What do you use for backup power?
I am curious to see what others are using for backup power? I have always had a genset or two around for many years, but recently got into the solar generator way of thinking. I built a DIY set up about a year ago, following a great design I found on YT. I wish I had the money to buy something like the big Goal Zero or one of the newer lithium set-ups, but I don’t. That doesn’t mean I have to do without though. The heart of the rig is a set (2x6v) of lead acid, deep cycle Sam’s club. The solar comes from 4 100 Watt Newpowa panels. The platform is built on a old furniture moving dolly/hand truck, with an integrated system of components. While originally designed to support EMCOM in the field, it keeps the fridge and freezer happy. Here are some pictures of the set up, please feel free to ask any questions.
Any other backups out there?
How long can you run your fridge freezer off this without recharge. Solar wont work – as I am in the dark mostly where I live.. as we have too much rain..
how long depends on: How big is your fridge and how big are your batteries….
First thing is to know how much energy you need (kWh) per day. Since a fridge runs in intervals you cannot use the numbers on it since this only give you the energy it needs when running. Easiest way is to buy a kWh monitor (you can get it from AliExpres for about 10 USD) and connect it between the outlet and the fridge (after the inside is completely cooled). Let it run for 1 day and read the total used kWh from the device. Now you know the minimum requirement of the backup batteries. (keep it 50% above to be sure)
If you have poor sun conditions you need a LOT of collectors to keep your batteries full, or a fuel generator that starts recharging automaticly when the batteries need it (set it to a 25% level or so).
I can run about 6-8 hours if I manage the loads.
I have a Generac 8,000 watt gas generator. It’s not a sustainable off-grid solution, but can tide me over for limited duration outages.
We had a major storm last July that took down power city wide for days. My town looked like a war zone. It’s a real eye opener when you realize just how dependent you are on electricity.
The best first thing to do for always having needs met, which is the whole reason we want backup power, is to first look closely at all our needs and where possible find ways to meet them that are more resilient or dont need power, or have more than one way to get that need met. Doing that means grid being down is less of an issue.
For example, even though I power my refrigerator/freezer thru every power outage off of my battery back up, it is not critical. Yes, I would lose some food, but my major emergency food stores do not rely on powered storage. This is why most of my food preserving is not freezing food, most of it is done by dehydrating and canning to have shelf stable foods. ( I do have some frozen berries, and butter in there now, as well as some bread and leftovers and a bit of protein foods, no great loss though. Most of the fruit I preserve is dried or canned pie fillings,etc…)
I normally cook on an electric stove, but that is 240V and does not work when the grid is down ( I have only backed up a certain amount of amps at 120V). So, then, if it is cold, I cook on my woodstove I am heating the house with. If it is hot and the power is out, I use my 2 solar ovens or my portable rocket stove which cooks food very efficiently on a few twigs laying around the yard. I normally cook with the solar ovens all summer anyways, it is the noral way I cook. I also have a few camp stoves and a backpack burner, but I have never used these at home, even though I could. I also have a single counter top induction electric element, this I can power off of my battery back up power, but I never have had to. I do plug in and use the toaster, electric kettle, breadmaker, etc… when the power is out. Basically, I have alot of redundancy when it comes to cooking and heating up food.
I have 2.5kW of solar panels on the roof. I do not use as much power as the “average” household as that provides all I need and I live in an all electric house ( no gas or propane service). While it is a grid intertie system, I also have battery back up for when the power goes off. When the grid is down and it is sunny, I can use more power and the batteries get recharged, if it is raining, then I give my best guesstimate on how long I think the power will be out and decide how much power to waste. I dont know how many days, I have only had the power out for 4 days at a time, which was no problem. Except one time I blasted the stereo loudly for a few days and ran the batteries down and actually ran out of power on the third day! One time out of 20 years. Otherwise, I have never not had electricity.
I heat the house with wood, so I always have heat. I got rid of the 3 window airconditioners that came with the house and developed passive ways to deal with the heat ( it does get hot here in the summer, quite hot) I planted a trellis over the south facing sliders, installed operable skylights to vent the house at night, and I also just acclimate to the seasons, so yes, the house gets somewhat hot, but only too hot for a few nights each summer, in which case I can sleep with a fan or out on the deck.
The one thing I do not have back up for is the water heater. I used to have solar hot water, but it is disconnected right now as I cant afford repairs, but formost of the time I have lived here, I had hot water for more than half the year for free and needing no power. The solar hot water panels are low, basically leaning on the ground below the house up agaisnt the deck, the tank for it is higher, in the utility room of the house on a short platform, so the fluid thermosiphons with no pumps and so works without electricity. I will get to replacing the broken panel soon. What I will leave disconnected is that I used to also have a hot water loop thru the wood stove, which would provide some hot water in the winter, but that needed a pump and was also potentially not as safe. So, once I disconnected that, When the power goes out in the winter, I put a pot of water on the wood stove and heat water for washing up.
I like the feeling that I have all my needs met without worrying about having fuel for a generator or the expense and upkeep of a generator
I live in the country and have well water so I wanted to have a couple of layers of backup power to maintain running water during an emergency and power the freezer. I have a 5500 watt standard generator, a 2000 watt inverter generator and an old chicken coop with 600 watts of solar panels on it. The panels have been there for a while and are hooked to a grid tie inverter that converts the DC from the solar panels into AC and pumps it into the house. The only change that I have made recently in response to the pandemic was to install a bank of deep cycle golf cart batteries with a charge controller to store the solar power and an LF pure sine wave inverter large enough to power the well pump.