Emergency Power

 Electricity is what makes our modern civilization possible. Emergency power is where/how we get electricity when the normal power is out.

Emergency Power Sources

For a short-term emergency power, batteries can be an adequate solution for small devices, like flashlights, radios, or small gaming systems. We have a couple dozen rechargeable batteries that we use in many of our devices. Whenever possible I try to get devices that don't have unique or unusual batteries. I prefer devices that use AA or AAA batteries as it makes it easier to keep these on hand knowing most battery-operated devices will use either of these.

We also have some D-size and C-size AA adapters. These adapters allow a AA battery to fit into a D or C size battery compartment. The AA battery doesn't last as long as the D or C, but it does allow us to power the device if we don't have the right size.

Among my equipment is a small solar panel set designed to charge AA or AAA batteries.

However, if you want to run more power-hungry electronics, like a laptop computer, TV, microwave, or power tool then regular batteries won’t cut it. You need additional sources of providing emergency power.

While I have yet to invest in a home solar system, we do have some portable solar panels and several small battery banks. The power banks allow us to keep cell phones and other small electronics charged. 

We have a couple of 100-watt solar panels and a couple of larger batteries that can be charged by the panels. It’s far from being able to power our home, but it could power some lights and keep electronics (like our phones) charged. And we could even watch a video on a TV or computer to help keep the kids entertained.

I'll need to remember to discuss in a future post the two solar generator systems we have. Neither are capable of powering the entire house, but they're sufficient for the refrigerator, freezer, and some other stuff. I'm trying to be careful about "promoting" any particular product until I haven't actually tested it.

Alternate Emergency Power

Gas or propane-powered generators are common backup and emergency power sources.

Solar power is an increasingly popular alternate source for electricity, but you need to have battery banks that the panels can charge. Without batteries, solar power is only available when there's sufficient sunlight.

Wind power is another option. Like solar I'm not intending to go into detail about how to implement wind power, just know it may be a possibility...especially if you live somewhere that has nearly constant and even predictable wind.

There are other possibilities for generating emergency power.  One of these is hydro-electric power. Again, I'm not providing specifics, just mentioning a possible option. Basically you use the flow of water to turn a turbine that is connected to a generator which creates electricity. If a flowing water source is nearby, this option might be considered.

Of course, combining two or more alternate sources would give you more options (and cost more).

In any case, be aware that after an earthquake you need to check your power sources and equipment. It is possible they could be damaged.

Electricity Explained: How electricity is generated (U.S. Energy Information Administration)

Emergency Power for Internet and Phone?

In the case of a power outage anything plugged into an outlet won't work. If you need to use the device, some kind of emergency power will be needed.

Power County Wind Farm. USGS photo by Douglas Barnes. Public domain image from https://www.usgs.gov/media/images/power-county-wind-farm-0

Expect your internet service to not be working. Most routers are plugged into the wall, which means they won't work if the electricity is out.

For internet service in an emergency, when the power is out, a cell phone (smartphone) is probably your best (and cheapest) option. But it still may not be very reliable.

If you can power the router using some other means, like a solar battery, then it's possible you could still have internet access (provided the internet service provider is still operational and its stations haven't lost power).

You could also pay for something like satellite internet, but you'll still need to power whatever router/device that connects to the satellite signal.

Some amateur radio operators have limited internet use over the radio. If you have a radio license, this might be something to look into.

If you internet service is over the phone line, it won't work if additional electricity is needed and you can't plug it into an alternate/emergency electric source.

Most landline phones should work as the phone company provides a small voltage over its phone lines. However, if your phone is a cordless one, with a charging base station that the phone line plugs into, that phone won't work. If you have a landline still in your home, consider getting a simple plug-in-the-wall phone. This should continue to work, as long as the phone company's line is working.

For emergency phone service, try not to use cell phones for calls in the initial aftermath of an emergency or disaster. Texts are almost always more reliable, and they use less bandwidth than voice calls which means they're more likely to work.


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