things that require electricity

Things That Require Electricity For Our Way Of Life

I know that you know this… Our world runs on electricity. Or more accurately said, our way of life depends on the flow of electricity. Electrical power generation. There are MANY things that require electricity to maintain our way of life!

When the electricity goes out – no electrical power – a power outage – blackout — well, our way of life comes to a temporary halt. At least we hope that it’s just temporary!

There’s a weird sort of eerie exhilaration the moment the power goes out. Suddenly, things get quiet! Real quiet… You had not realized how much ambient noise “things” make around you when electricity is flowing. Background noise. Suddenly silent. It’s a strange sensation.

When the power goes out at work, following the initial realization, your first thought might be “Yippee I might get to go home early if the power stays out!”. (Depends on your occupation of course).

When the power goes out at home, one of your first thoughts might be “I hope it doesn’t last long, I’ve got a chest freezer full of meat!”. And, “I hope the generator still works!”.

When the power goes out at stores or retail establishments, you will be herded to the exits and all transactions will immediately cease.

When the power goes out, your lifestyle is in essence, placed on hold. The real world still exists around you, however the virtual world goes from full screen – immediately decaying to ‘black’. In fact, some might become terrified at that point to actually see the real world around them! (sarc)

Think about the scenarios and imagine the “things” that require electricity. There are more of these “things” that will immediately, or eventually, impact your way of life – than you might think…

Things That Require Electricity That May Impact Today’s Modern Way Of Life When The Power Goes Out

In no particular order, this is a brainstorm list of things, systems, or anything that requires electricity to function. Things that may impact you one way or another if they’re not functioning. Some immediately. Others eventually.

  • Lights
  • Electric Stove/Oven, including many gas stoves which require electricity
  • Microwave oven
  • Coffee Maker
  • Toaster
  • Refrigerator
  • Freezer
  • Electric Hot Water Heater
  • Gas Hot Water Heater requiring electric ignition, thermostat
  • Dishwasher
  • Clothes Washing Machine
  • Clothes Dryer (gas models too)
  • Air Conditioning
  • Furnace systems, most all require electricity to function
  • HVAC systems
  • Elevators
  • Running Water (eventually)
  • Well Pump
  • Sewage Treatment systems
  • Television
  • Cable Box
  • Satellite Box
  • Streaming Internet Entertainment
  • Internet Router (all internet traffic)
  • Computers
  • Game Consoles
  • Land Line Phones? (most these days rely on digital infrastructure)
  • Cell Phone (when battery goes dead)
  • Cell Towers (when generator fuel runs out, though they’re priority serviced)
  • Gasoline Station Pumps
  • Refineries
  • Nuclear Power Plants (they need the grid, though they have backup generators)
  • ATM cash machines
  • Banks
  • Cash Registers and checkout transactions at stores
  • Stores cannot be open and functional without electricity (not like the old days…)
  • Traffic Lights
  • Hospitals (okay until generators run out of fuel)
  • Doctors Office (health, dentist, vision, etc..)
  • Irrigation Systems – mass agriculture
  • Battery powered hand tools (when they can’t be recharged)
  • Public Transportation Systems (subways, electric trains, etc.)
  • Food Distribution Warehouses (generators?)
  • Trucking (lack of fuel?)
  • Ports
  • Distribution Systems for food and most other supplies
  • Vehicle Transportation (when your existing fuel runs out)
  • Electric Cars (recharge)
  • Airports
  • CPAP Machines (lots of people need these)
  • ? (Brainstorm your thoughts below)

Electricity Has Changed Everything

Think about it. Electricity has changed everything. Most all technological advancement since then, requires and relies upon electricity to function.

Nearly 100% of our way of life requires it. Fortunately most all power outages are very temporary.

Hey, I love my electricity! But it’s kinda crazy when you think about our dependence on it as modern humans!

I posted this because it might be helpful to look at specific items such as within the list above (add your own “things” too). Maybe you can mitigate some of it. Maybe alternatives or backups. It’s just more food for thought.

[ Read: Best Butane Stove For Indoor Use – Single Gas Burner ]

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31 Comments

  1. This reminds me of NRPs (and others) suggesting a “power outage weekend” to see how you do if and when the grid will go down. It’s a very enlightening exercise. We’ve always been preparing to live like the 1800’s, if need be. Notice I said “need be,’ not that I would want that to be permanent! I love my electric (especially coffee maker). Also, do not forget that the people (the WEF and others) that brought you a ‘coronavirus pandemic’ have practiced “Cyber Polygon” this summer – about grid down scenarios regionally all over the world. Be forewarned………

  2. sigh, no electric, more of an adventure when young and hardship when older. Love my propane heater, only need a battery to light it. Bought a heater with no extras. Those with electric well pumps should consider having a well bucket on hand. They open when going in and close when pulling up.

  3. Last winter’s ice storm left quite an impression on my wife. Between the loss of some frozen foods and some discomfort, I have been thinking of calling the Generac people to have a generator installed that hooks into our gas line to the house.
    Does anybody out there have experience with Generac systems? The cost of gas up here is quite reasonable and the times we have experienced a power outage, we have always had gas. WE have a gas drier and our range and oven are both gas. Most of our other appliances are electric. My wife and I are older people doing our best to bug in.
    I would especially like to hear from people that have owned a generac system for more than 5 years. All input on this would be appreciated. The fact the company has been around for a while is a good sign.

    1. I’ve had a Generac as backup for about 12 years, with an automatic transfer switch. Runs on propane and I have a 1000 gal tank. Fortunately, have not had to use it often, but up until the last hiccup it has worked beautifully. I usually replace the battery about every 2 years, and this last outage a low oil sensor went bad, which left me without it’s assistance for a couple of days till the service guy could get out (he was out of town at the time).

      I’m currently in the process of trying to personally stock some spare parts, like that sensor, but the company doesn’t seem to like selling to individuals as far as I’ve found, and my local service/repair guy just says, “I keep a pretty good stock of spares.” Sigh.

      Good luck! I think you will like the peace of mind it gives you & your wife, especially with an automatic transfer (no cord pulling!). Don’t get rid of those smaller generators, tho’, since Murphy is alive and well….

      1. Hey Finallyoutta CA
        If you can get you hands on a schematic drawing , you can in most cases install a jumper in the circuit to allow the engine to run even with a faulty sensor. Or search E-bay for the part .

        1. Actually most of them are a compensated float switch, negative logic, sunk to ground. On single cylinder platforms, engine sizes of 150-500cc’s you can generally locate a bullet connector just above the oil dipstick, pull it apart and the system goes blind to oil level and should start immediately.

    2. Calirefugee,
      We leave up in the mountains at the “end of the line” and power outages are a common occurrence throughout the year. Some last a couple of hours, others for several days up and to a week so our 11kw Generac gets used a lot. I have had no problems and we only run it for 45 minutes every 4-5 hours to keep the refrigerator and freezer cold . That’s also the time we get showers as the well pump can refill the 80 gallon holding tank. I have a 10kw portable propane generator along with a 4kw and 2kw gas generators.

      I have a gas range to cook on, one wood burning fireplace and one gas fireplace along with small gas wall heaters in the bedroom so I can heat one room individually and not waste energy on heating the entire house. Having the a whole house generator is a blessing and I highly recommend them. I do turn on and off circuits at the breaker box so everything with a high initial surge (hot water heater, well pump, hvac, refrigerator and freezer) doesn’t all try and turn on at the same time.

    3. Have a 11kw Generac and automatic transfer switch for three years now. We have had no problems with the unit.
      We have two hundred gallons of propane and the dealer says he will not let us run out.
      Love the peace of mind but still have my 6500 gen set.
      We also heat with wood and have propane appliances on separate tanks!

    4. We are a neighbor who is trying to sell her house and now lives in another state. The generac system she has is large and has to be serviced at least once every year. It usually takes them several times as the company needs parts and has to order them. And it is always expensive.

    5. – Cali, I have about a dozen houses around me, which about half of do have Generac backups running on natural gas. All of them have been in place for around a dozen years. When we had the big outage last February, two had starting issues, but the majority came on and ran without problems.
      Me, I have a 7.5 KW gasoline portable and about 40 gallons of stabilized go-juice. I have been thinking really hard about those automatic start/transfer gensets, though. That portable is just a pain in the whatever to get set-up, connected and running.
      The special needs facility I was working at during “Winter Storm Goliath” was shut off from the world for 70 hours with cars/trucks stuck in the ditch and blocking the gate. 13 occupied homes, an average of 30 clients per, all with natural gas/bottled propane backup in place; of those only 4 came on when needed. Those were all Kohler, but maintained by the state.
      Afterwards, all were replaced with diesel gensets.
      – Papa S.

      1. – Probably should have mentioned, maintenance finally got 12 running and the other home evacuated after about ten hours. Grid power was on again at about 64 hours, all kudos to some very dedicated linemen.
        – Papa

  4. Excellent Article Ken.
    If one really thinks on the possibility of “Lights Out”, you will most likely won’t want to. (that was polite BTW).

  5. i think they are fairly good, the nursing homes use them a lot. years ago when i worked for the state and was inspecting a nursing home for life safety code, i asked the administrator of the nursing home to unlock the door to access the generator’s gauges and the key he/she had did not work, they called generac and was told they gave them wrong key and would be later that day or next day when they could bring key to them. the generator did work as far as when electric shut down in nursing home, but they should have been more careful to give correct key. other nursing homes i inspected had generac and most of time they worked pretty good.

  6. Cali, last January i worked with a certified standby generator dealer who had both Generac and Kohler units. After review of both manufacturers i choose Kohler, primary reason was not cost but service frequency during the winter. When the standby was needed most, the majority of no start the dealers 24 hour service calls were Generac, this is what I was told. I did not choose to buy in January. I have a requote scheduled this November and will buy Kolher (14Kw, propane with two 120 gallon tanks), unit won’t be installed until spring, the dealer is swamped with work and the automotive chip tight supply chain is impacting generator availability. I have no usuage expericnce with a standby, I have used a portable Briggs & Stratton 8,000 watt (10,000 surge) gasoline unit for 3 years which works fine (no using the electric range or oven), just no fun in the snow and rain busting a$$ hauling it out and hooking it up, then reversing the process when power is back-plus it’s loud. I’ll be 70 this year and standby power generation appeals to my well used body. FWIW.

  7. Our homestead was established in the late 1800’s with all the pre-electric amenities like a wood cook stove, small wood heating stoves, hand pumped well, and outhouse. In the 40’s or 50’s the old house had a major upgrade when propane was installed; not for cooking or heat, but for lights and a refrigerator. The 80’s brought the first of many solar upgrades and now we have ALL the modern electric amenities. Being off grid insulates us from most grid down scenarios, but EMPs (from a solar flare or nuclear attack) still put our solar electric system at risk. We’ve kept all the 1800’s “appliances” in storage…just in case. The wood cook stove is still in the kitchen (too heavy to move out of the house), but the last time we used it was 1994. Hmmmm, maybe it’s time to try it again and burn some biscuits.

    1. @ AFoffgrid,
      Sounds like a good setup. Having a solar off-grid system sure brings some peace of mind. And having your old appliances on standby is lots more peace of mind! First thing I did when I moved here was install a solar off-grid system, which sits side-by-side with my ‘grid’ system. Can switch circuits in and out as necessary.

  8. Electricity along with modern medicine is the reason life expectancy in the US rose so high. Although many things are not “essential” like TV, HVAC, lights etc are not truly essential some things make life easier. If the current political drive continues get ready for less easy, at least on a regular basis, think rolling black outs to start. :(

    My biggest regret should we lose power for any real extended time would be lack of pressurized clean water. Second would be lack of regularly cleaned clothes. Folk around here in the good ole days would bath once a week and wash clothes about the same, the Saturday night bath was a real thing. Smelly, sticky, and uncomfortable, potentially unhealthy. When rural electrification came among the first things purchased were washing machines. Think about it. Labor saving devices.

    1. Deep South I find even in NH Fans to be a major blessing. Cooling breeze when you need it, spreading the heat from the Wood Stove when it’s cold and so on.

      Pressurized water isn’t that hard to do using RV technology and mostly 12 volt DC so easy as inverters are wonderful BUT the rule of thumb is expect to lose 10% of your collected solar power per CHANGE. I.E. 100 watts full sun panel to batteries is about 90 watts. If you convert it with an inverter (also has phantom loads burning up your precious watts gathered) your down to about 80 watts available etc.

      Also sadly Inverters can fail so always keep a spare along with your solar controller (to keep your batteries happy).

      Washing machines can be made using a sidewise plastic barrel (Build a solid structure water is 8 Pounds a Gallon…) with the top side opened (use the cut out with hinges as a door to keep critters out of it) a drain hose to a drain pit to keep dirty soapy nastiness and biting bugs down, AND a See Saw style set of plungers to agitate. Legs work better than arms here.

      Drying is as simple as clotheslines, OR you can set up a Solar Dehydrator using a large glass storm door and a well vented little shed with clothes lines. Used Both the washer set up and the Solar Clothes dryer during Mission Trips in South America as otherwise thieves would steal or dirt blowing in the wind/stray dogs would dirty up your clothes as they dry.

      Frankly If my handle was Deep South I’d be worried how I was going to get quality Sleep. Some of my Grandparents slept on screened porches and even in the Basement during heat waves.

      1. NHM, You missed my point entirely. All you threw out has been discussed before.

        I have lived without AC and fans were great. Parents and grandparents grew up without fans. YOU will adapt to heat and humidity. You will learn to deal without a fan on your wood stove as your grandparents most likely did.

        Peace.

        1. Sorry Deep South, I did miss your point. You brought up your “Greatest Regret” about bathing and clothes washing and I brought up how we handled it in Missionary 3rd World Situations.

          Sorry I wasted your time showing a non-grid power way to get around that nasty situation.

          Yes even I SURVIVED for years in heat with out electricity but today I don’t HAVE TOO given some easy work arounds IF I choose to expend time and money preparing for the brown outs-black outs to come.

          Peace

      1. Ken,
        And there is the double whammy. What if you lose power in a deep drought?. All these SW towns with deep wells or long straws down to the river (to suck what water is there)? You are so right. Lack of electricity at that point becomes dangerous, if other backups are not in place.

  9. Over the years (since the 90’s) I have purchased 2 45 HP Long 460 tractors, 2 county line carryalls, 2 Northern Tool 7.2 KW PTO generators and 2 drive lines for these two sources. The carryall mounted gensets are 2 pole and made by Meccalte in Italy with American made gearboxes. I connect either of these to my system with a #4 gauge 3 conductor with ground flexible cable terminated with 14L30 plug at one end and 50 amp 220V range plug at the other end. The range receptacle is installed under an eave on a utility building with 2 paralleled underground cables (4 gauge) 3 conductor with ground about 50 yards from the house so I don’t have to listen to the noise. There is a 100 amp tie breaker in the house panel from the utility building and 30 amp breaker for the range receptacle in the utility building. The fuel supply consists of 2 250 gallon diesel storage tanks. Operation is completely manual. The tractors have block heaters. A small Coleman 1.8 KW gas genset was acquired for use on the engine block heaters if necessary. I have a well and pump and a well sock. Propane is used to heat water and cook. Either genset will power the house and heat pump in air condition mode.

  10. Around 1995 old man and I (he wasn’t that old yet) built a cabin and used candle power as we didn’t have electric. When electric came in in ’96 we brought up a campus frig. The electric made very little noise but kept us awake all night. We were so used to absolute quiet and really missed it.

  11. If you have kids, add toys to the list. They used to use batteries. Some still do but more and more are rechargeable via USB or their own dedicated charging device. And good luck replacing those rechargeable batteries when they kick the bucket. There are stores and places online that sell replacements, but I think the manufacturers design them with the hopes most people will just throw them away and get the kids a new toy.

  12. WATER,WATer, Water,wa……….
    If ya don’t have it, ya can’t live there. If you have a well, consider dc submersible pumps. Most are low volume (think 1gpm). They’ll function on 200 watts of solar. Pump on when the sun shines. Pump off when it doesn’t. There are some other requirements, but none are difficult.

    Well buckets and boiling dirty water will work, but do ya really want to invest THAT much time everyday? I think we’ll have plenty of other issues to deal with. There are work-arounds for every issue. There are only so many hours in each day. Solar/wind can help. It takes a LOT of solar panels to produce much energy. Do the math. Do the work. It’s what preparedness is all about. I wish hydro-electric was available to me. A consistently running creek, stream, whatever would be the best answer. I’m just a ray of sunshine, huh?

  13. I have chose to live off grid for years ,in most cases the land I wanted simply power was not available ,,on my homestead in Alaska (a walk in )we did fine without it ,a bike powered washing machine ,oil lights ,spring water ,a smoke house , most of all a simple life ,,more than once ‘what day is it ‘ time of day was about eating and feeding the dogs. (24th hrs of daylight in summer) I’m looking at a new place and every thing I’m seeing has grid now ,a handy thing as we get older ,but I’m not sure it’s a good thing ,makes me wonder if man kind has gone to far ,i know both worlds lived in a tpee. What is the balance?

  14. Many thanks to all that responded to my inquiry about the Generac system. I will begin doing research into local resources in the coming days. I did not realize there were other systems out there. ( Kohler was mentioned ). I guess the deciding factor will depend on servicing of device after installation in my area. We are getting older and I have to keep my wife happy for a happy life.

    1. C_refugee…..
      I have read all/most of the comments to your effort. I would add the following:
      1-replacement parts. Where can you get them, and how long to get them. (To date, I have had to wait OVER 2 weeks for a 3-5 day delivery on most parts.)
      2-Are there MORE than two places for the parts. Generally….no. (Hundreds of places say they can get the parts, but a month or two later…..nada.)
      3-How long of a 2×4 does it take to “reach out and touch” that scum bag POS that said “Yeah, man, we can have it to you in two days”. (You WILL enjoy expressing your discomfort with a 32 ounce ball peen on the scumbags fingers.)
      4-Now, for the generator. TWO sources for making it run….good choice. I have a dual fuel jenny. It drinks propane like a POS teeny-bopper in an ice cream shop. Gasoline input is like hind-tit on a fat hog. It works, but the motor is a bit thirsty and doesn’t work any better than an alcoholic painter on a Friday. But, either way you get “power” from a liquid or gaseous source.

      In the end…..make sure you can get to the place you bought it from, preferably with a can of wasp/hornet spray, and talk to someone, within range of the spray, and say “Where’s the beef?”. Referencing the parts you needed a month ago. If their response is Wha?. You have your answer.

      Thas all I got…
      My current dual power source generator has an ‘external start’ capability. I really like that….especially when it is genitalia freezing temperatures. I also have a lab grade volt meter telling me what the output of “Henrietta” is. Kitchen, laundry, and garage are NOT included. Henrietta would not appreciate the load.

  15. next project,,,EMP proof shed and store a few old and used coffee maker, dvd/laptops, microwaves(small ones) and other stuff to protect. Also store solar system there too. Life after SHTF should not be total sh-t…IMHO

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