Lessons from Sandy Storm power outages

Wurkkos

Solscud007

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So I am one of the many in the NY area to be affected and not have power. I wasn't worried as I am a flashaholic. However there are some interesting things I discovered and played with in the darkness.

First of all 18650s are nice but my bright lights burned thru them fast. So I switched gears and used my Quark 18650 body, Turbo forward clicky tailcap for tailstanding, and my Quark CR123 head. I set the brightness to medium and it is more than enough light to last hours.

I dont normally have this many lights on. But the point I want to make is the discovery of using a liquid body wash bottle as a diffuser. it is a PERFECT fit for the Quark head. It is a snug fit but there is a lip inside that stops the head from going in all the way. This really helped with general area lighting. No the HF is not on in this picture.


diffus10.jpg



As many have noted, headlamps are invaluable. I love my Surefire Saint and my ICON headlamp. I have a CR123 Zebralight but opted not to use it. As I dont have that many CR123s. I have 8 fresh Eneloops and 48 Alkaline AA ready to feed those lights. Right now the Icon is still running off the AA that is in it and my Saint is running off the 3xCR123 that it came with. I know that I can just feed two AA when the time comes.

Battery vampires are fun to use as well. Milky Candle is killing off batteries. Although it is still running off two "dead" CR123s since FOREVER!!!!


I have another battery vampire, I cant remember who made it but he modded my Pentagon Light angle head to a warm nichia. Anyway I fed it a D-cell and put a Ping Pong ball over the LED as a diffuser. Then I had the great idea to use my tealight candle lantern instead. Not terribly bright but enough light to navigate in the dark. This thing has been running for two days straight and still going.

sandy10.jpg


I am charging my Rechargeables at work. However my friend told me about this and I think it is awesome. It is a small camping stove that you use wood to fuel it and it can charge USB powered objects as well as cook food.

http://www.biolitestove.com/campstove/camp-overview/features/



For fun, I went to the mall at night. I guess they have emergency lights on but it was closed and all the parking lights were out. So I took a picture and brought the hellfighter along.
sf_hf_11.jpg
 
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moldyoldy

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Solscud007: I note the Tie-Fighter on your desk and R2D2 on the shelf. Disney just purchased LucasFilm for 4B with a promise to keep the Star Wars theme alive. Note also that the Indiana Jones series also goes to Disney. The Force was obviously with George Lucas!

You have a nice collection of flashlights with good comments. I note that most of them are smallish or even single-cell lights. You are discovering the next phase of flashaholism ... that the big bright long-throwing lights are not that useful in every day life, unless you are an ER or LEO or SAR or ... For the non-flashaholics, using a ceiling bounce to light up a room (or some sort of a diffuser) is too often belatedly discovered when the assumed AC power is non-existent, given that a light of sufficient lumens was findable and the batteries were not dead. Headlights are wonderful and underappreciated.. Ditto for battery vampires!

I myself am transitioning from the stage of "I need more lumens" and shrinking my preferences. I am down to experimenting with button-cell lights (10-20 lumens) or the smaller hand-crank lights. My pockets appreciate the size difference. I wore holes in too many front or back pants pockets with 1x 123 or 1x AA lights. even the 1x AAA lights are borderline large. I still carry an LD01 on steroids (10440) or an LD15 in a shirt pocket with a flap, but my pants pockets only have a button-cell light hung on whatever key chain happens to be with me. No, I have not had a problem with button-cell lights (pinch-lights) turning on in my pocket. To lower the cost of operation, I purchase CR2016 and LR41 cells a 100 at a time. at <$0.50 per cell, the cost ceases to be of concern. The small hand-crank lights were essentially toys and I gave them all away to kids to play with. Admittedly I did keep one crank light with what looks like 3x AA cells inside.

I gifted various acquaintances and family members with decent LED lighting. The "gifted lumens" reached 500-800. However whenever I had the chance to observe or ask, nearly all of "giftees" had only the button-cell lights like the Photo X-Light for EDC. There was no hope for more output levels than 2-3 - too confusing. I could show them the different levels, but they normally used the light at the first level at turn-on. There was a major boundary at a pocket or purse size. If the light was larger than disappearing in a pocket or purse, it was a shelf queen parked somewhere waiting maybe to be found when the need arose, usually because of power failures. Then maybe. So I stopped gifting anything larger than a Photon X-Light with a couple packs of CR2016 cells. Most of my extended family sort of becomes disinterested above 100-200 lumens.

Regarding lumens: with age, all of the flashaholics who wanted outputs of <1 lumen will discover that they cannot see so well any more. Then the 10 lumen lights are useful. ie: I tried out a Preon P0 - the low output is totally useless for me. The P0 with 25 lumen high is all flood and nearly useless except at <1 or 2 meters.

As always, YMMV. What you have with you when the lights go out or at least know where to quickly find and with enough light to get there is important. A bathroom or stairwell or back room in large malls or builiding complexes can be very dark when the AC-based lights drop out. I wonder how many of the flashlights purchased and used for Sandy will be around for the next power failure?
 

Solscud007

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Yeah what we need and what we have are two different things. I dislike AAA lights. But I am in love with AA lights. Like my Ti 1xAA Quark and my Sunwayman V10R (with extender) and V10A. I feed them 14500 li-ions until they die and then fuel them with AAs. The Sunwaymans are great since they have the magnetic ring to dial in the brightness level, like my Surefire Titans. But I can tail stand them, titans can't tailstand. At least the Aluminum ones can't.
 

joecatch

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I live in Dutchess County, NY and I didn't learn any lesons because we never lost power! I had my new Trustfire J18 and various older lightbulb flashlights ready by my side but we never lost power. The lights just flickered a few times. I had a good supply of AAs and 18650s ready. My daughter at Nyack College lost power in her dorm but still had WIFI. Go figure.

Joe C
 

1pt21

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That "flowery" transparent display case you have in the back. I have the exact same one (well it's the wife's to be honest), I think its from IKEA.

She let me take over about 45% of it with lights (my hopes in making the new place appear more manly) LOL.

Pics upon request (if you don't believe me ;))

It currently houses my M6 which certainly "mans" it up for sure!!!


Anyway I had no power for ~2days total; I used WAAAAAY more 2aa and 3xaaa lights than I would've ever imagined! Mostly upgraded (of course) 2aa mini-mags tail standing to light various rooms throughout the condo. Never would've though it, of course I had an arsenal of 18650's ready to rock... Used up about 2 of em hahaha..

Thanks for story!!
 

MikeAusC

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I suspect we haven't heard from people who have recently learnt that, even if you live in the biggest city in a country with some of the most reliable infrastructure in the world, you may be suddenly without power for many days.

Why ???? Because right now they're very busy working out how to survive without refrigeration, a weather-proof roof, shops etc - and most probably don't have power to communicate with the outside world.

It's not just New York / New Jersey. Christchurch residents had no warning that their comforts were to be suddenly taken away.
 

ElectronGuru

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Read an article about how urban density correlates to storm/power reliability.

Underground power is more resilient but costs much more per mile. The US is less dense than many other developed nations and so has a much higher proportion of above ground power lines. Not enough people per mile, so we are more vulnerable to storms, etc.
 

jrmcferren

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I think I learned about as much preparing for Sandy as from Sandy itself. I had been preparing for Sandy for a week prior to the storm as a just in case measure. I orginally ready about how Sandy could turn into a snow storm (it did for the higher elevations). Here are the lessons learned and steps I took:

  • Always have a battery powered (or hand crank) radio. I only had AM portables from the 70s and earlier. First prep item I bought was an eTon FR-170 radio that contained an AM/FM/Weather radio (no alerting) with a flashlight and a cell phone charger. Rechargable from a USB source as well as solar panels and the hand crank. This is also a backup light.
  • D-Cells run out quick when a storm is coming, in the future I'm going to stress the importance of diversification on cell types. C-Cells were plenty in my area, AA and AAA lights are good two.
  • My EDC flashlight is not an emergency preparation. (I knew this ahead of time, hence my backup lights that I have).
  • Think about possible travel bans (this came up as a possiblity) and have a way to spend the night wherever you are (home or work). I came up with sleeping arrangements last minute, didn't even think about the sleeping bag in my storage locker. I now keep it in the trunk of my car. I grabbed pillows and blankets at the last minute.
  • Keep your gas tank full. I did this to the most viable extreme. I filled my tank on Thursday night before I went home from work, I did some errands on Friday and went to work on Sunday and topped off again on my way home even though it was less than two gallons.
  • Know the infrastructure in your area and plan accordingly. My parents (I live at home) got gas for the generator before hand (wasn't needed luckilly). I told them it was likely that they would have to travel out of town to get gas if we lost power. We live very close to the substation and a transmission line or substation transformer failure would be the likely cause of any long duration outage and it would affect a large area.
  • Know where you can take refuge if must be away from home. In my case it was work as that is where I was anyway. We have large generators as we are a critical operation. Before taking refuge at your workplace, you obviously should ask management.
  • Plan food accordingly (again this was last minute, but I did well), again with the fear of a travel ban I not only left home early and made makeshift sleeping arrangements I grabbed something to eat. I grabbed some snacks (already had some), 12 24-ounce bottles of Soda and three hoagies (as well as my emergency lunches already in the freezer at work). I knew my office would not loose refrigeration due to our emergency power.
  • Communications are critical, but also prone to failure. When I packed things up I brought three forms of communication (Two where I could send information and one receive-only source). I had my smartphone with extra chargers (including a large battery pack), my ham radio handheld, and lastly my radio above. This of course was only personal resources, not anything provided by my employer.
  • Anything can fail! By around 1:30 AM all NOAA weather radio stations that I could receive (Including the one that didn't provide forecasts or warnings for this area) were off the air. Hagerstown went first and didn't get restored until yesterday. Harrisburg then failed (which doesn't serve my area) and lastly Bedford failed. My only source of weather information other than local radio was my smartphone. The cellular networks stayed functional the entire time.
  • Bookmark the power company website. Even if you aren't without power, you can at least track outages in your area to see what the extent of power-outage related damage is occuring, especially if you switch to generators pre-emptively to prevent problems (My employer did).
  • Be very paitient with local radio stations. I didn't have to worry about this as much, but the radio stations in my area continued normal programming with updates throughout the storm. Paitence is a very important virtue especially when you can't stand said station's normal programming.

I mentioned backup lights earlier in this post, my backup light plan is a bit different than most flashaholics. My EDC is my primary light, I however do not carry a backup light on my person as the likely reason of switching to a backup light is runtime, not failure. I keep backup lights all over. I have one at home (family flashlight that is used enough that the batteries are replaced often enough), one in the car, and one in my cubicle at work. Each of these offer a longer runtime then my EDC light and EDC spare cells combined without needing a change of cells (or battery).
 
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moldyoldy

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jrmcferren: good comments, especially those about the EDC light not being emergency preparation! I guess I never really thought about it that way.

I do carry multiple flashlights in various pockets (usually zippered or velcro'd) although I do not carry spare cells with me. I prefer a second or third light since the first might be loaned or dropped/lost. I have plenty of lights and cells in my house, but that is not necessarily a good response or preparation.
 

Roger Sully

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I guess I shouldn't be amazed about how many people were not prepared this past week. What did surprise me was that the local PDs were not prepared. I can't tell you how many lights were loaned and batteries given out to officers on duty.
I can also reiterate that, while the high lumens are impressive, the low/medium modes were the ones most used during the outage. Mr. Elfin was the star of the show tailstanding in the living room with the diffuser. Everyone in my household also had a light on a lanyard. It's awesome how the Mrs can appreciate flashoholism after and extended outage !
 

fresh eddie fresh

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I hope everyone effected by the storm are staying safe and doing well... although if I had a room full of Legos and flashlights, I would be perfectly happy for quite a long time!
 

webley445

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A thought about the above comment concerning C/D cells.

If you go to Radio Shack you can buy project boxes/ battery holders for various cell sizes. Attach longer wires to the leads and then alligator clips to the other ends. Get boxes that hold 2/4/6 cells. Then the clips can be attached to various battery powered devices to power them. With a little experimenting you can find lights that will accommodate having clips attached. Works well for led laterns that have batteries placed in the base. If the light runs off of 4 AA cells, use 4 C cell box and your runtime will be increased. This works wonderfully for AA powered radios. Even some coin cells devices can be modded to accept the clips and run forever.
Battery adaptor can be bought or DIY so that smaller cells can be used in D cell lights too. Just some food for thought, budget ways of making preps.
 

jamesbeat

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I had exactly that plan in mind, great minds think alike :D

Another thing that I am going to do is build a lantern that is a low output battery vampire.
I'm going to make it with a D battery box, and I'm going to get adapters for every cell size so that they can be nested like russian dolls. My lantern will then be able to run on D, C, AA, and AAA.
That is also what I plan to do when I make my battery box with flyleads and alligator clips.

After working in a store that sold batteries during the run up to and aftermath of the hurricane, I have decided that versatility is the only way to go.
At least one customer that I know of (because she told me) and probably many others bought batteries that they didn't have a use in mind for, just for the sake of buying batteries.
Panic buying has to be seen to be believed.

Another lesson that I learned was to absolutely never buy a radio that takes D or C cells, because that is what everybody else has already done.
My emergency radio takes 2xAAA. I bet its current draw is a fraction of that if a 'boom box' type radio that takes C or D cells, and with the aforementioned battery box with clips, could be run on any of the major alkaline cell sizes.
 
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Quiksilver

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After working in a store that sold batteries during the run up to and aftermath of the hurricane, I have decided that versatility is the only way to go.
at least one customer that I know of (because she told me) and probably many others bought batteries that they disn't have a use in mind for, just for the sake of buying batteries.
Panic buying has to be seen to be believed.

Eh, I might do the same for my neighborhood. Visit some electronics/camera stores/gas station/supermarket/distributor warehouse, and load up on batteries.

Then re-sell them for a small profit to fund all my Prep expenses during the emergency, as well as freely distribute them to neighbors in the interest of neighborhood watch and good will.

Currently still working on diversifying my light collection to include different lights to take literally every kind of battery i can find.
 

reppans

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I'm quite certain that I will represent the extreme corner on this thread, but I used my EDC and burned about the equivalent of one Eneloop during the Sandy outage - my power came back on Sat. night. I have dedicated lanterns and headlamps, but I find them no better than what I carry in my pockets 24/7, and usually less efficient or comfortable.

I'm a minimalist camper and low lumen freak and prefer using my night vision to higher lumens. When I'm out in the middle of the woods, I just feel that I can see better (at least sense movement) when my eyes aren't bleached out by bright light - it just makes everything less scary for me and has huge runtime benefits, of course. For me, power outages are like camping indoors.

For the most part, I use 0.3/3/20 lumen modes as my L/M/H and a 3 lumen weighted average should be about 50 hrs of runtime from an Eneloop - an easy week of continuous nighttime use. In general, I use moonlight while on my "neckband." With dark adapted eyes, I find the aimed light just right for indoor navigation, reading, and simple close task work. I use 3 lumens for more difficult task work (like cooking) and for general diffused lantern lighting. But if need be, I could quite easily live on moonlight alone.

I have solar chargers for my Eneloops, and AAA>AA adapters that will let me scavenge the dozens of other AAA & 9V batteries littering the house in remotes, detectors, toys etc. I probably wouldn't need to use these resources for lighting, but I've consolidated all of my other emergency/portable electronic devices around AAs & Eneloops, like a back-up cellphone charger, and AM/FM radio, UV water purifier, etc.

For me, by far, the most important things to have, and use, for emergency lighting is an efficient moonlight mode single-AA flashlight.... and your own night vision.

8026735728_f38e3c9539.jpg
 
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Blue72

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A week after the storm

Just like camping....brightness is meaningless and runtime is king.....extra wide flood is a bonus....so are headlamps
 

TEEJ

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My wife is about night blind, but glare is also blinding to her, so the SC600 and SC600W are "Her's" for most of the ordeal....plus the teeny monster.

I have a solar charger (Cottonpicker) with double battery boxes, that easily recharged all the cells from the night before to be ready for the next night...with a car jumpstarter that allowed further energy storage, and convenient three prong and cig lighter accessories, etc.

So cell phones, cells, laptops, etc, are all charged and ready to go every day.

Other than not having heat, it's not that different than normal.

The grocery stores were wiped out of flashlights and batteries except some for hearing aids and watches....even the 9v were gone. No AAA, AA, C or D's...all gone. No CR123's...all gone. There were two energizer nimh charger's with cells (A kit) at a few stores here and there...but the couple (One in each store...other stores had none of them either....) were probably left behind as you need to CHARGE them. Which is all pretty normal crowd behavior from what I see out there every time the sheet hits the fans. Its also normal for the nimrods to then return or try to return the flashlights, lanterns, coolers, etc...AFTER the emergency is over, as obviously, they will never need them again...:whistle: (Good time to get slightly used generators if the pattern holds...)


I was out doing emergency response work (still am...) when I gave every one their "Chores" and headed out...so they knew which lights they could drain, and which to leave alone (Didn't want lights in their hands that could over drain, etc...).

The wife liked the SC600's as they tail stand and can light the room enough to read by, but were small enough to carry around....and she liked that the TM11 on low would do about the same thing. She and the boys were recharging cells like old pros after a few days.

So, no battery vampire lighting at my place...it was lit up like a Griswald Christmas. :D
 
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Lynx_Arc

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I had exactly that plan in mind, great minds think alike :D

Another thing that I am going to do is build a lantern that is a low output battery vampire.
I'm going to make it with a D battery box, and I'm going to get adapters for every cell size so that they can be nested like russian dolls. My lantern will then be able to run on D, C, AA, and AAA.
That is also what I plan to do when I make my battery box with flyleads and alligator clips.

After working in a store that sold batteries during the run up to and aftermath of the hurricane, I have decided that versatility is the only way to go.
At least one customer that I know of (because she told me) and probably many others bought batteries that they didn't have a use in mind for, just for the sake of buying batteries.
Panic buying has to be seen to be believed.

Another lesson that I learned was to absolutely never buy a radio that takes D or C cells, because that is what everybody else has already done.
My emergency radio takes 2xAAA. I bet its current draw is a fraction of that if a 'boom box' type radio that takes C or D cells, and with the aforementioned battery box with clips, could be run on any of the major alkaline cell sizes.
Actually unless you crank up a boom box it takes about the same amount of power but since it has 2-3 times as many batteries with 3-10 times the capacity you are looking at 6-30 times the runtime. I ran a 4C table radio for 4 days about 9 hours a day off used batteries that were 10 years old with no problems during a power outages in 2007 here. The only advantage of non C/D alkaline radios is you can use rechargeable or lithium primaries and avoid leakage. If your 4D radio has an input jack you could find a 6 volt lantern battery or SLA to power it with even, and if you have a 12v adapter for it you can use a 12v battery hooked to it for incredible runtimes.
 

Stress_Test

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Actually unless you crank up a boom box it takes about the same amount of power but since it has 2-3 times as many batteries with 3-10 times the capacity you are looking at 6-30 times the runtime. I ran a 4C table radio for 4 days about 9 hours a day off used batteries that were 10 years old with no problems during a power outages in 2007 here. The only advantage of non C/D alkaline radios is you can use rechargeable or lithium primaries and avoid leakage. If your 4D radio has an input jack you could find a 6 volt lantern battery or SLA to power it with even, and if you have a 12v adapter for it you can use a 12v battery hooked to it for incredible runtimes.


Yeah, I'd always assumed the "boom box" would still last a pretty long time at low volume. Mine also has a headphone jack so I could use it with headphones and probably have even lower power draw. (I might check mine with an ammeter sometime to see how much current it draws, if I can rig it)
 

Sub_Umbra

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My take on boomboxes--

I think that most don't realize how important planning for your entertainment may be during an outage. One may find oneself confined with spouses they rarely spend time with (because of jobs). One may also be spending much more time with the kids underfoot. Due to the disruption you may be sheltering both in laws and outlaws and even if the stress doesn't get to you its hard to tell how the rest of your party will react to all the abrupt changes in their lives. My point is to prepare for the stress that is bound to come visit, especially in an event of greater duration. Lee1959 once wrote a great post about stocking board games, cards, etc for outages. I fully agree.

I'm big on audiobooks and OTR during outages. Audiobooks are cool in a blackout because they are posture independant, don't require much light and more than one person may listen at the same time. I loved them during the Katrina outage. They are perfect for an hour or two of winding down after a weird day of trying to do everything in a different way than normal.

I liked it so much that I've been noodling around for some time designing a 'mechless' post-apocalyptic boombox. It will read files from a sd card and a thumb drive. With no motors to spin CDs and no lasers to track and burn to read them it will be easier on batteries. (Hence the 'mechless') It will also have a usb port for charging phones, etc. I'll probably use one of the cheap 12v amp/fm rigs that are flooding in from China. They are all over Amazon with names like Kinter and Lepai. Their power ratings are way exaggerated but that's ok as I really only want it a little bit louder than the three watt mechless rig I'm using now. Has anyone here used any of these cheap amps? I've got some questions.

I'll probably build it into two ammo cans, One for the amp and one for a 12v agm sla battery. I ordered a tiny 12v 5ah agm battery to fool around with earlier today. Tiny agm batts seem to be everywhere for scooters, ebikes, Rascals, etc. They may be had in many, many capacities and form factors. Good prices, too. For my uses I much prefer agm to li-on.

I'd actually use this almost every day for abooks, podcasts and the like while cooking outside in the patio.
 
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