on electricity. We don't have many outages here, and when they rarely do occur, they are short lived (hours, at most). But during an outage I'm looking around the house, the strangely SILENT house, and find: nope, the computers don't work, the TV doesn't work, my digital piano doesn't work (except off of UPS), stove doesn't work, washing machine/dryer doesn't work, water heater doesn't work (it's gas, but with electronic ignition), furnace doesn't work (electric fan), etc., etc., etc. Even our backyard grill doesn't work (it's a wood pellet Traeger, which uses an electrical auger). I'd have to try to revive our old propane grill that hasn't been used in a long time. I do keep two 20lb propane tanks full for emergencies, just in case. For that old grill, and also for a Coleman two burner camping stove that uses an adapter for the big propane tanks.

Being a flash-a-holic, light is not a problem. I must have enough flashlights and batteries to supply the whole city.

Water is not a problem, as we have those big water bottles delivered for our dispenser, and typically have half a dozen (or more) full 5 gallon bottles sitting around in queue.

Gasoline isn't much of a concern. We don't always keep the cars as full as we should, but we have so many darn cars sitting around that usually one (at least) is full. Also, we keep 10 gallons in cans available for the small (4000 watt) generator that we can fire up and plug things in with extension cords.

But it's still eerie when the lights suddenly go out. It's like, "Oh no, what can we do to occupy ourselves now?" Usually I end up reading a book with my battery powered headlamp. I do have a computer UPS on my digital piano, and if I use headphones, then I can practice piano for about 3 hours before that is exhausted.

A new concern that has come up recently is our hot tub, installed about four months ago. If the electricity goes out and it's super cold outside, you don't want that thing to freeze. It would be destroyed. Luckily, it holds such a large amount of water, normally a bit above 100 degrees, and is well insulated, that it would take a long time to freeze. Before it was installed, I thought about this and figured - no problem, I'll just drag my portable generator out there and plug it in. Ha! I found out that these stupid tubs require a 50 amp circuit at 240 volts. I would need a 15 kilowatt generator just for the hot tub! (What I would do is use my small generator to power my portable fluid transfer pump to empty the tub. Between that, and the normal drain plugs, I could probably get enough water out to not have to worry about freezing too much.)

In summary - I really hope the electricity doesn't go out for a long time!!!


Edited by chaosmagnet (03/03/17 10:22 PM)
Edit Reason: minor language

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#283969 - 03/03/17 09:05 PM Re: Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject) [Re: hikermor]
LesSnyder Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/11/10
Posts: 1463
Loc: New Port Richey, Fla
for the 2004 9day hurricane induced power outage boredom was somewhat addressed with an old analog 12v portable TV, which I ran off the car 12v battery.... shortly thereafter the TV format was changed to digital, so I upgraded to an Insignia digital portable, but added a double female cable connector, and a rabbit ear dipole antenna... with a short section of cable I'm able to get the signal to my recliner, and if the cable is up, don't have a problem... the rabbit ears picks up about 8 channels, and I can learn a little more Spanish...


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#283970 - 03/03/17 10:30 PM Re: Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject) [Re: hikermor]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 2786
Loc: USA
I have enough flashlights, headlamps, and radios (amateur and otherwise), to supply my whole neighborhood. I keep enough gas for my generator for a day or three of intermittent use without siphoning the cars.

My primary emergency heat plan is to use the generator to run a (powerful) space heater and close up a room enough to keep us all warm. Unless it was super cold we could probably do without that for at least a few days.

I'm a good enough electrician to disconnect the furnace from the service and run it off the generator, but we'd have to be out of power for a long time, while it was very cold, without a viable bugout option, and with the gas service still working, for that to make sense. It strikes me as unlikely.

For those with generators: A reminder to never, ever backfeed your generator into your primary house wiring. Either use extension cords appropriately or have a licensed electrician install a bypass switch.

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#283979 - 03/04/17 04:03 PM Re: Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject) [Re: hikermor]
Nomad Offline
Addict

Registered: 05/04/02
Posts: 456
Loc: Just wandering around.
Loose power?? Not very likely. Been off the grid for about 20 years now. We have 3 independent solar systems, each capable of meeting our needs. One that supplies our 5w trailer, one on our truck camper and a spare I occasionally use for special projects.

The spare system is stored in a 33' long aluminum trailer that provides pretty good farady shielding. Should survive all but the most severe EMP event.

Guess something could kill 'em all, but then I would probably have more serious problems that loss of power.


Nomad.
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#283980 - 03/04/17 07:19 PM Re: Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject) [Re: Nomad]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 5959
Loc: southern Cal
I have backup solar power, enough to recharge batteries that operate radios, lights, GPS, and miscellaneous gadgets. For cooking, I will go with propane or any of several backpack type small, handy stoves. For heating and toasting marshmallows there is a fireplace.

When it comes to portable solar, I must admit I am a Goal Zero fan. Not at all cheap, but well engineered and effective. i am beginning to think seriously about rooftop solar panels.
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#283982 - 03/04/17 10:07 PM Re: Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject) [Re: hikermor]
bacpacjac Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 05/05/07
Posts: 3565
Loc: Ontario, Canada
A house with a fireplace is on my bucket list!
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#283984 - 03/04/17 10:14 PM Re: Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject) [Re: hikermor]
AKSAR Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1043
Loc: Alaska
Originally Posted By: hikermor
When it comes to portable solar, I must admit I am a Goal Zero fan. Not at all cheap, but well engineered and effective.
Which Goal Zero product do you recommend?
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-Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz

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#283985 - 03/04/17 10:38 PM Re: Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject) [Re: bacpacjac]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2590
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By: bacpacjac
A house with a fireplace is on my bucket list!


A fireplace (the old open masonry kind) is massively overrated. I have two in my new place. They just suck semi-warm air out of the house and blow 95% of the heat up the flue. I never burn them except on a damp day in summer, even though I have endless wood right here on site.

I just converted one to natural gas, with a pilot light and designed to run full time without requiring the electric fan. This will give us an upstairs "nest" that always works, since our NG grid is largely independent of the electric grid. The price was a bit of a shocker, but it will be used regularly for three seasons and (at 85% efficiency) will save more money than it cost over the long term.

For the other masonry fireplace (basement) I have a simple hunter stove that just fits inside. I also have single wall chimney pipe and insulation (for a chimney seal) so I can jury-rig emergency heat to keep the pipes from freezing. Obviously this would have to be supervised at all times, both to keep it fed and safe, as insurance would laugh at me if this caused a fire. A battery powered CO detector would be essential also, because dead lasts a long time.

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#283986 - 03/04/17 10:38 PM Re: Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject) [Re: AKSAR]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 5959
Loc: southern Cal
http://www.goalzero.com/p/333/lighthouse-mini-lantern

I really like their Lightouse Mini lantern - compact and bright. You can switch out its proprietary lithium-ion battery (I quickly obtained a couple of spares). The lantern will charge directly from a USB source and you can charge a cell phone from its integral USB receptacle. Their Switch 10 power bank also uses the same battery and accepts a flashlight head.

I recently received a Nomad plus solar panel which augments the Nomad panel I had acquired earlier. I haven't used it yet, but it seems to have improved electronics which
I understand will charge many appliances, including cell phones, with fewer hassles and problems.

My experience hasn't been incredibly extensive. Besides a bit of casual use, the aforementioned power outage, the only significant was a two week field project where the nomad panel and the mini lantern worked like champs.

Being a poor but honest archaeologist, I haven't purchased any of their more expensive products, but some day....

Based on my experience so far, I think I will be pleased.
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#283987 - 03/04/17 10:46 PM Re: Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject) [Re: Nomad]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2590
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By: Nomad
The spare system is stored in a 33' long aluminum trailer that provides pretty good farady shielding. Should survive all but the most severe EMP event.


Err, pardon my ignorance, but doesn't a Faraday cage need to be iron/steel? I thought an aluminum shell would do nothing at all.

My understanding was that the ferrous metal acts like an antenna, converting most of the electromagnetic wave to electricity in the cage rather than inside the electronic equipment. If properly grounded, the charge would be shunted to ground.

But I'm not an engineer, so I defer to those who know better.

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#283988 - 03/04/17 10:48 PM Re: Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject) [Re: dougwalkabout]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 5959
Loc: southern Cal
You are certainly correct about the inefficiencies of a traditional fireplace, and this would be very significant living in Canada.

But some of us reside in sunnier climes, like southern California. In thirty years in So Cal, I have never seen frost in my town and on only one occasion on an outlying island. So we can dedicate fireplaces to their highest and best uses, toasting marshmallows and raising morale. They are pretty good at chasing the chill away.
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#284025 - 03/06/17 04:50 PM Re: Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject) [Re: hikermor]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 5959
Loc: southern Cal
An addendum to my previous post. Another very fine solar powered light would be any of the Luci (brand name) inflatable lights. There are probably other makes which follow the same basic scheme. A small solar panel, an array of LEDs, and an inflatable bag provide a very fine diffuse light, suitable for dining or use in a tent. They are also very cheap and quite compact when not inflated. In uninflated condition, they perform decently as a flashlight.
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#284026 - 03/06/17 07:07 PM Re: Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject) [Re: hikermor]
Russ Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4576
Loc: SOCAL
I like the Luci inflatable light and have put two of the Lux (warm white version) in my Amazon.com cart. Thanks for the tip.

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#284046 - 03/12/17 04:20 PM Re: Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject) [Re: Russ]
Russ Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4576
Loc: SOCAL
For the record, the Luci Lux lights I received work great. The battery is 3.7 volt lithium polymer and I ran one all last night as a night-light in the kitchen. Plenty of illumination and softer hues than the normal wall socket night light.

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#284048 - 03/12/17 05:32 PM Re: Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject) [Re: Russ]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 5959
Loc: southern Cal
Because of a little problem with our kitchen lighting last night, I broke out the Luci's, suspended over the kitchen sink and work counter. My darling DW, who does not care for the dark, and I both agreed that the Luci's lent a festive atmosphere to the surroundings.

Dollar for dollar, they are an excellent value in emergency/supplementary lighting. I'll probably pick up a few more myself. (I love Luci??)
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#284051 - 03/13/17 06:44 PM Re: Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject) [Re: dougwalkabout]
MoBOB Offline
Veteran

Registered: 09/17/07
Posts: 1213
Loc: here
I am going to take a stab at this one: First - I am not an engineer. Second - I am a regular with a little (very little) electrical/electronics background. Third - I would say that since aluminum does conduct electricity (electromagnetic energy) it could be used as a Faraday cage.
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#284052 - 03/13/17 07:51 PM Re: Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject) [Re: MoBOB]
bws48 Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/18/07
Posts: 814
Loc: Anne Arundel County, Maryland
Originally Posted By: MoBOB
. . . I would say that since aluminum does conduct electricity (electromagnetic energy) it could be used as a Faraday cage.


Absolutely. Our old (vintage early 1970s) house had aluminium wiring.
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#284053 - 03/13/17 08:09 PM Re: Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject) [Re: hikermor]
Ian Offline
Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 171
Loc: Scotland
The aluminium will shield the electrical component of the electromagnetic energy but it cannot shield the magnetic component.

Transmitted radio waves consist of both and one cannot exist without the other. (It's complicated)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_field

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#284054 - 03/14/17 03:38 AM Re: Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject) [Re: bws48]
MoBOB Offline
Veteran

Registered: 09/17/07
Posts: 1213
Loc: here
Originally Posted By: bws48


Absolutely. Our old (vintage early 1970s) house had aluminum wiring.
Brittle and resistive. Many a house on wheels went up in flames due to aluminum wiring being the incorrect gauge.


Edited by MoBOB (03/14/17 03:39 AM)
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#284055 - 03/14/17 03:41 AM Re: Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject) [Re: Ian]
MoBOB Offline
Veteran

Registered: 09/17/07
Posts: 1213
Loc: here
Originally Posted By: Ian
The aluminium will shield the electrical component of the electromagnetic energy but it cannot shield the magnetic component.

Transmitted radio waves consist of both and one cannot exist without the other. (It's complicated)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_field
It does spin out of control rather quickly.
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"Its not a matter of being ready as it is being prepared" -- B. E. J. Taylor

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#284056 - 03/14/17 04:07 AM Re: Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject) [Re: Ian]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2590
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By: Ian
The aluminium will shield the electrical component of the electromagnetic energy but it cannot shield the magnetic component.

Transmitted radio waves consist of both and one cannot exist without the other. (It's complicated)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_field


Interesting! Thanks for the info. I stand corrected.

Added bonus: I guess this means my tinfoil hat actually works! grin

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#284058 - 03/15/17 01:36 AM Re: Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject) [Re: MoBOB]
UTAlumnus Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/08/03
Posts: 973
Loc: East Tennessee near Bristol
Plus it doesn't mix with copper wires or the connectors made for copper. They expand & shrink from heating at different rates which will loosen connections.

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#284065 - 03/15/17 10:03 PM Re: Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject) [Re: hikermor]
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 1966
Loc: NE Illinois
We finally had a whole house generator installed. It uses natural gas, so we can run it indefinitely (pending oil & filter changes).

The thing that prompted us was that when the power goes out we (1) lose heat, (2) lose our well pump, thus water, and most importantly, lose use of bathrooms.

Not cheap, but it adds peace of mind.

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#284101 - 03/27/17 11:07 AM Re: Power Outage (caution: Dark Subject) [Re: KenK]
MedB Offline
Member

Registered: 10/08/05
Posts: 108
We had a transfer switch installed a while back for the same reasons... water, heat, toilets, sump.

Cost was hundeds (not thousands) and absolutely the best money we have spent in years. Now any generator including our portable can run the essentials without pulling out appliances and dangling cords through windows.

HIGHLY recommended.
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