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Power Outage: Lessons Learned

Thursday, May 6, 2010, 10:15 AM

On Tuesday afternoon (5/4/2010), while I was engaged in my weekly biology class with a group of homeschoolers, the wind suddenly kicked up out of nowhere with a single strong gust.  Looking out the window, all eight of us were struck by what looked like a yellow cloud lifting up over the nearest ridge about a mile away.

It wasn't a yellow cloud; it was soil, lifted violently from the fields in the valley below, its color highlighted by the dark clouds above.  Suddenly, the tree tops on the ridge to our west all bent over in unison, as if brushed by a giant invisible hand.  There was a pause, and then we got hit with a blast of gritty air, probably in the vicinity of 50 mph, that toppled trees in our yard and turned out the lights.  Boom.  Just like that.  We had about 2 minutes to react and prepare, from start to finish.

The Tree That Ate My Electricity

We got hit by a squall line, which would have been a "white squall" if we'd been on the water; the kind of storm that routinely flips sailboats because it catches them in an awkward position with too much canvas on the mast.

And it wasn't just us; towns up and down the CT river got hit just as bad or even worse, and power crews had to contend with thousands of outages, including at the area hospital.  By Wednesday morning, it was pretty clear that we weren't going to be getting our power back for a while.  Reports were drifting in of widespread damage and serious outages, and rumors surfaced that it might be a couple of days until we got our power back.  Information was sketchy and hard to come by. 

At first I was thinking, "No big deal; we're pretty well covered."  But I soon discovered that we had some pretty big holes in our preparations and thereby learned a number of important lessons.

To my great chagrin, I discovered that the propane tank that feeds our gas stove was only 1% full, and we soon depleted it.  Oops.  It's my job to keep track of it and call the propane company when it gets to 30%, and I'd somehow let that slip by.  And just to really rub it in, our outdoor grill was also nearly out of gas, making cooking and heating water more of a chore than it needed to be.

Worse, we hadn't yet gotten around to having any rain barrels set up, so we were very soon scrambling to obtain water to use to flush toilets and wash dishes.  Luckily, we have plenty of water containers.  Unfortunately none of them were full at the time, so off we trundled to places where we could get water.

Our flashlights operate on rechargeable batteries, and only a few were sufficiently charged.  So we turned to hurricane lanterns (the kind with wicks that burn oil), which were great to have and reminded all of us of our summers in Maine, where these devices supply most of our lighting needs.  But it would have been nice to have at least one flashlight per family member (plus one for the guest staying with us at the time).

Of course, I lost contact with the Internet and this site, as my computers and Internet access are all tied to the power grid.  Fortunately, I have a backup plan for accessing the Internet and maintaining contact with this site, but in this case it did not work very well.  In the past, such as when on vacation or traveling, I've maintained contact by using my Blackberry as an antenna and tethering it to my laptop.  While all of that worked, and I had electricity from the solar array to run everything, the problem was that my cell reception was degraded to the point that I could not manage to post comments.  I could read everything fine, but I couldn't post anything.

I think the explanation for this is that the cell towers were overloaded with other people who were relying on their cell phones, and so mine could not operate above the critical threshold required to handle posting.  So as a result, I am now developing back-up plans for my back-up plans.

The good news was that our solar PV system did its job perfectly, and also supplied our freezer with electricity, preventing a pretty expensive melt-down that would have cost us hundreds of dollars.

Finally, at 11:00 last night, our power was returned, 30 hours after it had gone off.  Water once again came out of the taps like magic, the refrigerator busily hummed away, and all our electronics beeped back to life.

Lessons Learned

Keep things topped off.  I thought I had already learned this lesson some years back.  Apparently such lessons wear off.  This week I will be installing rain barrels (or even buckets), filling all the propane tanks, and making sure all my batteries are charged and ready.

Sometimes things happen with almost no warning.  Somewhere in the back of my mind, I always assumed that I'd have warning for nearly any event.  Weather usually comes with a fair bit of warning.  This event did not.  Okay.  Lesson learned.  And I don't mean just about weather related phenomenon.  Perhaps there's a "white squall" lurking out there in the economic sphere as well. 

The essentials.  Being without refrigeration and water is just not fun, so I am going to focus on getting the rest of our solar panels installed and hooked to a larger battery array as a next matter of business.  With our solar hot water going in, we'll be living large in almost any situation as long as we can run our well pump.  Solving the energy pig that is our refrigerator is a different matter, and I am still not sure how to handle that one, but we'll work something out.

Without electricity, life changes radically.  I know this, but knowing and experiencing are two different things.  One thing I had not purposely done in the past was to cut off our power for a period of time to see how we'd do.  That's the only way to really know.  Now I plan to apply these learned lessons and then cut our power for a longer duration just to find out where the kinks are.

Conclusion

I am thankful for this mini dress-rehearsal that nature delivered to our doorstep.  By having our power cut off for more than a day, many weaknesses were exposed.  We got to know a few neighbors a little better.  All in all, it was a very good thing.

Being cut off from this site was a challenge, especially since so many enormously important market events are happening right now.  It's extremely important to me that I be able to remain connected with this community during such exciting times.

For anyone wondering where I went during these past few exciting days, I was reduced to lurker status, but now I'm back.

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42 Comments

VeganDB12's picture
VeganDB12
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
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Posts: 731
Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

We had a 2 day blackout event here last month in Westchester and boy was I glad to have landline and a hoarder's collection of self charging lights. Still, had it been dead of winter we would have froze. And I had just used up most of my water stockpile so the inevitable post blackout water contamination proved "problematic". As psychiatrist Gordon Livingston said in his bestseller Too Soon Old Too Late Smart, "bad things happen fast". Glad you got through ok. It is a lesson for us all.

Jeff Borsuk's picture
Jeff Borsuk
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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

Wow Chris! that's a great wake-up call!

Great idea to turn off the power to see where the kinks are...I'm going to do that!

Thanks!

Jeff

 

SagerXX's picture
SagerXX
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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

There's nothing like the real thing for "practicing" on...  We lost power for 4+ days during the last big storm of Winter.  It illuminated where we were strong (heating, cooking, non-potable water) and where we're weak (drinking water, electricity).  It certainly bumped a few items up my "to do" list.

Glad you're back.  I'm dying to hear your thoughts on the events of this (rather dramatic) week.

Viva -- Sager

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Buckaroojim
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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

We have regular outages up in our mountain valley and last year we purchased a couple of super efficient "Rocket Stoves" for cooking during these times. They use them by the millions in China and India and elsewhere and they only require twigs or kindling to operate. We boil a large stew that feeds 4, plus boil water for tea afterwards, and only use the equivalent of 1/2 of 1 log that goes into our woodstove! We've been very grateful to have it around. Just Google "Rocket Stove" to see how to make your own, or to find a place to purchase one. They can also be used to boil unclean water for drinking in a pinch!

 

SteveS's picture
SteveS
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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

I learned a lesson this past winter about propane. We have a 100gal tank for cooking and to make up whatever heat we don't get from solar. We get it filled a few times a year. We had 2 100G tanks but they said we didn't use enough and took one away. Well in December  we got hit by all the snow, cold and cloudy weather and depleted our tank in one month, just as we got hit by the second and third snows so that they couldn't deliver. Finally got plowed out and convinced them to deliver - the bill was $5.25 / Gal ! Lesson learned:  I need a big enough tank to get through the entire winter. I need a big enough tank so I can purchase propane on MY terms. I need to own my tank so I can shop around.  So I'm going to buy a 500gal tank and make it more accesible to the truck. It's a big expense now, but can pay for itself in savings and feeling of being prepared. I did not like running out of propane with two feet of snow on the ground and depending on electric backup

Chris, I also keep two small propane backups in addition to what's on the grill. Cheap insurance. I always have at least two full tanks.

I wish I had a good backup for internet. We are on FIOS so if power goes out I lose ethernet, TV, and phone, so I can't even go back to a modem.

And solar PV is being installed to complete my solar trifecta (passive solar heat, active solar hot water, solar PV). Then I'll build my solar cooker!

 

 

 

mobius's picture
mobius
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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

Great post Dr. M!

I remember how the Ice Storm of Dec 1997 - Jan 1998 completely paralyzed Montreal.  In the winter months I still hang quilts in the doorways to prevent draughs and keep warmth in the living areas. 

Rector's picture
Rector
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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

I've been through the same thing with a 20kw backup generator on liquid propane.  When the hurricane was off shore 200 miles, no propane company in the county would come out to fill up the tank which was at 10% full.  When that ran out in the 12 days of no electricity that followed the 2 days of storm, I got to sit in the dark and read the manual of my 20kw generator by candlelight.  We also had nothing to run the stove with as an added irony.  Needless to say, my wife and I exchanged several suggestions for future improvement as we sweated in the dark.

In the weeks that followed I bought and installed another 250 gallon propane tank that is now full time connected to the generator.  Normal household needs are met with the first 250 gallon tank.

As John Rawles points out, the best lists are made by candlelight.

Woodman's picture
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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

I was tested by 5 to 7 day power outages at my house each of the last two winter seasons. With no additional advance preparations me and my family did fine.  In contrast, some of my neighbors had to leave their homes.  I think the key is to build a low dependence/highly resilient lifestyle into your your normal routine and not just when you have to.

Food - I have months stored, no problem if can't get to store due to trees across the road.  Cold foods kept fine outside in winter.  Even picked fresh spinach and claytonia from my cold frames.

Frozen foods - I learned to only store what I can eat within a week, and keep most stored food canned or dried.  Then no generator or solar power supply needed.

Water -municipal supply is pretty reliable since they have backup power, but I keep a few days of drinking water in filled containers just in case. 

Heat - I burn wood all the time anyway and have two seasons worth stored.  House will keep above freezing just by passive solar.

Cooking - propane range, wood, camping stove, and charcoal grill are routinely used alternatives.

Light - My bicycle lights, headlamps, and camping lights are used regulary all the time so they're always in order when needed and can recharge off my truck inverter.  Candles and lanterns for long term backup.

Phone - I refuse to own anything but a basic phone that runs only off the phone line.

Internet - Play lots of board games with my kids instead.

 

 

 

Nate's picture
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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

Have been without the internet and phone for 1 week.  I asked my wife 'what would we have done had it been electric'? (I'm working towards getting her buy-in into solar).  Still no buy-in.

Our oats were bailed yesterday and the farmer (HS education-brighter and better read than most PhD's I know) said what separates the US from the 3rd world is electricity.  He fears for his safety when TSHTF.  Can we really prepare when others around us are hungry and simply want to feed their kids?

 

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james_knight_chaucer
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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

I got a useful idea regarding refrigeration from the story 'Lights Out' by David Crawford. http://www.frugalsquirrels.com/fiction/lightsout1-10.pdf

The main character kept a number of plastic lemonade bottles of water in his freezer while he ran his generator in the evening. When these were frozen, he put them in the fridge to cool it over the subsequent twenty hours. This meant he was able to have constant refrigeration for only four hours of generation.

Woodman's picture
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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

Another big lesson I'm learning now - maintain alternate transportation.  An alleged bomb has shutdown the parking garage in Portsmouth; I can look out my office window at the police barricades; hundreds of folks working downtown here can't get their vehicles.  Plus the stock market fun today - Expect the unexpected!

http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Evacuations+ordered+in+possible+bus+bomb+threat&articleId=ef252113-6f55-4159-9ce0-6a266aab5a93

 

rhare's picture
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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned
cmartenson wrote:

Our flashlights operate on rechargeable batteries and only a few were sufficiently charged.

I recommend the crank flashlights from walmart - around $15 in stores or you can pick them up from here.  I have a couple and they work great.  I also picked up a couple that have a solar panel on them from costco and I leave them sitting in a sunny room.

SteveS wrote:

Then I'll build my solar cooker!

I have  friend who has one of these solar burners, and uses it regularly.  At thanksgiving he cooked potatos and gravy on it.  Said it boiled the water quicker than his stove. 

On a great note, today my circuits in my house were rearranged for my solar critical panel.  It was great to see my fridge running without an attachment to the grid!

 

SiberD's picture
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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

Get a good standby diesel generator and at least a manual transfer switch wired into your subpanel.

zinkpm's picture
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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

Hi Chris,  to lower your refrigerator's power requirements you could get a chest type refrigerator. They use 10% of the power of an upright (0.1 kWh per day vs 1 kWh per day)   With a PV system a DC fridge, like a SunDanzer, would work well.  They will set you back about $1000.

http://www.sundanzer.com/

A lower cost, but probably not as efficient, option would be to convert an A/C chest freezer to a chest refrigerator by replacing the thermostat as shown on this site.

http://mtbest.net/chest_fridge.html

capesurvivor's picture
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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

www.bogolight.com   (buy one, get one)  solar lights

More expensive than Costco but excellent and they also send one to poor folks. Their batteries are excellent and hold a charge forever. I have used their lights daily for several years.

 

SG

spinone's picture
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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

Chris - try a propane or LP gas refrigerator.

wmarsden's picture
wmarsden
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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

We are pretty much your neighbors and had pretty much the same experience.  Thanks to your suggestion at Rowe last fall I had installed a solar array powering batteries.  Unlike you, however, I have my computer and internet hooked up to that array as well as my freezer.  :-)

 

A couple of years ago I bought my husband one of those LED headlamps for camping and fell in love with it.  Since then I've bought one for every member of my family.  I keep my headlamp in my purse because... get this... at the age of 45 I've realized it gets dark EVERY SINGLE NIGHT!  I use it all the time!  :-)

 

Also, about rainbarrels:  I have a couple of the New England Rain Barrels from when they delivered to a town near me: check them out at:  http://nerainbarrel.com/Store.html

 

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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

http://www.jascoproducts.com/products/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=490 

We had a power outage the other night luckily I picked up these night light *slash* rechargeable flashlights a few nights before.  They worked great.

Thanks for this post, I know I have a propane tank that needs to get filled.  I'm sure there's lots of people doing a gut-check right now on their preps.

Will's picture
Will
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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned
rhare wrote:
cmartenson wrote:

Our flashlights operate on rechargeable batteries and only a few were sufficiently charged.

I recommend the crank flashlights from walmart - around $15 in stores or you can pick them up from here.  I have a couple and they work great.  I also picked up a couple that have a solar panel on them from costco and I leave them sitting in a sunny room.

I second the hand crank LED "human powered" flashlights.  As long as they are of decent quality and durability, you never have to worry about buying/recharging and disposal of batteries.  Been meaning to pick up one of the hand cranked AM/FM radios as well as a source of news/info in the absence of internet access.

Poet's picture
Poet
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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

Welcome back. There most definitely was a "white squall" today. Dow down 1,000 points only to recover with a loss of "only" 347. Financial panic the last few days...

Thank you for sharing this lesson. You're right - being without power is the only way to realize where the weak points are. And it's certainly better to do it in a drill than wait for it to happen for real.

Poet's picture
Poet
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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

Welcome back. There most definitely was a "white squall" today. Dow down 1,000 points only to recover with a loss of "only" 347. Financial panic the last few days...

Thank you for sharing this lesson. You're right - being without power is the only way to realize where the weak points are. And it's certainly better to do it in a drill than wait for it to happen for real.

RHuk's picture
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Re: Power Outage: Portable Generator, An Essential Bit of Kit.

I always remember in UK when the 'wrong type of snow' brought down both 11KV & 33KV power lines to the town.  No power for 1 week!     BBQs in the snow.

For Long Term if the SHTF then one would need other / more permanent solutions.  For portability and short outage especially in city housing one can't beat a Portable Generator.  (Honda, Hyundai, Yamaha to name a few), especially if you have city gas. 

The latest generators are small, Whisper Quiet and have Mains Voltage & DC Power Output Sockets.  1 KW may suffice, 2KW about perfect.  They can last up to 6-10 hours on 1 tank of fuel depending on model.

Where the electricity comes into the flat/ house there will be a meter and fuse or circuit breaker box.  Turn off the big switch which isolates the house from the grid.  Next turn off large consumers on the breaker box (electric showers, cookers, hot water boilers ) disconnect hot water kettles.  Place the generator in a dry but well ventilated location.  Make up a cable which connects the generator mains socket to a mains socket in the house, this will back feed electricity into the main fuse box and power any remaining circuits.  You MUST disconnect the grid mains from the house first though!  Power = Volts *Amps .  (Ignoring Power Factor) ;  2000W/ 240V = 8.3A or 2000W/110V = approx 18Amps.   Use a suitably sized cable.  

The generator has enough power to run several lights plus keep an efficient fridge working and if you have city gas it will run the boiler electrics and the circulation pump.  Very quickly you have light, heat and bath hot water whilst the majority of the rest of the street will likely be in darkness and cold.!  The only lit up house in the street may attract some unwelcome attention but that's another story!

 

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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

Hi Chris,

as for your refrigerators: What kind of machines do you have? How much energy do they use?

Here in Germany and Europe, most white goods have a so called "Energy Label". This label makes the energy efficiency visible and comparable to customers in a shop:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_energy_label

Examples:

The best refrigerators (without freezer unit) with energy class "A++" and with 144 liters of volume use less than 76 kWh in a year.

One of the best avaiable freezers with 195 liters of volume only needs 113 kWh in a year. If you choose the "big version" of that freezer, it comes with 441 liters of volume and 245 kWh in a year.

So you should not only improve your PV installation, but also invest in some new white goods with the highest energy efficiency class avaiable. I think the investment could  break even in a couple of years, because you could save hundreds of dollars per year in energy costs. And of course, you could possibly live with either a smaller PV installation, or use the PV for even more devices. :-)

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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

There is a guy in Austraila that has been using a energy star freezer for a fridge for a while now.  He replaced the thermostat and it operates for about 1 minute an hour...can't remember the website though.  I'm pretty sure I found it on a search for fridgeless living or something like that.

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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

Chris, thanks for clear, honest reporting. I lived through 54-56 hurricanes in Reading with no power for a week and remember the chafing dish meals and seeing Prospect St blocked by 4 or more old maples. In India it is summer and we go 36 hrs. without power. Not enough to charge the inverter. I keep ice bottles to carry refrig. But at new home I have 1 solar light so far. Two inverters: one with 4 batteries to run minimal (for longer time) household, one with 2 batteries solely for security lights. I keep 2 gas tanks. But reading about the prize winning solar cooker from Africa I have 2 boxes, black paint and an intention to make one for myself, then show to an NGO to consider showing villagers. The gutter design for harvesting is in process but the underground 2nd 6,000 ltr tank is built. 26 holes have Rishi Krishi Vedic formula in them getting ready for planting drought tolerant trees with first rain. Two are chikoos or fruit. 16 are a hedge outside compound wall to block future traffic sound and petrol fumes and put nitrogen into the soil that is non-ag and mainly rock. One is a Singapore cherry to bring birds but I could eat the cherries too. Last week I saw a high dust swirl that momentarily jolted my remembering what a tornado was due to the shape, the irregular path it took. Fortunately it was nothing needing my action but it was UNEXPECTED AND STARTLING and that I read is the point of your story.

I follow your expanding presentation opportunities clapping from across the oceans.

Have you or has anyone heard of a potential "global collapse of economies and depression" forecast for first week of August? A friend mentioned this but didn't remember the exact title of a book by an invester who combined that skill with astrology and his view of synchronicities.

The USD/INR exchange today was a strengthened dollar. It's at 45+. Went to highest at 51. I've seen it at 39+. Have had two men tell me it might go to 30. Manage my money looking at what 38 figures out to be. For practice in thinking what matters.

Buckets are good for washing clothes with no power because they need less water than the bathtub and keep the sink free for washing fruit/ veg and dishes. I also just read clothes used to be washed with only water and with new concentrated detergents manufacturers are counting on our using more than needed wiping out the cost saving. I've cut back my amount of liquid.

Onward.

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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

Solar PV systems, generators, inverters, batteries, etc. are great, and I admit I have a lot of these types of things,  but I see them as tiems that mitigate normal electricity loss etc for the short term but assume power will return and fuel supplies will be replenished at some point.  For longer term preparation I see the most resiliency coming from reducing our needs for the energy to begin with rather than trying to replace it with alternate sources and technology.   But perhaps how you prepare is less important than just being prepared to expect the unexpected, the main point I think CM makes.

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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned
vvolf wrote:

There is a guy in Austraila that has been using a energy star freezer for a fridge for a while now.  He replaced the thermostat and it operates for about 1 minute an hour...can't remember the website though.  I'm pretty sure I found it on a search for fridgeless living or something like that.

yes, we discussed this on the homestead site, I thought it was brilliant.

http://www.peakprosperity.com/forum/homesteading-and-self-sufficiency-th...

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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

Something I learned to my regret this past winter, when replacing a 30-year-old gas boiler under exigent circumstances. The old boiler had a 'millivolt generator,' powered by heat from the gas pilot. Its electrical output operated the thermostat and the main gas valve on the boiler. As a result, no AC power connection was required. As long as gas pressure was available, the boiler could operate.

By contrast, the new boiler needs AC power both to operate the gas valve and a flue damper. If the AC power goes off in a winter snowstorm -- no heat!

I'm unhappy with this new dependency of the gas heat on AC power. In the past, we could go away in the winter, confident that the house wouldn't freeze. Now there's the possibility of cascading failures -- a blizzard fells trees, which cut electrical power, which turns off the heat, which freezes the house and bursts the pipes. Ugly!

There's something wrong with the mentality that electrical power is omnipresent and ever-available for critical systems. After losing power for a couple of days this spring following a windstorm, we know it's not.

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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

I live in N.E. Ohio and we all know how great our electric is here. Yes I have First Energy  and they still have power outages all the time. You never know how long you will be off line. In order for them to cut cost of labor they dumped all the workers and use now sub-contractors to fix our power outages. They don't know the streets or the area. Most people here have their own back up systems. It can be 5 days till you get your power back. It don't take a storm or anything. Just one thing like a car hitting a pole and we're done for days. God help us if we get a bad storm. It's only a matter of time before it all goes down again. Our country wont spend a dime on ourself. We will go help every nation but let our nation fall apart. It's crazy!!


 

 

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Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned
Woodman wrote:

Solar PV systems, generators, inverters, batteries, etc. are great, and I admit I have a lot of these types of things,  but I see them as tiems that mitigate normal electricity loss etc for the short term but assume power will return and fuel supplies will be replenished at some point.  For longer term preparation I see the most resiliency coming from reducing our needs for the energy to begin with rather than trying to replace it with alternate sources and technology.   But perhaps how you prepare is less important than just being prepared to expect the unexpected, the main point I think CM makes.

Great point, Woodman. It seems to me that Chris's strategy to cope with power outages is to try to ensure that he has back up energy, in various forms. However, surely the best strategy is to figure how how to best cope with no power at all?

With society still assuming that no collapse will happen, it makes collapse all the more certain. In a collapse situation, how can you be sure to be able to continue topping off those tanks, or to be able to repair that solar panel? How do you know whether you'd be able to replace solar panels as they start to malfunction or get plain broke?

Before collapse, we have an ideal opportunity to figure out how to survive a collapse. We have access to information and resources.

Rain barrels are a good idea, but trying to keep the freezer going isn't (unless there is a backup mechanism for preserving food).

pjc's picture
pjc
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 26 2008
Posts: 30
Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

WOODMAN

YES and YES !   RESILIANCY coming from reducing our needs for the energy. HOW you prepare is less important than just being prepared to EXPECT the UNEXPECTED. Have I read your heart and mind correctly?    

 

Woodman, there was a time when I had a “conventional” view of life. University degree Phi Beta Kappa, husband, family, part time career. I didn’t know words like: karma or destiny, transformation, spiritual. OR “Nothing real can be threatened, nothing unreal can exist.” Or that my peace and my happiness originated within me. Whatever was outside: people, places, activities important and entertaining – could suddenly leave as when my husband in his early 50’s finished his journey of life, and as we had just moved I had v. little around me familiar. That was a turning point when a man stepped into my life. In words where I could find only truth he told me over the next 7 years my destiny was spiritual, my place India, my work not to be revealed for years beyond the 13 since then, but I was going to learn what truth was. I was going to go from being a “spiritual child” to a “spiritual adult.” Have I at any point since 1997 known what was coming next in my life? BARELY if at all. For reasons beyond my understanding I took his words to heart that when you lose everything you have nothing to fear. I am not fearless but I’ve learned to talk fear, face it and go forward with a deep knowing there is a guidance system in place that a thousand times over has given me the information I needed, even in what I humorously came to call the 11th hour. SO IN YOUR SIMPLE WORDS that I prefer for myself I FIND TRUTH. Nobody knows what’s coming in the next minute, let alone, week, year, decade. CHRIS is the brave, compassionate, “small self-serving ego” and HUGE “selfless service ego in service to all” kind of person I remain on the watch for. I DRAW CLOSE to these people who within my domain add to the energy and direction I practice. Why do we all follow Chris? He’s honest about his view being “of the moment,” he’s quick to respond to a blog comment that is NOT what he is saying, he’s positive about the moment and those coming, and he’s clear that his mistakes (as in the 1% full propane tank) are just the other way of learning. NO judgment. NO criticism. NO blame. FULL of understanding he can provide information that we may take or not take, but each of us is 100% responsible for our decisions. My training included “I was meant to fail because in failing I would look for another way.” When I heard that, as a former teacher and love-focused mother, I would have changed all learning anywhere to that value. Prosper from doing it “right” and prosper from doing it “so it didn’t work” and make another effort. Say “Help” to the universe as that which is the omnipresent energy creating this awesome experience called life.

 

I have very few “tools” in my toolbox but you wrote in a way that says I could use yours if needed. ONE of my few tools is this: It’s not WHAT happens its HOW you respond. WHY is for me an almost useless word that puts my precious energy trying to figure out basically what creation is, worth a small look at why something may have happened, but it’s much more important that I open to my intuition, creativity, knowledge, and people-skills searching forward movement and resolution to the situation. Another TOOL is to know I don’t know what’s coming and therefore to treasure the strength of RESILIANCY. That’s a stay-float around me that will carry me when I can’t. I’m a manager of a small amount of money and assets relative to what “investors” have for decisions. YET I found CHRIS was a stay-float of most important help for me. Among the many url’s for money management I find bites here and there of information that has served me. I read every day for those. GRATEFUL. Growing. Supporting not by membership for my budget but a 5.00 automatic monthly donation to Chris’ mailbox in MA. It says I use the site, I appreciate the site. I believe in every way of giving.

 

I end with one of my favorite words: ONWARD.

 

THANX

Full Moon's picture
Full Moon
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 14 2008
Posts: 1258
Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

 My grandparents had what we called an" Ice house "   They would cut ice from the pond  put it in a rock cave built in the north facing hill ( dug out like a root cellar ), then cover it with straw before harvesting more ice the next cold spell.  They had many layers.    I was thinking we could use  the buckets with lids , fill them  3/4 full of water... leave them out side at night  until they freeze then  we would line the room and use straw.  These could be used over and over  and not be so much work as cutting and hauling ice slabs .    Anyway I remember this place  was cold way into summer .   This is where milk , butter and such was kept . I also think it was built over a running spring so that water ran through it at maybe 50 degrees F.

   If you made it large enough you might be able to barter with the ice or cold space eventually .   Does this make any sense ?  Sometimes my ideas are way not practical .

FM .

Dutch John's picture
Dutch John
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 10 2008
Posts: 50
Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

I agree with Woodman and pjc. Preparing for the short term is good, but what comes after that? A personal example: got a small diesel emergency generator in case the grid goes down. Diesel will run out after time, even on small generators, so I build a tiny emergency generator on woodgas. I will not run out of wood. But a loud generator and a house with the lights on will attrack uninvited guests on a medium to long term emergency. Solar panels on your roof also can be seen as large invitation billboards. Note that I live a crowded country with an excellent bicycle infrastructure.

So: can we do without (much) electricity? Yes, but we have to adopt the sometimes lost skills of our grandparents. One does not need freezers. There are many ways to store food. And who needs tools with a plug?

Knowledge of forgotten skills is what one needs. A creative mind that can make fast switches. Keeping a low profile. Knowing your neighbours. And a will to change, way before change becomes inevitable.

I am not afraid of what is coming. I am not afraid to starve. I am not afraid of my neighbour. The only thing I am afraid of is the big unprepared herd.

Regards,

DJ, Netherlands

Davos's picture
Davos
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 17 2008
Posts: 3620
Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

On my list of projects.

guardia's picture
guardia
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 26 2009
Posts: 592
Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

Wow, refrigeration without electricity...Surprised that's awesome!

Samuel

rhare's picture
rhare
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 30 2009
Posts: 1323
Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

Yazaki Solar Air Conditioning Absorption

Has anyone looked or had any experience with one of these things?  I have a bunch of thermal solar panels looking for something more to do in the summer, and this looks interesting.  Unfortunately the smallest unit it looks like they have is 10 ton, which is probably 5-10x bigger than needed for most residential cooling.

 

TheCollectorsCoachShow's picture
TheCollectorsCo...
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: May 6 2010
Posts: 3
$40 a gallon for gas!?

Morpheus's picture
Morpheus
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 27 2008
Posts: 1200
Re: Power Outage: Lessons Learned

Chris. I'm a veteran of Hurricane Wilma. The eye wall went RIGHT over my house. I was without electricity for 17 days. 

You speak the truth. Life without electricity is a system shock (no pun intended). 

Folks, after Wilma, I started setting up a 3 months reserve of supplies, year round, to address a future storm. See, when TSHF (the storm hits the fan) around here, people become lunatics during the warning period. I can summarize in one word: 

PANIC. 

When you do have warning folks, don't expect to trot down to the supermarket and get all that you need. The shelves will be bare before you get there. And in Florida, the trucks for resupply were coming in by the hour. 

Don't expect gas. I got mine at 2:30 in the morning during the hurricane watch, not warning. The storm was 48 hours out and I still waited an hour in line in the middle of the night. 

Don't expect people to be prepared. With a "this absolutely is going to slam into us" warning, I'd estimate preparation compliance at about 50%. I heard the same rationalization over and over again. 

"Ohh don't worry about it. These things are ALWAYS near misses. Why are you wasting a few hundred dollars on crap that you'll never use". 

Now, take that scenario, and transpose it to non-hurricane country, (everywhere), imagine no warning, and no resupply. 

As a veteran of disaster, It scares the hell out of me. It should scare you too. 

 

james_knight_chaucer's picture
james_knight_chaucer
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 21 2009
Posts: 160
Re: $40 a gallon for gas!?

Did anyone else watching 'The Collectors Coach' get the impression that the girl was reading her lines off her notes?

Mark_BC's picture
Mark_BC
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 30 2010
Posts: 429
Re: $40 a gallon for gas!?

$40 gas will never happen. The US economic collapse will drop demand for oil so much it will kill the price for a barrel. And electric cars cost $25 a month to charge or less. They would take off way before gas got that expensive.

Damnthematrix's picture
Damnthematrix
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 10 2008
Posts: 3998
The Courage to Screw Up: Why DIY Is Good for You

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-frauenfelder/home-diy-the-courage-to-s_b_589371.html

As the editor-in-chief of the do-it-yourself magazine Make, I've met scores of dedicated makers. They come from all walks of life -- rich, poor, young, old, male, female, religious, atheist, liberal, conservative. They're as varied as
the things they make: kites with cameras, homebrew biodiesel, treehouses with ziplines, cigar box guitars, remote-control lawnmowers, automatic cat-feeders, high-altitude water rockets, robotic blimps, worm composting systems, stylish plywood furniture, pinhole cameras, experimental surfboards, solar water heaters, portable drive-in movie projectors -- there's no limit to their aspirations. And while no two DIYers are alike, in general they're an upbeat and
friendly group that shares a special trait: the courage to screw up.

Being able to accept, even embrace, your mistakes is far from easy. In school, we learn that mistakes translate into bad grades. This unfortunate lesson gets burned into our brains, and we go through life shunning challenges that might
end in failure. But DIYers not only accept the inevitability of mistakes, they welcome them, because they know that mistakes are a source of inspiration and the most effective way to learn. The latest research in neuroscience supports
this idea.

Through my own DIY efforts, which I chronicle in my new book, Made By Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World (Portfolio), I've gotten better at facing my own fear of mistakes. For the past couple of years, I've spent time
with my favorite "Alpha makers" to learn how they do what they do. I've never been very handy myself, but since making the decision to take a more active role in the world around me, I've begun raising chickens (in a coop I built myself),
keeping bees (lured out of the attic of my new house and into a full-scale hive), and growing vegetables (where my lawn used to be). I've hacked my espresso maker for the perfect brew, built musical instruments for impromptu
home concerts, erected a treehouse for my daughters, and tutored them in the sorts of hands-on skills our schools desperately need to teach, but don't.

Along the way, I've made an astronomical number of blunders. But the broken tools, barked knuckles, wasted materials, and countless trips to the hardware store have been a small price to pay for the fun and fulfillment my family and I have experienced. From my own DIY experiences and from researching the lives of other DIYers, I've discovered five benefits you gain from having the courage to screw up:

1. A deeper connection to the things that keep us alive and well. The human-made world is mostly beyond our comprehension. Our daily survival depends on seemingly magical gizmos that provide our food, water, clothing, comfort, transportation, education, well-being, and amusement. But you can make your world a little less confounding by sewing your own clothes, raising chickens, growing vegetables, teaching your children, and doing other activities that put you in touch with the processes of life. In addition, the things you make reflect your personality and have a special meaning. You share a connection with them every time you use them, and you appreciate them in a different way than you do store-bought things. This is why gifts of hand-made preserves, blankets, and furniture are so cherished. You are sharing a part of yourself with the recipient of your gift; they will value the time and effort you put into making something for them with your own hands far more than what it would have took to pick up a gift card at the mall.

2. An appreciation for the things you have and the systems that make it possible.The flip side to enjoying the things you make yourself is discovering how challenging and time-consuming it can be to make them. It takes me hours to
whittle one cooking spoon, and while it's enjoyable, I can't imagine making all of our family's cooking implements this way. Now, I pay more attention to the things I buy, and I appreciate them more than before. Because I've become an
active participant in the human-made world, I'm more observant of it. I care more about how things are made, paying close attention to each object for lessons in craftsmanship I can apply to my own projects.

3. An opportunity to use your hands and your brain. Human beings evolved opposable thumbs for a reason. The sense of reward you get from making something with your hands can't be earned any other way. It's obvious that people learn
faster from "hands-on" experience than they do watching someone else do something. (No wonder kids ask, "Can I try?" when they see their parents using a tool or appliance.) And when people engage in DIY activities like knitting,
their heart rate and blood pressure go down. We are tool-using animals and our bodies feel better when we've got tools in our hands.

4. A connection to other people. When I started making cigar box guitars, I stumbled onto a group of DIYers at a website called Cigar Box Nation. These amateur luthiers log in from around the world to share plans, photos, and videos of their home-made stringed instruments. They are happy to share ideas and advice about building guitars, banjoes, and ukuleles with newcomers. I've found this same spirit of generosity at other online hangouts devoted to building electric vehicles, autonomous aerial vehicles, and raising chickens. Even though time is our most precious resource, I've discovered that DIYers are happy to give their own time to people who seek their knowledge. (At Make, we are exploring this admirable quality of DIYers as a way to rethink traditional educational systems.)

5. A path to freedom. A number of DIYers I've met have succeeded in turning their passion for making things from a hobby into a business. In this era of economic uncertainty, DIYers have learned not to rely as much on governments and corporations to take care of them. They seek a more direct way to support themselves by becoming producers of high-quality, short-run products. For instance, Limor Fried transformed her passion for electronics into a full-time
business called Ada Fruit that sells mail-order kits to hobbyists. Mitch Altman made a little remote control that could turn off any TV set, and it was so popular he started a company that sells electronic gadgets. Sites like Etsy.com
and the Makers Market give DIYers a place to sell their handmade creations, ranging from hollow "spy coins" to silkscreened posters to revolving bookcases to chaotic pendulums. Even if you have no desire to become a full-time maker, DIY can provide a certain degree of freedom from depending on others for everything you need.

The DIY movement is growing every year, with no signs of slowing down. In May, Make held its fifth annual Maker Faire in San Mateo, California, where 95,000 people came to celebrate the unique rewards of DIY. This year, Maker Faire is
also coming to Detroit and New York. I hope you can come and participate in the transformative power of DIY.

mooselick7's picture
mooselick7
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 22 2009
Posts: 192
Re: The Courage to Screw Up: Why DIY Is Good for You
Damnthematrix wrote:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-frauenfelder/home-diy-the-courage-to-s_b_589371.html

As the editor-in-chief of the do-it-yourself magazine Make, I've met scores of dedicated makers. They come from all walks of life -- rich, poor, young, old, male, female, religious, atheist, liberal, conservative. They're as varied as
the things they make: kites with cameras, homebrew biodiesel, treehouses with ziplines, cigar box guitars, remote-control lawnmowers, automatic cat-feeders, high-altitude water rockets, robotic blimps, worm composting systems, stylish plywood furniture, pinhole cameras, experimental surfboards, solar water heaters, portable drive-in movie projectors -- there's no limit to their aspirations. And while no two DIYers are alike, in general they're an upbeat and
friendly group that shares a special trait: the courage to screw up.

Being able to accept, even embrace, your mistakes is far from easy. In school, we learn that mistakes translate into bad grades. This unfortunate lesson gets burned into our brains, and we go through life shunning challenges that might
end in failure. But DIYers not only accept the inevitability of mistakes, they welcome them, because they know that mistakes are a source of inspiration and the most effective way to learn. The latest research in neuroscience supports
this idea.

Through my own DIY efforts, which I chronicle in my new book, Made By Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World (Portfolio), I've gotten better at facing my own fear of mistakes. For the past couple of years, I've spent time
with my favorite "Alpha makers" to learn how they do what they do. I've never been very handy myself, but since making the decision to take a more active role in the world around me, I've begun raising chickens (in a coop I built myself),
keeping bees (lured out of the attic of my new house and into a full-scale hive), and growing vegetables (where my lawn used to be). I've hacked my espresso maker for the perfect brew, built musical instruments for impromptu
home concerts, erected a treehouse for my daughters, and tutored them in the sorts of hands-on skills our schools desperately need to teach, but don't.

Along the way, I've made an astronomical number of blunders. But the broken tools, barked knuckles, wasted materials, and countless trips to the hardware store have been a small price to pay for the fun and fulfillment my family and I have experienced. From my own DIY experiences and from researching the lives of other DIYers, I've discovered five benefits you gain from having the courage to screw up:

1. A deeper connection to the things that keep us alive and well. The human-made world is mostly beyond our comprehension. Our daily survival depends on seemingly magical gizmos that provide our food, water, clothing, comfort, transportation, education, well-being, and amusement. But you can make your world a little less confounding by sewing your own clothes, raising chickens, growing vegetables, teaching your children, and doing other activities that put you in touch with the processes of life. In addition, the things you make reflect your personality and have a special meaning. You share a connection with them every time you use them, and you appreciate them in a different way than you do store-bought things. This is why gifts of hand-made preserves, blankets, and furniture are so cherished. You are sharing a part of yourself with the recipient of your gift; they will value the time and effort you put into making something for them with your own hands far more than what it would have took to pick up a gift card at the mall.

2. An appreciation for the things you have and the systems that make it possible.The flip side to enjoying the things you make yourself is discovering how challenging and time-consuming it can be to make them. It takes me hours to
whittle one cooking spoon, and while it's enjoyable, I can't imagine making all of our family's cooking implements this way. Now, I pay more attention to the things I buy, and I appreciate them more than before. Because I've become an
active participant in the human-made world, I'm more observant of it. I care more about how things are made, paying close attention to each object for lessons in craftsmanship I can apply to my own projects.

3. An opportunity to use your hands and your brain. Human beings evolved opposable thumbs for a reason. The sense of reward you get from making something with your hands can't be earned any other way. It's obvious that people learn
faster from "hands-on" experience than they do watching someone else do something. (No wonder kids ask, "Can I try?" when they see their parents using a tool or appliance.) And when people engage in DIY activities like knitting,
their heart rate and blood pressure go down. We are tool-using animals and our bodies feel better when we've got tools in our hands.

4. A connection to other people. When I started making cigar box guitars, I stumbled onto a group of DIYers at a website called Cigar Box Nation. These amateur luthiers log in from around the world to share plans, photos, and videos of their home-made stringed instruments. They are happy to share ideas and advice about building guitars, banjoes, and ukuleles with newcomers. I've found this same spirit of generosity at other online hangouts devoted to building electric vehicles, autonomous aerial vehicles, and raising chickens. Even though time is our most precious resource, I've discovered that DIYers are happy to give their own time to people who seek their knowledge. (At Make, we are exploring this admirable quality of DIYers as a way to rethink traditional educational systems.)

5. A path to freedom. A number of DIYers I've met have succeeded in turning their passion for making things from a hobby into a business. In this era of economic uncertainty, DIYers have learned not to rely as much on governments and corporations to take care of them. They seek a more direct way to support themselves by becoming producers of high-quality, short-run products. For instance, Limor Fried transformed her passion for electronics into a full-time
business called Ada Fruit that sells mail-order kits to hobbyists. Mitch Altman made a little remote control that could turn off any TV set, and it was so popular he started a company that sells electronic gadgets. Sites like Etsy.com
and the Makers Market give DIYers a place to sell their handmade creations, ranging from hollow "spy coins" to silkscreened posters to revolving bookcases to chaotic pendulums. Even if you have no desire to become a full-time maker, DIY can provide a certain degree of freedom from depending on others for everything you need.

The DIY movement is growing every year, with no signs of slowing down. In May, Make held its fifth annual Maker Faire in San Mateo, California, where 95,000 people came to celebrate the unique rewards of DIY. This year, Maker Faire is
also coming to Detroit and New York. I hope you can come and participate in the transformative power of DIY.

I really liked this article.  I think you will like this one.   http://www.lindsaybks.com/dgjp/dave/philos/index.html

 

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