The power went out…..



now what?


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)

Common Appliances

Appliance Estimated Watts   Appliance Estimated Watts
Coffee pot (10 cup) 1200 VCR 40-60
Coffee pot (4 cup) 650 CD or DVD Player 35
Toaster 800-1500 Stereo 30-100
Cappuccino Maker 1250 Clock Radio 50
Coffee Grinder 100 AM/FM car cassette 8+
Blender 300 Satellite dish 30+
Microwave (600 to 1000 W cooking power) 1100-2000W
(elec. consumption)
Vacuum cleaner 300-1100
Waffle iron 1200 Mini Christmas lights (50) 25
Hot plate 1200 Space Heater 1000-1500
Frying pan 1200 Iron 1000
Toaster Oven 1200 Washing machine 920
Blow dryer 900-1500 12″ 3 speed table fan 230
– laptop
– pc & monitor
– printer-inkjet
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

Common Tools

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

Pump Running Starting   Air Conditioner
*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