Power Outage, How many Lumens, How many batteries? (for lights and more)

Poppy

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Let's say there is an extended power outage 5-7 days, and you are a family of four. Two adults, and two children ages 5 and 10.
Let's say that you can recharge your batteries each day, (either using your car's battery and alternator for power, or by driving to a location that still has power). OR if you use alkalines, how many will you need for a week?

Please consider,
Which rooms, and how many rooms would you like to have light;

How many lumens, you would like in each room;
would there be enough light to read or play a board game without a supplemental headlamp?

What kinds of, and how many batteries would you need to be able to supply sufficient energy for five hours each night.

Additionally would each person also have a light? If so why? To use intermittently, to go to the bathroom? or to supplement a relatively low level of light (perhaps use a headlamp for reading) What would be their power needs?

How many alkalines would you need?

How many batteries would you have to charge each day?
Eneloops AAAs, AAs,
18650's
others?
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EDIT
As I write this, the thread is at post 95.
Overall, I'd say we did a nice job presenting what many people would be comfortable with. For the most part, we stayed away from particular lights, and spoke in generalities. That was my hope... I didn't want it to be another SHTF zombie thread. I wanted/hoped it would be instructional.

Well, we have gone beyond batteries for lights, to include, batteries for other power failure needs, although we only touched on them lightly, but things such as battery operated cooling fans, sump pump back-ups, and as a means to power one's furnace in the winter. We touched on using the car's alternator, or a small generator to charge a 12v deep cell battery/s.

Please enjoy reading through this thread, and make your contribution, if any at the end.
Thanks for reading this far! :)
 
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^Gurthang

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Re: Power Outage, How many Lumens, How many batteries?

I'll speak from my own experience. I have all 18650 powered lights, 6 [at present] single cell and 3 M@G conversions. The M@Gs use XRE or XPG emitters @ 1A and will give plenty of light for a typical 14 x 14 room and last ~ 3hrs so I'd want a dozen cells for them 6 in use, 6 in reserve. The single cell light are all multi-mode w/ the low output ranging from < 1L to 25L. All will go a full 6 hours easily, the lowest will last 18 hours. I'd want another dozen, 1 in each light + 1 spare each. If I was forced to use the car to charge cells I'd want a good 6 or 8 cell hobby charger that could charge at a full 1A / cell, that way I could charge a dozen cells in <6 hrs.

For the kids I'd buy several single cell AAA lights w/ 5 mm LED along the line of the Fenix E-01, rugged, cheap and basic plus tough enough for either a 5 or 10 yr olds' abuse, just give one to yourself and one to the wife for EDC. Give them to the kids when the outage occurs.
 

StarHalo

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Re: Power Outage, How many Lumens, How many batteries?

- The family will most likely be together in the family or dining room since there are no electronic toys to distract individuals; a ceiling-bounced ~100 lumens is plenty for this setting, our family has dined and played board games under this very scenario during a few Earth Hours.

- There's no need to light rooms no one is in if everyone has a flashlight, otherwise you're just wasting batteries. Each person needs a light that's bright enough to ceiling-bounce illuminate a bathroom or their own room, so ~25 lumens max is adequate, with a low mode for reading.

- Since flashlights are only used for bathroom breaks during the day, only the waking hours of the evening see real battery use, and most people go to bed early without electronic toys. You're looking at only 4-6 hours of constant lighting at modest levels, so only a handful of primary batteries will easily last the week, no recharging needed.

- The biggest drain on batteries isn't lights at all; you're going to want a source of news and information on at all times, or at least a morale boost when news isn't on - your battery-powered radio will be on nonstop for roughly 16 hours a day regardless of all other conditions, and at that rate most digital radios will need a battery swap every other day.
 

Poppy

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Re: Power Outage, How many Lumens, How many batteries?

Last year, my wife and I cheated during Earth day, and watched TV. I recall commenting that 100 lm in the kitchen did a pretty good job.
Perhaps later tonight I'll try it again as a reminder.

When Superstorm Sandy hit I was fortunate. I have a generator. We lost power for 3 1/2 days. I never really had to test my family's ability to handle low levels of light. We also had DVDs and video games, for entertainment. So I can't relate very well.

However, while most of my neighbors felt that they did pretty well, some stated that by the third day, that some nerves were getting a little frayed. I'm thinking (but really don't know) that lighting the main room at 600-800 lumens, and an adjacent room or two at 100 lumens each would work wonders alleviating the "closed in" feeling.

Some friends charged their cell phones in the car and played games on them at night.

We had one power failure that lasted a few hours at night, and my generator was 20 miles away, so we relied on battery powered light. I brought out the 12 w compact spiral florescent lantern rated at 720 lumens, and we were pretty comfortable in the living room. The grandkids were able to do some creative playing. That lantern will burn for 5 hours on a charge. It takes a 6v 4.5 Ah SLA battery that can be charged from the car cigar lighter.
 

StarHalo

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Re: Power Outage, How many Lumens, How many batteries?

I'm thinking (but really don't know) that lighting the main room at 600-800 lumens, and an adjacent room or two at 100 lumens each would work wonders alleviating the "closed in" feeling.

Those numbers are serious overkill; the goal is not to light the room similar to how it looks when the power is on, rather, to light the room enough to complete tasks (even if that's just a board game) and not feel like you're sitting in the dark. You'll find once your eyes are dark-adjusted, a living room lit by a ceiling-bounced ~100 lumens is entirely comfortable, and anything brighter would just be putting more light on what you can already see (which therefore speeds battery discharge.) The ~100 lumen number for big rooms and ~25 lumen number for small rooms isn't some sort of utilitarian minimum, it's where the "create a relaxing environment" and "conserve battery use" lines intersect.

Lighting adjacent rooms would only be necessary if you're not sure where they are; if everyone has their own light, they can go where they please, but most people would prefer to be with their family and the radio.

I mentioned using primary batteries because recharging would be yet another item to add to your to-do list, and you want to keep that list as short as possible once the power's out. When your kids are complaining about being bored, and your wife is wondering how to prepare a meal, and you're trying to work out how to heat/cool the room, and calculate the capacity of the water heater in days, etc - you're not going to want to work out an expedient and orderly battery charging method in the middle of all this. Just toss and replace the dead battery, continue with your task at hand. With sane output levels, this won't happen very often, and will save you a lot of time and extra effort.
 

Badbeams3

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Re: Power Outage, How many Lumens, How many batteries?

Indeed, both my chargers have 12 volt adapters so...

As far as lumen go...50 to 100 is comfortable. Could get by with less...might want several of them in different rooms. In reality, if the power was expected to be out for a day or more I have a couple inverters (just start my truck every once in a while) and all my lamps are either florescent or led...so...that would be set up. Lol...along with my TV and wi-fi stuff...I don`t care to suffer.
 

think2x

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Re: Power Outage, How many Lumens, How many batteries?

My son has a Quark AA2 that he uses on moonlight or low most of the time. My daughter has a Thrunite Ti moonlight. My wife carries a PD22. Out of the three of them, my daughter's lights lack the most flexibilty. To make up for that I also have a PD32, SF U2 ultra and a Maelstrom G5 which all have plenty of flexibility (low/runtime vs. high output)

EDIT: How many batteries: I have 15-18 cr123's left in my pelican case, 12 spare NiMh LSD AA's charged and sitting at any given moment, a 3 AW16340's, 2 AW17670's, 3 Redilast 18650/2900's and half a dozen salvaged 18650 netbook cells.

I also have an 18V Porter Cable shop light modded from florescent to 3-XML's driven @ 1 amp with 2 packs.
 
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Echo63

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Re: Power Outage, How many Lumens, How many batteries?

My Ryobi one+ area light will do "up to 16hrs" on the big batteries, of which I have 4.
I think it does 5-6 hours in high, which is still plenty for a night, and the light has plenty of output to play a board game or read.
My Pelican RALS does 4hrs on low (500 lumens) and is perfect for tasks that need a bit more light (cooking etc) and has two batteries, so with light use (for cooking, and other tasks needing lots of light) should only need one recharge per battery for the duration

everyone would be using a low output/long runtime light, I'm not sure which, but I do keep a stock of CR123 primaries - which should keep us going for the duration.
My Surefire Minimus Vision would probably be on my head - it's a great light for power outages - and doesn't use much juice from a CR123 on the lower levels.
The wife would probably have her SWM V10R - which would go through a few cells (she would run it a lot higher than I would)
I am going to have to get a few AA lights, I have a massive stock of AA cells, at last count I had 4x packs of 30 cells, but I have used quite a few, so I'm probably down to 60 AA, 10 CR123 (almost everything runs Rechargeables) and 4 CR2 (for my Aeon and 47s miniCR2)
 

Slewflash

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Re: Power Outage, How many Lumens, How many batteries?

I've got 34 18650s.
12* Trustfire Flames 2400mAh
12* Sanyo UR18650FM 2600mAh
10* Panasonic NCR18650A 2900mAh

I'd probably use them in my TN30 and just keep it at or under 100 lm each. If other people needed light I'd bring out the Shocker, then TN31 and finally my L2M.

Just surviving on the TN30 is 75hrs on 45 lumen mode, and 10 hrs on 422 lumen mode. Definitely enough to survive for more than a few days. I'll be using them roughly 8 hours a day at night, so that'd run me 3 18650s every 9 days.
But seeing as there's no light pollution I _might_ be able to get away with the 1.2 lumen low mode which is 1200 hrs run time.
 

Poppy

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Re: Power Outage, How many Lumens, How many batteries?

However, while most of my neighbors felt that they did pretty well, some stated that by the third day, that some nerves were getting a little frayed. I'm thinking (but really don't know) that lighting the main room at 600-800 lumens, and an adjacent room or two at 100 lumens each would work wonders alleviating the "closed in" feeling.

Those numbers are serious overkill; the goal is not to light the room similar to how it looks when the power is on, rather, to light the room enough to complete tasks (even if that's just a board game) and not feel like you're sitting in the dark. You'll find once your eyes are dark-adjusted, a living room lit by a ceiling-bounced ~100 lumens is entirely comfortable, and anything brighter would just be putting more light on what you can already see (which therefore speeds battery discharge.) The ~100 lumen number for big rooms and ~25 lumen number for small rooms isn't some sort of utilitarian minimum, it's where the "create a relaxing environment" and "conserve battery use" lines intersect.

I did a little test last night and the 720 lm lantern didn't light a room as well as my TK35 ceiling bounced at 350 lm. Also 800 lm ceiling bounced is probably brighter than what we normally light a room (at least with night adjusted eyes.) So, I'll have to agree that my original numbers are a bit overkill. My idea of lighting adjacent rooms, even if they aren't being used, is just to give a more spacious feeling (why do we buy larger homes than we actually need?) A single 18650 light will give 80-100 lm for 7-10 hours, or 40 lm for 40 hours so if you can see the kitchen from the family room, then why not put a light out there? Yeah, in one respect it might be wasteful, but aren't we energy wasteful all the time? It would allow a member to go to the cooler without having to bring his flashlight.

You see my thought is that for the first day or two, dining by candle light might be nostalgic and romantic, but after a few days of living out of a cooler, maybe dealing with no heat, or AC, lack of TV, etc. nostalgic may become stressful. if I can give "normalcy" with some additional light, then why not? I'm thinking now, that my Xtar WP6II, plugged into the cigar lighter of my car, can do 6 18650's at a time, so I might just as well burn through them and light up the house.

My TN30 with three 18650s will run for 10 hours @ 350 lm. Each of the remaining three 18650s could power other lights @ 80-100 lm for about 8 hours.
 

Poppy

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Re: Power Outage, How many Lumens, How many batteries?

For those who may be concerned about running the car battery down to recharge 18650 batteries, I did some calculations in another thread. http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb...d-flashlight&p=4255094&viewfull=1#post4255094

I estimate that the average car alternator has a 940 watt hours/hour extra capacity, beyond what it takes to run the engine itself. That relates to 15.77 watt hours/ per minute.
I estimate that six 18650 batteries have a capacity of 70 watt hours.
Therefore the average alternator, can replace the energy, taken from the car battery to charge six 18650s, in about 5 minutes.
 

MatthewSB

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Re: Power Outage, How many Lumens, How many batteries?

The word "need" implies that you couldn't get by without it. Very few people that I know "need" to be doing much during dark hours, other than navigate to the restroom, maintain whatever is heating a house to keep the members inside from freezing, or tend to an emergency. We've had plenty of outtages, everybody goes to bed early, or we hang out in the dark chatting. I enjoy it :)

My EDC light, a Surefire E1B, has 30something hours of power on low mode, which is plenty bright enough to get around in the dark. If I use the light for an hour a night, I have a month of light, so the battery in the light and a pair of spares in a carrier should do.

I have a quality light, and a spare, for everyone in our family. We also have 50+ CR123 batteries for "just in case". I buy lots of lights and batteries not because I think I'll need them for any one disaster, but because you never know when there will be an interruption in supply, for any reason, that could cause them to get very expensive very fast.

For a weeklong power interruption, I could make do with any top shelf (durable and reliable) light with a functional low mode and a 4 spare lithium cells.

If something unlikely happened and we had to leave the property (lolBugout), lots of light could be very important. My E1B, dual mode P2X Fury, and a 12 pack of batteries would be ideal. I'd probably end up bringing 6 or so lights though, and 25 or more batteries, because there's plenty of room in the 4x4.

How many alkalines would you need?

Not a single one.

Quality lights get quality batteries - lithium.

Alkalines are a messy, light ruining disaster waiting to happen. Using them in any light, that I might depend upon, doesn't make sense to me.

Lithiums last 10+ years on the shelf, and can't leak and destroy a light. After about 5 years I sell them to a friend who goes through a ton of them and doesn't care about the timestamp and I replace my stock with fresh ones.

I tried rechargeables, but for the hassle and initial expense, combined with the incredible efficiency of modern lights, it didn't make sense for me. It takes me a month or more to use up the battery on my EDC light, and it costs $1 for a new one. I do have a dozen LFP123s and a charger though, in case there is a very long term interruption in supply (very unlikely).
 
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RobertM

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Re: Power Outage, How many Lumens, How many batteries?

It amazing that among all of the expensive flashlights that I own, it's the cheaper Black Diamond Apollo lantern that get most used during power outages. It works great for setting on a table, countertop, or bathroom sink to light up the room. I run it on Eneloop AA cells and in real use, even with extended power outages, I haven't needed to recharge them in the middle of the outage.

At my house, everyone tends to carry around a small, personal flashlight for navigating around the house and then use LED lanterns (we have two Black Diamond Apollo and two Black Diamond Orbit lanterns) for activities in a certain room.

I know that there generally isn't much talk on CPF about lanterns, but they are incredibly useful (along with LED headlamps!).

Admittedly though, we also use a propane converted Honda generator for outages lasting more than a few hours. :) It will run the refrigerator, propane furnace, and lights and power outlets in select rooms.
 

bluemax_1

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Re: Power Outage, How many Lumens, How many batteries?

Yep, for week long outages, it doesn't really take much to be comfortable.

I've been through several 5 day outtages in the middle of winter (darned ice storms that take out power lines). While in college, everyone else in the apartment building moved out for the week to stay at friends' or hotels. My roommate and I elected to stay. All we needed was a couple of flashlights (which I had handy), for bathroom use (fortunately the water heater was gas powered, so we still had hot water to shower with). Aside from that, we went to bed early. Over the 5 days till power was restored, the apartment's interior temp continued to drop till it reached the low 50's fahrenheit. We just put on more clothes.

The last ice storm a few years ago, I once again lost power for several days. This time though, I had numerous power backups to recharge devices so I could use my phone etc. I also used an inverter off the vehicle to power the propane heater to heat the house (evidently, this house has worse insulation than the apartment in college as interior temps dropped faster over 24 hours). Had far more lighting available than needed with my current collection of lights AND the ability to recharge them in a vehicle, or with the solar charger.

I'd say in an outage, 100 lumens to light up a living room where everyone would be is definitely sufficient. My preference is for everyone to have their own flashlight without needing to light up rooms that no one's in. Flashlights with low modes and tailstand capability are invaluable in power outages. If tailstanding capability is an issue, just leave a glass or something simple to place a non-tailstand capable light in in each room where it would be handy. Headlights are extremely useful as they put light where it's needed, allowing the user to have both hands free AND enabling the use of lower levels which means better runtimes.

These days though, with LED lights, the decent ones have such good runtimes on lower modes that battery life is no longer the issue it used to be compared to the incans of old, with a 1-3 hour runtime on fresh batteries. 3 lumens in a dark house is more than enough to navigate, and even a 1xAAA LED light will run for hours upon hours at that level. 100 lumens to illuminate a room via ceiling bounce provides enough lighting to be comfortable and a single 18650 light can provide that for anywhere from 7-14 hours. My TM26 will go for over 1000 hours at 3 lumens and 50+hours at 95 lumens.

Pak-Lites would also be convenient as they have tailstand capability, will run for ridiculously long times and are light and easily pocketable. The Pak-Lite Ultra in low mode is certainly enough to navigate with and can be left on constantly in low mode for a couple of months. In High mode, it's enough to adequately illuminate a room via ceiling bounce and will still run ~80 hours on a single Lithium 9v. In a pinch, you can also pop any alkaline 9v from any household smoke detector and run the Pak-Lite for hours upon hours off it. Folks have tested 'dead' 9v batteries (ones that trigger the smoke detector's low battery beeping) and run the Pak-Lite in low mode continuously for weeks on these 'dead' 9v batteries.




Max
 

NeedMoreLight

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Re: Power Outage, How many Lumens, How many batteries?

12 volt deep cycle battery, some extension cords, few cheap yard sale lamps and 12 volt marine light bulbs will do the trick. I lived off grid for several years and learned to live the TEOTWAWKI type life. Add a couple extra batteries and have a 12 volt TV, truck type 12 volt fans, add inverter to power laptop, cell phone charger etc.
I finally bought some solar batteries and turned the entire place 12 volt with propane to heat, cook and run the propane fridge.
 

StarHalo

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Re: Power Outage, How many Lumens, How many batteries?

it might be wasteful, but aren't we energy wasteful all the time?

Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. Comfort during a power outage will not come from more light, it will come from knowing that you can do several more days without issue; more light/more battery use will reduce your comfort in this instance.

All these recharging scenarios assume everything is going smoothly and you're flush with free time and energy to sort and maintain batteries. Anyone who's done more than a day without power will give you a long list of tasks they had to do and things they wish they could have had completed that do not include babying batteries. And the 12V socket in your car is good for maybe 200 watts, if a fuse or breaker doesn't catch it much over that, the hobby-grade wire most car manufacturers use to wire the socket will simply heat up and catch fire. This all assumes you can just drive down to the station to get more gas, which isn't always how it works in an outage, particularly lengthy ones.
 

Poppy

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Re: Power Outage, How many Lumens, How many batteries?

Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
I agree!!!! :)
At the lumen level I mentioned above, would require six 18650s a day. Certainly if recharging becomes an issue, I can cut it back to one a day. And we do have candles. ;) Regarding reserves, I have sixteen or eighteen 18650s, five 6v 4.5 Ah SLAs, twenty AA duraloops, another dozen AA NiMH, a fist full of AAA NiMH, a box full of various sizes alkalines, and four cars with fully charged batteries. AND a 5KW generator. :)

I checked the owner's manual for my van and the front and rear cigar lighters are on different circuits, each on a 20 amp fuse, so you're right about 240 watts each. My Xtar WP6-II says that it's input is 12v 2.0 amps. that's only 24 watts, and should be very safe. Of course, when I first got it I had to fill it up with batteries and try it out in the car. It worked without a problem.

Regarding not having time to fool with charging batteries. I guess if you have to be out on the roof with a chain saw getting that tree out of your living room, then yeah... batteries would be kinda low on the list of priorities. Certainly power outages are often the result of unusual weather. Fortunately for me, we rarely have outages, and when we do they are usually for 1-3 hours. Sandy caused a 3 1/2 day loss for us and up to a couple of weeks for others in my area.

Obtaining gasoline was the biggest challenge, and generators are HUNGRY for fuel.

I filled both the Bronco 34 gal tank, and the windstar 25 gallon tanks, and parked them. I don't quite recall, but I think that I used 10-12 gallons a day in the generator. I figured out how to jumper the fuel pump relay and pump gas out of the fuel test port on the fuel rail into a gas container so that I didn't have to stand in line with five gallon cans.

Fortunately for me my to-do list was rather short, and included a lot of sitting around and reading :)
We still had gas and water, and the weather was moderate enough that we didn't need heat or AC.
 

bluemax_1

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Re: Power Outage, How many Lumens, How many batteries?

Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. Comfort during a power outage will not come from more light, it will come from knowing that you can do several more days without issue; more light/more battery use will reduce your comfort in this instance.

All these recharging scenarios assume everything is going smoothly and you're flush with free time and energy to sort and maintain batteries. Anyone who's done more than a day without power will give you a long list of tasks they had to do and things they wish they could have had completed that do not include babying batteries. And the 12V socket in your car is good for maybe 200 watts, if a fuse or breaker doesn't catch it much over that, the hobby-grade wire most car manufacturers use to wire the socket will simply heat up and catch fire. This all assumes you can just drive down to the station to get more gas, which isn't always how it works in an outage, particularly lengthy ones.
That's where planning ahead comes in. If you've got all your crucial amenities covered (water, food, shelter, heat, light etc.), what is there to fill up the day? Aside from reading, I end up looking for activities to occupy my time.

As for vehicular inverters, I have a 400watt inverter that uses alligator clips to connect to the battery. The CLA type are limited due to the wiring, but I've seen inverters up to 750w (or higher?) that hook up straight to the battery (require the engine to be running).


Max
 

reppans

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Power Outage, How many Lumens, How many batteries?

I'm always on the extreme low end of these threads, but a single AA Eneloop or 14500 per week for my son and I would be fine in our QAAXs with DIY lantern and "neck band" accessories. We kinda like using the brightish moonlight and 3 lm low mode the most with fully dark-adapted eyes and they're good for ~200/50 hrs respectively. Guess it's counterintuitive, but we can see a lot more (of our environment) with full night vision and that makes the a dark world feel a bit less scary. Wifey likes more though - she'll go through about 8 Eneloops per week with my 4xAA camping lantern.

We lost power for nearly a week 4 times in the last 3 years, the last being Sandy. I have a small RV with a generator that could easily sustain us and the generator saved our house fridge/freezer food throughout the outages and also charged laptops (for DVD movies), tablets, smartphones and Eneloops. Through wireless services, we had the internet through most it. All my portable camping/travel/emergency electronic gadgets are based around Eneloops and wall, car, solar chargers, which have been thoroughly tested, but were not required for these outages.

For primaries, I have a few dozen 3v CRAAs lithium primaries which I like since they're also useful (w/a dummy cell) to power all my 2xAA devices, and of course alkaline blister packs. One of the reasons I really like AA devices is that you can also power them with AAAs and 9Vs in a pinch so there's a lot of household scavenging options (and 9Vs remained a available in store throughout all of the Sandy outage). I like having as many power options as possible.
 

Poppy

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Re: Power Outage, How many Lumens, How many batteries?

As for vehicular inverters, I have a 400watt inverter that uses alligator clips to connect to the battery. The CLA type are limited due to the wiring, but I've seen inverters up to 750w (or higher?) that hook up straight to the battery (require the engine to be running).


Max

I guess the CLA type stands for Cigar Lighter Accessory?
I have one of those smaller inverters that plug into the cigar lighter. One year I drove to Florida from NJ without a radio in my motor home, singing the same song, over and over in my head all the way, because in preparation to leaving my daughter plugged the house vacuum cleaner into the inverter and blew the fuse for the cigar lighter. I didn't know we had no radio until we were underway, and I didn't want to stop to troubleshoot.

The type that can connect directly to the battery can supply much more current.
 
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