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Preparing for a short-term power outage

 
pollinator
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All of the numerous power outages I have to deal with have been due to weather related events.  I have been lucky I haven't had to deal without water or power for more than 3 days.

Things we have for short term outages

Heating
A little Buddy Propane heater we can use inside.  We make sure we have good ventilation when in use.
We added a wood stove to the house this year so the propane heater is back up.  
We also have battery powered smoke detectors,  CO2, and CO detectors, along with fire extinguishers  in our house.

Cooking
I love my little Dragonfly camp stove.  We keep plenty of fuel for it on hand. I have a lightweight cook set to use with it from my camping days to use on it.
I am learning how to cook on the woodstove top and that will be useful in the cold weather.  
I always batch cook and have home made heat and eat meals in the freezer or pressure canned in the pantry. This makes eating easy when the power is out.  
French press and manual coffee grinder.  Life is easier if my husband can have coffee.
We keep plenty of charcoal on hand for the grill too.

 Lighting
I have a box candles, candle holders, matches and lighters.
LED headlamps, flashlights, and lanterns.  
We also just do stuff when the sun is up.

 Water
I will fill our 2  largest stock pots with water and set them on the counter with lids on them. They are 5 and 6 gallon pots so that usually covers us for a day or 2.
We keep bottled water on hand and I save my empty gallon vinegar jugs and store emergency water for the cat and the chickens in them.  
We have a natural swimming pond that we can use to flush toilets or filter with our Berkey or Katadyn filter.  
The bathtub gets filled before a storm for even more water storage.  
We are in the process of getting an invertor installed so we can use our generator to run the well pump which will be great if we lose power for a couple of weeks.  
We are also adding another garden pond to the property to hold even more water.
I have a couple of camping showers that we can leave out side to warm water for washing and hang in our shower for general hand washing.

 Power
An invertor that we hook up the car so we can charge phones and such.  
We have a generator to chill down the fridge and freezer it the outage isn't in the winter.  
We are working on getting solar installed and battery back up but it may be a few months before all the parts are here, installed, and squared away with the power company.  



 
 
pollinator
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Location: Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
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Kate Muller wrote: We also have battery powered smoke detectors,  CO2, and CO detectors, along with fire extinguishers  in our house.


A very good reminder, Kate…
Thank you for that…

Kate Muller wrote: French press and manual coffee grinder.  Life is easier if my husband can have coffee.


Not a coffee drinker myself, but a good advice with a wife that is a coffee aficionado…
 
pollinator
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I'm off grid so my power outages don't occur when everyone elses do. For us, it's about managing our power. Last year our battery bank went out, so we usually lost power at night. We have generators but they are large and I'm definitely not leaving one on just to power some lights. So we have rechargeable lanterns and battery powered candles, and lots of regular candles. One generator uses propane and the other diesel, so if we are out of one fuel we have the other. I'm thinking that we should get a small portable generator because sometimes we need power in remote locations or to charge phones or internet connection.

Our water is pumped up to two tanks totaling 5500 gallons that are gravity fed to the houses that keeps us in water for at least a couple weeks. Water seems to be the big issue for a lot of people. We are fortunate to live on a hillside. It seems to make things much easier.

We always have plenty of food.

Honestly, the worst part of it for us, is we have no idea that the power is out elsewhere and that we need to adjust.
 
N. Neta
pollinator
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Stacy Witscher wrote:I'm off grid so my power outages don't occur when everyone elses do. For us, it's about managing our power.


Same with us, Stacy…
We’re off grid, but dependent totally on our solar system.
I agree that it’s about managing our power consumption… which we became really good at.
Our vulnerability, right now, is redundancy.
What if any of the solar system parts breaks down…
But normally, this can be fixed pretty quickly.
 
Stacy Witscher
pollinator
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One of our generators, the propane one it's AC, can be used to run power to the houses without going through the solar system, whereas the diesel one only charges the battery bank, it's DC. Maybe something like that could work for you.
 
N. Neta
pollinator
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Stacy Witscher wrote:One of our generators, the propane one it's AC, can be used to run power to the houses without going through the solar system, whereas the diesel one only charges the battery bank, it's DC. Maybe something like that could work for you.


Yep… that’s what we did in the couple of times that our solar system broke…
We rented a generator from our village’s hardware store (about $25 a week)…
So far, I prefer renting than buying one… although this is a vulnerability we need to consider…
 
pollinator
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Lynne Cim wrote:We bought an inverter for our Prius which can actually be left running in what's called "camper mode".  Once the power goes out we run an extension cord from the inverter to the house and it can run our fridge and then we have a few outlets to run other small appliances, charge computer and phones.  So quiet no loud generator needed.  



I went to the website you mentioned further into the thread, https://invertersrus.com, and note that the vast majority are out of stock.

Can you elaborate on how this works? What's camper mode? How long do you leave it running?
 
N. Neta
pollinator
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Lisa Brunette wrote:

Lynne Cim wrote:We bought an inverter for our Prius which can actually be left running in what's called "camper mode".  Once the power goes out we run an extension cord from the inverter to the house and it can run our fridge and then we have a few outlets to run other small appliances, charge computer and phones.  So quiet no loud generator needed.  



I went to the website you mentioned further into the thread, https://invertersrus.com, and note that the vast majority are out of stock.

Can you elaborate on how this works? What's camper mode? How long do you leave it running?


I’d love to know too, Lisa… if you get this message…
Or maybe someone else…
Also… does it work for other hybrid or electric cars, or is it exclusively for Prius?
 
Posts: 37
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What great ideas in this thread..

We just had a major wind storm and it knocked out 40 electric poles and 22000 people electricity.  We didn't have power for 2 days. now normaly it wouldn't be too bad but I live in a area that it hits 117 in the summer. So many people had to leave there homes to go to cooling stations.

We didn't because I put in a whole house generator a year ago. We had ac and power for the freezers and fridge for the whole time.  We put the generator on for 1 hour in the morning , 2 hours at 12 and 1 hour at 5 and 2 hours at 8  both days and the house stayed at 79 for the whole time. I spent about $50 on gas  so my family didn't have to leave and our food wouldn't defrost.

We also have solar grid tie but we are looking into upgrading to a non grid tie system.

As a prep we do keep 6  6 gallon water totes filled
the pantry full of can and dried food
a first ad kit
losts of herbs and essential oils for pretty much anything
we also have wood for a fire place if it is in the winter time
we also find having a 2nd location is a plus even if it is just land that has power you can always have a rv and live in it for the time. We don't have a rv but thinking of getting one.
as a prep.

thanks for the info..
 
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We’re fortunate that our New England hobby farm is located on a major state road with power lines supplying the high school (also an emergency shelter), fire department and ambulance service. We’ve been here 22 yrs and typically never lose power for more than a few hours. (If you looking for a property, some food for thought!) We do prep for major storm events (mostly hurricanes and blizzards) just the same. I have an emergency checklist I follow a day before each potentially destructive weather event. Because we have horses that drink 5 gallons each a day, my top concern is always making sure we have enough water. Our 50 gallon stock tank gets cleaned and filled prior to a storm, and it’s enough to supply the barn and our house with gray water if needed. We also kept an old hand dug well we have on the property in service as a backup should we ever need it. We always have a spare filled propane tank on deck for our gas grill throughout the year for cooking, and our backup heat source is either a kerosene heater or fireplace, depending on our wood supply. We’ve discussed purchasing and installing a backup generator, but really the only benefit of having one to us would be peace of mind for the impending zombie apocalypse.
 
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This is an important topic for the South as well. As someone who was in the "hard" winter here recently, I can say it isn't just about the outside conditions relative to harsh winters elsewhere; it is what you are prepared for.

Houses here (North Texas) are NOT built for keeping heat in. They're not really built for keeping cool in, either. They're built stupidly. But while I was at my parents home with my young child sitting just a few feet away from a roaring fire and still shivering under blankets while wondering where all the heat was going, I was also trying to strategize for any future in which I'd be responsible not only for children inside, but also animals outside. Texas freaks out every winter there's a decent snow, or lower than normal freeze. And then IMMEDIATELY forgets about it.

We went through an entire pile of logs, an amount that would have lasted my parents normally all winter, in just a few days. Their fireplace is for ambiance, not for efficient heating. People died that year because they were not prepared to be outside, and the people running electricity mismanaged (opinion of my father) and were not able to handle that emergency.

Innefeciencies are sometimes difficult to detect until there's a stress-test. And then it's easy to forget about doing something. Also, there is always the assumption that things won't pile on so badly. We expect the electric to go out sometime, but not be out for days on end in some of the worst weather nobody was prepared for in a home that seems to have been built for the purpose of being massively inefficient.

And my parents have a NICE home. It was embarrassing.  
 
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This may be a uniquely Florida "Florida man..." sort of problem but looters are an issue here after major storms or equivalent.
It's the lowest form of humanity that takes advantage of something like this but you can count on it here.

Knowing your neighbors and watching each other's backs...priceless.

Being prepared to sit tight where you are and come through OK. The looters are often the first ones out and about.

Firearms are mandatory to my mind. Doesn't have to be much. I've run off looters with an old .22 rifle shooting over their head or into something that would stop the bullet, with consideration of the effective range of the bullet. Two miles in the case of a .22. You don't want to kill or injure a neighbor by accident.
Shotguns are probably a better idea from the limited effective range point of view.

Know your local firearms laws as to when deadly force is permissible. Hopefully it never gets to that but a mistake here could land you a jail term.

 
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Can anyone offer ideas for a lifestraw like flojak makes for 150 feet?
 
master gardener
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My barn was a weak link in this area.  I have now hooked up 4 deep cell batteries to a 2000 watt sine wave inverter. I make sure the batteries are charged quarterly.  This arrangement provides enough reserve for an emergency back up for the barn.  

 
master pollinator
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I'm surprised noone has mentioned a couple of beater guitars and printed songbooks with words and chords. Nothing better for morale.

I figure I could wander the neighbourhood with a six-string and fedora, hustling drinks and meals, and weather the storm just fine.
 
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Here in South Africa we have something called loadshedding. The National grid "cant" handle the load, so they turn power off for 2 - 4 hours a couple of times a day.

Thus we had to make a plan some time ago already. We are lucky in the sense that we rarely get cloudy days, majority of rain is in summer.
So we installed a 5kw Inverter, 5520 watt panels and 11kw lithium batteries.
 
John F Dean
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Hi Jacques,

Welcome to Permies.
 
rocket scientist
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Very nice setup you have Jacques!
11kw in lithium & 5520 watts of panels your good for a lot longer than the 2-4 hr shut down!
 
pollinator
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I have to share "my new favorite thing" that just proved it's worth in the recent windstorms.  They are under counter or closet lights that are rechargeable.  The original goal was to provide soft light in the kitchen, in the evening, when you just want to grab something quick, and don't need the overhead lights; but during the recent windstorms they were absolutely lovely, lasted well past the six hours the power was out, easily portable, and a happy addition to our battery light setup (along with motion activated hallway 'nightlights' that double as flashlights, and others that double as power banks).

I must have spent six hours wading through all the lights on Amazon (I know, ugh, but sometimes this is the only place to source oddball stuff like this) until I found several that suited, ordered them all, and then tested them.  The Moston performed the best overall, based on (my criteria) length of time between recharges, color of light (warm, daylight, bright), effectiveness of motion sensor and dimmer features, strength of light (at both dimmest and brightest).  

***edited: yes, there are lots of other lights, this one, based on my research was the best for battery life and size, choice of color (warm, daylight, white) and motion sensor.  Another we got to trial (Ez Valo) with great reviews, noted as "the best" on and off amazon had a nasty habit of pausing at least 30 seconds before relighting if movement was insufficient to keep it lit, the Moston simply relights, immediately; I found this most annoying when it went out mid drink pouring! The Ez Valo also had a detachable power source, this misleads one to think there are lights the full length, but the detachable portion has no lights and is 4 inches long. Lastly, I fear the tiny pins and the connection is designed to fail; it was also $10 bucks more!  In Canada, the Moston are $32 bucks.

MOSTON Dimmable 60LED Motion Sensor Night Light Rechargeable 2500mAh Battery-Operated for Kitchen Under Cabinet Counter Pantry  
***edited the link:  https://www.amazon.ca/MOSTON-Rechargeable-Battery-Operated-Wardrobe-Cupboard/dp/B089WB263K/ref=sr_1_2_sspa?keywords=moston+closet+light&qid=1668214966&qu=eyJxc2MiOiIxLjgyIiwicXNhIjoiMS44MiIsInFzcCI6IjEuNTUifQ%3D%3D&sr=8-2-spons&psc=1




Screen-Shot-2022-11-06-at-13.49.59.png
[Thumbnail for Screen-Shot-2022-11-06-at-13.49.59.png]
 
pollinator
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Thank you, Lorinne!

I found the link for a Moston product that looks to be the one on Amazon US.  No, wait.  I found a search page but not that exact product.  But lots of products:

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=moston+under+counter+lights+dimmable+rechargeable+battery+operated&crid=2E13ZI1EAQFIQ&sprefix=moston+under+counter+lights+dimmable+rechargeable+battery+operated%2Caps%2C124&ref=nb_sb_noss
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:I have to share "my new favorite thing" that just proved it's worth in the recent windstorms.  They are under counter or closet lights that are rechargeable.  The original goal was to provide soft light in the kitchen, in the evening, when you just want to grab something quick, and don't need the overhead lights; but during the recent windstorms they were absolutely lovely, lasted well past the six hours the power was out, easily portable, and a happy addition to our battery light setup (along with motion activated hallway 'nightlights' that double as flashlights, and others that double as power banks).


Ah, resilience! I love it. Well done Lorinne!

P.S., your link is wonky but the item is easily searched and found.
 
pollinator
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:They are under counter or closet lights that are rechargeable.  



I really like these, too. I bought some four years ago, different brand, and we use them as our main lighting for the house now. We have some mounted underneath a shelf that runs above our big kitchen window. Those illuminate the kitchen counters. We have a couple on the ceiling above the kitchen table, and a couple above the head of the bed. Four years later and they're all still working perfectly, which is a remarkable track record for Amazon junk, I think. The ones I bought came with a remote control, which I need since they're mounted so high up, otherwise  I'd be climbing on a chair to turn them on and off all the time. The sensor for the remote signal doesn't work great on the kitchen lights anymore, and I have to point the remote exactly right, but the lights themselves are still bright, still have good battery life. Really great off grid option.
 
pollinator
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Douglas Alpenstock wrote:....

I figure I could wander the neighbourhood with a six-string and fedora, hustling drinks and meals, and weather the storm just fine.



Yes, perhaps given the weather at the time this entry was written.....but NOW??  With the cold and howling November winds upon us they will not be able to hear your acoustic interpretations of Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot and you may need to have extra batteries in your portable amp to belt out some Rush tunes that will penetrate the wall insulation of your prospective inkeepers....

 
Douglas Alpenstock
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John Weiland wrote:

Douglas Alpenstock wrote:....

I figure I could wander the neighbourhood with a six-string and fedora, hustling drinks and meals, and weather the storm just fine.



Yes, perhaps given the weather at the time this entry was written.....but NOW??  With the cold and howling November winds upon us they will not be able to hear your acoustic interpretations of Joni Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot and you may need to have extra batteries in your portable amp to belt out some Rush tunes that will penetrate the wall insulation of your prospective inkeepers....


Ah, sir, you doubt the power of the travelling minstrel. We are a wily and adaptable lot. The world is our stage, and our oyster, when the Internet is down.

We do not wander aimlessly, knocking at doors like beggars: we are invited, and coveted, the toast of the host, the pride of the hostess.

We carry a bag of spices, local news and gossip, and technical refinements of batteries and solar panels, and radical notions of mass heaters and better ways to build compost.

It is also truly remarkable (and directly observed) how the female of the species responds to the light of our acoustic flame ...
 
And inside of my fortune cookie was this tiny ad:
Better Wood Heat: DIY Rocket Mass Heaters (8-Movie Set) by Paul Wheaton
https://permies.com/wiki/134176/Wood-Heat-DIY-Rocket-Mass
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