Monday, June 18, 2012

Power Outage

This morning the power was out.  The Old Lady was up first and she called the Toll-free number to report the outage because it was only a little after 6am.  The person on the other end had a southern accent, so The Old Lady didn't think she was local!!

After I got up, I thought about the fact that last year I bought a power inverter.  Thought now might be a good time to try it out and be able to have my morning coffee.  When I mentioned the power inverter, The Old Lady said I could use it to run the refrigerator.  Different priorities I guess!!

Went looking for the inverter and found it buried in the storage shed, dug it out and got my boat battery.  Looked for some wire and thought I'd found some that would work judging be the thickness of it.  Hauled the stuff to the house and started to hook things up.  The wires were from an old ohm meter and while the outside was fairly thick the wire inside the insulation was very puny.  It was all insulation and only a few strands of wire.  Went looking for wire that would work while muttering about how I know I've bought spools of wire in the past, but where the fuck could all that wire be?? Having lived in several places in the last decade and having had stuff here and there, it could be in any number of places. Probably in the storage unit we are renting in town. Finally found some wire heavy enough to handle the current from the battery to the inverter and started clearing out next to the frig to set it up to power the frig and had an extension cord to run to the coffeepot. Had just discovered that I would have a helluva time getting at the cord for the frig when the power came back on.

One of the things about living in the country is that when the power is out, you only have a limited amount of water, what is in the tank.  Without power to run the waterpump, you don't have water.  When hurricane Bob hit Cape Cod in '91 I was still able to take showers after the power went out because we had city water and a gas water heater.

Later today we will be making a Menard's run and have added what we need to hook up the battery to the inverter to the list.


  1. Well pal, don't expect a single battery to run any fridge for very long, unless it's a very small fridge.

    That's a 2000 watt inverter, a coffee maker is 700 to 1000 watts, so that battery will brew you about two pots of coffee before it needs to be charged up again.

    Or it will run a fridge through maybe two cooling cycles, fine for short term use but if the power is off for days it's better to hook the inverter to the car battery and run it some to keep it charged up some.

    Or just get a propane fridge, they're great. As for water out of a well, a generator is best for that, start it up and pump some water into a tank on a tower and let gravity work from there.

    Well, if you have a propane hot water tank.

  2. We have two propane lights installed as a back-up and a gas cook stove in our kitchen, and we can heat with the wood stove. We also keep six gallon bottles of water stored in the bathroom for emergency flushing. Power outages don't particularly concern us except for the refrigerator: of course most power outages come in the winter so we can manage.
    the Ol'Buzzard

  3. We have kerosene lamps and several gallons of kerosene, so we are set for light. Plus a ton of candles. Our stove and water heater are gas so we can cook. We keep a five gallon plastic jerry can of water. We have a wood stove, the gas furnace is our backup heat source. I usually don't worry about the frig or freezer unless the power is off for a longer period of time.(When the power went out during hurricane Bob on Cape Cod, I only worried about the ice cream I had in the freezer,I ate the one or two ice cream bars that I had at the time. We were lucky in that the power was only out for a little over a day, about 27-28hrs. The rest of the stuff in the freezer and frig were fine.) A few hours is usual and not a problem. Need to get the old-style percolater out of the storage shed and have it ready to make coffee on the stove.

    I know the power inverter wouldn't run the whole house or things like the frig for long, but I will work on getting it ready for when the power is out for more than a couple hours. Altho, I don't remember a time when the power was out for a day let alone several days at a time.

  4. I've been toying with the idea of getting a small wind charger, something that would be good enough to keep batteries charged if necessary.

  5. The winds are iffy here so a wind charger is questionable for me. But, if I lived near a stream that would be cool.

    My RV batteries are group 27, they're heavy suckers but put out more juice when needed.

    The best bet for charging RV batteries if the grid is down for long is a 5 to 10 hp motor spinning a car alternator. Like rig one up to a rototiller.

    As for lights, the LED lights I make will burn for a long time without drawing a battery down much.

  6. And of course the LED light over my desk is wired for 12 volts DC, so if the grid goes down I'm set for a light.

    But it's mostly just the outlying areas here that are without the grid for a week or two at a time, usually in the winter so keeping food cold isn't a problem.

  7. It's all the trees here, they'll take lines down during storms and it can take a while to fix them.

    And sometimes slides do it.

  8. I keep a 100 watt inverter and Norelco in my truck to shave with when camping and such.

    mutter, mutter.

  9. BTW, a popular affordable easy to rig alternator is a single wire Delco, available at most parts houses.

    I'm going to use a Mopar alternator cuz I already have one.

    mutter, mutter.

  10. When I was driving OTR, I left the lights on once while loading. I had to shut the engine down while loading fertilizer(think OKC bombing) and forgot the lights were on. When I was loaded the truck wouldn't start. Had to call for a jump, the guy that came to get me started had a little rig with a small gas engine driving an alternator with a v-belt. Didn't take long to get my truck fired up again.


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