The power went out…..
When power goes out, it is initially seen as just an inconvenience. We all hope it will be short term and not an issue. As the hours go by, you will need to gradually activate your “no electricity” plan. You’re approaching a time when you need to power some small “convenience” items such as lamps, cell phone chargers and such. As the hours without power continues, you should have a plan to preserve refrigerated and frozen food (and / or medicine) and this should already be spelled out in your plan.
Let’s pause for a moment to understand things you need to do before an event presents its self. This is called “passive prepping” since it is a simple routine which will give your plan the resources needed to accomplish the task.
One thing you need to do as a routine is to not let your gas in your vehicle go below 1/2 tank. It costs no more to keep it in that range, you will just be spending smaller amounts more often but the usage does not increase. I do that and it makes the pain at the gas pump more bearable.
At this point, most of you are thinking “why is he talking about gas”!!
The reason is that the battery in the vehicle will be your source of power b y using a power inverter that will change the 12 volts DC from your car to 110 AC which will allow you to run some small products inside the home (more about inverters in a link below) You will need to run the engine to keep the battery charged when using an inverter.
Another reason to keep plenty of fuel in the tank is because in extreme cold, you may need to use the heater to keep your family warm and to monitor the radio for news and alerts. A CB or ham radio in your vehicle would be a plus. Gas stations probably will not have power either or will have long lines or sold out.
Small inverters can be purchased in many places such as Wal-Mart, auto parts stores, Harbor Freight and others. Small ones can be purchased for as low as 40 bucks on sale, sometimes even cheaper. Don’t forget…if you do this in an emergency situation, do NOT run the vehicle in a garage or enclosed area. Also keep windows cracked for fresh air while running the vehicle. If snow is piled up around the vehicle, be sure to remove it from around the exhaust.
They are simple to operate; it connects to your battery in the vehicle and converts it to AC. At that point, you can charge your phone; use a lamp, power a C-Pap machine and other smaller items that will help you get thru the outage. Be sure to check the power requirements of the devices you are powering. You are limited to what the unit will produce. The more power you want…the higher the cost.
Do not expect to run the refrigerator or any large item with one of these smaller units. Also electric heaters draw a lot of power and will not be able to run off of the small ones. If you need to run refrigerators or electronics, you need to upgrade to a “Pure Sine Wave” inverter. Most electronics do not like the modified sine wave that the lower cost units produce.
So for about 40 bucks, you can have minimal power for phones, radios and such. The good thing is once you make the purchase of the inverter, there is no more cost to use it. Remember how I started small then gradually moved to bigger and better things? You can do the same with the inverter.
Ok, so far we have some small amount of power to keep the phones going, power a radio, run medical equipment, power a lamp and other small items using what you already have and the addition of an inverter. NOTE, you cannot run all the items mentioned above at the same time. You should look on the tag of the item and see the watts used and do the math. If you have a 400 watt inverter, you should only run about 350 so there is some reserve.
How Many Watts Do You Need?
To select an inverter that has enough power for your application, add the watts for items you may want to run at the same time. Use the total wattage, plus 20%, as your minimum power requirement.
Note: The wattage’s given below are estimates. The actual wattage required for your appliances may differ from those listed. Check the nameplate on the appliance to determine the actual wattage required.
* Appliances and tools with induction motors (marked * in tables) may require from 3 to 7 times the listed wattage when starting. The start-up load of the appliance or tool determines whether an inverter has the capability to power it. Be sure to check the specific wattage requirements and operating instructions for appliances / tools to be used.
F.Y.I. ….. (conversion formula: Watts ÷ 120 = Amps …….. Amps x 120 = Watts)
|Appliance||Estimated Watts||Appliance||Estimated Watts|
|Coffee pot (10 cup)||1200||VCR||40-60|
|Coffee pot (4 cup)||650||CD or DVD Player||35|
|Cappuccino Maker||1250||Clock Radio||50|
|Coffee Grinder||100||AM/FM car cassette||8+|
|Microwave (600 to 1000 W cooking power)||1100-2000W
|Waffle iron||1200||Mini Christmas lights (50)||25|
|Hot plate||1200||Space Heater||1000-1500|
|Toaster Oven||1200||Washing machine||920|
|Blow dryer||900-1500||12″ 3 speed table fan||230|
– pc & monitor
|TV – 25″ color
– 19″ color TV or monitor
– 12″ b&w
13″ color TV/VCR Combo
|*Refrigerator/Freezer||600||Game Console (X-Box)||100|
|*Freezer||500-800||*Furnace Fan (1/3hp)||1200|
|Tool||Estimated Watts||Tool||Estimated Watts|
|Jig Saw||300||1/4″ drill||250|
|Band Saw||1200||3/8″ drill||500|
|Table Saw||1800||1/2″ drill||750|
|6 1/2″ circ. saw||1000||Shop Vac 5 hp||1000|
|7 1/4″ circ. saw||1200+||*Sabre Saw||500|
|8 1/4″ circ. saw||1800||*Portable Grinder||1380|
|Disc Sander||1200||*Electric Chain Saw 14″||1200|
|Makita Chop Saw||1550||*Airless Sprayer 1/2 hp||600|
|Makita Cut Off Saw||1000||*Air Compressor 1 hp||2000|
Pumps and Air Conditioners
|*Well Pump 1/3 hp||750||1400-3000||*7000 BTU to 10000 BTU
Running: 1000-1500. Starting: 2200-5000.
(A/C’s are a very difficult load because of the high start-up surge. Use the Locked Rotor Amps to determine the start up surge requirement).
|*Well Pump 1/2 hp||1000||2100-4000|
|*Sump Pump 1/3 hp||800||1300-2900|
|*Sump Pump 1/2 hp||1050||2150-4100|