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

Grijon

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Amazingly, cigar lighter power ports are OPTIONS on some cars! USB ports too!

My dad's car, a 2015 Altima, if it has the option, it is only live, when the engine is actually running, and with a push button starter, and remote key, there is no accessory on, switch position.

Hi there Poppy,

On most cars with keyless ignitions, like your dad's '15 Altima, you can activate the accessory on 'position' by pushing the start button without pressing the brake pedal. So it's like you're starting the car, but without using the brake pedal.

Check it out!
Grijon
 

Poppy

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Northern New Jersey
Hi there Poppy,

On most cars with keyless ignitions, like your dad's '15 Altima, you can activate the accessory on 'position' by pushing the start button without pressing the brake pedal. So it's like you're starting the car, but without using the brake pedal.

Check it out!
Grijon

Grijon,
Thanks! I'll see him tomorrow, and check it out.

I don't know why, but I am still sometimes SURPRISED at the collective knowledge of the people here at CPF.

I had called a Nissan dealership, and spoke to: either parts, or the service manager. One would THINK that either would know. :rolleyes:

My daughter has a Mazda push button, and my dad the Nissan. I can't wait to try them both! :)

Thanks Grijon! :)
 

Grijon

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Grijon,
Thanks! I'll see him tomorrow, and check it out.

I don't know why, but I am still sometimes SURPRISED at the collective knowledge of the people here at CPF.

I had called a Nissan dealership, and spoke to: either parts, or the service manager. One would THINK that either would know. :rolleyes:

My daughter has a Mazda push button, and my dad the Nissan. I can't wait to try them both! :)

Thanks Grijon! :)

You're very welcome and I look forward to hearing how it goes! lovecpf
 

Poppy

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Dec 20, 2012
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8,462
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Northern New Jersey
Hi there Poppy,

On most cars with keyless ignitions, like your dad's '15 Altima, you can activate the accessory on 'position' by pushing the start button without pressing the brake pedal. So it's like you're starting the car, but without using the brake pedal.

Check it out!
Grijon

Hey Grijon, that worked great!!! I found that I needed to have the remote key with me, to turn the accessory ON and that it stayed active even if I moved the key 50 feet away.

Thanks so much!
 

blah9

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Mar 10, 2011
Messages
2,107
Awesome, thank you guys for the tip! That's good to know. :)
 

Grijon

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Oct 14, 2014
Messages
1,359
Location
Midwest, USA
Hey Grijon, that worked great!!! I found that I needed to have the remote key with me, to turn the accessory ON and that it stayed active even if I moved the key 50 feet away.

Thanks so much!

You are most welcome!
 

Rick NJ

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154
Poppy, it was interesting reading your experience with Sandy from northern NJ. I am probably just around 20 miles from you, but we had very different experience. This is an interesting thread. I have not done electronics for ages. It was preparing emergency lights that got me restarted in doing some electronics again.

You said you were out of power 3 days or 4. I am at the border of Somerset and Hunterdon county in the more rural area of NJ (near the Balloon festival). I was out 8-11 days (forgot exactly, but it was >8 and <11). Just yards from me, they were out > 14 days! That side of the road came from different distribution lines and took > 14 days to get power! I was on the road between Rt22 and Califon NJ, some where still out of power a month after. (As determined by the total darkness and the occasional light-ed house coupled with the sound of power generator).

For over a week, we had no gas - none! Along route 22, one gas station I frequented was open and some customers fighting for gas. One dead, one injured. Roads were flooded and blocked by tree-branches. It was by day 2 or 3 that we can even get to route 22 about 2 miles away (where stores/shops are) but none were open anyhow.

First day, I can hear a near-by gas powered generator. Second night, some sound for a while. Beyond second night that power generator was quiet probably because there was no gas anywhere. By day 4 or 5, we got to a town 10-15 miles west (coffee shop = power). The coffee shop was jammed with people charging their phones/laptops, and sharing info. A stranded motorist was calling (no gas). AAA (auto club) was saying nearest place they can confirm gas availability was on the PA side 40 miles west of Clinton NJ. We could use a power outlet for less than an hour.

Our natural gas came from underground pipes and they were ok. HVAC doesn't run without electric power, so I have hot water, cooking gas stove, but no heat.

About 4-5 days into the outage (day after coffee shop), I was able to get to a library (Bridgewater ~ 14 miles) where we can do some more charging. Due to time limit and outlet limit, we were not able to full charge anything. Due to no gas, we were not able to get to Bridgewater library more frequent. So, around day 6 or 7, we drove to my in-laws, get gas-up in PA, and charged all we can charge (most important being the two SLA car jumper batteries, they were our main power source). My in-laws were out of power for a while too initially but by then restored. They had a power generator but due to improper storage, it didn't work.

Sandy was the second time we were out for > =7 days in two years. A couple of years before Sandy on Halloween weekend (recall that Halloween storm?) we were out 7 days.

So, my criteria for emergency lights are based on those two experiences:


- Forget power generators for major storm. Apart from those without gas (and there were many), the "neighborhood chit chat" was many other instances of no-go: generators needs to be stored drained and cleaned. When it wasn't, it just doesn't work when you "pull it out from the garage with the tank half filled a couple of years back".

- It is not just the "no light to read or eat". The persistent darkness is hard to deal with. So I cooked up what I called "forever light": LED ballasted to run below 10mA at LOW and about 40mA at HIGH with 3AA. This will avoid total darkness "practically forever" with just two sets of 3AA (of course not really forever, min 200 hours with 2000mAH Eneloops. But as the volt drops, the 10mA will drop but some light will be there - I stopped testing after 3 weeks ON and it was still giving out lights). Set on HIGH (40mA), the light is bright enough to read. Each family member (3 of us) each has his/her own set of this "forever light". When outage does occur, the plan is to start with the 15 or so AA NiMH from our WII remote and other things. Since with Sandy we were caught off-guard with practically all the batteries near totally drained, each family member has 2 sets of 3AA (Eneloop) fully charged on reserve.

- RV lights: 1 to 3W 12x5050SMD LED for RV dome light. The 12V power came from three SLA's. Three lights (one for each): Two car jumper boost batteries (5 and 7AH), and one extra 7AH 12V SLA battery with carrying strap. These lights deploys at discretion of the assign-to person. So when we are together, all three can be in the kitchen and we have more than enough light for cooking, eating, or whatever.

- Three more of these RV lights each connected to a boost.
The boost-in connector fitted for 1x18650 or the 3xAA "forever light" power-out plug. These three 18650-RV lights serve as mobile lights for activities such as bath room to wash face or nature calls. Intended to use 18650's but when run by the 3AA pack on boost, the RV lights will work for about 1 hour and it will still leave enough juice left to run the 10mA LED for a few more days.

The three 3AA battery packs's power-out connectors are set up in a way that they can serial - for quick charging with all 9 AA's in serial. My experience from charging at the library (or coffee shop) is: overcharge is not a worry. We were time-limited there. From that experience, my set up for the future coffee shop "power visit" is a 800mA 14.5 volt power-brick to pump what it can into the 9AA's in serial with the limited time we were allowed to stay.

- The SLA's have "un-intrusive looking" jumpers. One lesson is that my "lab table" setup to charge (bread board, cc/cv board, TP4056 or LM317 controlled by an Arduino) cannot be taken to the coffee shop or the library. They would freak out if I use my normal battery charging set up. So, apart from having consumer-style chargers to put them at ease, I have other tricks.

(CLA = cigarette lighter adapter)

My three SLA's has CLA connecting them in parallel somewhat invisibly to a single 3A 15V laptop power brick for fast charging and small CLA volt-meter to monitor progress. Testing show in it takes over 1 hour to bring them (3 parallel SLA's) from near empty to near 13.6V. If I do bring them to 14V, I will switch to 1A 14V power brick to prevent gassing - that is the reason I equipped that setup with a CLA volt meter. At the library or coffee shop, outlets are at a premium. My laptop bag "power-visit alternate setup" is now equipped with hidden power strip that no one can see. So, in what appears to be just charging my laptop, I am also charging my SLAs (3Parallel). Again, over-charging is not a concern in the hour or two we were allowed to stay. My AA charger and the recently acquired 18650 charger can both be hidden in the laptop bag. I have to get a CLA adapter for my 18650 charger yet. With everything connected, I am pulling about 150-200watts only so I am not a power hog. But I have to minimize the number of connected power-bricks (and make them less visible with wire bundles after bundles) so I wont makes the store nervous.

- "Jumper cables!" Why drive to the library or coffee shop? Big jumper cables to customized little ones and charge my SLA by the car idling on the drive way. The gasoline I used to get to and from the library could have charged my SLA's for 1 hour. With an inverter, I am also charging my AA's. This would be a better bet when there is wide area outage (coffee shop/library full so time limited visit). So my solutions are geared towards Car-to-SLA, then SLA-to-AA/18650 as well. My AA charger has CLA adaptor. My 18650 charger has CLA too but I will need to remake it (the adaptor runs too hot - the spring is not 3A capable for extended duration).

- While gas powered generator has its draw backs, I am still thinking about them on and off. Last winter (no power outage), it was -10F some nights and no-heat would have been very hard. The generator is useless to the HVAC heating unless house wiring to the HVAC is changed to accept occasional generator used. For insurance reasons alone, it must be done by licensed electricians. That the generator needs to be drained and cleaned before storage means it is not as much of a "put away until emergency" solution. That is on my mind, but likely I won't do anything until after the next big outage to change my mind.

With Sandy, I was caught with my pants down with practically all my batteries in near-empty state. Since Sandy, we have had a couple of 1-2 days outage. The lighting solution I had was exercised and worked very well. I didn't have to touch my Eneloop reserves, and hardly needed to recharge my SLAs, but charging tests give me comfort and confidence that one 2 hour charge using my set up would give me 3-4 days of light normal and 7-10 days conservative use. All other charge time can be use to power entertainment (laptop movies) to keep us sane in powerless nights. Gas stove heating was inadequate for comfort but adequate for survival. It is dangerous so heating is something I must look into for extended power failure in the winter.
 
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reppans

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What a great write-up on your Sandy experience Rick - thanks for sharing it :).

Sandy was the third major 5-day power outage for us in ~ 3yr period - the Halloween snowstorm, and one other late winter storm I don't recall, were the others. I have a small class B RV (campervan), so between its generator and propane fridge/stove, we can maintain a reasonably normal life for bug-in or bug-out. I just need to make sure I top-off the tanks (water/propane/gas) based on weather forecast and warnings. I'm more concerned about a prolonged mid-winter outage - although I have a few plans for that, I don't think my family will be up for "roughing" that out at home.

The gas situation was the one surprise from Sandy for us. Although we had topped off our vehicles prior, and our town had their pumps rolling in a couple days, we bordered the NO GAS zone and our town's roads where BADLY gridlocked by the out-of-state hoards lining up for fuel. It was scary, even trying to turn into a driveway or side road started screaming matches as people just assume you were trying to cut the gas lines - I started packing heat for those days.

Good points on failing generators ... yes, you need to either exercise them monthly, stabilize the fuel, or empty/clean-out the tanks/carbs. The other ridiculously stupid thing I kept seeing (hearing) were the folks that run them continuously once the outage starts, and then run them out of fuel quickly. Duh... be conservative if you don't know when the power will be return - cycle the generator just enough to keep the fridge from spoiling, and use batteries to bank the power for flashlights/gadgets during the periods in between. Same goes for burning 100 lumen modes with a limited battery supply. I consumed ~1 gallon/day keeping our 2 house fridge/freezers from spoiling, and all electronic gadgets/flashlights charged, and the van has a 30gal tank. For transportation fuel conservation, we have a ~50 mpg hybrid car, and motorcycle, but I do need to learn/practice how to defeat modern vehicle's anti-siphon/roll-over protection safety valves to shift fuel between vehicles.

In the scheme of SHTF, these outages were relatively minor events (well except to coastal NY/NJ), the outages were reasonably localized and the commercial districts were brought up quickly, so food and clean water were rarely issues. As an backpacker and bicyclist, and with several solar charging set-ups, I can take another large step down from comforts of RV life and make due without electricity, fuel, or public water.... but if the food supply/deliver chain broke down, it would catch up to me pretty quickly :(.
 

Rick NJ

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No need to thank me but you are welcome. It is fun sharing experience - particularly one as traumatic as Sandy.

The lack of gasoline took me by surprise also.
If I recall right, it was the one-two punch of refineries damaged and the flooding taking out gas stations. So the few remaining functional stations ran out of gas very soon and resupply did not come due to the damaged infrastructure.

The lesson I took from Sandy is, first I need to judge how wide the outage is. If it was like Sandy, the library and coffee shop was so filled that not all "power visits" resulted in plug-in time - (too many people in line, etc). If that is the case next time, we need to go into deep conservation mode early. In this case, the budget for duration between visits is 1/2 what I can fill with one visit. So, if the next visit results in no plug in time, I am not left in darkness.

The second lesson is, plan not base on what I have but what I can refill in an hour - it is all how much I can pump into the storage (SLA, NiMH, Lithium...) So, chargers are critical. The stock 1A charger and stock 300mA charger for my car jump/boost SLA's are useless for this purpose. Solution is the 15V 3A laptop PSU to pump directly into the SLA via CLA till 14V with CLA volt monitor, then switch to 14V 1A power brick. The slow charging NiMH consumer chargers is useless. Even the BC700 (700mA 4AA) is not enough. Solution is the additional serial 9xAA serial "charger" (plugs in my three 3xAA light) via 800mA 14.5V power-brick to supplement.

For a 1-2 hour "power visit" with approx 1 hour plug in time:
- My laptop PSU charging 3 SLA's in parallel (30WH in, storing 20WH). That is 20 hours of 1W RV dome light for cooking and washing. Good for almost a week if I run single 1W verses multiple. The SLA will charge the phones, so I don't really have 20WH just for lights.
- My serial 9xAA charge method and my pair of AA charger charging a total of 21 AA's. Estimated 500mAH stored in each. That is 7 sets of 3AA each at 500mAH. That would run my so called "forever light" at LOW for over a month or HIGH (3AA at 50mA) for 70 hours. So while not bright, I would not be in total darkness. for a week. I can even put it in my ultra high mode (80mA) if I feel I can be lavish.
- My 18650's supplement are new, so I have not tested them under that plan. I could pump in 1A for four 18650's resulting in around 500mAH to 700mAH stored. That would be mobile 1W RV light for a few hours. (Via boost, I would be drawing about 600mA @ 3.7V to drive ~ 130mA@12V.)

So light-wise, I am ok for a week with one "power visit", and I am in very good shape if I can have two "power visits" in a week. Deep winter cold without heat - that really is the big problem.
 
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braddy

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Since we can charge our batteries in the car, why not just get a large enough solar, car battery panel, to keep it full as you run the battery chargers from the cigarette lighter?

How about a sine inverter for your car, to top off the house refrigerator, 2 or 3 times a day?

For a cold house, I would want the plumbing adapted so that I could drain it if I was unable to keep it from freezing. I would want a small camping Propane heater, that puts out 3,000 btu or less, that would take the edge off of one small room, and I would be prepared to move all my canned goods, and liquid household goods into that room, along with any other freeze sensitive goods, and prefer to have lots of candles for lighting, during winter.


These ideas work for people with little money, someone with some money to spend can easily solve any of these problems.
 
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bluemax_1

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For folks considering a propane heater for emergency heating during a cold weather outage, just bear in mind the carbon monoxide dangers with indoor use. Make sure the house, and ESPECIALLY the room has properly functioning CO detectors. In fact I'm a strong advocate of low-level CO detectors like the Aeromedix.

When I had a winter outage (ice storm took out power lines all over the state), I used a forced air propane heater placed so it blew into the house, but the unit was outside. Even the smaller units can warm things up very quickly. Heat the room up till it's uncomfortably warm and it takes longer before it gets cold enought to need to fire it up again.

I have a number of portable solar panels now that can charge the vehicle batteries (and spare car batteries), not to mention the Li ion packs.

I also have numerous options to charge cellphones from USB outlets in the car, to the GoalZero Sherpa 50 & 100 packs to the Xtar SP1 and the other cheap 1x18650 charger that also allow you to use an 18650 to power a USB charging port (along with a stash of 18650s that get used, charged and rotated).

I also have a stash of Eneloops and AA and AAA lithium primaries for the AA and AAA powered lights.

Light is no longer an issue.

2 Sawyer purifiers + the Sawyer filter cover emergency water needs as long as I have access to water sources (several ponds/lakes and a river nearby).

It's the food supply that I'm working on building now, bit by bit.


Max


Max
 

braddy

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I was speaking of a tiny heater like this, that with an adapter, will use the larger propane tanks on the BBQ. It is safe indoors.

Keep yourself warm indoors or outdoors with the Mr. Heater Little Buddy Heater. The item comes handy when you are out camping, hunting or picnicking. You can also keep it around the house to stay prepared in case of power outages and natural disasters. Each one connects to a disposable propane cylinder to provide 3,800 BTU per hour. The heater starts with a single button ignition and heats up a 100 sq ft area. Enhancing the safety of this Little Buddy propane heater is its automatic low oxygen shut-off system. It also comes equipped with an accidental tip-over safety shut off provision. The Mr. Heater Little Buddy Heater offers a clean and odor-free operation.

k2-_458e3137-0861-4e1c-a283-24d63467bc2a.v1.jpg-e6be855f7c202cc56d8085da68ab0dcd4cf5af50-webp-450x450.webp
 

bluemax_1

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CPF members to the rescue again! (at the expense of my wallet/bank account). I like that series of heaters with the oxygen depletion sensors. I would still recommend ensuring that there's a fully functional CO sensor in whichever room this heater is in though.

That said, I added a Mr. Heater Big Buddy to my Amazon cart and will monitor it for the typical Amazon price fluctuations. It's a lot simpler for emergency heating than setting up my forced air heater and I can use those propane tanks for this.


Max
 

Poppy

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No need to thank me but you are welcome. It is fun sharing experience - particularly one as traumatic as Sandy.

The lack of gasoline took me by surprise also.
If I recall right, it was the one-two punch of refineries damaged and the flooding taking out gas stations. So the few remaining functional stations ran out of gas very soon and resupply did not come due to the damaged infrastructure.

The lesson I took from Sandy is, first I need to judge how wide the outage is. If it was like Sandy, the library and coffee shop was so filled that not all "power visits" resulted in plug-in time - (too many people in line, etc). If that is the case next time, we need to go into deep conservation mode early. In this case, the budget for duration between visits is 1/2 what I can fill with one visit. So, if the next visit results in no plug in time, I am not left in darkness.

The second lesson is, plan not base on what I have but what I can refill in an hour - it is all how much I can pump into the storage (SLA, NiMH, Lithium...) So, chargers are critical. The stock 1A charger and stock 300mA charger for my car jump/boost SLA's are useless for this purpose. Solution is the 15V 3A laptop PSU to pump directly into the SLA via CLA till 14V with CLA volt monitor, then switch to 14V 1A power brick. The slow charging NiMH consumer chargers is useless. Even the BC700 (700mA 4AA) is not enough. Solution is the additional serial 9xAA serial "charger" (plugs in my three 3xAA light) via 800mA 14.5V power-brick to supplement.

For a 1-2 hour "power visit" with approx 1 hour plug in time:...<SNIP>.

About a week into the outage (Sandy) I had to travel down to East Brunswick to work for the day. I was surprised that the traffic lights were still out, on highway 18, all the stores were closed, (including all of the gas stations), and there was very little traffic on this otherwise, very busy highway. It was eerie. MOST of the intersections were jug handled traffic controlled with traffic lights, so the police blocked them off with traffic cones. I had to travel miles in the wrong direction until I came to a clover-leaf intersection with an over pass before I could make a U-turn to travel back North. :rolleyes: I hadn't considered that as a possibility.

I think that your observation that FAST CHARGING power storage units may be a necessity. I personally had not considered that "public" recharging stations may limit the time each is permitted to USE the station, but rather that the number of outlets may be limited, and that I would want to bring a power strip, to convert one outlet to many. (Of course there is a limit to the number of power strips one can daisy chain together before the circuit breakers begin to trip.)

I'd like to reiterate my calculations that an average car alternator has a surplus of approximately 900 watts beyond what it takes for the engine to run, that can be used to recharge the CAR battery, if the car battery is used to charge other batteries, or the alternator is used to charge other batteries directly. Therefore, in your case, if you are pulling 200 watts per hour, then your alternator can replace those 200 watt hours in about 15 minutes.

I have four or five 6Volt 4.5 Ah SLA batteries, that I wanted to FAST Charge from my car cigar lighter port, rather than take the 12 hours it would take with the charger that came with my 6V lantern, for each 6 V battery! Someone who knows MUCH MORE about electronics than I, said that I should jumper two of the 6V SLAs together to make 12V, and calculated that I should use a 25W 27 ohm resistor in line with the cigar lighter plug, to reduce the rate at which the power would flow into the SLAs to prevent gassing.

So the concept of being able to FAST charge some batteries so that they can be used to slow charge others is not lost on me. In fact, one may want to consider that using the car battery to slow charge phones, batteries, and power banks, and then running the car engine for short periods of time, as one travels to the food store, or wherever, that the car battery will be FAST charged by the alternator. Even as you mentioned earlier, that running the engine in the driveway may expend less gas than it took to get to a PUBLIC charging station.
 

reppans

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Messages
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Do any of these library/coffee shop outlet hogs use multi-outlet extension cords? When I used to lug a laptop around, I found folks hogging airport outlets were always willing to share as long they weren't being put out. You can daisy chain these things for a long time before any amperage issues with today's USB devices. [EDIT... Poppy covered the same as I was typing :D]. Anyways lighting is the least of my concern - as a night vision junkie, 0.3/3 lms already represents ~45/45% of my flashlight usage, and a single AA can last me a week's backpacking trip, same for my son (although the Mrs. definitely requires more charging ;))

Agree on the plumbing, I already installed a drain valve at the low point of my water system, see post #127.

I have several solar panels that charge my batts directly, output to USB, and to battery banks, so no need to tie a car up in the middle of that, and you really want to minimize the number of conversions. Also have the same thought as StarHalo, does a car batt even have enough start-up power for a home fridge compressor? Still, a 12V solar system would be a good option with one of those 12V car cooler/fridge things, but you'd be much better off using a deep-cycle RV battery for that.

I also have a Mr Heater Buddy for my camper, and can tap it to my propane system or 20# barbecue tank. I'm not worried about oxygen depletion, but the CO risk still gives me the willies - after all, it is still an open flame in relatively unvented living space. Yes, my RV has a CO detector, but I don't rely my Li-ion protection circuits either - I just can't bare to use it on a longer term basis, but that's just me. Also, propane is still a finite resource like primary batteries, so I'm looking to match my infinite solar/electric rig.

My own thoughts for winter space heating is to set-up camp in the basement - my house interior has hit the upper 30s on one of these outages, but IIRC the basement never got below 50 (and for that matter, in a summer heat wave, it stays cool). Then I have a winter camping tent with a wood burning stove, that I would just use the stove with the flue running out the window, and I have fireproof fabric to seal the window around the flue. I should upgrade to a more substantial stove though, for LT use and larger so it wouldn't need to stoked as often, but I don't want a permanent installation. Wood is an infinite resource around here.

Sawyer filters are great, and I supplement it with Steripen UV treatment (4AA), and I also have access to streams and lakes. None of my outages have disrupted town water though, although I do admit to filling one bathtub before Sandy hit ;).

It's very hard for me to stockpile consumables/perishables like food, fuel or water. To build up a decent inventory, minimize the PITA, yet not waste anything (simultaneously), you should cycle it back into use (well, at least food/fuel) on a near expiration basis, and I just don't like consuming "old" food or fuel. I suppose food would be the least burdensome to cycle on a shorter/fresher cycle, but the Mrs. owns the kitchen/pantry real estate and she already thinks preppers are lunatics ;). Ah, what the heck, I got firearms, hunting bows, air rifles and a deer/small game infestation around my neck of the woods.... we'll do OK :D.
 
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Rick NJ

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Feb 8, 2013
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154
Since we can charge our batteries in the car, why not just get a large enough solar, car battery panel, to keep it full as you run the battery chargers from the cigarette lighter?

How about a sine inverter for your car, to top off the house refrigerator, 2 or 3 times a day?

For a cold house, I would want the plumbing adapted so that I could drain it if I was unable to keep it from freezing. I would want a small camping Propane heater, that puts out 3,000 btu or less, that would take the edge off of one small room, and I would be prepared to move all my canned goods, and liquid household goods into that room, along with any other freeze sensitive goods, and prefer to have lots of candles for lighting, during winter.


These ideas work for people with little money, someone with some money to spend can easily solve any of these problems.

With money, you can have a winter home and a summer home in different geographic areas. For most normal working-stiff, trouble with planning for emergency is - those are money spend on things that you hope you will never use! That is why rather than purchasing a lot of stuff, I use stuff at hand with minimal purchase.

Solar is unlikely to work for winter storms. In the winter, there was little sun to begin with. In a storm big enough to bring down the power, the sun is not going to be seen for days.

Then, there is the bigger problem:ice and snow. During the Halloween storm, the "fight" against the elements to get home was memorable so I recall well. There was at least 6 inches of snow on my roof on top of an inch of ice. The snow and ice will cover up roof top solar panels if any. Roof top ice takes weeks to months to melt away and it is rather common that new ice build up on top of old layer. I don't recall how the ice was for Sandy.

What I do consider is a small (1-2 feet square) portable solar panel stored inside the house to take out during emergency. That I can be rather sure it will be ice free and movable to capture the limited winter/storm sun.

This one below is not light related but useful experience to share. I did not know and I ignored it for a few hours while damage grew.

I actually forgot about one 3-5 days outage post Sandy 2014 season (Oct 2013 to March 2014). I don't need a propane heater since I had gas oven for cooking - or survival heat. But without HVAC, oven heat is not enough to prevent pipes from freezing (and then burst) in the basement.

Good and bad thing was, water does not rush out the burst until you have heat - to melt the ice blocking the burst pipe. Since it was post power/heat return, It did not occur to me what happened at all!

It was after the outage, on a warm 40F day 5pm when the ice in the pipe melted enough for water to rush out. BANG and then the sound of water. Well, I though someone dropped something in the bath room, and then flushed the toilet. I actually ignored it and dozed off.

I finally realized what occurred. I shut off the main valve and hunt for the burst. The nail/pipe/wire detector from HomeDepot got me to the wrong spot. After opening the wall, there was no pipe there!! It took me a moment of thought and it occur to me to try my DMM to determine relative moisture - least relative resistance at wettest spot. My UT61E got me to the main burst within 2-3 inches. After capping the big one, I found the other smaller bursts - three total. I was able to cap and isolate the burst by the end of the next day. It took me till late (last) summer to fully trace and repair all the pipes and found good spots to install additional stop valve for winter.

So, two lessons here to share:
1. Pipe burst may not be realized much later!
2. DMM is rather useful in determining where the burst could be.
 
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