Windstorm/thunderstorm outage and damage

Had a hellaciously bad windstorm blow through here a few hours ago. My particular neighborhood took a nice hit and for the first time in several years, the power is out. Thus far its been out for about three hours..which is actually quite a while for an in-town issue. Some neighborhoods are with power, some are not. My neighborhood is without power, but my house is with power.

I’ve got the Honda chained up outside and its been providing me with internet, full computer service, and microwaved my dinner. Lemme tell ya, that microwave is a pig…the minute I hit the power button you could hear the generator suddenly shift gears.

Inconvenienced? A bit. But I’m magnitudes of order better off than my neighbors. I’ve some 12v lighting rigged up to give me some area lighting around the house, but my computer room is pretty much The War Room. Lights, computer, laser printer, police scanner….life is good. In another hour or two I’ll swap out the extension cord and run the freezer and fridge for a little while. I fully expect the power back on by morning. If not…well, I’ve enough gas on hand to run the generator for a week if I need to.

Observations:…..

  • You really need quality extension cords and know where they’re at.
  • I have a good cable and lock for the generator. A must.
  • Battery lights for wandering around. The Streamlight Siege is awesome. Get three.
  • The Goal O daisy-chainable 12 v. lights are also quite handy.
  • Extra MagLites to pass to the neighbors are well appreciated
  • LED lights are the way to go. No two ways about it.
  • Your teenage neighbors will be your friends for life if you give them the pass to your functioning wifi.
  • Got extra space in your freezer? Keep your water bottles in there so when the power goes out your stuff stays cooler longer.

More to follow.

Simple lighting project

This post on arfcom caught my eye. Rather than buy a 12v lamp for use with a battery, this fella converted a regular household AC lamp to run an LED ‘bulb’ off his 12v battery.

This sort of thing intrigued me and I decided to try it. While we have several options for lighting around here, I’d like to have something that doesn’t look like the kind emergency lighting youd find in a stairwell. Something very subtle and ‘normal looking’.

A quick trip to Amazon for the necessary parts:

The next step was to pick up a lamp to experiment on. As it turns out, I found a lamp that already ran on DC (it used a transformer to run off AC house current) and was LED. Since that was 2/3 of the battle right there, I figured I’d start with that.

20150419_164135Reading the details on the made-in-China transformer said, if they can be believed, that power draw was something like .33 amps. 20150419_164052Conveniently, they labeled the wires as to +/-. Simple matter to cut the transformer off and connect the wires for the cigarette plug to the lamp wires…keeping the polarity the same.

20150419_164114

 

Once the transformer had been removed and replaced with the 12v plug, I plugged it into my old ConSci battery pack to test.

20150421_093016

 

20150420_224627Unsurprisingly, it works. I’ll tuck it away with the battery box and leave it for the next time I need lighting when there’s no available electricity.

Of course, the bigger plan is to use it in conjunction with the larger battery backup system I’m planning. Nothing fancy..a couple big deep cycle batteries, a smart charger, and a bunch of outlets and wiring to allow me to run emergency lighting and communications for a week or so on battery power. Thats the bigger post Im working on. Gonna be a little while on it, though, since it’s going to take a while to scratch up the cash for the batteries. But…when it’s moved from ‘theory’ to ‘in progress’ there’ll be plenty of posting on it.

 

 

 

Link to two TSP podcasts on backup power

Someone in comments pointed out this link to me and it was worth sharing:
http://www.battery1234.com/

Its a page with two episodes of The Survival Podcast on the subject of emergency backup battery systems. I listened to both episodes and was quite pleased. Lots of information and lots of very specific information…names are named. Yeah, everything the guy discusses is linked to on page and available off Amazon, but I thought the content of the two articles was so good that who was I to begrudge the man a chance to make a few bucks off his links?

I listen to TSP on and off…Far too much permaculture and gardening content for me. Not saying its not important, just saying that it gets boring after a while. Anyway, the two episodes at the link were, in my opinion, quite good and I recommend them to anyone who is still behind on getting some sort of backup/emergency power system in place.

Repurposing Christmas lights

I’m not going to get into posting a commentary about the election. I’m fairly confident that, by and large, things in this world have reached a point that playing musical chairs in Washington won’t do much to change the path we’re on. As Kosh pointed out, once the avalanche has started its too late for the pebbles to vote.

This isn’t to say I’m one of those ‘If voting changed anything they’d make it illegal’ idiots. I vote every chance I get. While it may not make much of a difference in terminal performance it might affect the exterior ballistics a touch.

And before I move from the topic, let me leave with a joke: Did you hear the one about the Illinois Democrat who said that when he died he wanted to be buried in Chicago so he could remain active in the party?

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

My wife, sadly, like many wives, has a ‘crafty’ bent that can only be appeased by sacrificing greenbacks on an altar at the local Michaels shop. I go with her to help keep her under control but also because, if youre creative enough, you can find something preparedness-related in pretty much any store. One thing I found of interest was a string of tiny LED Christmas lights that ran on 3 AA-batts. Something very similar to thisproduct. My planned use was to splice the wires to an old solar panel that was used to charge some yard lights and use the string of LED’s to illuminate the house numbers. However, I discovered that these are excellent lights for odd places that dont require huge amounts of light…like the interior of my gun safe. Affixing them inside the gun safe around the interior of the door frame lights things up perfectly. I’d like to mount a photoresistor or pressure switch to turn them on/off when the door is open/closed, but they appear to do a nice job of showing me where things are. Since they run on three AA-batts and LED’s draw low power, its not too hard to imagine some useful emergency lighting options…most notably to light a pathway to emergency gear…much like the lights on the floor in the aisle of a plane.

I’ve seen pictures of peoples storerooms and basements where light ‘ropes’ are used to provide a sort of emergency area lighting and it seems an interesting idea. Most of the ‘ropes’ you come across this time of year (CostCo and WalMart are full of them right now) run on household current but use a 12v transformer, so you could, I suppose, just run them right off a DC power source. On the other hand, since my use would be for emergency lighting to guide me to my stash of gear, they could be considered a ‘one time’ use item. That is to say, in a hypothetical scenario, the power goes out and I’m standing in the dark. I hit the Big Red Button and five or six of these daisy-chained lights light up guiding me to where I keep all the gear. Since all the strings are running off a battery pack meant for one string they’ll remain lit only for a brief amount of time….but by that time I’ll have gotten to my gear where my other illumination supplies are. I suppose I could use a larger battery pack but then I’d have to get some resistors or something in there to keep from putting too much current through the LEDs and burning ’em out. Should be an interesting project.