Friday, March 25, 2016

Backup power in a localized blackout

Came home to a dark house last night. A passing thunderstorm downed some trees not far from our subdivision entrance, taking down power lines, cutting electrical service.

Life went on.

We had several battery powered lanterns staged around the house, ready for times like this. And there's a power outlet behind the TV that connects to an inverter and battery bank in the basement, so we had over the air TV. Using a splitter, the same outlet also allowed recharging of a couple of iPhones while we watched Seinfeld reruns.

Our Internet modem also has battery backup. We use an uninterruptible power supply (APC brand) there. With only the modem plugged into it, we get hours of service. We were still online when electricity was restored after about four hours.

Happy to say, it appears Comcast made some repairs or upgrades regarding battery backup on its end. Last time we had an extended neighborhood-wide power outage, better than a year ago, our modem stayed up, but the Comcast service didn't. This time, Internet and our Comcast phone line service continued uninterrupted. I didn't bother checking to see if cable TV stayed up, as I didn't want to unnecessarily drain the battery bank.

I used to be a big fan of keeping kerosene lamps around for use in power outages, and we will have the lamps and oil. But for convenience sake, and superior lighting, the new battery powered LED lanterns are the way to go. The LED lanterns are even more practical long term when coupled with rechargeable batteries, and the ability to recharge them using a small solar array.

That said, oil lamps will probably outperform anything battery powered in an EMP situation. ;-)

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