Out of Power!

We are out of electricity in eastern MA again. Our area is still being assessed for a repair date, others nearby are being reported at Nov 3. Last time we lost power for 16 hours during hurricane Irene just a few weeks again. I think that was the longest outage we had seen since buying our house in 1990. Now we’re looking at 100 hours+. It wasn’t bad Sunday while the sun was out and the house warmed, but waking up to 54F this morning (and <40F outside) was a little nippy. Looks like another sunny day today, at least its nice weather for the repair crews.

The aggravating part is that our street has all underground wiring.

I wonder how much the utilities pay for making all these major repairs after a storm vs biting the bullet and implementing a slow steady improvement program and moving the wiring into underground conduits.

I work farther north, where they still have power. You won’t be seeing much of me this week.

Hope it will not take too long, saw the pictures of quite some snow in the news.

Time for a power backup system? A few truck batteries can provide lots of (LED) light in the dark.

Make your own power from fat! http://arduino.cc/forum/index.php/topic,77236.0.html

Not sure my fridge will get very far on 75W for the small percentage of hours in a day I could put on a bike. And none at all while I am work :)

Wife is talking about a generator now. Starting to sound now that we're gonna be emptying the fridge out ...

Oddly, we didn't get that much snow in our area - but it came so early in the season that lots of trees still had most of their leaves, which caught & held a lot of snow and snapped the branches, or toppled the trees.

We have little handcrank flashlights for light, need something bigger to power the furnace water pumps & the fridge tho.

I feel your pain. We lost it around 9pm on Saturday and they're estimating Nov 3rd for us as well. The funny thing is we spent several hours driving around yesterday and did not see one utility crew.

Strangely my area is not snowing yet although my memory recalls many lively images of pumpkins (snow) on top of snow (pumpkins) around this time of the year. The climate is off. I bet if we get snow right now our trees would snap too. Could see trees with green leaves just outside my office window by the Mississippi. It's amazing how the nature works, such delicately. The trees can't survive the snow without falling all leaves. I didn't know that but I do now. Hang on there CrossRoads. I have a hand-crank flash light too. Will consider some upgrades and food supply after I get home.

Make sure to get some non-perishable food. We have natural gas (vs oil), so the pilot-light based water heater still works, as well as the stove cooktop. Dinty Moore bef stew for dinner last night. And I have wood for the small fireplace in the living room so at least 1 room is warm. Glad the real cold part of winter is not here so we're not worrying about pipes freezing & bursting.

A few years ago (10) in my area it was common to have 48 to 72 hour power outages. Our freezers would survive if we put a block of ice in them setting in a roasting pan to catch the water. The refrigerators were a problem, so we just ate the food and didn't restock until the power came on. My south neighbor broke down and bought a generator and couldn't understand how to install it. I spent a couple of days wiring it in for him after he figured out the physical mounting and such of the generator.

But it's working well for him. He used a 10K that runs on propane and two 100 pound bottles to supply it. This is actually pretty nice because there's no worries about the fuel getting old or damp. Propane doesn't cause plugging in the carburetor either like diesel and gasoline. It fires up every Saturday morning for about a half hour to keep things running and has been used a few times in the last year when we had a power failure for a few hours. When a propane bottle empties, he puts in in the back of the truck and heads to town for a refill. This is also the way we supply gas to our house's gas appliances.

I never added a generator; the power problem went away (mostly) during the housing boom because the power company upgraded their messy wiring situation to support building out here. Same with the phone company, we got DSL about the same time to support the developers.

So, a generator is not a bad idea. Even if you just get a small one for the freezer, refrigerator and maybe some other critical appliances. They are also good for messing with Murphy's Law. Murphy can't decide whether to kill the power or the generator and the power usually wins because it costs more money to fix the generator. Of course, Murphy can kill them both, but that can be minimized by testing the generator often enough to confuse him.

I had figured I had Murphy beat twice. First by cleaning out the garage to make room for the cars, that seemed to hold off the snow (we only had an inch or two - tho from the snow plows going by you'd think it was a blizzard). But then he came back with the power outage. So I countered with moving furniture out of the way to get at the fireplace, and climbing over the stuff I had just finished re-organizing in the garage to get to the wood there, and lugging several large armfuls in - then pushed some more & started a little fire - then let it build up into a bigger fire - then gave up on the power coming back anytime soon, and went & got my LED headlamp so I could read elektor magazine by fire. So now we're just wating. Earliest snow day from school. Hurricane day in August, snow day in October, kid will be in school until late June again.

I reckon a generator is a good idea as a backup. You can get a cheapy for less than the cost of the food in a fridge. A good Honda for maybe $1500.

I've been living on solar for 10 years, haven't had a single power outage :)


Power was out at my place for 36 hrs. Fortunately, the landlord hooked a generator up to the circulator pump, so we had heat. Nice guy, he is. And I didn't lose any fish either. Oddly, food on the left side of the freezer stayed frozen, not so center-right. I'm guessing it had started a defrost cycle, and the heater is on the right.

Power was restored during my trip to the grocers to finally get some non-perishable food. :) I didn't lose much, though -- I don't keep a huge stock, and I didn't open the fridge even once until power came back.

Hope all you Nor'easterners weather this one OK.

In the aftermath, I did buy a small canister stove, and I'm pondering a crank radio. I have 3 white-gas stoves, but I dislike messing with it any more.

I had an estimate done for solar on my house. It was one of those lease programs where you pay by the month over the period of the lease which would lessen the impact of a solar supplement to house. They would only give me a 3.7KW system and it was a around 5 bucks a watt in total. This would be around 75 dollars a month for the next 20 years. Actually it wasn’t a bad deal, but I just couldn’t see why they wouldn’t go over 3.7KW. Heck, I live on an acre, have a flat roof that will hold solar panels all over the place; they could have come up with something better than that. Decided no-go. Why the heck hasn’t solar dropped to something reasonable? We hear about huge breakthroughs in solar technology every single day and nothing ever comes of them. The consumer that would love to do this just isn’t seeing any real progress in years.

I’ll wait for something cheaper to come out. However, with the scandals surrounding solar power in this country, fusion may be along first.


P.S. Anyone want to share some nasty gossip about CrossRoads while he can’t defend himself ??

If you have a car you have a generator; you just need an inverter. It might sound like a waste of fuel but modern cars only use ~1/4 gallon/hour at idle. Granted, someone hopping in your car and taking off might ruin the price competitiveness as compared to a generator.

draythomp: P.S. Anyone want to share some nasty gossip about CrossRoads while he can't defend himself ??

If you look up the page you'll see someone suggesting he was fat and he didn't even flinch! ;)

P.S. Anyone want to share some nasty gossip about CrossRoads while he can't defend himself ??

Of course :)

Unfortunately it's still not really possible to justify solar on a purely $ basis. We live in and RV so of course don't have any other power source available.

Panels have got cheaper, 120W used to be about $1200, I bought some 5 years ago for $900 and they are probably even cheaper now.

When we settle though, despite having power and phone (land line) connected to our land boundary I will never hook them up, can't see any point after all these years.

The down side to generating your own power is that if you have any problems that's exactly what they are, your problems. You can't just get the utility company to come out and fix things.


Too late, draythomp, I am back! I actually logged in at work today, so I wasn't too out of it.

Solar sounds good - does it work when covered in snow?

does it work when covered in snow?

Yes there is that :), not as far as I know but possibly a little if some light filters through. I know you can get some power from street lights.

Solar panels don't like being hot so at least you have that aspect covered.

For someone like me who rarely gets below the tropic of Capricorn snow is seldom (read never) an issue, however I do have to use the generator when the weather is bad.

I built this entire motorhome on solar (with generator as required), so it's quite practical to do just about anything if you have sun.


No, but from bitcoin discussions, I know that there are automated wipers and systems that flip the panel after it accumulates so much weight, of course that could be DIY'd for cheap

we're in the UK so don't (yet) have the snow problem just installed 4 kW of solar panels on the roof the reason we're "limited" to 4 kW is that beyond that the electric company no longer regards you as a "micro-generator" so you lose the feed in tariff which is a bit odd, you'd think they'd want as much as possible fed in to the system

other little gem "so Mr. Salesman, the other benefit will be that we still make electric if there's a power cut" "ah" quoth he "no" "er - why not?"

seems the electric company doesn't like all these houses sending electric back into the system after they've "isolated" a faulty bit of their network to repair it!

I feel a hack coming over me wonder if a UPS would fool the inverter into thinking that there is still electric after a power cut, so it would keep generating power for the house - and power the UPS of course!

(hmm is this the infinite energy loop thread all over again?!?) ]:)

What you really need is this big boy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvZl6lKNAAo

This keeps the whole farm going!


because it's a diesel there is a 3 second "glow before you go" wait. just enough to take out my whole friggen network!

Chagrin: If you look up the page you'll see someone suggesting he was fat and he didn't even flinch! ;)

When was the last time you've seen an engineer who didn't have some fat to spare? One pound of fat stores as much energy as 150 pounds of nickel metal hydride. (More like 30 pounds after considering conversion efficiency, which is still a lot.)

If there snow in some nearby area, couldn't you carry some back in a cooler? Not having heat is a minor concern - wear jackets and open the faucets a little to prevent them from freezing.