Emergency Home Power

by blackspanielgallery

In an emergency it is important to keep the power on. Having an emergency home power supply can make life easier.

Most homes could benefit from an emergency home power supply. To determine your need simply ask yourself what would happen if the power were to go out? The reason can be a storm that brings down power lines via wind or heavy snow accumulation, thus interrupting power. Another reason in the past, and could repeat, was overloading a power grid. This would cause temporary power outages as some customers would be left without power, usually as a roving outage, so the remainder of the grid could be supplied. Now, in California, we are seeing a power company cut power to reduce the potential of wildfires, thereby causing prolonged outages.

Regardless of the reason the power goes out, there are problems to deal with. Thinking about what potential problems, or inconveniences, you might experience can help you determine which remedy is best for you.

Consider What Will Be Available for Emergency Home Power

There are several options for emergency home power, but they have different requirements.  In order to choose a remedy, and all have drawbacks, ask these questions.  In a power outage is it likely to also impact your source of fuel?  Is there a high fire risk for the area?  Does the area of your home have access to natural gas?  Is it likely the sun will be shining after the power outage begins, before too many hours pass?

 

The answers to these questions will determine which of the options is possible, and how you can proceed. 

Gas Operated Generators

A Reliable Source of Emergency Home Power

Albeit costly, installing a home generator that uses natural gas is a possibility.  A natural gas generator can be set to operate when a disruption in the power occurs.  It can then continue operating until power is resumed.

 

This option requires professional installation, which adds to the cost.  The unit must operate on brief periods whether or not power has been disrupted, as a means of assuring the generator will function properly when needed.  This requires synchronizing with the power that is normally being supplied to your home.  It is also critical that the unit disconnect itself from the power grid if a power failure occurs.  This prevents the unit from charging the lines that repair crews need to work on, making an unsafe condition.  It also prevents losing power as a fuse blows due to a short to ground caused by downed power lines. 

 

Propane is often an alternative fuel.  If there is no natural gas being supplied to your home and no source of propane, this option will not work for you.

Portable Generators Can Help Supply Emergency Home Power

A portable home generator can work for you in a power outage.  This option requires fuel, which if its source is affected by a widespread power outage may become difficult or impossible to find once your supply runs out.

 

For portable generators one must not simply try to power a home through an outlet.  This can back-charge the power line, and sending power back into the grid pose a real danger to those working on the power line.  This also can cause a fuse to blow if the power line is shorted to ground by a downed power line.  But there are even more things to consider.  A portable generator requires motor oil, and if it has none it can stop operating.  The fuel can be explosive, so keeping fuel in an area under a fire danger might require real serious precautions.  Then, carbon monoxide poisoning can occur if the unit is brought indoors, or even too close to a door or window.  Clearance from structures must be maintained. 

 

A portable generator might not power a central air conditioning or heating unit, nor an electric stove and oven, since these have no power plugs.  Devices must be plugged into outlets on the unit. 

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

A carbon monoxide detector is a good safety device.  If a generator is near the house, use one.  And they can be useful for a gas heater as well.  Having a device with multiple applications is economical. 

Carbon Monoxide Detector

Kidde 900-0076-01 KN-COPP-3 smoke-detectors

Plug-In Carbon Monoxide Alarm with Battery Backup

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Batteries Can Provide Emergency Home Power

Large batteries exist that can convert direct current to alternating current.  These batteries can be charged by plugging into an outlet.  So, if you have one of these batteries fully charged you can use it to power essential appliances, like a refrigerator.  It would be difficult to power your whole home with such a battery.

 

Batteries must be recharged, so a prolonged power outage can be a problem.  Some come with one or two solar panels, which will recharge them if the sun is out.  Better is if you have alternative power such as solar power to the home.  When having solar power installed ask for an outlet that can be switched on using the solar power directly.  The power from the solar unit will come as alternating current designed to operate an appliance, such as a refrigerator.  You might also operate a light or two.  And the special outlet can be used to recharge your battery.

 

The problem here is if a storm persists, and the power remains out past the battery’s ability to supply its power.  With no sun solar power is not available to recharge the battery.  Also, the scope of the number of appliances there are to be operated is small, perhaps as little as one per battery. Also, each appliance will require a plug, so central air conditioning and heating units, as well as electric stoves and ovens are not suitable to this approach.

Portable Solar Panels

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A Multiple Approach

Having charged batteries does not preclude having a generator.  If the power goes out in the middle of a cold night, it is likely you will wait to go outdoors and start the generator.  A battery that has the capability of producing alternating current sufficient to operate a refrigerator could be used during the night, then the generator made to take over after daylight.

 

This article contains links to affiliate programs and Adsense advertising.  These must use cookies to allow for proper crediting. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

 

The introduction image is allowed by an affiliate program.  It is our Zazzle product using a NASA image that is in public domain.

Other Articles of Interest

After a storm knocks out power, it is important to get an alternate power source activated. There are several options, including solar panels, wind turbines, and generators.
Using alternative power is the environmental responsible thing to do. Unfortunately, wind dies down and night comes. How can power be kept on?
Power outages are inconvenient, and can last for some time, depending on the cause. There are some things you can do to make life easier.
Updated: 10/26/2019, blackspanielgallery
 
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blackspanielgallery on 10/28/2019

In some neighborhoods we have buried power, but much of the infrastructure is above ground. Power outages in above ground cables is more prevalent. We must realize the below ground power is for aesthetics, and between the upscale neighborhoods and the power substation it is likely much of the feeder line is above ground.
As for natural gas generators, I know some people who have bought them, and they do cycle on occasionally, I believe about once a month, briefly. If one uses propane the tank must be attached for such a check, otherwise it would not cycle on.

DerdriuMarriner on 10/28/2019

blackspanielgallery, Thank you for the practical information and the product lines.
Does Louisiana have both above- and below-ground power lines? Does power outage affect them the same?
It's a bit surprising to read about natural gas generators that "The unit must operate on brief periods whether or not power has been disrupted, as a means of assuring the generator will function properly when needed." In contrast, of course, it's not surprising to read about recharging batteries since I know from experience -- ;-D -- about non-functioning batteries in a car that isn't used for awhile.

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