How's Your Electricity?

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AndyH
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How's Your Electricity?

#1 Post by AndyH » Mon Jul 09, 2018 1:47 pm

I'm just getting back on-line after a five hour power outage. Thankfully the power dropped in the early morning and I didn't need the AC. I boiled water* on the little wood gasifier camp stove that's been on the back porch since last week's 10 hour outage. I drained the last of the energy from the two uninterruptible power supplies giving the refrigerator a bit of a boost.

Seventh largest city in the US. It's raining off and on, but there's no hurricane, tornado, or fires.

So... How stable is your local power and other utilities? Do you think they're about as reliable as they have been, or do any of them seem to be more or less reliable over time?

ETA... * Boiled water for coffee on the camp stove. The BBQ grill was out 'cause I didn't want to hold an umbrella over the grill until the charcoal came to life. :lol:
Last edited by AndyH on Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How's Your Electricity?

#2 Post by senorgrand » Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:03 pm

Funny, I am staying in Tahoe and we had a power outage of 10 hours when the transformer blew. I'm definately thinking about power needs.
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Re: How's Your Electricity?

#3 Post by highdesert » Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:26 pm

We had a heat wave in So Cal that started on Friday, around 110 degrees where I live (LA & Santa Barbara 100+) Fri-Sat-Sun and no outages where I live, the CA electrical grid got a workout. Radio was advising people people to set their thermostats to 78, don't use your washer or dryer and generally reduce consumption. CA built peaker plants throughout the state that kick on during high demand, I imagine they went into service.

I remember a few years back there was a major outage in So Cal, at first it was blamed on a station in San Diego but turns out it was a transformer at a rural station in Yuma, AZ. We're all connected.

Hope your electricity comes back online soon Andy, heat and humidity is really tough.
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Re: How's Your Electricity?

#4 Post by Bardo » Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:33 pm

Since i loaded my campers roof with 250w of solar 5 years ago ive never had an outtage..lol

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Re: How's Your Electricity?

#5 Post by SwampGrouch » Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:10 pm

We get it from a rural Public Utility District that buys it from the Bonneville Power Administration. Mostly hydro. Major outages are very rare, of short duration, and nearly always storm related, although once in a while a drunk driver takes out a power pole. Well, there was that time a squirrel got into the transformer station across the street and one door down. Man, that was impressive! They rebuilt the thing last year to be squirrel proof.
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Re: How's Your Electricity?

#6 Post by Hiker » Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:40 pm

Twice in the last decade, my area has experienced major ice storms. The resulting tree damage wiped out whole neighborhoods of power lines. In some areas it was 2 to 3 WEEKS before power was restored. I was lucky in that it never hit my neighborhood. But many people installed an emergency gas or propane heater in their homes. (the kind that didn't need electricity or could use batteries.)
Other than that our electricity has been fairly dependable.
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Re: How's Your Electricity?

#7 Post by inomaha » Mon Jul 09, 2018 3:53 pm

Last week ERCOT (Texas) was expecting a 70,000 MW peak. That was double the peak CAISO (California) expected on the same day. ERCOT has dropped to 55,000 MW and I bet with the current temps in the LA area CAISO will get closer to 50,000 MW peak.

http://www.ercot.com/

http://www.caiso.com/Pages/default.aspx

We were without power for a couple hours several years ago. And one time for 10 hours when I lived in Kansas City. That's it for the last 25 years so I consder that reasonable.
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Re: How's Your Electricity?

#8 Post by senorgrand » Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:03 pm

I am thinking of getting something that could run a laptop for a day or keep cell phones charged for several days. Any suggestions?
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Re: How's Your Electricity?

#9 Post by Bardo » Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:22 pm

2-6v golf cart batteries from batteries + ($200). That amount of battery would run your fridge on top of it for a day. But you would need to have it continuously hooked up to keep batteries in good shape. I.e. a solar panel or battery maintainer.

Or you could get a motorcycle size lithium or a car size AGM that doesnt need a continuous trickle charge. Either of the 3 would be about same price.

Cheapest route would be a walmart value car battery @ $55 (will need constant charge)

Then you will need a small 200-400w inverter to plug into.

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Re: How's Your Electricity?

#10 Post by shinzen » Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:02 pm

Lived in two states and four cities in the last 5 years- have had blizzard outages, rainstorm outages, earthquake outages, and wildfire outages. I've got a generator that runs off of propane now, which I purchased a couple of years ago, that saved all the food in the fridge and freezer last year when we had a 4 or 5 day outage during the wildfires last year. Eventually I'd like to have a Powerwall or something similar that could run stuff off of my solar cells, but even though they've come way down in price, they are still spendy.

As with anything, any battery options for charging electronics will need to be topped off, either regularly or at least in some intervals, so keeping that on your radar is part of being prepared. The earthquake here a few years ago knocked out water for awhile as well (before we moved here) so we're stocked with filters that we can use on river water and still be okay to drink it as well.
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Re: How's Your Electricity?

#11 Post by AndyH » Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:07 pm

senorgrand wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:03 pm
I am thinking of getting something that could run a laptop for a day or keep cell phones charged for several days. Any suggestions?
I keep a couple of 1500VA UPSs around for jobs like that. They both use a pair of 12V/9Ah sealed lead acid batteries. Systems that use lead acid batteries shut them down when they discharge to about 10 V, which is about 50% state of charge empty. Each unit when new will provide about 12V * 4.5 Ah * 2 or 108 Wh. [Using more than about 50% shortens battery life, but capacity drops as the battery ages as well, so this is a planning guestimate.] They'll work with larger batteries that can be kept outside the unit (and some larger UPSs have external battery boxes by design - like this: https://www.amazon.com/APC-Battery-Back ... 00YNTTWO4/).


Start by measuring the amount of power you'll need. Get one of these: https://www.amazon.com/P3-P4400-Electri ... 00009MDBU/ and measure the consumption of everything you want to back up. That way you'll know how much capacity you'll need.

http://www.rvsolarelectric.com/index.ph ... ctory_id=3
Last edited by AndyH on Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How's Your Electricity?

#12 Post by AndyH » Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:12 pm

highdesert wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:26 pm
We had a heat wave in So Cal that started on Friday, around 110 degrees where I live (LA & Santa Barbara 100+) Fri-Sat-Sun and no outages where I live, the CA electrical grid got a workout. Radio was advising people people to set their thermostats to 78, don't use your washer or dryer and generally reduce consumption. CA built peaker plants throughout the state that kick on during high demand, I imagine they went into service.
I've been watching your temperatures - ugly! I really hope that bubble moves on soon!
highdesert wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:26 pm
Hope your electricity comes back online soon Andy, heat and humidity is really tough.
Thanks highdesert. Thankfully this week's outages have been overnight and early on cloudy, rainy days. I don't want to complain about the rain - we're in drought here again. I just wish the utilities were underground around here. :lol:
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Re: How's Your Electricity?

#13 Post by Bisbee » Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:34 pm

Funny you should ask, Andy...
Thousands of LA Residents without Power During Heatwave.
http://abc7.com/weather/thousands-of-pe ... a/3722644/
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Re: How's Your Electricity?

#14 Post by highdesert » Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:44 pm

AndyH wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:12 pm
highdesert wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:26 pm
We had a heat wave in So Cal that started on Friday, around 110 degrees where I live (LA & Santa Barbara 100+) Fri-Sat-Sun and no outages where I live, the CA electrical grid got a workout. Radio was advising people people to set their thermostats to 78, don't use your washer or dryer and generally reduce consumption. CA built peaker plants throughout the state that kick on during high demand, I imagine they went into service.
I've been watching your temperatures - ugly! I really hope that bubble moves on soon!
highdesert wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:26 pm
Hope your electricity comes back online soon Andy, heat and humidity is really tough.
Thanks highdesert. Thankfully this week's outages have been overnight and early on cloudy, rainy days. I don't want to complain about the rain - we're in drought here again. I just wish the utilities were underground around here. :lol:
Cooler here today, I just got back in and it was 91 degrees downtown but it's overcast and very humid. We too could use the rain, we're also back in drought. Thankfully I don't have to run my a/c 24 hrs a day during the summer, it cools down here at night. I had coworkers who had electricity bills of $700 to $1000 per month during the summer just because of a/c. Natural gas and renewables provide most of our electrical needs at this time.
http://www.caiso.com/TodaysOutlook/Pages/supply.aspx
Last edited by highdesert on Mon Jul 09, 2018 11:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How's Your Electricity?

#15 Post by YankeeTarheel » Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:45 pm

In NJ, we've only had a multi-hour outage a few times since the 5 days of Super-Storm Sandy (2012).

But in our other home, in the Bahamas' Family Islands, power outages are regular and no surprise. Most recent was Friday, about 5 1/2 hours long (a bit unusual). So my wife and I packed up, and rode out to Pete's Pub, which is off the grid, and had drinks and a meal that couldn't be beat! We met a couple cruising the Caribbean who live on their boat in the Miami River, who had taken their inflatable dingy into Little Harbour for dinner at Pete's Pub. There's no "inside" there--it's all outside. But the drinks are good, the food's amazing, you can swim in the harbour while waiting for dinner...and when we got home, the power was back on.

Only shotguns and rifles are legal in the Bahamas and they carry a hefty annual fee: $250 / shotgun and $300 / rifle. Plus you must be a citizen or permanent resident. However, you can own a flare gun.
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Re: How's Your Electricity?

#16 Post by highdesert » Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:09 pm

Bisbee wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:34 pm
Funny you should ask, Andy...
Thousands of LA Residents without Power During Heatwave.
http://abc7.com/weather/thousands-of-pe ... a/3722644/
LA is just not used to those types of temperatures and neither is LA DWP and SC Edison.

Bisbee: Hope you're not stuck in that outage.
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Re: How's Your Electricity?

#17 Post by Marlene » Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:53 pm

It's pretty good here. Need to figure something for backup, but we have done a great deal through usage reduction: we run the entire house from the original early 1900s 30 amp service. Yes, you read right. Two adults live on no more than 30 amps and usually a lot less.

Anybody know about good small home solar/battery systems?
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Re: How's Your Electricity?

#18 Post by Bisbee » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:00 pm

We fared well through the heatwave though my aunt & uncle up in ritzy Pasadena did suffer power loss on Friday.

Jeez, Marlene, you should be looking at Harbor Freight's RV solar setup for your needs.
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Re: How's Your Electricity?

#19 Post by senorgrand » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:15 pm

AndyH wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:07 pm
senorgrand wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:03 pm
I am thinking of getting something that could run a laptop for a day or keep cell phones charged for several days. Any suggestions?
I keep a couple of 1500VA UPSs around for jobs like that. They both use a pair of 12V/9Ah sealed lead acid batteries. Systems that use lead acid batteries shut them down when they discharge to about 10 V, which is about 50% state of charge. Each unit when new will provide about 12V * 4.5 Ah * 2 or 108 Wh. They'll work with larger batteries that can be kept outside the unit (and some larger UPSs have external battery boxes by design - like this: https://www.amazon.com/APC-Battery-Back ... 00YNTTWO4/).


Start by measuring the amount of power you'll need. Get one of these: https://www.amazon.com/P3-P4400-Electri ... 00009MDBU/ and measure the consumption of everything you want to back up. That way you'll know how much capacity you'll need.

http://www.rvsolarelectric.com/index.ph ... ctory_id=3
Anything more portable/rugged? I'd like to take it camping as well.
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Re: How's Your Electricity?

#20 Post by AndyH » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:39 pm

senorgrand wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:15 pm
AndyH wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:07 pm
senorgrand wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:03 pm
I am thinking of getting something that could run a laptop for a day or keep cell phones charged for several days. Any suggestions?
I keep a couple of 1500VA UPSs around for jobs like that. They both use a pair of 12V/9Ah sealed lead acid batteries. Systems that use lead acid batteries shut them down when they discharge to about 10 V, which is about 50% state of charge. Each unit when new will provide about 12V * 4.5 Ah * 2 or 108 Wh. They'll work with larger batteries that can be kept outside the unit (and some larger UPSs have external battery boxes by design - like this: https://www.amazon.com/APC-Battery-Back ... 00YNTTWO4/).


Start by measuring the amount of power you'll need. Get one of these: https://www.amazon.com/P3-P4400-Electri ... 00009MDBU/ and measure the consumption of everything you want to back up. That way you'll know how much capacity you'll need.

http://www.rvsolarelectric.com/index.ph ... ctory_id=3
Anything more portable/rugged? I'd like to take it camping as well.
(Caution...stream of consciousness nerd alert... ;) )

Depending on the amount of energy needed... One could toss an UPS in the car, or carry a small inverter that plugs into the car's cigarette lighter port (or wires to the battery). There are boxes built for portable power but they're pretty easy to DIY as well.
https://www.goalzero.com/

Portable battery example:


Portable battery with solar:




Folks with hybrid cars or BEVs can take it to another level of nerdliness by using a DC-DC converter on the traction battery...but those generally run in the 300V range, so shock safety during the DIY stuff is important. http://priups.com/exec-summary.htm
http://forum.solar-electric.com/discuss ... nerator/p1
(It's pretty easy to connect a 2000W inverter to the car's 12V battery, though. EVs and hybrids will recharge the 12V from the traction battery so they're not limited to the capacity of the lead-acid battery under the hood. And there's plenty of battery charging in the gas tank.)

Then there's all of the regular solar off-grid equipment that's been around for years. Get a panel or three, a charge controller, battery, inverter, circuit breakers, and wiring...but that gets less portable...unless one has an RV or trailer.
https://www.homepower.com/solar-trailers

(Yes, part of my frustration this morning as stuff in my refridge was beginning to compost is that I've got 12 kWh of battery outside in the Outlander (at 350 Volts)...and I don't (yet) have an inverter large enough to start the refrigerator. I have the guts of an off-grid solar system upstairs...including a 3500W inverter...that needs 24 volts of battery. Need more Legos. Sigh.)
Last edited by AndyH on Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How's Your Electricity?

#21 Post by Bardo » Mon Jul 09, 2018 7:58 pm

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B06XWL79 ... B00LXG4AXS

Cheeto has prices 45% higher than a year ago though....

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Re: How's Your Electricity?

#22 Post by AndyH » Sun Aug 12, 2018 4:52 pm

I'm sitting here happily listening to rain falling outside - we need plenty to break the drought. And in the middle of a quiet rain with just a little bit of far-off thunder everything gets quiet. Yup...freekin' power's off again. It was down for almost 2 hours late Friday night as well. Yay for the beeps from uninterruptible power supplies...time to shut down.
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Re: How's Your Electricity?

#23 Post by YankeeTarheel » Sun Aug 12, 2018 5:48 pm

AndyH wrote:
Sun Aug 12, 2018 4:52 pm
I'm sitting here happily listening to rain falling outside - we need plenty to break the drought. And in the middle of a quiet rain with just a little bit of far-off thunder everything gets quiet. Yup...freekin' power's off again. It was down for almost 2 hours late Friday night as well. Yay for the beeps from uninterruptible power supplies...time to shut down.
Most of them have a setting to shut the beeping off. I have found that the CyberPower UPSs are MUCH easier to connect to your PC (so you can change settings) than APC UPS units, as they use a USB rather than a proprietary connection. Plus, when the battery goes, as it will on every UPS, it's much cheaper to change the batteries when they die than buying a whole, new unit. A local Batteries +Plus, during the 2012 blackout, used a UPS unit as an inverter, hooking it to a car battery for a greatly extended usage.
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Re: How's Your Electricity?

#24 Post by AndyH » Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:51 pm

And back.

You're right, YT - I took care of the beeps fairly quickly. The UPS running the network talks to the network attached storage box via USB - I have the NAS set to gracefully shut-down when the outage is longer than a minute. The other one sits between a pair of desktop computers and we just shut those down manually.

The local power grid is kinda iffy, but the 10 year old wood gasifier stove from India is always ready. Three cheers for PG Tips tea with just a hint of mesquite smoke. :lol:
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Re: How's Your Electricity?

#25 Post by YankeeTarheel » Sun Aug 12, 2018 7:10 pm

I've never hear of a wood gasifier stove. How does it work and what does it do?

I keep a UPS (APC--I still have bunch of them ) 1500 watts, backing up my cable modem and switch. An old APC backing up the router, and a pair of 1350 CyberPowers backing up my wife's and my desktops. The laptops, of course, have their internal battery backup. Unfortunately, I don't have a backup yet for my NAS, but I should. I just have to move one into place.
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