A real world example as to a benefit of having some sort of solar power system, is coming to you by way of this post.
As I was going through my morning routine of updating Modern Survival Blog and just as I was about to contemplate the next post, the power went out in the house, followed by that extraordinary silence while all appliances, fans, etc… cease to run.
I typically use my laptop for my work while the desktop PC’s churn away at other tasks. The only thing that was still running in the office was my laptop (although the internet connection vanished). Even though I knew I had several hours of laptop battery reserve, I shut it down in order to first obtain some information about the extent of the outage.
I went outside, checked the electrical main power meter (one of those new digital meters), and saw that the LCD display was blank. Next, wondering if the ‘big one’ hit – perhaps a CME or X-10 flare from the sun, or maybe the EMP was finally detonated 200 miles above in the atmosphere… turned on the portable AM/FM Shortwave Radio to discover all stations were up and running.
OK, just a local power outage. No need to head for the hills 😉
We have had a small size off-the-grid solar power system for several years now, one which generates about 1.2 kilowatts from 6 panels mounted on top of our shed out back, and simply augments our power from the grid. The panels feed into a ‘Outback’ charge controller which in turn keeps a bank of heavy duty batteries filled with energy – which feeds through an 3.6 kW ‘Outback’ inverter (enough for an upgrade with more panels) and delivers enough 24 hour power to run some appliances, lights, or whatever we need – so long as I monitor the load.
In any event, not wanting to waste the morning and delay further updates on M.S.B., all I had to do was run an extension cord from the nearest solar powered circuit over to the office. I plugged it in to main Power Conditioner that I use to feed the computers and internet stack (cable, routers, internet phone, etc…), and Voila! I’m up and running!
So the lesson is, despite the fact that solar systems are not cheap (depending of course on how elaborate and powerful you design it), the assurance of backup energy when you need it could be considered invaluable at times.
In this example, after having checked online at my power company provider website (PG&E), I see that a decent chunk of the town seems to be without power. Who knows how long it will be out… but my refrigerators, freezers, and essential items are still up and running.
Update: 15 hours later, dark now in the neighborhood, still without power – 2 transformers blew out nearby (been lots of that in the news lately). Battery Bank holding up – lit some candles to fit in with the neighbors homes – don’t want to stand out like a sore thumb while our neighbors freezers full of food melt… 😉
I wonder if they’re running low on transformers. It took quite a long time to get the two that they needed. Oh well… good thing for off-the-grid power sources.
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